The fastest growing city in the world, Dubai is a garish, headline grabbing whirlwind of a place that burst onto the international tourism circuit. Flashy, fun and just a little bit weird, it has well and truly stolen the crown from traditional stopover destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
So if you find yourself with 24 hours to spare in this zany, buzzing city, forget about getting some rest in between your flights. After all, where else in the world can you be riding jeeps through the desert one minute, relaxing on the beach the next, before hurtling down an indoor ski slope to finish?
The one thing that you really sense when you arrive in Dubai is ambition. The city is filled with the sort of drive that makes everything possible, leading to some audacious feats of extravagance that you will find nowhere else in the world.
From the world’s only underwater hotel, to the world’s only seven star hotel, to the fastest roller coaster and tallest building on the planet, everywhere you turn in Dubai it is bigger, bolder and more luxurious than anywhere else.
Perhaps the most awe inspiring of all Dubai’s projects is the chain of islands that have been reclaimed from the sea. First there was the palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah, then it was the Jebel Ali, shaped to spell out a line of poetry, and finally came The World.
This manmade archipelago forms a map of the world in miniature but unless you were lucky enough to have a few million in the bank to bag a piece of this prime real estate, you will have to settle with peeking at it from onboard one of the many tour boats that offer excursions around the bay.
The first thing to get straight about shopping in Dubai, is that most of the malls have pretty much the same stores as anywhere else and there is no real difference in price. But shopping here is far more about the experience than the bargains to be had.
Once again, everything is delivered with breathtaking vision and imagination. The Souk Madinat has its own waterway to transport people from its shops and bars to the neighbouring hotels. The Mall of the Emirates has that indoor ski slope mentioned before and the Mall of Arabia, opening in 2010 as part of the Dubailand theme park, is tipped to outstrip even these impressive offerings.
For a slightly more authentic shopping experience, don’t miss the Gold Souk where haggling is the name of the day.
Food and Drink
Although part of a Muslim country, alcohol is not banned in Dubai. The law requires that it is served only within the confines of a hotel, but you certainly don’t have to look hard to find one of those here. Many of the hotels have several bars and restaurants so you definitely won’t go thirsty.
At the top end of the eating spectrum, there are plenty of five-star offerings to choose from that will feed you an unforgettable culinary experience and leave your purse, if not your waistline, a great deal lighter.
For a less extravagant feed, head to Al Dhiyafeh Road, where you will find numerous restaurants catering for the less affluent, working-class members of the population and offering a mouth watering variety of cheap international cuisine.
In the relentless forward motion of Dubai, it’s easy to forget that this was once a quiet fishing village. One tiny corner of the city remains to remind us of how this striving, growing metropolis once was.
The Bastaki Quarter is tucked between the Dubai Creek and the Bur Dubai district, and is a winding maze of traditional buildings. Many of these have been turned into art galleries and cafes and the area is well worth a visit if you find yourself craving a few moments of quiet introspection in the face of all this progress.
Hotel Deals in Dubai
Hotel The Monarch Dubai
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Comfort Inn, Dubai
The 3-star Comfort Inn Hotel is located just a few steps from the Union Metro Station, in the business and commercial district of Deira in Dubai.
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