TRAVEL REPORT: Roaming through Dubai, UAE

After several trips last months the famous Emirate of Dubai was my next destination to explore. Actually I need to say that it wasn’t my first time in Dubai. I’ve been here twice before, first time doing an internship, second time for a visit only.

This time I went here again as I really like this city to have a timeout from work, for just having some luxury and roaming through this huge city.

After I did my last two trips on Airberlin, I tried Ukraine International Airlines this time. I went to Frankfurt (FRA) on the Intercity Express train from Cologne, flew to Kiev (Ukraine) afterwards and transferred to my flight to Dubai there. Many people asked my why I chose this airlines and I gotta be honest: pricing reasons. At a price of 260€ for the return flight including all taxes and luggage their price was far cheaper than the rest. But nonetheless I wasn’t let down. Good service, friendly crews, good seat pitch on economy mid haul and transfer in Kiev was smooth. If you should find any deal with them, no worries, go ahead and book.

As usual from Europe I arrived at nighttime so I had lots of time before checking in. I chose the Al Ghurair Rayhaan Hotel in Deira for my stay. Really comfortable, not far from the airport (DXB) and the metro station “Union” and with a lot of shopping options around.

After having some sleep and a shower I decided to visit Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Mall on my first day. Fortunately the metro connects the most important sights, shopping malls and business points in Dubai and taxis are cheap in comparison to Western Europe or North America, so that travelling around in the city is not a big deal. If you choose the metro, sitting in the very front (Gold Class if you go from Deira into the direction of Jebel Ali, but standard class in the other direction) is definitely worth it as it is an automatic train system without driver and you have a great view onto the skyscrapers along Sheik Zayed Road.

After arrival at the Dubai Mall Metro station first thing one sees are the skyscrapers surrounding the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa. Burj is the Arabian word for tower and that building really is a massive tower. With a height of more than 800 meters it stands out the Dubai skyline and is far higher than anything else in proximity. It is also possible to visit the Burj Khalifa’s visitors platform which offers a great view onto the city. But due to the number of visitors the tickets need to be bought in advance and are fixed to a certain date and time.

The Dubai Mall right at the foot of the Burj Khalifa is not only the largest mall in the world but also a shopping paradise for everyone. Offering a wide range of different shops, cinemas, an ice rink, a food court, a gold market, an underwater zoo and an indoor amusement park for children this mall is actually an own world where anyone can find something for not being bored and having fun. I was doing some window shopping here, had lunch and used the free WIFI.

When I left this great mall at the main entrance the first thing I did was looking up into the sky as I stood right opposite of the Burj Kahlifa. Between Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa there is another spectacle called the Dubai Fountain. The fountain show is three times an hour and is a great symbiosis of water and music especially during night time.

I just crossed the water on a small bridge and was in the part of downtown Dubai that is held in the modern traditional style of the region aside from all the skyscrapers and modern business and bureau housing. First stop here: Souk Al Bahar. A Souk is the Arabian kind of mall and is mostly the market of a town or a center of shops such as a bazaar. The Souk Al Bahar is a small and modern shopping mall held in Arabian style of beige buildings from natural materials instead of concrete. I really like this souk as it’s much calmer than most other malls and it invites you to have a small break in one of the restaurants and cafés inside or on the terraces outside. Roaming around here is really relaxing after the experience of Dubai Mall.

As it has already become late (you can really stay in this area for hours without noticing the time passing by) I returned to my hotel to have dinner in the Al Ghurair Center and going to bed afterwards.

After a long and deep sleep and after breakfast I decided to visit another mall, the Mall of Emirates and having some chill out time at the nearby beaches.

The Mall of Emirates is not as large as the Dubai Mall but a shopping paradise anyways. In luxuriant Arabic style this mall is great to have some shopping, dining and is home to Dubai Ski, what is the (in my opinion) biggest waste of energy in the world. It is a large skiing hall with an artificially snowed slope and an ice landscape for children. In the middle of the desert where the temperature in summer seldomly drops below 30°C. But anyways this mall is worth a visit.

After having lunch here I took a taxi to the beach right next to the world’s most expensive hotel, the Burj Al Arab. As the word burj says, it is really tall and was once the tallest hotel building in the world. It still is the most expensive one with huge suites, great restaurants and premium service.

The nearby public beach is a really nice place to lie in the sand, enjoy the great weather and swimming in the sea which is warm during all times of the year. After relaxing here a little bit I went back to the Mall of Emirates metro station to go back to Downtown Dubai. As it was already becoming dark I had some dinner here and enjoyed the illuminated skyline and Dubai Fountain at night.

The next day was my last day here so I decided to roam around in the historic part of Dubai, around the creek. As the creek was only a 10 minute walk away from my hotel I decided to walk along the promenade. As the creek is yet still the embarkation point for the Dhows, small freight ships from other countries in Arabia and Persia it is really interesting to see the workers loading and unloading the historic ships with a wide range of goods. A little further there is the small port for the Abras, small watertaxis so get from one side of the creek to the other for just 1 Dirham (equals 0.22€ or $0.27 at the moment). A ride on an Abra is definitely one of the things you should do in Dubai. On the other side of the creek in Bur Dubai, you can find an old souk and the Dubai Museum which is really interesting and informative on the history of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai.

As the metro isn’t working on Saturdays before 1 pm I took a taxi to Dubai Mall to have lunch. From here on I took the metro again for a ride to Dubai Marina. Dubai Marina is another touristic point of interest. It is a huge mass of skyscrapers which are mostly hotels or apartment buildings. In the middle of that there is a yacht harbor from where one can also book roundtrips along the coast. The Marina Walk is the promenade around that harbor, inviting to chill out with a lot of cafés and restaurants.

As my flight back home was a night flight again (for sure), I decided that this was the last place I visited here. I went back to the hotel by metro, had some relaxing time at the pool, dinner in the Al Ghurair Center again and went to sleep afterwards to have some energy when going to the airport around midnight.

As this trip wasn’t my first I can only recommend Dubai as a destination for a short trip to you. There is a lot to see and to do and you won’t regret it.

Some tips that might be useful:

Flights:

Dubai now has two airports. DXB, the international airport in the boroughs of Deira and Al Qusais and DWC the new airport which is still under construction but already opened to charter and low cost airlines. DWC is farther from Downtown Dubai and Deira, but nearer to Dubai Marina and the planned Dubai Waterfront in Jebel Ali. Anyways most flights today go to and from DXB. The airport is dominated by Emirates Airlines which connects Dubai with a lot of destinations on all continents, but international airlines from all over the world fly here too what makes it easy and not too expensive to get a flight here, no matter from where you start.

Hotels:

Dubai has a huge number of hotels in all different categories. As the standard is high but the prices aren’t, I can recommend to choose a good four or five star hotel for your stay. The prices for those are not as high as in many other parts of the world, but the standard of rooms and services is really high and will let you have a great time of relaxation here. On my own experience I can recommend the Mövenpick and the Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana in Deira and the Manzil in Downtown Dubai. But as there are some hotels better than others it is for sure helpful to look up the hotels on Tripadvisor.com to see what other guests think.

Transportation:

As already said, the metro is a good way to travel through Dubai as it connects the main sights and business destinations at a low price. To all destinations that are not connected by metro, taxis are the best option. Quite cheap (~1.80 AED per km), fast and always on hand.

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