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What to see and do in the futuristic city of Dubai?

September 1, 2013

United Arab Emirates

When thinking about obvious tourist destinations, parts of the oil-rich Middle East might not immediately spring to mind, but in recent years, oil wealth has helped to fuel the growth of many city resorts, one of the most obvious being the Emirati city of Dubai. Aside from being a global business hub, Dubai has become increasingly alluring to foreign visitors, but why?

Sticking out like a sore thumb in the desert, Dubai has plenty to offer for anyone hoping to enjoy a city break with a twist. It also has surprisingly relaxed immigration laws – people from 34 countries worldwide including the UK are free to travel to and from Dubai without a visa, which may partly explain why so many people are visiting this part of the world nowadays.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Attractions

A big part of what helps to make Dubai stand out is its skyline. The city is home to a number of impressive hotels, cultural venues, shopping malls and skyscrapers, the most famous of all being the BurjKhalifa. This particular tower is the tallest in the world, standing at 2,722 ft. Standing on the 163rd floor is a must if you’re not scared of heights!

Somewhat less futuristic but equally impressive is the Jumeirah mosque, one of the city’s premier landmarks. In this increasingly cosmopolitan city, it’s the only mosque in Dubai where non-Muslims can actually worship. Tours take place on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Dubai is also home to plenty of museums including the Al Fahidi Fort where the city and region’s history are mapped out, while art galleries showcasing local and global works including the Art Attack Gallery are plentiful.

Activities

Shopping is a must when in Dubai. Here, there are a number of air-conditioned indoor malls where international chains and boutiques operate side-by-side, but if it’s something traditional you seek, then a visit to the local Souk is worthwhile. You could buy spices, textiles and antiques there!

No visit to Dubai should be complete without a trip to the beach. In Dubai, there are many pristine golden beaches that are great for anything from sunbathing to scuba diving. The city is also becoming a prime sporting venue – Dubai Racecourse is testament to that.

If relaxation is your thing, then you should be pleased to know that it’s also home to a vast array of spas offering a range of therapies to help you unwind after a few hours’ shopping or walking around the various galleries and museums.

What you need to know

In spite of having relaxed immigration laws, there are a few things you still need to know when going on holiday to Dubai. They are:

  • Dress code: As Islam is the main religion here, women must wear headscarves when out in public – nothing too revealing
  • You should consider visiting when there aren’t any major Muslim celebrations such as Eid – some of the shops might be closed
  • Only certain parts of Dubai serve alcohol – this is very important if you need a drink
  • Bring a fan with you, especially during the summer when temperatures often rise over 30C
  • Learn about the local customs – they differ slightly from those in neighbouring Abu Dhabi
  • Bring all the essentials such as money and medicine – if you forget, it’s possible to change your currency once you arrive, while paying by credit card isn’t impossible.
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