The best things to do in the 'City of Gold'
A playground for kids
Think of the children - and the cool things they can do
Water-based adventure (in liquid and crystal form)
Arabic and English
Gulf Standard Time (GST)
Dubai has cheap and plentiful taxis, as well as a metro which runs through the financial and residential areas of the city. But this is a land of excess, so while you can make use of these rather 'pedestrian' transport modes where appropriate, you should also take the chance to get around in less conventional ways. Take a 4x4 safari out to the desert, which you can do while bouncing around in a jeep. Or you can jump into a hot air balloon at sunrise to see the desert spread out before you, like a seemingly infinite blanket of golden sand. Or, for the ultimate in decadence (this is Dubai after all!), hop a 15- or 25-minute flight in a luxury helicopter up above the city. But if you just need to get from Point A to Point B, consider buying a gold-plated Porsche.
Toeing the line
Respect and decorum are highly valued in the UAE. So it's not a great stag-party destination. However, alcohol is available, but only in hotels. Fortunately, there are plenty of those, so you need not go without your glass of wine at dinner. Also, swimwear is appropriate for the beach or poolside, but stripping down is not done here. Bikini tops at places like shopping malls and on the street is considered disrespectful - and occasionally punishable by law! Women especially should dress modestly when in public areas, with clothes that cover the tops of the arms and legs. Public displays of affection are also frowned upon. This isn't meant to scare you off though: act respectfully and you'll be treated with warmth in a nearly crime-free city.
The bling ring
The 'City of Gold' is an amazing place to revel in excess. There's a harbor full of super-yachts, the seven-star Burj Al-Arab hotel, and the world's tallest building. It's almost as if they've never heard of the word 'understated' (or don't know what it means). Perhaps most audaciously of all, there's a collection of reclaimed islands just offshore. Most well known is palm-tree shaped Palm Jumeirah. But there's also The World - an archipelago that forms an enormous world map. And currently in development are two more island projects, Jebel Ali and Deira. Summing up the whole enterprise, Jebel Ali will have a breakwater that spells out a line of poetry by Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum "It takes a man of vision to write on water".
The tallest structure on the planet is impossible to miss from the moment you arrive in Dubai. That's because it's an 830 m tall skyscraper in the middle of the city. The design of this internationally acclaimed architectural marvel is based on the desert-dwelling Hymenocallis flower. Its triple-lobed footprint provides a stable base for its lofty heights - all the better to offer amazing views of the city and desert that surround it. The opportunity to see the 'City of Superlatives' from one of the observation decks is not to be missed. The 124th floor is phenomenal, but the 148th floor is, well 24 stories higher. And the 148th floor has a VIP experience too. Day or night, make time in your day to check out the Burj.
Dubai is famous for its many shopping malls, but this one in particular needs to be seen to be believed. It's enormous, and even if you're not into shopping, there will be something (or some things) for you to enjoy inside. It has a 22-screen cinema, indoor theme park SEGA Republic (7,000 m2 of indoor theme park fun, including a 7 m-high halfpipe), Kidzania (where kids try out grown up life), an aquarium, and an ice rink. In fact, one day here probably isn't enough, so you may want to plan a couple days at the mall. It sure feels weird to recommend a trip to the mall for visitors to a city, but making a city like Dubai required throwing out the rulebook, so it's only fitting that we do the same when offering our recommendations.
"Yas!" is what you'll be screaming as you enjoy the rides here. This waterpark has some of the world’s most thrilling attractions, as well as a whole host of more chilled out water attractions, making this a perfect place to soak up some outside fun-in-the-sun while in Dubai. Some of the rides are world firsts like Bubble’s Barrel – the largest surfable sheet wave in existence. There's also the Bandit Bomber, a 550 m-long water rollercoaster (watercoaster?) with onboard water effects. All in all, Yas Waterworld is 37 acres of wet, watery fun. And, though splashing in the water in the middle of the desert may not seem very eco-conscious, YAS will surprise you here too; it's the first water park in the Middle East to receive a '1' on the Estidama Pearl Rating System for sustainability.
Beach party Emirates
The sun is a fireball in the center of our galaxy that is approximately 27 million degrees hot. It's not quite that hot in Dubai, but it sure can feel like it sometimes. Fortunately, the waters of the Arabian Gulf are crystal clear and very inviting. Dubai's beach scene is pretty fantastic - especially if you like beach action. Volleyball, picnics, jet-skis and plenty of people. So grab your sunglasses, a sunhat, flip flops, a towel, plenty of SPF 80 sunscreen (or a lead suit), and get ready to soak up some rays beachside. Jumeirah Beach Park has a very reasonable AED 5 (€1.20) entrance fee, or Umm Suqeim (also known as Kite Beach) is another popular spot. Many of the beaches along the central stretch belong to the hotels and are for guests only - or those willing to pay a hefty fee.