Sally-Jo Asser on 30 January 2017
I visited Dubai back in Jan/Feb of 2017 for 5nights. Staying with friends family I was fortunate that I would get to experience Dubai from an ex-pat perspective, I always love a homestay experience (love an hotel stay too!). Their home in Arabian Ranches on the outskirts of Dubai is a good location if you wanted to rent a villa and car hire, otherwise it would be better to be more central.

We had a fantastic fun packed few days. I’m not one for heights but top of my bucket list was the Burj Khalifa, currently the World’s tallest building towering 160 floors. We had tickets for the Observation decks on L124/125, you can also buy another package which takes you to Sky at The Top on 148. The views are breath taking, no time to think about not enjoying heights!!! I quite enjoyed all the displays along the journey through the building, explaining the history, innovation and development of the construction, very interesting.

Around the base of Burj Khalifa is The Dubai Fountain Lake, a captivating water, music and light spectacle in Downtown Dubai. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain at over 900 ft in length – equivalent to over two football pitches. The fountain performs to a range of different songs from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. Quite a spectacle to see. You can pay for a boat ride on the lake or just stroll the boardwalk, which is what we did before dining in one of the many waterside restaurants.

If you’re interested in Dubai/UAE history I would recommend two museums. The Dubai Musuem & Al Fahidi Fort depicts everyday Dubai life in the days before the discovery of oil. Galleries recreate scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souk, date farms and desert and marine life. For more recent history of how the UAE came to be then I’d recommend visiting Etihad Museum, I came away feeling like I understood Dubai more.

One afternoon we took a hair raising drive, in a sand storm (that was an interesting experience!), into the desert to Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort for dinner…. Wow! What an amazing hotel…. A beautiful Arabian styled hotel set in the middle of the desert. Dinner was delicious, followed by relaxing with tea in the lobby. This would be a great place to combine and contrast with a Dubai city break, a completely different experience.

Afternoon Tea at Plato’s in Atlantis The Palm was a wonderful experience. The selection of savouries and sweet treats look beautiful with a taste to match. I was in awe of the stunning Murano Glass chandelier, the focal point of the main lobby… worth a visit just to see that! The aquarium here is worth visiting, you can even go scuba diving in it! This hotel has so much to offer as well as the Aquaventure water park, the worlds largest right on the doorstep.

A trip to Dubai would not be complete without visiting the Malls and shopping. I visited The Dubai Mall, with its world class aquarium, all the shops and eateries you could ever want, The Souk and an Olympic sized ice rink too, great if you want to cool down!. The Mall of the Emirates has good shopping and is worth a visit if you fancy a few hours skiing too.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a lovely Arabian market, like stepping back into Disney’s Aladdin. Stroll through the alleys filled with oriental scents and discover richly coloured fabrics, traditional handicrafts and unique souvenirs.

During my stay we ate at many different places, mostly international cuisine and was kindly hosted a lot of the time. Next time I visit I would like to take a tour of the old Dubai and eat in a few ‘off the beaten track’ places, this is something I can arrange if it would interest you.

I really enjoyed Dubai and would happily return. I came away feeling initially that everything is a façade, a little bit ‘Disney’, but over time as I’ve reflected on that trip I now feel like there is so much more to explore beyond the obvious glitz and glam of the shiny skyscrapers, premium brand shopping malls and innovation of building and technology.

A great destination to suit all kinds of folk. If you’d like to chat about your plans to visit Dubai then please get in touch via the link on my homepage.