“Oh imagine a land, it’s a faraway place, where the caravan camels roam, where you wonder among every culture and tongue, It’s chaotic but hey! It’s home. Where the winds from the east and the sun’s from the west and the sand in the glass is bright, come on down, stop on by, up a carpet and fly to another Arabian night…”
If you’ve listened to the intro of Aladdin, whether by Robbie Williams in 1990 or Will Smith in 2019, you might be just as excited as I am to travel to the Arabian countries of the world. We’ll be exploring three Arabian countries over the next month. Although sadly, Agrabah in Aladdin is fictional so we have to settle for the real world . And we start off by flying to a very rich country, a popular tourist attraction, the place Aunt Sherifat said she bought that dress robe from, the city of gold. Dubai!
You can start off by going on a desert tours. You get to sandboard ( yes, it’s a thing), and ride camels who will probably snub you like the creatures they are. Visit Dubai’s butterfly gardens, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys beautiful things and pretty insects landing on you, this is for you. You will probably also enjoy the world’s largest flower garden. Home to 100 million flowers, feast your eyes on the almost gaudy display of flowers. Flowers in the shape of airplanes. Flowers in the shape of teddy bears, flowers in the shape of people. Flowers in the shape of flowers. Flowers in the shape of animals. A miniature Burj Khalifa of flowers. Mind blowing. Even looking at the pictures on their own is an experience.
Visit the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. It is 829.9metres tall. Stand at the 124th floor and get a bird’s eye view of the city. Get a 360 degree view from the observation. It’s a dizzying experience, if you catch my drift.
Shop at the Dubai Mall which provides entry to both the Burj Khalifa and the Aquarium. At the mall, you can go to the ice-skating rink, gaming zone, cinema and other entertainment options. Watch fashion shows, eat different delicacies and at the risk of bring trite, “shop till you drop. “
If you’re up for a hit of history, visit the Bastakia Quarter(or its oh so original nickname, Old Dubai) built in the late 19th century to get a feel of old Dubai. See the Crossroads of civilization musuem and Dubai’s excellent museum in the Al-Fahidi Fort, built in 1787 to defend Dubai Creek. It obviously worked because the Dubai creek is still very much alive. In fact you can take a ride on it on a dhow or an abra(small wooden ferry) between Deira town to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. This place also has a rich history. You can interact with the locals or let a tour guide talk your ears off. You get an experience either way.
Enjoy the classic example of Islamic architecture, the beautiful Jumeirah mosque. It is a copy of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque, reduced to an eighth of its size. It is built in medieval Fatimid tradition and particularly nice when viewed in the evening . There are tours, Arabic lessons and other attractions. It is, of closed on Fridays to tourists for prayers. Make your prayers at the mosque at least once before you leave Dubai.
Walk through aquarium tunnels and view 140 species of sea life in the Underwater Zoo. Different activities help you get a closer look at the sea life. Glass bottom boat tours (on top of the tank, cage snorkeling and shark diving activities are on the offer. You can also visit the beach and do beachy things (yes, it’s a word albeit not exactly used in that sense) like lounge in the sun, eat picnics, do water sports like jet skiing.
Sleep at the world’s tallest hotel(321 metres),designed to look like a dhow sail. That’s if you can afford the around $15 000 a night rate as it also one of the world’s most expensive hotel.
Have fun at a theme park near Global Village which has a zone devoted to Marvel iconic characters, one for dinosaurs, one for Cartoon Network. Different adventures await fans at this theme park. There is a wide variety of other theme parks for you to choose from.
Dubai is a wonderful place to visit. Especially if you have a magic carpet. You’ll find something for you, no matter your tastes. I hoped you enjoyed this fleeting glance of Dubai. See you in the next two as we travel to our next Arabian wonder. I’ll give you an hint of where it is. It has a river called Denial.