The emirate of Dubai is mammoth and every day it is developing bigger and bigger. With construction taking over the whole city, continuously trying to magnetize tourists to this dreamy, world of attractions and unheard luxuries. Relatively new as a tourist destination, popularity in recent years has been increasing. The emirate’s plus points lie in its entrepreneurial abilities to create the unimaginable found in its tourist attractions, landmarks, shopping centres, nightlife and hotels.
Just 5 hours from Europe, Dubai makes a great choice as a short break. It is a city of superlatives, the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest! Being the ‘fastest’, growing city in the world, with the ‘largest and biggest’ shopping mall, ‘Tallest’ buildings and ‘highest’ tourist tower.
It also has the largest immigrant population in the world, but still comes across as a strong Arab country to me. When walking around on a day to day basis you see lots of Indians. Since the founding of the oil industry, it has attracted thousands of migrants from all over the world notably from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines in search of jobs.
Dubai is located on the coast, bordered by the desert and gets extremely hot. Being very, dry on the hottest days and very, humid on the cooler days in the summer. Most pleasant time to visit is between September to May. It rarely ever rains and they say if it will it will be in November, but saying that it last rained in March.
Arriving in to a super modern airport was easy and hassle free. There is an amazing metro station linked to the airport boasting being the best in the Middle East. We had a driver pick us up as, as we had booked in to one of the leading hotels in the world ‘Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa’. A chain of what is meant to be an outstanding chain of hotels across the world.
Considering this hotel is one of the leading hotels in the world – First impressions weren’t good. On arrival we were greeted and made to stand by reception for 20 minutes while they were searching for our booking. Letting a poor trainee struggle, to eventually find our booking. We were finally given a key but no apology for the wait and left find our room ourselves. No information provided regarding breakfast or any of the restaurants, as we were staying on bed and breakfast basis. Service was not given unless you asked basically…
We had paid to upgrade our room to a sea view on booking, this was so not worth it, and you weren’t even allowed to go out onto your balcony as the heat condensates the mirrors in the room. Way to arrogant for my liking! The room itself was like a shoe box and the bathroom was almost half the size of the room; bath and shower were very old and not very good at all. The room did include free robes and flip flops. We read through some information found in our room and discovered there was a strict dress code for everything, this was no holiday, being told what to wear to every area of the hotel! It was 50 degrees outside and you weren’t allowed to wear casual clothing! Closed shoes, tailored trousers for gents to breakfast etc. Dinner jacket to all restaurants for dinner! An to stay covered up until by the pool area. We resorted to room service the first night, which was our attitude!
We just got on with the 3 days we had here in Dubai and wanted to cram in as much as possible, the pool was really over crowded so we decided to head to the hotel’s beach. Beautiful white sand and it was very quiet considering the size of the hotel. But there was a reason for this. The heat was defeating, I love sunbathing but this place was getting the better of me. 50 degrees was too much! I was just sweating; Ocean temperature was about 35 degrees, like getting in to a hot bath. We just lay down on a sun lounger and looked out towards the sea and all you could see was cranes, diggers and JCB’s working in the distance. This is not idealistic or what you want to see on your holidays, whilst trying to relax! The down side to a quickly, developing place I guess.
The hotel provided a free bus into the city several times a day so we decided we’d had enough of the hotel that we’d go exploring! We got dropped off at the Emirates mall to begin, this was gigantic and amazing for shopping, with lots of similar shops/brands that we have in the UK. I definitely recommend eating out in the malls, so much cheaper than the hotels and much more variety. You could spend days in this place it was so big. A shopper’s heaven! It even had an indoor ski slope inside.
We visited all the different types of souks; the world famous gold, diamond and general ones with a bit of everything. The narrow, streets are lined with shop windows with glistering ornaments. These were fascinating instantly absorbing the cultural atmosphere. It is custom to haggle for everything, which I loved although as a woman I got slightly ignored and they asked my husband to reason to get a better price which made me laugh.
As we were leaving the souks, a skinny, tall man asked if I like Jimmy Choo? God yea, I was thinking as I replied ‘yes’, ‘where’. He said follow me, naively we did out to the foyer of the souk and into a lift. Slowly chugging upwards in an old, noisy lift for what seemed like forever; doors opened and we followed him down a dark, narrow corridor of what looked like apartment doors. He halted and knocked three times on this door. I looked at my husband and stayed quiet with a face of worry, anxiously not knowing what to expect. A shutter on the door rapidly opened like a prison door and a man’s head popped out saying ok. We were quickly ushered in, to ‘wow’ I had walked into a designer Aladdin’s cave. Fake designer, but this was good designer… The risk of following a random stranger paid off! Everything you could imagine from Louis Vuitton suitcases, clothing, jewellery and watches, but more importantly beautifully made handbags. We chose quite a few items and then the hard work started the ‘haggling’! This really wore me out, but we got there in the end and got a great price and a lot of great gifts. We were escorted to the lift and we hopped in a taxi straight back to the hotel.
Our last day in Dubai, we decided to go to ‘Wild Wadi’ the highly rated waterpark. This was fabulous day out and suitable for all the family, a great way to beat the heat and get away from the bustle of the city. The even had waterslides which went up hill. Whatever will Dubai come up with next!?! It was lots of fun!
Dubai in my opinion is very materialistic and fake! So much building work going on everywhere and I guess will be for several years… I would love to return one day to see the finished ‘Dubai’, but will stay away till then.