November 5, 2015

5 Things to Do in Dubai

Dubai is an incredible place. Rooted in tradition, culture and history while boasting an impressive array of Western influence, Dubai is quickly becoming the centerpiece of the world. Everything in Dubai is the biggest/best of its kind...the tallest building in the world, the tallest commercial building in the world, the best hotel in the world...there isn't anything there that wasn't built to impress.

I wasn't in Dubai for very long, unfortunately, and there's a lot that I would love to go back and see, but I've pulled together a list of the five things that I think any trip to Dubai should encompass.

1. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque - The Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque in Dubai that is open to non-Muslims. Sheikh Mohammed, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, opened the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to educate tourists and expats (Nearly 90% of Dubai is comprised of expats) about Emirate traditions and culture. You can visit the Jumeirah Mosque and learn about Islam. I found it fascinating to learn about the rituals associated with the call to prayer and I loved hearing the call emanating from one of the nearly 1,500 mosques in Dubai as I made my way through the emirate. One thing I didn't get to do that I really wanted to was to participate in one of the SMCCU Cultural Meals, where you can have share a traditional Emirati meal with Emiratis and engaged in conversation about their history and culture.

2. Ride an abra boat across Dubai Creek - Abra boats have been transporting people across Dubai Creek since Dubai was just a tiny finishing village. For AED 1 (rouglhy 27 cents), you can take the short ride in an abra boat across Dubai Creek to visit the famed gold or spice souks in Old Dubai.

3. Watch the Dubai Fountain at night  - Designed by the same team that designed the fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the fountain at the Burj Khalifah was made to make the Bellagio fountain look like your backyard sprinkler. With jets that shoot up to 500 feet in the air, the dancing fountain is definitely impressive. As my flight out of Dubai took off, I could actually see the fountains from the air. The fountain show takes place every 30 minutes. I recommend watching it a few times from a few different angles.

4. Take a hop on/hop off bus tour - I know that these tours aren't popular with more seasoned travelers, but they offer such an easy way to get around a city and see things while learning about them. The Pilot and I did the tour on our last day in Dubai and I really wish we had thought to do it on our first day. We took a City Sightseeing bus, but they offer virtually the same route as the Big Bus tour. Dubai is a sprawling place and with the limited time we had there, this was the best option for us to really get a feel for the city.

5. Have Tea at the Burj Al Arab - This is the one thing I didn't get to do in Dubai that I'm most disappointed about. One of the most popular things to do in Dubai is to visit the top of the Burj Khalifah, the tallest building in the world. At 300-500 AED ($80-$130) though, the cost is prohibitive. The Pilot and I opted to skip the view from the Burj Khalifah not only because of the steep price, but because the view you really want to see is of the Burj Khalifah. The Burj Al Arab is the world's only 7 star hotel. At AED 990 per night ($2750), this hotel oozes luxury. Located on a private island, the only way onto the premises is with a room reservation or a reservation at one of the restaurants. For AED 620 ($168), just a little more than the admission price at the Burj Khalifa, you can have tea at the Skyview Bar and still get an amazing view of Dubai while visiting the most luxurious hotel in the world. We weren't able to do this because you have to book well in advance, and, unfortunately, our last minute trip to Dubai didn't afford us this opportunity. Luckily, our hotel still offered a pretty incredible view of that gorgeous skyline.

Have you been to Dubai? 
What would you add to this list?

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