In celebration of my three years living here in this amazing city, United Arab of Emirates I decided to write a quick blog sharing with you some of my favourite things to do and see here in my recent hometown of Dubai.
First of all I just want to make it clear that I have not even completed half of what there is to do in Dubai. Long flying hours and this nocturnal lifestyle of mine has really limited me to explore everything that Dubai has to offer.
But I try my best to see as much as I can when my eyes aren’t hanging out of my head and believe me when I say that this part of the world is not to be missed on your way to Europe or wherever you’re going. I always try to persuade my passengers to stop over for a least three days to explore this desert oasis.
Now of course the first thing that people think of when the hear the word Dubai they imagine skyscrapers, fast cars, rich arab men and all of that fun stuff. I’m not saying that you won’t see this but there is so much more to experience then all the fancy things that first pop up on your search of ‘What to do in Dubai?’ on google.
My all time favourite place I remember visiting was the Dubai Creek, now I’m not sure if you all know but United Arab Emirates is relatively new and before all the luxurious hotels and skyscrapers popped out of the sand literally overnight, Dubai was known as a fishing village. Hard to imagine huh?
So this was back in the 18th century and so eventually Dubai became famous for its pearl exports and trade. Unfortunately Dubai’s pearl trade was significantly affected by the Great depression in the 1930s and due to the new innovation of cultured pearls. With the collapse of the pearl industry Dubai then fell into a awful depression leading many residents no choice but to leave Dubai and migrate to other parts of the Persian Gulf.
Anyways back to 2017, Dubais ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum has led this marvellous city into wealth and comfort for all of the locals and residents who live here.
When you arrive at Dubai Creek you will notice little streets and alleyways filled with local shopkeepers and tourists buying the typical arabic headpiece and satin scarves. As much fun as this is once or twice, it can really get hard to restrain yourself from getting frustrated with the shopkeepers who continuously shove items in your face. Just be aware of that. lol.
If you go to the river side you can hop on an ‘abra’ which is a traditional wooden boat that will take you across the river for 1 dirham to the Spice and Gold Souk. Do not be fooled by kind people telling you that will take you on a private tour because this will set you back a good 100 dirhams for the same journey, unless of course you don’t like rubbing shoulders with the locals.
First thing I could smell when I got off the boat was the distant smell of cardamon and what I now know of as sumac. It was so strong that I literally followed my nose to the Souk.
Endless stalls filled with open sacks of spices, herbs and many medicinal products that I had never heard of opened my eyes to literally a whole new world. Now if you’re looking to buy some souvenirs to take home to your home country bargaining is the way to do it. I personally did not venture into the Gold Souk because lets be honest I couldn’t afford any gold at the time but if that interests you then be sure to check it out as it is just around the corner from the Spice Souk.
Another place I love to visit is Souk Madinat. I cannot get enough of this place. The moment you walk in it’s like something out of a movie as corny as that sounds. The pristine waters of the canal that surround the hotels and buildings and the intricate details are just mesmerising. One of my all time favourite Thai Restaurants Pai Thai is there and the abra will actually take you on a free ride to the restaurant if you have a reservation. The food is divine and the ambience is wonderful … perfect for a first date.
MA and I actually had our first date there AND he also proposed to me on an abra while we were taking Mum and Dad for a scenic tour. I always love getting on the abra and taking a ride through the waterways and taking in all the spectacular views. And speaking of views, you will get an up close view of the Burj Al Arab in all its glory. And for any animal lovers out there, there is a Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary who’s goal it is to take in any turtles that are injured or sick and rehabilitate them until they are ready to be realised back into the ocean.
Make sure you come hungry as there is plenty of international restaurants and cafes for you to dine in and once you’re full you can pick up some bits and pieces from the indoor souk.
Speaking of the Burj Al Arab, well if you have enough cash on your hands then I highly recommend spending some of your hard earned cash on a meal in the palace. I can’t even explain to you the beauty of this place and you are treated like royalty the moment your transportation passes its gates.
I once had dinner at the Burj Al Arabs Seafood Restaurant that has an indoor 360 degree aquarium that is literally next to your dinner table. Dinner here was fine dining at its best but truly memorable. The second time I took a visit was when my Mum and Dad visited Dubai for the first time on their 25th anniversary. I secretly booked all three of us high tea on the top floor and it was honestly amazing. The pastries, scones, sandwiches etc were so tasty and the teas and coffees and special drinks were perfect. I always think that high tea is a waste of money because its just finger food but all three of us left so so full and regretting the food choices we made. ><
I will never forget Dad when he burst into tears because he couldn’t believe I had taken him to somewhere that was that nice. It made my day to let him experience that.
During winter time at the end of each year there is an outdoor ‘festival’ type event called Global Village that every person must visit at least once. As its name states it highlights many gulf countries and showcases that countries best food, culture and entertainment.
The lights, music and rides are so much fun and you will feel like a kid again. And think about it, where else can you try Egypts famous desert konafah and then walk a few hundred metres and try Lebanons world famous baklava?
