Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline, amid its old Dubai past, a land where time forgot.
When you fly with Emirates between Asia and Europe and the Americas, you will transit in Dubai International Airport (DXB). It is currently the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. Dubai’s Terminal 3 is the world’s largest airport terminal building, and Emirates flights operates exclusively at Terminal 3 together with Qantas (only at Concourse A). Emirates is also the world’s largest operator of the double-decker Airbus A380 and Boeing 777.
So how does it feel like flying with Emirates?
It is no doubt that the experience of flying in an Airbus A380 is pleasant, the aircraft itself being huge but surprisingly quiet makes it a comfortable flight to catch a nap, enjoy its in-flight entertainment and facilities. Free 20MB Wifi is available for the first 2 hours of logging in, thereafter it costs up to a whopping US$15.99 for subsequent 500MB – if you are not a Skywards member (whereas it used to cost US$1 for everyone when it was first introduced!). Unlimited data usage is only for first and business class passengers as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members. Meanwhile, Silver and Blue (or the entry-level) members get a 50 per cent discount on the cost.
Economy class seating in an Emirates Airbus A380.
Overall, the seat pitch and legroom is comfortable. You also get some stickers to paste on your seat or yourself – the stickers say “Do Not Disturb”, “Wake me up for meal” and “Wake me up for duty free”. When the crew sees these stickers they will do so accordingly.
Meal service in economy class
You get a full meal complete with metal cutleries and if you order wine, you get the whole bottle, although it’s just a mini bottle.
Landing in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
What to do in Dubai?
So the next question is, what is there to do in Dubai?
Well – there’s actually plenty of things you can do in Dubai. Look up (or go up, if you can afford it!) at the world’s tallest building, ski down a snowy mountain in the middle of the desert, skydive above a man-made island, swim with sharks in the world’s largest mall, marvel at sparkling jewels in the souks and feel the breeze from a traditional dhow cruise—all in a single trip.
Dubai is a city that must be seen to be believed. Record-breaking architecture stands alongside traditional quarters, while man-made islands jut out of the coastline. Here are the top places to tick off your sightseeing list when you’re in town.
Standing 828 metres high, the Burj Khalifa is hard to miss. The world’s tallest tower naturally dominates the Dubai skyline, but the true majesty of the building is best appreciated up close or, even better, from inside. On a clear day, the view from the observation deck on level 124 is absolutely stunning, topped only by the view from the luxurious At The Top Sky Lounge on the 148th floor. And for those who would like to linger for a meal in the clouds, At.mosphere on level 122 is the place to be.
The Dubai Mall
Right next to the Burj Khalifa is The Dubai Mall. To call the sprawling development merely a shopping mall is doing it a disservice. Even an entire day spent here isn’t enough to see it all. Along with its 1,200-plus shops and 150 restaurants, the venue is home to an indoor theme park, an ice rink, a huge indoor waterfall, a choreographed outdoor fountainand the giant Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain, located at the base of the iconic Burj Khalifa and just outside the doors of the famous Dubai Mall, features the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. This popular dancing water show jets water streams as high as 150 metres in the air. Each colourful, illuminated jet sways in time to various musical numbers from around the world, producing what has become the one of the most popular shows in Dubai. Two showings occur in the afternoon (1pm and 1:30pm), except on Fridays (1:30pm to 2pm) and evening displays begin at sundown and take place every 30 minutes until the final song plays at 11pm.
Dubai may be famous for the glitz and glamour of its sky-high towers, but the real heart of the city is, and always will be, the Creek. The saltwater estuary is the original site where the Bani Yas tribe settled, and its waters were vital for what used to be Dubai’s main forms of economy: pearl diving and fishing.
Today, the area is awash with the history of the emirate, as it’s home to the Dubai Museum as well as the labyrinthine alleyways of the gold, spice and textile souks. While at the Creek, a ride across the water on a traditional abra is a must, and at an unbelievable AED1 per ticket, it’s easily the best value tourist attraction in the city.
That is how you steer an old boat
No trip to Dubai is ever complete without going into the desert. After all, it is also what makes Dubai a unique place to go. Less than 20 minutes driving from the modernist streets of Downtown Dubai, you can experience the marvels of the Arabian Desert, the original tourist attraction of Dubai. Take a desert safari Dubai-style with off-roading, quad biking and sandboarding followed by traditional barbeques, henna and camel rides.
Before entering the desert, the drivers must let off some air from the tyres for better grip in the sand.
Enjoy a front-row seat.
For an experience that marries tradition and luxury, come to Madinat Jumeirah. Literally translated as ‘City of Jumeirah’ this complex is inspired by an ancient citadel. It encloses luxury hotels, private enclaves built in the traditional style, the world-class Talise Spa, the Madinat Souk, Madinat Theatre, and more than 40 restaurants and lounges. You can also explore on traditional wooden abras to appreciate the waterways and architecture.
Other places of interests:
- IMG Worlds of Adventure – Indoor theme park
- City Walk – Outdoor shopping street
- Dubai Parks & Resorts – Outdoor theme park
- Al Fahidi – Dubai’s heritage district
Along my trip, I’ve also captured some shots of daily Dubai.
Dubai International Airport – taken from the city fringe of Deira
Because Dubai is so hot in the day, the bus-stops are air-conditioned.
Burj al-Arab. Do you know that 39% of the building’s space is actually unoccupiable? That’s solely due to “vanity height” that rose from the highest occupiable floor. The lead-in room here costs an average of RM7,000 per night to around RM16,000 per night for the suite.
Atlantis Jumeirah is a luxury hotel resort located at the apex (outermost ring) of the Palm Jumeirah in the United Arab Emirates. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is themed on the myth of Atlantis but includes distinct Arabian elements.
Outside of Dubai city, life is ordinary with the traffic jams and the lack of shades and trees.
Looks like an interesting new place to explore? Head over to Holiday Tours website for more travel inspirations and to find out about Dubai ground packages and if you need any help, they will be more than happy to assist you with any enquiries and bookings.