|Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates |
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Dubai & Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) (2/24-3/4/2013) – Dubai and Abu Dhabi are an amazing experiment of a country planning for its future. Visiting here is fun - like Las Vegas meets Disneyland amped up a notch.
|'Sail Hotel' Burj al-Abab |
- Dubai, UAE
|Burj Khalifa, Dubia |
(Tallest Building in the World)
|Mall of the Emirates |
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In just 20 years (much in the last 10 years), Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan city and is becoming a financial and tourist hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region. Dubai has become known for its high-rise architecture, such as the world's tallest building (Burj Khalifa - see photo) and for ambitious projects including man-made islands, 5-star hotels, and some of the largest shopping malls in the world. Dubai is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
|McDonald's in Mall of the Emirates |
- Dubai, UAE
Dubai has been called the shopping capital of the Middle East with more than 70 shopping malls, including Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates that has Ski Dubai. Dubai Mall is amazing! With 1,200 beautiful full-featured stores, 160 restaurants, Olympic-sized ice rink, and four-story waterfall, it is the largest shopping mall in the world. Connected to Dubai Mall are the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), Dubai Fountains, and Souq al-Bahar.
|View from Observation Deck |
of Burj Khalifa - Dubai, UAE
We went up to the observation deck on the 124th floor of the stunning Burj Khalifa (see photos) and there were still much more building above us for a total of an astonishing 2,716 high. The well organized excursion costs about $30/person and was a highlight of our visit to Dubai. The elevator ride is amazing – you barely feel you are moving and then you are there. Overlooking an artificial lake, the views of downtown Dubai and beyond are breathtaking (see photos).
|Wayne with Shark - Dubai Aquarium |
& Underwater Zoo
|Lion Fish - Dubai Aquarium |
& Underwater Zoo
Also accessed from the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is a worthwhile experience that we enjoyed (see photo). Much of the huge aquarium can be viewed for free from the mall. For about $15/person, you can see must more. You can go inside where you can go nose-to-nose with dozens of large sharks and rays in the walk-through tunnel (see photo), ride a glass-bottomed boat, and spend time in the very well done and interesting Underwater Zoo with its 38 aquatic displays.
|Beautiful Dubai Fountain |
& Burj Khalifa
Just as we walked out of the Dubai Mall, a rare afternoon show of the Dubai Fountain was done. It is fantastic! In a 30-acre artificial lake with the Burj Khalifa in the background, hundreds of dancing fountains surge almost 500 feet in the air choreographed to the sounds of beautiful music (see photo). Everything is BIG in Dubai. Also located next to the Dubai Mall is the Souq al-Bahar where we highly recommend having lunch outdoors overlooking the beautiful Burj Khalifa artificial lake (see photo). Make a reservation for dinner and enjoy the Dubai Fountain.
|Burj al-Abab Hotel and Dubai, UAE|
Travel tips in exploring Dubai... The taxis are affordable – about $7-20 to get to most places, even the airport. The Dubai Metro is very nice running the length of the city above ground so you get a nice overview of the city.
|Batmobile? - Dubai, |
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
|Beach at Jumeirah |
- Dubia, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
There is so much to do in Dubai. If you only have a couple of days in Dubai, we recommend that you spend them in two areas. First, for a nice day, don’t miss the downtown Dubai area that has Dubai Mall, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Fountains (operated in the evening), have lunch at the Souq al-Bahar outdoor restaurants overlooking the Burj Khalifa Lake, and take the trip up the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa). All this is within easy walking. Before you come to Dubai, make timed reservations online for the worthwhile ride up the Burj Khalifa and you will go to the front of the line and save a lot of money. For beach lovers, to cap your day off, ask a taxi driver to take you to one of the excellent beaches at Jumeirah (see photo).
|Pat on Boat Ride |
at Madinat Junrah - Dubai, UAE
|Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeriah |
(Palm Island) - Dubai, UAE
Another great day can be had taking short taxi rides to the Mall of the Emirates with Ski Dubai; the highly-recommended fun outdoor Madinat Junrah with its shops, top-notch restaurants, and Venetian-style canal boat ride to see up close the famous ‘sail hotel’ Burj al-Arab; and the Atlantis Hotel where you can witness up close Palm Jumeriah (the man-made Palm Island) and do the water park (Aquaventure – especially good for kids). Note: you must have very expensive meal reservations in order to visit the sail hotel Burj al-Arab and several people told us that it was not worth it.
|Deira Gold Soug |
- Old Dubai, UAE
|Abras (Water Taxi) Ride |
Across Dubai Creek - Old Dubai, UAE
|Dhow Wharfage |
- Old Dubai, UAE
In Dubai, we stayed in the very nice ‘budget’ hotel (Ibis) next to the Mall of the Emirates. From there it was easy to explore all of Dubai with a Metro stop nearby and taxis everywhere. At night, we walked over to the mall to enjoy many nice restaurants, even a very good food court and multiplex theatre showing current feature movies in English.
|Map of United Arab Emirates (UAE)|
The city of Abu Dhabi features green parks, stylish high-rise buildings, luxury hotel chains, shopping malls, and our favorite - beautiful developed beaches. It is hard to believe that only 50 years ago Abu Dhabi was little more than a fishing village with a fort.
|Al Sahil Beach |
with Downtown Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Corniche, Abu Dhabi's waterfront stretches for a couple of miles against a backdrop of the impressive modern buildings of downtown Abu Dhabi (see photo). It has a nice walkway for the entire length and certain sections have sandy beaches. We liked the nice upscale family Al Sahil Beach located at gate 4 (very nice beach but a bit expensive - $20 for two for admission and 2 nice lounges with umbrella). There are free open beaches but they get crowded and you will have plenty of men staring at you. On the Corniche, there are also many activities like go-cart and bike riding, playgrounds, and even stages for shows.
|Flag - United Arab Emirates (UAE)|
Abu Dhabi has its unique tourist attractions. Yas Island hosts Abu Dhabi's Formula One rack track, Yas Waterworld, and the new Ferrari World theme park with the world’s fastest rollercoaster. The upcoming $28 billion cultural haven of Saadiyat Island and its centerpieces, the Guggenheim and Louvre Museums are scheduled to open in the next few years.
|Sheikh Zayed Mosque |
- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
|Modern Streets - Abu Dhabi, UAE|
For a about $6/person you can take the nice 2-hour bus ride from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
Travel tips about the United Arab Emirates... Summers in the United Arab Emirates are extremely hot, windy and humid, with an average high around 108 °F and overnight lows around 84 °F. February has the best weather – mid-70’s F when we visited. Local customs appreciate modest behavior such as no kissing or holding hands in public and modest dress (especially women) having shoulders and knees covered. This is not strictly enforced and you will see exceptions but it is respectful to observe local customs.
Men and women, especially foreigners, wear clothes that we do. There are many traditionalists - men in ghutras (head scarves) and thobes (white robes). Many of the ladies wear abayas (a loose-fitting neck-to-ankle garment) and hijabs (head scarves). Some of the women wear a black burqa that covers their face and mouth with only their eyes showing. Interestingly, even when covered, the use of perfume and eye makeup among women is common. Times are changing.
|Burj Khalifa - Dubai, UAE|
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with Dubai and Abu Dhabi leading the way, is attempting to reinvest their vast oil reserves to build their country in a troubled part of the world. They are looking to the future and we wish them the best of luck.
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