The Arabian desert, from which the city of Dubai grew, is truly beautiful and absolutely pristine in places. A sundowner desert safari – with dune bashing, Bedouin-style hospitality, camel rides, belly dancing and more – is a magical introduction to the desert. There are plenty of tour operators (including Arabian Adventures) who offer this type of safari along with a variety of other desert excursions.
Taking in the hustle and bustle of the creek is an un-missable attraction in Dubai and strolling along the banks gives you a real taste of the city’s centuries-old trading traditions. Nothing beats ploughing through the water on an abra (small water taxi), narrowly missing the other abras criss-crossing the creek. You can also take a dhow cruise (click here)
More at: Something out of the ordinary
Further information at: Dubai Travel Guide
At The Top
No trip to Dubai is complete without ascending the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – or at least standing at the bottom and looking up. The tapering, silvery tower is almost one kilometre (0.6miles) high. Superlatives aside – highest occupied floor in the world, elevator with the longest travel distance, etc – it’s well worth visiting the outdoor observation deck. Called ‘At The Top’ (I’m not sure why, it’s actually about two-thirds of the way up), you’re high enough to look down on Dubai’s other ‘tall’ buildings and appreciate that everything else is dwarfed by the soaring skyscraper.
More at Up the Burj Khalifa – A Tall Story
Further information at: Visit the Burj Khalifa
Brunch at the Meydan racetrack
Kind of like Sunday lunch transferred to a Friday, but with a lot more excess. Think gastronomic marathon with buffet stations laden with lobster, crabs, roasted meats (even Yorkshire puddings!), sushi, salads and a smorgasboard of mouth-watering desserts. The mile-long building is a veritable landscraper and, even when racing isn’t taking place, you can almost hear the sound of pounding hooves echoing off the grandstand. Kids’ entertainment is laid on and the level of service is outstanding.
More at Blowing the diet (spectacularly)
Further information at: www.meydanhotels.com/meydan
Sunset Mall beach
Lapped by the aquamarine waters of the Arabian Gulf, Sunset Mall beach is flanked by gorgeous Miami-style condos, with views of Dubai Offshore Sailing Club boats as well as ducking-and-diving kite surfers. If you tire of this driveable and surprisingly shrubby beach, you can walk to the adjacent glass-walled Sunset Mall to browse the newly opened high-end fashion boutiques inside.
More at: Middle East meets Miami
Further information at: www.sunsetmall.ae
Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates
Despite having spent several sub-zero winters in the midwest of America, I’m not mad keen on winter sports. But show me a ski slope covered in real snow inside a mall? I’m all excited. Naturally.
More at Playing snowballs in the desert
Further information at: www.skidxb.com
Banyan Tree Al Wadi, Ras Al Khaimah
An hour’s drive from Dubai, I found out while glamping at this resort that you really haven’t sampled UAE hospitality until:
● Your accommodation is even nicer than it looks on the photos and has its own private, crystal-clear pool outside
● You are transported anywhere you want to go in the resort by gulf buggy (not as lazy as it sounds – the temperature was in the mid 40s)
● The bathroom is bigger than your living room
● You’re greeted at your breakfast table by a falcon (the UAE’s national bird)
● Luxurious dressing gowns are laid out on the duvet during the nightly ‘turn down’ – and slippers placed by the bed
● The decorative pebbled pools are lit up by ‘fire features’ from which dancing flames arise
More at Glamping in the Middle East
Further information at: www.banyantree.com/en/al_wadi
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (about an hour from Dubai)
When you’re given protective goggles to stop your eyeballs popping out, you know the ride you’re about to go on won’t be all about the view. Suddenly, our world explodes into an insane blur of speed. The ride accelerates from standstill to a gut-squashing 150mph in just 4.9 seconds. It honestly feels like we’re being shot out of a canon. Designed to simulate driving a Formula One car, it’s the fastest thrill ride in the world and the primal screams of its passengers ring out in the warm Arabian sunshine.
More at World’s fastest rollercoaster
Further information at: www.ferrariworldabudhabi