- Burj Khalifa: world’s tallest man-made building and world’s highest outdoor observation deck on the 124 floor
- Burj Al Arab: world’s only 7 start hotel, world’s tallest hotel, world’s highest helipad
- Dubai Mall: world’s largest mall, world’s largest acrylic panel aquarium
As of now Abu Dhabi has the world’s largest indoor theme park – The Ferrari World, but Dubai is all set to beat this by creating another one that would be a couple of times larger than this. They seem to have an obsession that anything largest/biggest has to be in Dubai. Everything about this place is grand. So it was with great excitement that my family said yes, when I asked them if they wanted to visit Dubai. I was going there for a couple of days for some office work and we could easily take a few days off after that to make it a personal trip as well.
Being in residential neighborhood, we had residential buildings around us, which looked no different than the regular flats kind of buildings that we have here in India. This did mean that the view was pretty boring from our hotel room. One thing did catch our eye though was lack of balconies in many apartments around us or if they were there, they were pretty small. Here's a good use of a small balcony that we saw
|Cloth stand hanging outside the balcony|
If you have seen the Dubai map, you know that it is located at the edge of Arabian Gulf. The airport is almost on one side of the city. From the tourists point of view, there are two main parts of the city that are a must see – the spots around Dubai Creek and the spots on the Jumeirah road. Sheikh Zayed Road is the main road that connects the city with Sharjah on one side and all the way to Abu Dhabi on the other. And then there is obviously the Dubai Downtown housing the Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall and various other attractions. My take is that if you have 3-4 days, you can pretty much cover the entire Dubai city. There are good hotels near the airport and the Dubai creek. Most good hotels are on the expensive side and just room or at max room with breakfast are the plans that they typically offer.
The office of the friend, where I had come to work, was in the Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT), a place near Palm Jumeirah. About an hours drive on the Sheikh Zayed road took us past many high rise buildings to JLT.
|On the way to JLT|
|Jumeirah Lake Towers|
One of the first things we saw in our tour was the Dubai Museum. From outside it looked pretty small and as we entered the enclosed ground, there seemed to be only few rooms at the periphery. I was a bit disappointed.
Then we realized that we had to go to the basement for the actual museum. Once there, we realized the expanse of it. It reflects the era gone by of Dubai i.e. the life style of the people living in yester-years, their way of life, accommodations, their daily work, building of boats (called as Dhow) for fishing etc. The museum is built in the basement as during summers Dubai becomes very hot and walking around such a large museum in that hot weather will be very difficult and would require extensive cooling. Having it underground, provided a natural coolness to it.
|Lifestyle of people @ Dubai Museum|
Dubai sleeps late and the night life is very safe. Many shops and most malls are open almost till midnight. The city is so brightly lite at night that after getting back to India, it felt that we were driving around in total darkness, given our feeble lights on most roads. The Burj Khalifa, shines like an exquisite diamond in the night lighting.
The only drawback on this night tour is that it is non-stop, so in case you need to take a bio break, you will pretty much need to wait till the tour ends and the bus returns.
The Barjuman Mall, one of the earliest malls in the city, houses some great places to dine with the presentation that of a beach front
|Food Section @ Burjaman Mall|
and definitely the Dubai Mall, the largest of them all, which boasts of world’s largest indoor aquarium, also has its own ice rink and the world famous Dubai Fountain. It has over 20 cinema halls and can have close to 16000 cars can park at a time. The majestic Burj Khalifa is right next to this mall. If you plan to visit Dubai Mall, you can avoid taking the ticket for the aquarium, as it is fully visible from outside as well and you can take a walk around it. The only additional thing that the ticket gets you is the walk under it (in a tunnel). Dubai mall is also probably the place to see all sorts of luxury and premium car brands.
|Outside Dubai Mall|
|Main Chamber @ Lost Chambers of Atlantis|
Wafi mall, from where our Big bus tour started, has a section called the Bazaar. This is an underground market, replicating the street market of Arabian and Turkish goods and is a place where you can get most of your shopping done as a tourist (except for Menna bazaar, which is the place to go for the gold shopping). There are wide variety of shops selling local dresses, cosmetics, spices and a whole bunch of souvenirs. This the place to show your Indian bargaining prowess. Feel free to walk away, if the prices aren't adjusted as you are asking and don’t worry if the shop keeper doesn't follows you. There are many shops selling similar items, and someone will definitely reduce. When trying to buy souvenirs for our friends back home, one shop insisted on AED 10 as minimum per item, while at a later shop we got the same item 3 for AED 10.
|En-route Desert Safari Camp|
|Trying my hands at (empty) Hooka|
Second is to use the DU’s Visitor mobile line SIM card. Extremely convenient wait to keep in touch with people back in India and even with local Dubai connects. It can be purchased at the Airport itself or from any of the big malls having the DU shop and activates within mins. The initial pack comes with 20 min of call time that can be used for local/international call and also has an AED 20 recharge voucher in it. While recharging you have option of recharging only your local calling, or international calling or the data plan or all of it. I mostly used it for international calling back to India, as locally I was connected via WhatsApp, given the free Wi-Fi at my hotel, my office and also in most of the malls. Local number. calling (land-line) was free from the hotel as well. I did face issues in connecting to Wi-Fi both at Mumbai international airport and Dubai international airport. For once, my Galaxy S3 Android phone didn't work, while my wife’s Windows 8.1 phone worked like a charm.
That's all for now.