Travel Magazine

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

By Marinacng @MarinaCng
The United Arab Emirates, like most of the middle east, is a country that combines different worlds into one.  It is conservative and at the same time one of the countries where change is taking place at a record pace.  Dubai, which I had visited when its boom was starting, and had the chance to visit again recently, has changed dramatically in the 10 years that passed.  I felt like I was in another place.  An Emirate rich in oil, but with the fear that at some point in time oil would not last forever, decided to invest in tourism.  Structures, buildings, malls, commercial centers, business centers, hotels, parks, developments, man-made island complexes and the list can go on forever.  Everything built in the desert.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

1998-Burj Al Arab under construction 

The Burj Al Arab, is the world's first 7 star all-suite hotel.  It is known for its unique architecture.  It has been built on an artificial island and has the shape of a sail, which was inspired by traditional Arabian sailing boats.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

2011-Burj Al Arab 

Something one notices is that many of the new constructions tend to carry the labels "biggest", "fastest" and all sorts of other records.  Many of those are concentrated at the Dubai Mall, which is the world's greatest mall, and hosts the Dubai Aquarium, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest single acrylic panel in the world.  Surrounding the Dubai Mall is the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, also known as the Burj Dubai, with the world's fastest elevator, and the Dubai fountain, which is the world's largest fountain.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Dubai Mall

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Dubai Aquarium

The Burj Khalifa is currently the world's tallest building, standing at 828 meters, a height which was kept secret by the developers prior to its completion in order to avoid competitors from beating it.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Burj Khalifa

The evenings at the Dubai fountain are quite spectacular, as there is an animated performance with music.  It is quite impressive to watch the first time but after staying there a few hours it can become repetitive and it is very likely to get wet, especially on a windy evening.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Dubai Fountain musical show

Dubai's other popular mall is the Mall of the Emirates.  It is known for its indoor ski resort and slope.  It is quite impressive as it is located in the desert of 30 degrees celsius and they have managed to bring it to minus 4 degrees in there.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Ski Dubai- Indoor ski slope

A big development in Dubai during these ten years was the extension of its coastline.  Within these years they managed to build three artificial island complexes: the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the World Islands.  Out of the three, only the Palm Jumeirah is completed and functioning.  The World Islands can only be seen from the air.  At the top of the Palm Jumeirah is a famous resort, the Atlantis.  It is worth a visit for its restaurants, its water park as well as its aquarium.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

On the Palm Jumeirah- Atlantis in the background

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Atlantis Resort

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Leap of Fate slide at the Atlantis

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

View of Jumeirah from the Atlantis water park

Jumeirah is also considered the "new Dubai".  It is the area at the west end of the city.  It is full of new developments, complexes and hotels.  The most lively part is The Walk at Jumeirah Beach.  A walk full of restaurants, hotels and other forms of entertainment, and certainly, the beach!

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Jumeirah Skyline

One of the buildings in the photo above is the twisting building that is still under construction.  When it is completed, each floor is designed to move independently and make a 360 degree turn every day.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Jumeirah Beach

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah from a skyscraper on Jumeirah Beach

A must see in Dubai is the various souks that exist in the city.  A souk is a traditional Arabian market.  There is the traditional one in old Dubai at the Creek, and there are also various modern ones, like the Golden Souk in Dubai Mall and the souk at the Madinat hotel which is also quite impressive.

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Madinat Hotel

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Inside the souk at the Madinat Hotel

Last but not least, one thing that cannot be missed on a visit to the Emirates is a safari in the desert.  It is an experience different than any other and requires a strong stomach.  Going up and down sand dunes can become much more fascinating than a roller coaster as there are no bars and no set track.  There are various companies in Dubai that organize safaris at the desert, and their programme usually includes some sand dune bashing with a land cruiser, camel rides, various sand sports and a barbecue to end the night.
UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

A rare camel in the Dubai desert

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

UAE Desert 1998

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

A Falcon

UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai


The night after the safari ends with a barbecue and a show with traditional dancers and belly dancers at the camp.
UAE: A Whole New World- Dubai

Stay tuned for the second part of my adventure in the UAE!

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