36 hours in Dubai

Dubai has never really featured highly on my list of places I want to visit. However, when the opportunity did arise I felt we should grab it. This was because we were en route for Cape Town to celebrate a special birthday for Mr FF! I am not the biggest fan of flying, so the chance to break our long haul flight was too good to miss. I’ve read and heard so much about Dubai that I thought I should find out about the city for myself.

Our flight was with Emirates on a 380 Airbus. I must say that I was very impressed, both with the food and the in flight entertainment. We arrived in Dubai quite late and caught a taxi to our hotel.

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This is the view from our hotel room balcony. Pretty dramatic?! Our first impressions were of the tall buildings and the lights. Of course, Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa.

We were pretty tired by this time and decided to settle for room service, so that we could get up early and make the most of the next day.

I’ve blogged about Hop on, Hop Off buses before when we visited Barcelona and Glasgow. I think if you’re spending a relatively short time in a city, they are a great introduction.

There are three possible routes: the city, beach and marina. We only had time for one of these, so we decided to take the city route which would give us some understanding of the history and culture of Dubai.

The tour begins at the Dubai Mall. This is the largest shopping mall, in the world, and has over one thousand shops. It also houses an aquarium and an ice rink!

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If you are a fan of shopping, especially designer brands, Dubai is a tax free haven. Here’s the Wafi shopping mall, photographed from the top of the bus. We didn’t go in but from the outside it looks more like an Egyptian museum.

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As we continued our route, I was surprised to see how much green there was in Dubai.

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As we continued, this building caught my eye:

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We decided to hop off and visit the Dubai Museum and see one of the original parts of the city. Unfortunately, we hadn’t factored in the long, lunchtime closure of the museum. Below you can see some of the original city walls. There was a strange type of heat mist and the sun had gone behind the clouds, so the colours seem rather dull.

For our final stop we opted to visit Dubai Creek. Some people say that this is the real heart of the city. It is a saltwater estuary and when trade with the outside world began, over a century ago, this sheltered inlet was the natural place to develop a trading port. The creek has been widened many times and is nowadays busy with abra – small wooden water taxis – carrying passengers between the souks of Deira on the northeastern bank and the historic district of Bur Dubai on the southwestern bank.

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We started by visiting the souks:

I’ve visited souks in other countries but I found the ones in Dubai were much less intimidating than others I have experienced. Although we were approached by guys trying to persuade us to buy their goods, they weren’t pushy or nasty. We managed to resist purchasing any items – even in the utensils souk!

Our Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour included an hour long ‘cruise’ on a traditional dhow. This is a traditional wooden boat originally used  by fishermen. The boat trip was a very good way to experience both sides of Dubai, the old and the new.

We ended our day by having dinner in a Lebanese restaurant that happened to overlook Dubai’s Dancing Fountains. These are the world’s largest musical foundations and spray up to 150 metres. The display is illuminated and accompanied by music. It was impressive! Here’s a clip I found to give you an idea of the experience.

I was so glad that we had taken the opportunity to sample Dubai.

I’d love to know if you’ve ever been there and what you thought.

Next stop: Cape Town

6 thoughts on “36 hours in Dubai

  1. I thought the same thing about Dubai– a big meh. I’m unimpressed by fancy brands–I’d much rather have something handmade by a real artisan than logo merchandise. The UAE seems like the Spice Girls–each emirate has a different persona, and Dubai is definitely Posh Spice.
    However, I had to go there for work a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t get to see much–I barely left the conference–but I did get to the mall and saw the indoor skiing. I thought the goods on offer were terribly expensive–all the same stuff as in the U.S. but much higher prices (so much for duty free). The conference was at the Atlantis at the top of the Palm, which was quite a sight in itself and an extremely nice place to stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dubai seems to have a bit of an identity issue – glitzy versus traditional. Although I obviously didn’t get to see everything in the time we had, so perhaps more difficult to comment. We missed out on the beach, marina and the Palm. I’ve see photos of the Atlantis. It looks pretty impressive and it must have been quite an experience to stay there, especially for work!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful experience. Not on my list either but if the chance comes along to see somewhere for real instead of in a book or on a TV screen – why not. I think one would have to be very wealthy to go shopping there! I’m never quite sure how I feel about old and new alongside each other. Time moves on and we have to embrace change, but it always seems a little sad to me that so much of the history and tradition is lost amid the new. I found the souk in Morocco intimidating.

    Liked by 1 person

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