A little further along the Persian Gulf from my tiny adopted peninsula country of Qatar sits the slightly bigger and more developed country of the United Arab Emirates. Of the federation of seven emirates, Dubai is the most famous, and it has retained its crown as the top tourist destination in the Middle East for many years. It is now the fifth most popular tourist destination in the world.
With three trips under our belt now, it also happens to have been one of the top tourist destinations for Rich and me since we made the move to Doha. I thought it was probably about time I shared ‘my Dubai’ with you, and the must-see sights which keep us coming back for more.
The Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain
Standing at over 848 metres, and 160 stories high, the Burj is not only the tallest building, but also the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Face your fears and take the elevator to the Observation Deck on level 124, or stop at Atmosphere on level 122 for delicious (but pricey!) food and a cocktail or two. Take someone lovely to hold your hand while you survey the tiny city far below you.
At 6pm, the world’s largest choreographed fountain springs to life on the lake in front of the Burj Khalifa, to the beat of emotive music. It plays twice an hour until 10pm on weekdays, and 11 at weekends.
To feel the full force of the drama, take a boat out into the lake and get amongst it.
The Palm Jumeirah
An artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, adorned with luxury hotels and elite residential buildings. Why not Dubai?!
Take a trip to the end of the island and the iconic hotel of Atlantis, and spend a day on Nasimi beach, at the enormous water park, or wining and dining in one of the numerous fine dining restaurants and bars.
We particularly recommend the sushi and Ibiza-like ambience of Nasimi Beach restaurant.
And it’s worth hiring a kayak for an hour or two to get out and explore the channels of The Palm from a different angle.
For a slightly slower pace of life, take a stroll around the pretty marina, watch the luxury yachts nipping in and out, and follow your nose to one of the smaller and more intimate restaurants or cafes.
For all of your needs (yes, literally all of them), head to Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall based on total area. If the 1,200 shopping outlets aren’t your thing, then you can have your fill one of the 120 fine dining or fast food restaurants.
Or pop along to ogle at the sharks and rays at the enormous Aquarium and Discovery Centre.
And admire the huge waterfall with the naked diving ladies.
Downtown Dubai and The Palace Hotel
I have no doubt about it that I have saved the best for last. Take a wander past the Burj Khalifa, down the pretty lanes of Downtown Dubai…
and stop at the stunning Palace Hotel for a breather.
Head outside to Ewaan Lounge for sundowners. Lie back amongst the cushions in Arabian-style cabanas where you can smoke shisha while looking out over the stunning pool at the side of the manmade lake that borders the brilliant Burj.
Where to stay
The Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel and Suites offers stunningly large suites at reasonable prices and provides great views across the harbour, The Palm and the great blue beyond.
But I think you all know that my top choice would most definitely be here.
Dubai, you are fake, you are obscene, but your draw is magnetic.
So these are my top Dubai picks. I’m sure there are many more – do let me know what I’ve missed below!