It has been almost 3 years since I have visited the majestic city of Dubai and recently I’ve gotten an itch to go back! I visited it with the Dubai Tourism and Travelling Board South Africa, and they really did show us everything and anything that Dubai has to offer. I was not a travel blogger back then but I did do a few posts on what there is to do, however today I wanted to compile a post on things to do in Dubai, all together in one post! I hope you find this post helpful and it gives you a desire to book a flight to Dubai right now (PS check out Travel Start because they often have cheap flights to Dubai!)
Visit the Burj Khalifa
This majestic building is an absolute must-see while visiting Dubai! The Burj Khalifa is an architectural masterpiece, standing at 828 meters and 160 stories tall, it holds the record for being the tallest building in the world. That is not the only record it holds, it is also the tallest freestanding structure in the world!
Composed of more than 160 stories, I was simply blow away by its structure and the view that you get from the top of the Burj. More than just the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa is an unprecedented example of international cooperation, symbolic beacon of progress, and an emblem of the new, dynamic and prosperous Middle East. Even if you are scared of heights, you have to fight your fears and take the elevator to the top, so you can experience this majestic view. The “At the Top” encounter takes you to the 124th floor of the building where you can see Dubai from its best angle yet. Tickets start at R500 per person and it is worth every penny to experience this!
Visit The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
One of my favourite stops in our Dubai journey was the The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Not because it is fancy, or anything like that, but because that is where I really felt like I understood the culture of the UAE and its people. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a non-profit organisation, which promotes awareness of Emirati culture, customs, traditions and religion among expatriates and foreign visitors in the United Arab Emirates, as well as aiming to remove cultural barriers.
The centre was found in 1998 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and is based in a traditional Emirati wind tower house, located in Bur Dubai’s historic Al Fahidi neighbourhood. It operates under the banner of “Open Doors. Open Minds.” The centre arranges numerous activities, including tours of heritage sites and landmarks in Dubai, educational programs for students, cultural awareness events, lectures, iftars during Ramadan, as well as providing experience of traditional Emirati food. From mid-September to mid-July, the centre runs highly informative 90-minute guided heritage tours of Al Fahidi Historic District several times weekly. All tours conclude with a Q&A session and Arabic coffee, tea and dates.
I loved the Q&A part because I had many questions that I wanted to ask- and the people that work there were extremely helpful and open minded with anyone asking whatever they wanted. For example, I wanted to know- how come the Emirate men don’t wear wedding rings? I understood the culture so much better after a visit to the centre, and we got to go inside a mosque and eat delicious Emirati food during the visit. I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to get to know the Emirate culture a bit better.
Have Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab
Considered one of the only 7 star hotels in the world, the fabulous Burj Al Arab is as extra as you can get! We got lucky enough to have a tour of the place, and let me tell you, it’s all gold, all pink, all leopard print and so luxurious!
Not many of us might be able to afford to stay at a place like Burj Al Arab, but at a cost of just over R1000 per person, we might just be able to afford this fabulous high tea and a stroll through he over-the-top(but awesome) hotel.
Located on the top floor of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Skyview Bar instantly matches expectations with magnificent panoramic views. Fresh scones, elegant sandwiches, clotted cream, cakes, preserves and jam, served with delicate, refreshing beverages. That is the image the words ‘Afternoon Tea’ immediately bring to mind.
Ride the dunes in a proper Desert Safari Experience
Another must-do while visiting Dubai is a Desert Safari Tour to ride those dunes! Venture into the desert and enjoy a quad bike ride, a yummy dinner and traditional Emirati entertainment on an awesome desert safari in Dubai. As the sun starts to set, scale the dunes on your 4×4 and arrive at a Bedouin-style camp for Arabic coffee and dates. Then, take an exciting quad ride, watch henna artists at work, enjoy a camel ride, and admire impressive sand art. Finish with a traditional dinner under the stars as you watch belly dancers and a ‘tanoura’ dance, with whirling dervish dancers spinning before you.
There are multiple tour operators that offer the Desert Safari tour (and the price ranges anywhere from R700 to R1500 per person, depending on how many hours you want this adventure to continue). You are picked up at your hotel and driven straight into the desert. Before we even got to the dune-bashing bit, we were treated to an awesome falcon show, and afterwards you could take pictures with the falcon and a camel! After that, it was onto the dunes- and I must admit I did have a bit of a freak out there! The dunes are hectic and the 4×4 goes quickly, but it was a lot of fun! We got to take some photos with the sunset and enjoyed jumping around the dunes- needless to say that the sand got everywhere! 🙂
After the sunset, we were taken to a Bedouin-style camp for a night of delicious traditional food, henna painting and belly dancing. I loved doing the desert safari and highly recommend this to anyone vesting Dubai.
Make Your Shopping Dream Come True At Dubai Mall
If you love shopping then Dubai is your heaven, especially the Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is the 2nd largest mall in the world by total area- now that is crazy! It is also home to the Dubai Shopping Festival (which happens in February) as well as home to the luxurious Armani Hotel (seriously, we got a peek inside it, it is amazing). It has everything from luxury shops (think Prada, Gucci, anything you dream of) but also has affordable shops like your Zara, H&A and Bath and Body works. It’s a shoppers dream, so leave yourself at least a day of your trip to get lost inside and shop away!