I've heard people say that there's nothing to do in Dubai besides shopping and strolling the endless labyrinths in one of the biggest malls in the world. I just hate shopping and try to avoid it whenever possible. Just being in a shopping mall is a torture for me. However, I must admit that I was enchanted by Dubai Mall right next to the world's tallest building. Probably because, apart from the stores, it also houses a really gargantuan aquarium filled with many exotic fish like manta rays or even sharks. It was nice to sit down in a restaurant where one of its walls was the huge glass sheet through which I could admire the sea life.
But, there's much more to Dubai than those extremely modern ideas, architecture, luxurious hotels and resorts. There's the Arabian Desert, Dubai Creek and also the old part of the city (although not that very old - it dates back to the seventeenth century) but really worth a visit for the contrast between new and old.
Dubai is a city surrounded by the desert. It's climate is extremely hot, especially in the summer. However, it's one of the wealthiest cities on the globe with great infrastructure and lots of development. But let's not forget that one hundred years ago it was still just a small town. Around the creek, you can still feel the oriental atmosphere of old Dubai, so different from the glass skyscrapers.
Bastakiya District is the heart of old Dubai, filled with many buildings constructed in a traditional style with the distinctive wind towers. They were used for ventilation in the past, the way air conditioning is used today.
In this district there are a lot of nice restaurants, cafes and a museum, if you want to find out more about the history of Dubai.
There's also another good thing - if you want to escape the crowds - when I was there, there were almost no tourists walking around, so quiet and different to the packed beaches and modern center.
Dubai Souks are something for those who love shopping and traditional things. There's a lot to choose from: herbs and spices, souvenirs, clothes, Arabian scarves (called Keffiyeh) and much more. Just be careful about the prices, I was offered a colorful bottle with sand (a souvenir) for a price five times higher than at the Desert Safari where I had bought the original - hand made with my name in it.
Also, there are a lot of people offering fake watches, jewelry, perfume and t-shirts. It's a bit annoying to keep saying 'no, thanks' constantly and when they notice that you are white, they might be quite pushy.
Dubai Desert - Arabian Desert Safari
This one on of the coolest things I did in Dubai, I love nature and the surroundings were so different to what I had been used to. The dunes were a little red in color and absolutely beautiful at the sunset. The sand was nicely soft and very pleasant to walk on barefoot.
There was a man there who was making the colorful sand bottles depicting the desert, palm trees and also wrote your name inside the bottle by pouring the sand into it, I got one and it's an amazing souvenir, hand made, not something plastic made in china. The price, as I mentioned before was much lower than at the souks.
There are a lot of tours available in Dubai, the prices starting from around 100 AED (20 EUR/26 USD): one day, or with the night in the desert, they may include: belly dancers show, camel rides, dinners in the dessert, driving on the dunes, etc... You will choose what suits you best.
Dubai creek lies between Deira and Bur Dubai districts. For a good, low price, you can have a great journey on one of the wooden boats, as well as you can try a floating bus or restaurant. The views are incredible with the bright - blue waters and the sand color buildings creating a perfect combination. To add more contrast, here and there, there will be modern skyscrapers reflecting the sun rays in their glass, smooth surfaces.
On both sides of the creek, there are many nice places too eat, especially busy in the evening and sometimes finding a free table may be difficult. Food is great, local and at very affordable prices. I got a delicious chicken and vegetables roasted on a golden portable grill served with aromatic, a bit spicy sauces and pita bread. Delicious.
Cruise to Oman
Towards the end of my stay in UAE, I chose to go on a cruise to the very corner of the Gulf of Oman which is a part of the Sultanate of Oman. Leaving Dubai, I could admire the emptiness of the golden dessert which later turned into rocky, dry scenery. I got on the boat and was greeted with a delicious buffet with traditional dishes. Later, the boat sailed along the white coast which contrasted with the turquoise waters as if the sea was illuminated from the bottom. It was time for snorkeling now and visiting a few beautiful, uninhabited beaches surrounded with steep mountains.
On the way back, we went past a few local villages where people were fishing and then selling their catch on traditional markets.
Now you can apply for Dubai Visa online.
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