Trip date 24th-28th September
My trip to Dubai last year was part of a multi city stop over from Singapore terminal one onwards to London United Kingdom for my upcoming college term via Dubai flying Emirates. Emirates have very good airfare rates with the exception of rather picky baggage allowance for these stopovers in Dubai, presumably beckoning you to spend a day or 2 which seemed reasonable considering we were flying through the area. Upon arriving in Dubai international airport, it is all spick and white all over, complete with chrome pillars which lines the central travelators at the baggage collection areas. Flying Emirates was decent, and not overly fantastic, the service level of the staff is good, but that just it.
On first impressions, the city of Dubai itself is rather westernised, many of the facilities are modern and remarkably new. Everything from the buildings to the public transport such as their city buses, taxis and trains. This is in particularly at the affluent, classy and touristy areas of the city, which is the topic of interest of this blog post to cover for now. Of course, you can’t say that you’ve completed experience Dubai without spending a night in the shrubs of Old Dubai across the creek. This old area is not too far off the city, which are popular spots for the locals, ranging from the low to middle class working groups, but that will be covered in a separate blog post. For now, lets gets a move on with what I call Dubai, the “Sin City of the middle east”.
Calling the place Sin city is ironic for a Muslim country, but there is just so much catered lavish in Dubai that it makes you feel that it’s definitely a place for the wealthy to chill out and simply just spend big bucks on. But on the contrary, there’s plenty for the budget traveler too, transportation is very affordable in Dubai and so it is the range of hotels available to the filthy Rich rich to the budget traveler. Having said that, the 5-7 star hotels can set you at least $300 to $10,000 a night, just off the city limits you can decently spec-ed 3-4 star budget hotels which I stayed in and 4 nights won’t set you back $300 throughout.
The first part of exploring the city means getting on the open top Big bus tours which loops about Dubai’s main attractions. We primary use it as a form of transport to the various spots of interest in Dubai and is competitively priced as compared to traveling around the city with public transport yourself. Not only that you get a more regular bus schedule, you get an audio guide on top of a free flow of chilled mineral water on board the air-conditioned buses, which we come to actually love and take for granted at times.
Wafi is an Egyptian Gods themed hotel, arts center and shopping arcade alike, with their trademarked glass stained windows and pyramid shaped hotel almost like the Luxor pyramid in Las Vegas, only that this one is decked out in stone. The place seems to have a rather eccentric mix of Egyptian and Arabian theming, with the upper Egyptian floors in contrast to the Arabian marketplace and food court on the lower floors, but nonetheless a great place to escape the heat of the afternoon.
The exploration continues south bound along Jumirah road which runs along the beach front. Dubai is a beautiful city of with an ever changing skyline of skyscrapers which can be seen from anywhere including the Jumeirah park and beach. However, there is always so much development and construction going around it seems that supply is outstripping demand, questioning whether such rapid development is actually thoroughly anticipated or planned for, let be sustainable. Much of Dubai’s main city areas are served by the iconic Sheikh Zayed Road which runs through the heart of the whole city, with the Dubai metro runs along side too. There is of course, no better way to get around Dubai using their public transport. Their bus stops are all air-conditioned, like little oasis in the middle of a dessert. Interesting, with all the occupants enclosed, the button inside the bus stop can be pressed to light up a a signaling sign on the side of the bus stop for bus driver to stop.
There is surprising a large range of hotels and food options to pamper the uber rich, the Madinat Jumeirah Market is no exception too and is just one of the many hotels and attractions here owned by the Jumeirah group. Just nearby off the beach lies the 5 start Al Qasr hotel, with the iconic golden prancing horses which leads up to the hotel’s drive way. I’ve seen many other 5 star hotels around the world and none even are decked out as lavishly with fountains and gold as this one here. It feels very much like a palace and I was surprised it’s just 5 stars in the age of 6 or even 7 star hotels here.
