With more than 2 million inhabitants, Dubai is the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi. Dubai is a city of superlatives, as you can find the highest building, the biggest shopping mall and the most luxurious hotel in the world. But it is also a city of contrasts, as rich people live together in the city with many migrant workers from Pakistan, Iran, India or South East Asia, who work 7 days a week for a really low salary. Dubai is also one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, due to its amazing resorts, entertainment districts, shopping malls and the desert. I was a bit skeptical before visiting Dubai, as I’m not a huge a fan of superficial surroundings, but I was blown away by the buildings in the city and the kindness of the people. Everything in the city is bigger, higher and more luxurious than everything I’ve seen so far. Dubai is a unique destination in the world and definitely worth a visit, even for a few days. I was staying four days in the city and was able to see most of the interesting sights. Here are the top things that you have to see in Dubai:
The world’s tallest building opened on 4 January 2010 and pierces the sky at 828m. More than 13.000 workers toiled day and night to create new apartments, offices and hotels. Today visitors can go up to the 124th floor where they can enjoy breathtaking views over Dubai. I would recommend that you go up in the afternoon, so that you can enjoy the views during daylight and sunset.
This luxurious hotel, shopping and entertainment complex has a lot to offer. You can go shopping, dine in excellent restaurants, stroll around the magnificent Al-Qsar and Mina A’Salam hotels and enjoy nice views on Burj al-Arab. If you have some money left, you can catch a water taxi, which will cruise along the 4km-long network of Venetian-style canals.
With more than 1200 stores, Dubai Mall is the largest shopping center in the world and a paradise for shopping fanatics. Even if you don’t want to spend your money, you should visit the beautiful Gold Souq and the magnificent Dubai Aquarium with more than 33,000 beasties in it.
By visiting Bastakia Quarter you can splurge into the old times of Dubai as it is Dubai’s Old Town. In a labyrinth of lanes and narrow streets you will find restores wind-tower houses, pretty courtyards, wonderful carved wooden doors. You can also visit a few interesting galleries like the most beautiful one called Majlis Gallery and numerous craft shops.
Lost Chambers is an astonishing aquarium which recreates the legend of Atlantis. In 20 aquariums you can find colorful jelly fish, clown fish and more than 65,000 other marine creatures. The most impressive aquarium is the 11-million-liter Ambassador Lagoon where you can admire rays and sharks.
Deira Fish Market
Dubai’s largest and busiest fish market is a must-do if you are in Deira. If you come in the afternoon you can see how hundreds of workers are carrying boxes of fish to the market hall and how they prepare and arrange the fish before it is getting sold. You can also have nice chats with workers, before it is getting busy.
Umm Suqeim Beach
One of the most popular and nicest beaches in Dubai is Umm Suqeim Beach. Especially in the evening, during sunset, the views on Burj al-Arab are amazing.
As soon as its getting dark, the crowds are moving to an artificial lake in front of Burj Khalifa, because they want to see the spectacular shows of the Dubai Fountains. Every 30 minutes you can admire a different show.
Souqs in Deira
In Deira you will find different kind of Souqs. In one of the largest Gold Souqs in the world you can buy all kind of jewelry in more than hundred stores. The Spice Souq awaits you with exotic herbs and spices and the covered Souq is more a warren of small shops, where the busy crowds can be interesting to watch.
This artificial canal city, which is surrounded by the most impressive and tallest skyscrapers of the city, is worth a visit especially at night. The best way to explore Dubai Marina is either by walking along The Walk at JBR or by going on a Dhow Dinner Cruise.
If you want to learn more about the history, culture and traditions of Dubai you should visit Dubai Museum. Even if you are not interested in museums, you need to have a look at the impressive 1799 Al-Fahidi Fort which houses the museum.
Dubai Creek separates the two districts Deira and Bur Dubai. To go from one district to the other you need to cross the creek. The most fun way to do so is by jumping on one the numerous water taxis abra, from where you can also admire hundreds of dhows which are docked at the creek.
In the second biggest Mall of Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, is an attraction that you need to see at least once. Ski Dubai is an artificial winter wonderland where you can go skiing, enjoying the snow park or watching penguins.
This luxury resort hotel is located on Palm Jumeirah and opened in 2008. The hotel houses a water park and the aquarium Lost Chambers amongst others. Even if you are not staying in the hotel it is impressive to visit the hotel interior and exterior.