Exotic United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
I recently spent a week traveling through the United Arab Emirates, exploring Dubai, Abu Dhabi (think Sex and the City 2 movie) and the surrounding desert. Dubai is the extravagant playground of the rich and famous, with fabulous high rises including the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world housing the first Armani-branded hotel. You'll also find the world's second largest mall in Dubai as well as gorgeous beaches and world-class restaurants.
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Atlantis The Royal Dubai
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My first stop was a tour of Palm Jumeriah, an artificial archipelago shaped like a palm tree. Palm Jumeriah offers luxurious resorts including the Burj Arab, with its distinctive sail-like structure and the iconic Atlantis Resort featuring a waterpark, aquarium, and the boardwalk.
While access to the hotels is restricted to guests, you can still admire its architecture from outside. For a memorable experience, consider dining at one of its restaurants such as the Al Muntaha or Al Muhara. Another option is breakfast or lunch at the Jumeriah Beach Hotel with stunning views of the Burj Arab and the coastline.
My next stop was a tour of the Dubai Marina, a vibrant waterfront district known for its modern architecture, upscale residences and lively atmosphere. Stroll the Marine Walk and enjoy waterfront dining or embark on a boat tour to appreciate the skyline. The bustling promenade includes lots of shops and restaurants as well as the Dubai Marina Mall.
On my second day in Dubai, I visited the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, dominating Dubai's skyline. Observation decks are located on the 124th and 125th Floor as well as At The Top SKY deck on the 148th Floor for breathtaking views of the city (advance tickets are advisable and can be obtained Online). Enjoy the Dubai Fountain and promenade at the base of the Burj Khalifa with its captivating water and light show synchronized to music. There are several outdoor dining options available to grab a casual lunch or dinner.
A visit to the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood harks back to a time in Dubai before oil was discovered in 1966! The discovery of oil marked a significant turning point for the emirate's economy, transforming Dubai from a small trading and fishing community into the prosperous and modern city it is today.
My next adventure was a Desert Safari Tour, beginning with a 40-50 minute ride from the city out into the Arabian Desert. First stop on most of these excursions is driving ATV's on a sand track. Then it's on to "dunebashing" in an overland vehicle, sandboarding down soft sandhills and then to the camp for camel rides, henna tattoos, a dinner buffet and show. We stayed overnight "glamping" in the camp's luxurious tents before heading back to Dubai the next morning (this is an optional add-on to the tours but substitutes for a night's hotel stay!)
Need to Know
There are so many other things to see and do in and around Dubai but try to find time to relax and enjoy the beach, pool and spa at your hotel.
This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to United Arab Emirates. In need of further inspiration? Check out Nadia Bess’s guide, Luxury, Food and Culture in the United Arab Emirates.
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