Ever google ‘Dubai’ and seen those unbelievable images of a hotel that looks like it was built in a different era? Welcome to The Palm Atlantis everyone!
Everything about this hotel is just magnificent, not only are the rooms beyond anything you’ve seen before but there is a Theme Park right inside and a Dolphin Lagoon! The theme park is one of the best I’ve ever been to and the rides are so much fun and not to mention terrifying.
I visited the dolphins a few months after I had just moved to Dubai and I have to say I was so excited about it and I’m not going to lie, the experience was incredible. I love animals in general but dolphins have always been my number one and so it was a dream come true for me, however a few years later after watching a few documentaries I realised that I may not have made the right choice in supporting parks that contain wild animals but nonetheless it is a memory I will never forget and I am not here to criticise any one.
Any nature lovers out there? Well we got you covered … it’s hard to believe that Dubai could have beautiful flowers growing in its hot weather but yes they did it. I’m talking about the Miracle Gardens and a miracle it is indeed. Its location is kind of out of the city but well worth it. You can easily spend a whole day here, taking shots with the variety of flowers, houses smothered with colourful pansies, visiting the very floral Eiffel Tower, sitting down for lunch under a canopy of vines and flower buds, the list goes on. Recently they have added an Emirates a380 aircraft into the garden and covered it with a huge array of flowers and colours. So this is definitely something not to be missed.
Of course I couldn’t skip the wold famous Burj Khalifa, it just wouldn’t be correct if I didn’t write about her. Well at 127 levels high she is something extraordinary. Book your tickets well ahead of time and after being up there three times myself, I always tell people to book a time before the sun sets so that you can see the view not only in the day but after sunset too because they are very different.
It is really something that everyone does but for good reason. The history of this building and its information is sprawled out across the walls along your walk to the entrance and it is really informative. Don’t forget to take your wide angled camera or GoPro and check out the fountains down below in front of the Dubai Mall.
Dubai Mall, well this place is just ridiculous. Honestly I still get lost when I go there sometimes but after you find your way you will love it. Endless cafes, restaurants, luxurious shops with 20,000 dirham shoes you name it, they have it.
I just had to share this photo with you guys because i think its hilarious and if you’ve ever dreamed of being a Sheik or Arabian Princess then stop at one of the many photo booths planted around the mall and get your glam on!
I know you all have heard of the Dubai aquarium but don’t just stand in front of it and take photos! Grab a ticket go inside and check out the sanctuary inside, go diving with the sharks, be adventurous! 😉
If waters not your idea of fun, go ice skating. Its cheap, fun and disco night is so so good. If you’re lucky you might even catch a game of hockey while you’re there. My fiancé and his brothers and I went ice skating on a day out and oh my god it was one of my best days. So much fun and I always wish to do it again.
What do most people think of when they think about Dubai … Desert of course! Desert Safari now that is a fun day out! The car will pick you up from your accomodation and drive you out into the desert where you will transfer to a 4×4 and accelerate out onto the sand dunes. Disclaimer: This is not for the elderly or faint hearted. It is quite terrifying but the drivers are professional so don’t worry you are in safe hands. If you arrive to the camp base, ( just kidding ), WHEN you arrive at the camp base you will be ushered over to camels and horses to ride, falcons to take shots with, persian rugs to buy. It is quite full on but very exciting. You can also get dressed up in the local attired and then when the sun sets you will be invited to sit down on the sand surrounding a small stage where bellydancers will dazzle you while you munch on your buffet of meat shawarmas and dips and arabic cuisine. End off the night with a fruit flavoured sheesha and you have experienced a night in the Arabian Desert.
Now I know that this last place is not Dubai and actually our neighbour Abu Dhabi but I just had to include it because it is out of this world. As you all should know United Arab Emirates is a muslim country and so seeing mosques day in and day out becomes the norm for us living here but whether you are interested in this cultural side of Dubai or not, the Grand Mosque is something that will take your breath away no matter what you believe in.
The white walls and intricate details surrounding this huge architecture is beyond belief and once you step foot inside the mosque itself you will be in awe. Don’t forget to cover up before you leave home and you will be asked to wear an abaya to cover you body and hair when you arrive.
The first time I visited I will never forget the feeling I got when the call of prayer sounded and it just took over the whole mosque. It made the hairs on my arms rise and I remember feeling so emotional and peaceful. If you are interested in books then don’t forget to check out the small library that they have hidden upstairs. It is full of historic books on religion and the history of Dubai. Finding this place was honestly the highlight for me.
I could honestly write so much more about Dubais entertainment, nightlife, restaurants etc but I would never stop typing and so if you really are interested in knowing my favourite places to hang out, eat etc then please feel free to comment.
Dubai has been a dream come true to me, and living here is just something I would never have imagined doing three years ago and so to anyone who is considering a holiday. Dubai is the place to go! During winter that is 🙂