Surprising. Intense. Amazing.
Those 3 words perfectly sum up my one week trip to Dubai. It’s not a destination I would have chosen to go to and let’s face it, the western media doesn’t do anything to help tourism in the UAE. I was lucky enough to be sent here for work (thanks Hult!) and had an incredible experience.
I found the taxis to be pretty cheap, the workers to be super friendly and helpful and the food was AMAZING. I ate so much seafood I’m surprised I don’t have gills. While food and alcohol are expensive (well similar to Australia) getting around is cheap as is accommodation. I stayed at the Yassat Gloria Hotel in Dubai Internet City and really liked it. If I was there on holiday I would choose to stay somewhere closer to Jumeriah Beach.
Being a Muslim country it is more conservative however, Dubai itself is 90% expats and there are a lot of areas where it’s completely fine to wear regular clothing (shorts, dresses, skirts), there are licensed bars and restaurants and it was acceptable to wear bikinis at the beach. I packed mostly conservative clothing and spent the whole week being way too hot!
On my second night there, I went out with my brother for dinner at Jumeriah Beach and was surprised at how tropical and welcoming it felt. There are a tonne of restaurants by the beach and I was enjoying experiencing some real heat against my skin after being in what felt like winter for for the past 7 months. I also went back on Friday night, had a swim with a couple of girls from work, we watched the sunset and then I ate at my favourite American chain for dinner, The Cheesecake Factory!
Getting a cab back to the hotel was somewhat of a nightmare though. In the UAE, the weekend is Friday and Saturday and everyone loves to drive which means there is ALWAYS traffic.
On Saturday we had an all day event at the campus, and then the evening function was at the Sofitel Jumeriah Beach which had great views out to the ocean. It was still quite hot and humid late in to the evening so the cool beverages were going down very well!
On Sunday we organised a city tour that went for 4 hours, it was blazing hot but the woman was hilarious. I think she was Russian and enjoyed making clever jokes about how Dubai have to have the biggest and the best of everything, and some of the interesting rules that govern the UAE. For example, in an effort to stop Emirati men marrying foreign women, the Government will give the man a substantial amount of money to marry a local women…
The tour made me realise that Dubai is actually huge and there are a lot of interesting things to see. I found the Dubai Museum pretty creepy but loved the beaches, the market and seeing the Burj Kalifa (currently the world’s tallest building) and the Burj Al Arab.
I was also pretty keen to do a Desert Safari but after hearing about the sand duning and that it’s about the worst thing you can do if you get motion sick, I decided against it for my own benefit and that of the people around me. Some of my work colleagues went and loved it, so If you don’t have issues with travel sickness, definitely check it out while in Dubai.
After the tour I met my brother at the Dubai Mall, ate the MOST DELICIOUS seafood and cheesy scone for entree and then saw the Dubai fountain light show. Confession time: the amazing food was from an American chain called Red Lobster but hey, credit where credit is due.
On Monday evening I went down to Jumeriah Beach & Marina and had some drinks and snacks at 360 degree Bar. It’s this great spot on the tip of the marina where you can take in, you guessed it, 360 degree views of Dubai. It’s absolutely beautiful at dusk and a must do!
If you are on your way to the USA or Europe, I would highly recommend staying in Dubai for at least 2-3 days. When is the best time to visit? The summer is blisteringly hot, they even have to refrigerate their pools. Everyday is above 40 degrees and sometimes it even gets to 50. This means it’s their off season and you can get some major travel bargains, in the realm of 70% off between June-August. If you are a fan of cooler temperatures (Around 25 degrees) and happy to pay a little more, go between September and March.