Futuristic DUBAI dazzles with its towering skyscrapers and other man-made wonders
Indeed, Dubai has to be visited and seen to be believed. The desert city’s skyline is dominated by ultra-modern skyscrapers that stand alongside traditional old souks (markets), while man-made islands pepper the deep blue waters of the Arabia Gulf.
With a history dating back to 3,000 BC, Dubai was initially a centre for pearl diving, fishing, boat-building and trading, before the discovery of oil in the late 1960s propelled it to its current iconic status as a model modern city.
In 1971, Dubai joined its neighbouring six emirates to form the United Arab Emirates and shine collectively as a beacon of modernity and progressiveness in the Middle East.
The world’s tallest building at 828 metres, the Burj Khalifa fuses modern engineering, art and tradition in its spectacular design. Home to offices, private residences and the luxury Armani Hotel, the skyscraper has observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors as well as the world’s highest restaurant, At.mosphere, on the 122nd floor.
The Dubai Mall
Located at the foot of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is a shopping metropolis with more than 1,200 retail outlets, countless restaurants, an indoor aquarium and even an ice rink. Within the mall is the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, its 10 million-litre tank containing more than 33,000 aquatic denizens. Enjoy a stroll along its 48-metre walk-through tunnel as you feast your eyes upon the flurry of sea life – all 140 species – that call it home.
The Dubai Fountain
Located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain sound and light show which shoots 22,000 gallons of water up to 150 metres high. One of Dubai’s most popular attractions, the evening water show takes place every 30 minutes.
That’s right, you can go skiing in the desert! The indoor ski slopes of Ski Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates provide an adrenaline rush with five runs of varying difficulty, along with a freestyle area for snowboarding and tobogganing. For the less adventurous, there are snow caves and tube rides, while the Avalanche Café is a great stop for a hot drink while watching penguins waddle by.
One of the latest additions to the city skyline, Dubai Frame is located at Zabeel Park between the old and new quarters. The 150-metre high structure offers panoramic views of the city and has a clear glass bridge that connects parallel vertical towers – thus creating the shape of a picture frame, ideal for that iconic selfie.
Dubai Water Canal
The Dubai Water Canal is a 3.2-kilometre waterway which runs from the Creek in Old Dubai through Business Bay and meanders to the Arabian Gulf. You can take a water taxi to Marasi Drive, a residential district which is home to a marina, waterside homes and dining outlets.
City Walk is an al fresco shopping district featuring a wide array of boutiques, entertainment outlets and restaurants. Some of the shopfronts are inspired by the streets of London, while entertainment outlets such as Hub Zero, The Green Planet and Roxy Cinemas make this the ideal evening excursion.
Bluewaters is a man-made island destination offering an enticing blend of shopping, dining and entertainment. The major attractions include The Wharf lifestyle area, the Cove Beach club and Ain Dubai, which is the world’s tallest observation wheel. Also located here is the Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai where a gourmet experience like no other awaits at Hell’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay.
Built entirely from white stone in the medieval Fatimid tradition, Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most beautiful religious structures in the word with towering twin minarets framing a large central dome. Non-Muslim visitors are allowed every day except Fridays, while women will have to wear a head scarf.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
The Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood will mesmerise you with its winding stone alleys, traditional wind towers and hidden teahouses. There are also numerous art galleries and handicraft shops, while across the creek you can shop for gold, handicraft and perfumes in traditional ‘souks’.
Burj Al Arab
For many years the most iconic building in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab Hotel has a distinctive sail-shaped silhouette and sits on a man-made island. Soaring 321 metres high, the hotel also has a helipad that has hosted numerous stunts by celebrities, including golf legend Tiger Woods who hit a drive from there in 2012.
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is for the young and young-at-heart with more than 100 indoor and outdoor attractions in four theme parks: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park. At the centre of it all is Riverland Dubai with loads of themed dining and retail outlets, while the Polynesian-themed Lapita Hotel is close by.
When you fly into Dubai, one of the most amazing views is that of the Palm Jumeirah … a series of artificial archipelagos in the Arabian Gulf, taking the form of a stylised palm tree when seen from above. The complex is home to some of Dubai’s best beach clubs, upscale restaurants and luxury hotels such as Atlantis, The Palm.
Emirates Airlines and Malaysia Airlines (codeshare with Emirates) offer daily direct flights from KLIA to Dubai. Flight time is approximately seven hours.
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