Dripping in extravagance and basking in sunlight, Dubai is an alluring place where skyscrapers seemingly touch the sky and outlandish dreams come true.
The city has positioned itself as a hub for international travel, and most tourists arrive in Dubai purely to connect to onward flights. However, with the rate at which the city is evolving, the 'City of Gold' definitely warrants an extended stopover. Our marketing expert, Vicky Roberts, has just returned and gives her top tips for getting the most out of the city in 48 hours...
Morning: With a huge immigrant population, and an ever-growing expat scene, Dubai’s multi-ethnic cuisine is testament to its culture; a beautiful fusion of handed-down secrets and innovative twists. The best place to start is in the Old Town; head to the bustling street stalls of the city’s souks where the delicious scent of food lingers in the air like incense.
Lining the banks of Dubai Creek, the souks offer everything from aromatic spices, glistening gold jewels and premium silk, to the latest electronic merchandise. Cross the creek to Deira in a traditional dhow – the experience will set you back less than a dirham (18p). Go on Thursday or Friday to witness the souks at their most frenetic.
Afternoon: Next ride the metro to Jumeirah Beach Residence, a residential development nestled between the azure waters of the Persian Gulf and the iconic skyscrapers of Dubai Marina. The pristine beach is backed by ‘The Walk’ – a boardwalk brimming with air-conditioned restaurants, smoothie shacks, and ice-cream carts. The area is laid-back and buzzing all at once, with luxury five-star hotels, branded marketing stalls pumping out music, and camels on the beach.
Early evening: Walk to Dubai Marina at dusk and watch as the city lights begin to twinkle. The Dubai Marina Yacht Club is a great place to enjoy the view; go for happy hour and listen to live music whilst watching the boats come and go – it’s a super calming way to spend early evening in the city. If you’re after something more lively, try the nearby Pier 7 by Marina Mall. Seven floors featuring individually themed restaurants offer something for everyone, from the chic atmosphere and street food inspired cuisine at Cargo, to the innovative French fare on the rooftop terrace of Atelier M.
Night: Once night falls, hail a cab to one of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks, the Palm. Step into the city’s glitziest hotel, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray – its gorgeous interiors were recently featured in the 2011 Mission Impossible film sequel, Ghost Protocol – before entering the Music Hall next door. The theatrical venue comprises of tiered booths facing a stage; performances include interpretive music from a range of nationalities, and as the night wears on, the room breaks out in dancing with DJs.
Morning: If it’s Friday, go for the champagne brunch, although be warned: this eat-and-drink-all-you-can meal has a reputation for taking over the rest of your day. The four-hour affair is offered throughout the city at luxury hotels, and can rather rapidly break down into raucous, dancing-on-the-tables type behaviour.
If it’s not a Friday – or you don’t fancy drinking from midday onwards – head back to the Palm to visit Atlantis, the world-famous hotel synonymous with Dubai’s opulent culture. The hotel’s water-park, Aquaventure, is a seriously fun way to spend some hours in the sun; interact with inquisitive dolphins, or test your nerves on Neptune’s Leap of Faith.
Afternoon: The city offers world-class luxury shopping, with the Mall of the Emirates even featuring the largest indoor ski resort. However, the Dubai Mall is bigger yet – hail a cab downtown to spend some hours browsing the stores of the world’s biggest brands before marvelling at its shark-filled indoor aquarium.
Early evening: Dine at one of the fabulous restaurants overlooking the choreographed Dubai Fountains in front of the Burj Khalifa. Every half hour from 7pm, the fountains perform in perfect time with music on the 30-acre lake. Each performance is a surprise; anything goes, from Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ to traditional Arabic music. Grab a table at Armani/Amal for delicious Indian fare with unbeatable views, or head to QDs for great music, calamari and pizza followed by shisha – one of the nation’s favourite pastimes.
Night: Top off your 48 hour stay by shooting to the 148th floor of the tallest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Standing 829.8m tall, the surrounding cityscape is dwarfed and the views are just phenomenal.