Touch down. Dubai! The twentieth most expensive place in the world, drenched in decadence and sheiks. As a first-time visitor, I’m overwhelmingly impressed with the cleanliness of this city. Travelling on their mother ship, aka Emirates Airlines, was an experience that could only be summed up as delightful from departure to arrival. I was treated to the outstanding service that is customary in Arab countries.
A little apprehensive as a single female traveller, I reprimand myself for doing little research other than a quick Google of the burqa, camel rides, deserts in general and the must-see shopping opportunities. A transient city, Dubai is buzzing with expats who I can only imagine are seeking an Aussie girl to add to their friendship list.
With a mere three nights in this bustling city, and an awareness that I need to get my shopping mileage up, the Dubai Mall is the first stop on the list. Most of the five-star hotels offer a complimentary bus service to and from the mall—one less worry to concern yourself with.
Wow. The Dubai Mall is a woman’s shopping dream come true and every man’s worst nightmare. If you are travelling with a male companion who is not a fan of shopping, your best bet is to leave him to his own devices for the day so that you can focus all your energy and attention on the task at hand. SHOPPING. With high-end brand-names and glam stores everywhere you look, Dubai Mall is a worthwhile experience even if you aren’t in the market to make a purchase.
Towards the back of the mall you will find a spectacular dancing light affair on water—a tourist draw card. In true Dubai style it is the world’s biggest water display. Whether or not the light and water display is your thing, the shopping centre is surrounded by other hotels and restaurants so it is worth heading to the rear entrance to explore further.
Dubai has a dress code for women, and the shopping centres are no exception. Knees and shoulders should be covered. Respect the rules and cover up.
During the little research I managed on Dubai, I found it amusing to read that men are fascinated by women and have no inhibitions about outright staring. Having forgotten this fun fact and attracting said male attention, I began checking my face for food remnants until I remembered this little cultural insight and smiled and waved at the staring boys.
Recommendations and Must Do’s in Dubai
You have more mileage in you
If you still have $$$ to burn after a visit to the shopping centres, then the souks (markets) are well worth a visit. Silk, textiles, perfume, it’s all available—Souks or the Gold Souks being the most popular. Here is your opportunity to pick up a piece of Dubai. Don’t be afraid to haggle, the locals can smell a tourist a mile away and might be a little disappointed if you’re not up for the haggle—they expect it and have priced their wares accordingly. Check out the Top 10 souks in Dubai.
A words of wisdom: be careful at the Souks in the evenings, especially if you are after a cab. The queues are long so I suggest heading to the cab rank prior to closing time.
Embrace your inner child
The Aquaventure Waterpark boasts record-breaking rides and slides. Take on the world’s largest water slide, the Aquaconda, if you dare. If you are not one for adrenaline-pumping adventure and would rather work on your tan, there is ample opportunity for this on the seven-hundred-metre-long stretch of private beach with exclusive seating waiting for bathing beauties. Alternatively, you can take to the water in a massive floating donut—lay back, soak up the rays and watch the clouds float by. Ahhh, your own little piece of heaven.
Bar Hopping, Or Not
Dubai, with its conservative drinking laws, is not renowned for its wild bar life. Hotels or sports bars is where the drinking action is at. That is not to say that you can’t find fun at a bar, ladies night or a place to hit the dance floor. Check out Time Out’s top 10 bar and club recommendations to find the city’s night action .
Look at The Size of That Thing
There is no comparison. Nothing else measures up. The size is ginormous. It’s so beautiful and like nothing I have ever seen. The tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa is the centrepiece of downtown Dubai. If you want your piece of history then a visit to this spectacular building is a must. There are a range of options available to experience this beauty depending on the experience you are after. General Admission tickets can be purchased or Fast Track tickets if you’re not a fan of queues. Prepare yourself for some ear popping as the high-speed elevator lifts you above the city at a rate of 10 metres per second. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth; however, if you are visiting during the most popular time of day, sunset, I suggest booking tickets in advance.
An Arabian adventure should be factored into every single girl’s travels. Whether it be a twenty-four hour touch down or a stay of several days, there is plenty to see and do to keep you entertained. If you respect the local laws—don’t make out in public if you get lucky—you are sure to love this city.
Dubai Desert is also worth a visit—find out next week what to explore amongst the sand dunes.