Dubai - the oil-rich Emirate surrounded by golden dunes of the desert has become a symbol of everything that's largest, tallest and most luxurious. It's hard to believe that a few decades ago this place was just a small fishermen village. With a huge airport and famous Emirates Airlines it is easy to get there from basically any major European or Asian city. Many people seek shelter there from harsh continental winters, within just a few hour flight they can get back to the summer and sunbathe on the beaches. Dubai is a very cosmopolitan and relatively liberal city, although you have to obey some strange rules for westerners, like for example the ban on taking photos on the beach.
After arriving in Dubai you might feel as if you were in India, there are many immigrants from Asia but it's also not difficult to encounter Europeans or Russians. The city is being constantly developed and offers many job opportunities. Also, if you work in Dubai you don't pay taxes.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building and structure ever made - 830 meters (2,722 f.). Construction of the skyscraper began in 2004 and the tower was opened for use in 2009. The whole project cost 1.5 billion USD. The design includes in itself Islamic geometrical patterns that are common in Arab architecture. Besides highly luxurious (and equally highly expensive) apartments, offices and hotels, on the 124th floor of the building there is a terrace and viewing platform for tourists. If you want to visit Burj Khalifa, and, when you are in Dubai, you definitely should, you 'must' book it way in advance online. The price - 125 AED (25 EUR or 34 USD): http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/
I didn't do it and when I wanted to see the tower all the tickets were sold out for the next week! To visit it, I had no other choice but to buy the 'VIP' immediate entry admission for 400 AED (82 EUR or 109 USD)... The elevator to the 124th floor is very fast and after a few minutes you can admire breathtaking views of this modern city. A good trick is to get to the viewing platform right before the sunset, this way you will see the skyscrapers both during the day and then illuminated at night. From the terrace it's also possible to see a small part of the Palm Jumeirah Island, the famous man made Island in the shape of a palm tree. Right in front of the building, there's the Dubai Fountain, which after dark shoots water up to 150 meters (490 f.) in the air and 'dances' to the music every thirty minutes.
When I travel, I never like to visit shopping malls. They all seem the same and boring to me. But the Dubai mall is different. If you hate shopping you should just visit it to see the really huge aquarium (the biggest in the world) placed just right in the center of the mall. There are all sorts of fish in there, including sharks. It is even possible to scuba dive in it! Shoppers can admire various forms of sea life while shopping as the glass walls of the aquarium are also the walls of a few stores in the mall. Underneath, there's a tunnel which allows you to have a closer look at sharks, manta rays and all other sea creatures. On top of it, there's also a ZOO with many animals, even penguins! Combo ticket for both, the ZOO and the underwater tunnel costs 70 AED (14.50 EUR or 19 USD) for an adult and 55 AED (11 EUR or 15 USD) for a child.
If you want to try some winter sports, there's also Dubai Ice Rink in the mall where you can ice skate. Price: 55 AED (11 UER or 15 USD) per person. The session lasts 2 hours.
Dubai mall is also the start point for visiting Burj Khalifa. Basically, as a tourist you enter the skyscraper through the mall. You can also get the tickets here, although it is better to book them online in advance.
Jumeirah District, Jumeirah Beaches and Dubai Marina
Jemeirah District is a relatively old area of Dubai, it was here where the fishermen settlements were located. In the twentieth century, after the rapid expansion of the city, Jumeirah, from a simple village, turned into the most expensive and exclusive district of the city. It's full of beautiful white sand beaches and luxurious five star hotels. The most famous is the Burj Al Arab Hotel.
Apart from private beaches, there are also beautiful beaches available for the public, like Jumeirah Beach (with the view of the Burj Al Arab Hotel) and Jumeirah Park Beach, where coconut palm trees are planted and grown, they give the place a kind of a more exotic look.
Dubai Marina is an entirely man made artificial canal city. It is the area with the largest number of skyscrapers in Dubai and it's perfect for nighttime photography. It's the only district in Dubai, where the majority of citizens are people from Western Europe. It covers 25 acres (100,000 square meters) and the first phase of the development cost over 2 billion AED. The area is still under construction and there are new skyscrapers appearing. It's well connected to the center of the city by the modern and fast Metro Red Line.
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