Madinat Jumeirah Market
The Madinat Jumeirah was built to resemble a traditional Arabian town and market, with a modern twist. It is completely man-made decked with a shallow lagoon, river and a ship wrecked boat to boot. There are many open plazas along the palm tree lined market streets, which seem uncanny quiet on most times of the day, with most of the stores only operating in the evening. Only a cafe and few small shops were seen open during my time of visit midday.
Here you can have ago at few traditional Arabic candies such as smoking the hookahs, or bubbled smoking pipes bluntly put, they are apparently something unique to the area here and is technically not addictive like smoking, depending on what brews you bubble through the water. The views offered at the market are really planned to be picture perfect, with the icon Al Arab protruding from every aspect of the Market’s skyline with the Persian Gulf flanking the background.
Weather wise, Dubai is very hot, desert hot, but the humidity is not as bad as that in Singapore, which makes the heat more bearable at the expense of having to hydrate alot more in the heat. Many guests prefer to spend their time indoors as far as possible with shuttle services to various attractions in Dubai provided complimentary by the hotels themselves.
There is a mix of public and private beaches along the Jumeirah road, some owned by hotels and only accessible by hotel guests, some serviced and open to the public with an entrance fee (like the Jumeirah park and beach) and some just open public unkept beaches. All these beaches face the Persian gulf with similar unobstructed views, so it just matter whether you wish to have the privacy of a private beach or one free for all. Almost all the greenery in Dubai are all transplanted, any patches of green seen throughout the city, let be park, intersection islands are all man-made. Maintaining all the floura in the desert is no easy feat either, with everything all drying out in a matter of weeks if they are not watered regularly (and artificially here).
Having said that, notably, Dubai has this extensive undersurface network of water pipes and hoses which runs under all the greenery in the city, keeping the ground watered and cool, with the exception of running moisture to needed areas too. The Al Arab or the “Sail” as most call it is a 7 start hotel managed by the Jumeriah group, almost the other half of the hotel is underwater with full underwater views to boot. The top is home to your own personal helicopter heli pad if you ever feel so inclinded to reside in the hotel given your chosen mode of air transportation. It’s entrance is only accessible by hotel guests and is situated via a bridge right in front of the Wadi wadi waterpark, which we will visit on the R&R day on the final day of our stay.
The Al Arab isn’t the only hotel situated on a man made island. The Palm islands where the Atlantis hotel reside is another breathtaking establishment which beckons you even while you are on the freeway towards it. It’s a huge hotel with a very distinctive palace-like architecture, much geared to the missing city underwater of Alantis which the hotel is themed after. The palm islands is completely man-made and is a huge residential area with various houses and road side apartments to boot. There is a dedicated monorail independent from the Dubai Metro which departs from mainland Dubai serving the island right to the Atlantis hotel at the end of the palm. Interestingly, despite the large hype of the island, it is still largely unoccupied with many vacant houses along most the sub residential streets on the island with only the apartments along the main road being the more popular option.
The Atlantis hotel on the other hand is one of the main reason for the island’s existence, it is a self-contained mini city with it’s own water front, aquarium, scuba pool and said monorail system. The main hotel complex is where all the F&B outlets, hotels, high-end shops reside and serves as the entrance to it’s own themed water park with life dolphins to boot. Sticking much to the Atlantis underwater ocean city theme.
- Dubai city sights Part 1 (Dubai city photo album)
- Dubai city sights, creek and souks Part 2
- The Dubai mall, aquarium and zoo (Dubai mall photo album)
- Up the Burj Khalifa (Photo sights up the Burj Khalifa)
- Dubai historical sites and Dhow River cruise (Historical site and Dhow cruise album)
- Dubai Desert Safari (Safari photo album)
- Adu Dhabi (Adu Dhahi photo album)
- Yas island (Yas island photo album)
- Jumeirah, Wadi wadi waterpark (Wadi wadi Photo album)