Date of stay: May 2011 - (4days)
Where you stayed: Deira city, Dubai
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Dubai, what can I say. This place will blow your mind.
Just a hop, skip and a step away from one of the richest countries in the world (Saudi Arabia), and also close to one of the more dangerous countries in the world (Iraq), this wonderful and developing place is nestled in the heart of the United Arab Emirates.
We flew from Amsterdam direct to Dubai on Emirates airline to which I can only say good things. We flew right over Baghdad, probably one of the more risky things I've done in my life, but made it in one piece. We arrived at 1am but despite the time, it was 30 degrees and very humid. The airport is massive and takes about 20mins in the bus from the plane to the terminal (so I recommend going for a pee before landing as public urination is illegal in this country).
The first thing you notice when you leave the airport is all the Ferrari's and Lamborghini's. Unfortunately our budget didn't allow for such, so we took a taxi to our accommodation. Females be aware that it will cost you about 30 Dirhams more per km’s, and make sure you sit in the back as some taxi drivers will take it as an invitation if you are in the front. The currency is the United Arab Emirates Diram ($1 NZD = about 3 Dirhams).
There is plenty to do in Dubai, they hold the worlds only 7 star hotel (Burj al-Arab hotel), a man made island (shaped as a palm tree) and the worlds largest shopping mall (The Mall of Emirates) which even has a ski field!) Dubai is the ideal place to kick back and relax, the temperatures never seem to drop below 25 degrees and nearly every hotel has a swimming pool.
We stayed 3 nights in Deira City, which is in the old financial centre, but now a hustle and bustle commercial-residential district which has a few old souks (markets). Dubai seems to always have something to offer, shopping, Desert tours and live concerts. As it turns out, reggae rapper Sean Kingston was performing while we were there, we bought VIP tickets for about $100 NZD and got to meet the man himself (but bare in mind drinks are very expensive in the VIP zone)
My main objective in Dubai was to buy some gold. We went to the 'gold souk' which was 10mins in the taxi from Deira City, after a bit of looking around in an array of jewellers I found a lovely 18 carat chain which is now part of my body. Gold is cheap here, I have had this piece valued and it’s now 3x more than what I bought it for. A great investors choice especially with the ever increasing price of gold.
I would really recommend doing the sand dune tours - there are plenty of these available daily, we booked ours through the local shopping mall and the tour company was called 'Happy tours'. They picked us up from the mall and took us for a blast in some 4WD over the desert for about 45minutes, followed by a great evening at a tourist camp in the middle of nowhere. There was a buffet dinner with traditional dancers and local stalls to get into the vibe of this culture. Great night out, but I would not recommend doing sand dunning on a hangover!
All in all, Dubai was great and a major hub for stopovers on a number of long-haul flights. I would recommend stopping over for at least 3-4 days to experience the high life.
Would you recommend your tour: N/A – Pre planned
Overall rating: 4 out of 5