As an Arabic proverb goes, “Who lives sees, but who travels sees more.” Traveling is an eye-opener. You taste new flavors, get involved in new experiences, meet new people, gain new perspectives and create new memories. I’ve been to almost 50 countries and believe that the United Arab Emirates is definitely something to include in your travel plans, especially Dubai. Here are 10 reasons why Dubai should be on your travel bucket list.
1. Desert Safari
Feel like Cardi B in her “Bodak Yellow” music video, which was filmed in Dubai, as you go on a desert safari. On your way there, you’ll hear about the desert and its role in Emirati culture from a personal guide in an air-conditioned 4×4. Trust me on this, the air-conditioned part is crucial. You’ll then be welcomed at a Bedouin-style camp for coffee and dates and take a quad ride on the sand dunes. You will later take a more slow-paced camel ride and end the day with a barbecue dinner while being entertained by belly dancing and whirling dervishes. Who says Dubai doesn’t have culture?
2. Pier 7
I recommend going here at night. Being surrounded by all the tall, lit up buildings is a magical feeling. As you stroll along the promenade, check out the shops and fun restaurants. If Lebanese is your thing, then definitely have dinner at Abd el Wahab. You can thank me later.
3. Burj Khalifa
Standing at over 828 meters (or 2,716.5 feet), with more than 160 stories, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. It’s not only an incredible engineering feat and stunning work of art, but it’s also tangible proof of how, in less than 30 years, Dubai has transformed itself from a regional center to a global one. You can also buy tickets to get to the top, soak in the skyscraper views and get a stellar Instagram photo to boast.
4. Ski Dubai
Now that you know about the Burj Khalifa, you can understand that Dubai is all about “the biggest.” Ski Dubai is the world’s third largest indoor ski slope and the first to open in the Middle East. So not only can you tell people that you skied in the desert, but they also have penguins that you can get up close and personal with! It’s basically a winter wonderland in the middle of a hot desert.
5. The Dubai Mall
When considering its total area, Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world. There are plenty of shops to make your wallet lighter, I’m talking more than 1,200 here. Don’t miss the balcony view of the Burj Khalifa from the Apple Store. Also, as a break from the shopping, The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is hosted here as well. Take the time to admire over 300 types of marine animals and mermaids… yes, mermaids.
6. Dubai Spice Souk
Also known as the Old Souk, Dubai Spice Souk is a traditional market that brings you back a couple of centuries. Located in Deira, eastern Dubai, it’s the perfect place to stock up on spices and gold (if you’re into that type of thing).
7. Kite Beach
If the name didn’t already give it away, this beach is known for attracting kite surfers from all over the world. With sports, sunbathing, swimming, food trucks and cafes, there’s something for everyone. Since UAE is a Muslim country, their weekend happens on Friday and Saturday which are the busiest days to go to this beach, so plan accordingly.
8. Madinat Jumeirah
This is one of many 5-star resorts found in Dubai and was designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town. Since this is the largest resort in the Emirate, I recommend just walking in and around it to get a feel for the amazing architecture and enjoy a nice coffee with a view.
9. Zaya Nurai Island
While not in Dubai, this private island resort just a few hours away by car in Abu Dhabi has become one of the latest “it” places to go for a weekend getaway. There are lounges, great restaurants, pools and more to relish in. Just keep in mind that one night could set you back almost $1000.
10. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
I bring this up for three reasons: 1. It’s again not in Dubai but we are already talking about Abu Dhabi. 2. It’s a place that has become super famous on Instagram, so you might as well also get a picture there too. 3. It’s one of my all-time favorite mosques. This is the largest mosque in the country and is an important place of worship for Friday gatherings and Eid prayers (the breaking of the fast during Ramadan). It’s also jaw-droppingly stunning inside and out.