Tradition plays an important role in shaping up the modern-day Dubai. From a humble trading port in 1800s, the emirate now operates the biggest shopping malls and runs the most lavish shopping festivals the world has ever seen.
The Dubai Mall, for instance, boasts of over 1,200 shops and entertainment venues. The Mall of the Emirates prides itself on having the first-ever indoor ski resort. Ibn Battuta Mall has six theme courts representing the places the famed explorer Ibn Battuta visited in his days.
The shopping malls house the most luxurious fashion brands: Bottega Venetta and Armani both have flagship boutiques in the emirate. But aside from these, electronic gadgets imported directly from the sweatshops of China are also sold here – at tax-free prices!
In the markets along the old districts, the souqs offer gold and pearls, as well as spices from India and cloth patterns from Iran.
Watch out for the Dubai Shopping Festival happening yearly between January and February. On these days, all shops offer huge bargains to attract tourists to the city.
Desert Safari/Dune Bashing
Leave the spitting camels to their herders. Modern-day tourists in Dubai generally indulge in a different kind of adventure.
Hop on to a Toyota Land Cruiser, buckle your seatbelt, and ready yourself for a bumpy joyride. The desert awaits.
Dune bashing is becoming quite popular in Dubai. Indeed, even the empty quarters of the emirate has become a destination for tourists, as these areas are perfect for indulging in this heart-pumping sport.
It’s not just the adrenaline rush that draws tourists to this activity, although the prospect (read: threat) of having your 4X4 roll over on the steep desert sand dunes is a huge part of the attraction. Some tourists are also enticed by the idea of camping out under the stars. The thrill of “getting lost” outside the city remains a reason why tourists are drawn to this activity.
The magic of petrodollars and tourist spending can turn a patch of dry desert into a ski resort. In Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, humid temperatures and dust storms will never hinder you from enjoying winter activities all year round.
Choose from five grades of slopes to test your skills. Novice skiers can practice at the bottom with an instructor provided by the resort, while professionals can carve a path across steeper slopes at the summit. For snowboarders, there is a 400-meter run where you can perform your stunts.
Kids and adults who want to experience building a snowman or riding a bobsled can stay at the Snow Park. Ice caverns, gentle rolling hills, and a large observation deck offering a view of the main slope are some of the park’s attractions.
In a place where it’s summer all year round, what could be a more natural thing to do than go swimming?
Wild Wadi is a large outdoor water park close to the shores of Jumeirah Beach. The park features a pool capable of generating waves large enough for guests to enjoy knee boarding. A giant slide, called the Jumeirah Sceirah, reaches heights of up to 33 meters. Going down the slide allows you to experience seconds of weightlessness as the sheer force of gravity hurls you toward the pool.
Apart from the high-speed water slides and powerful wave pools, Wild Wadi also has a man-made river, which allows you to relax as you drift around the park. There is also a play area for children and a waterfall that cascades every 10 minutes. Another attraction is the Master Blaster, where powerful jets of water propel your floater across several slides.
Step into the heart and soul of Dubai, away from the modern and often pricey attractions of the city. For just around $0.50 (yes, 50 cents), you can ride a traditional water taxi, or abra, across the Dubai Creek.
The cruise will give you a picturesque view of the city as you travel through the banks lined with some old houses, bazaars, and heritage sites. It will take you from the souqs of Deidra to the classy restaurants of Bur Dubai.
Deidra is home to the Dubai Museum and the first school in the city. Bur Dubai has few attractions, but the floating restaurants should suite your culinary taste. The district is also home to the famous Wind Towers.