Let’s be honest, when I visited Dubai for the first time a few years ago I didn’t exactly add it to the top of my list of places to revisit. But time passes and people change, and although this time my visit to the desert metropolis was business-related, I must say I enjoyed the experience more this time around.
It must be said that this time I was playing with a little advantage, and knew what to expect. The artificial (and honestly tacky) nature of the city would not catch me off guard this time, in fact, I managed to find a more friendly and genuine aspect of a city that lives to impress.
These are the top ten moments of my trip to Dubai.
Climbing the tallest building in the world
Standing proud with its 828 meters (2 716 ft.), the Burj Khalifa is officially the world’s tallest building.
This steel, concrete and glass monster dominates the Dubai skyline and is visible from almost anywhere in the city. It houses offices, residences and the ultra-swanky Armani hotel.
I had previously been on impressive skyscraper lookouts such as the Rockefeller Center or the Metropolitan Building in Tokyo, but this time it was not just a skyscraper, but the highest observation deck on Earth.
While the skyline from the viewing platform isn’t as impressive as the ones in New York or Tokyo, the experience of climbing the Burj Khalifa was well worth the 125 Dirhams.
The Dubai Fountain
At the foot of the majestic Burj Khalifa lies what many consider the greatest attraction in Dubai.
It is the largest musical fountain in the world and one of the highest too. On evenings, this huge funtain illuminates the Dubai sky every half hour with a musical show and water dancing to the brats, the music range can go from classical Arabic songs to Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
Dubai Souk and Old Town Dubai
Dubai also has old district and an Arabic-style bazaar. While it is true that the souk is relatively modern and many of the traditional buildings in the historic district of Bastakiya have been rebuilt, this area has a charm that can’t be found on the more aseptic and shallow modern area of town.
The Dubai Mall
There is no better place for people-watching and to fall into the open arms of consumerism than the ultra-modern and huge Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world by total area .
The Dubai Aquarium
The Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest in the region and offers the possibility to go diving with sharks. It is located inside the Dubai Mall.
Dubai is certainly one of the quintessential gastronomic centers of the world, from top-end cuisine at the luxury hotels’ restaurants to the fantastic budget food from thei small Indian and Lebanese eateries, Dubai is not a city to go hungry.
The Burj Al Arab
One of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Legend has it that it was the first hotel in the world to get a 7-star ratng, however, official star ratings only go up to 5. Urban legend or marketing stunt, it is true that the Burj Al Arab is an architectural travel landmark. Built on it’s own artificial island, it is currently the fourth tallest hotel in the world.
If there’s something Dubai doesn’t lose despite the bustle, luxury and ostentation, it’s its spirituality.
This beautiful mosque is a great example of modern islamic religious architecture. On the inside, the ceiling imitates the colors of the sky at sunset.
Dubai Creek and the boat experience
Dubai Creek is a saltwater canal acts as river, dividing the old city area, on one side lies the working class district of Deira and on the other, the Bur Dubai area.
There are no bridges to cross the Creek in the old city, the good news is that there are some small motor boats that for only 1 Dirham can take you from one side to the other. The barges are crammed with people and lack any visible security measure, so this experience can be a major adrenaline boost.
Located in an (rebuilt) ancient fortress, the Dubai Museum offers a a vew of the city as it was before the oil boom of the 70s.