Dubai is the largest city in the UAE and one of most famous travel destinations in the world. Dubai is one of 7 emirates that compose the United Arab Emirates. It is widely famous for ultra-modern skyscrapers, luxury, and rich people. Even if the basis for the city’s rapid growth and wealth was – and is – oil, it is one of world’s major hubs for finance and business. Dubai can be reached from almost any airport in the world.
What to see?
The airport is the first thing that you will see when you arrive, and you will have to take a look at it. Dubai International Airport is the second largest airport in the world after Beijing. The airport handles almost 100mln passengers annually, which makes it one of the busiest airports in the world. As you land there, you will be stunned by the number of airplanes, large airport halls, and the number of tax free shops and leisure facilities.
Burj al Khalifa
As you probably know, this is the tallest building in the world at 828m in height. It is one of the major symbols of Dubai. When you approach Burj al Khalifa, especially at night, you will be so impressed that you will think that it must come from another dimension or an alien, advanced civilization. The shape, design, and height of Burj al Khalifa combine to make an arresting impression. At night, the building shines brightly and reminds the visitor of a rocket that is about to take off for outer space. Burj al Khalifa has 160 floors which offer shopping malls, hotels, residential space, and offices. If you want to experience this building fully, you can pay an entrance fee of 30eur and take the elevator to one of highest observation decks in the world, which is located on the 124th floor. The view is more than unbelievable as all the other skyscrapers are below you and seem much smaller than they really are. On cloudy days many clouds are below the altitude of the observation deck and thus most of Dubai is invisible below you.
These are the largest artificial islands in the world. It took years and a lot of hard work to make them look perfect, like real palm leaves. These islands offer villas, sport facilities, and hotels, so you can walk around and see many luxurious villas and also swim in one of the swimming pools and have a cocktail while enjoying the water.
Burj al Arab
This is a 321m high skyscraper in the shape of a sail. It is definitely one of most impressive buildings in Dubai, especially at night, when it shines in a light blue or green color. The building serves as a luxury hotel and was, in fact, the first 7 star hotel in the world, where a night can cost 1000eur and where chocolates with slices of gold are served. Here is also served the most expensive cocktail in the world, at a cost of about 900eur per glass. So if you like luxury, give the Burj a try. There is a restaurant, Al Mahara, which is located next to a seawater aquarium where you can watch fish swim while you eat. You will have to book a reservation for your visit about a month beforehand.
The fountain is located among skyscrapers in the city center and is next to an artificial lake. It is 270m long, and it shoots water more than 100m into the air. This fountain is the largest choreographed fountain in the world.
This is the last remaining old district in Dubai. It is frequently forgotten since most of the guidebooks are focused on modernity and luxury. Here you can see how people lived in former times, before Dubai experienced its recent growth in wealth and fame. There are a lot of old houses, a few mosques, and many coffee shops. The coffee shops are traditional places where you can drink Arabic coffee and smoke shisha.
What to do?
Swimming is definitely a must. The sea is very warm and clean, and there are many wonderful sand beaches. Give it a try so you can enjoy Dubai fully.
Desert visit and camel ride
You can take a tour from Dubai into the desert. The trip is not long since Dubai is surrounded on three sides by desert, where you will find the lifestyle of the Bedouins as your tour guide takes you to typical Arabian villages. You can camp with the Bedouins in the desert, eat Bedouin desert meals, watch their dance performances at night, and of course stay overnight in a tent. If you want to feel like a real Bedouin you can also ride a camel.
The cruises are a bit more expensive but not impossibly so. You can rent a boat or a yacht and take a cruise around Dubai. First you will be taken along an artificial canal which passes by parts of Dubai. Also you can cruise farther from the coast and observe magnificent Dubai from afar.
Yes, snow skiing is available. Despite outdoor temperatures which reach more than 50 degrees Celsius, there are artificial slopes covered with snow in shopping malls, and you can rent skis and ski and feel like you are experiencing winter while it is hot outside. So if you like skiing and want to try the adventure of skiing in the Middle East, give it a try.
What to eat?
Dubai is a melting pot of different people from all over the world, and this is reflected in the city’s cuisine. In addition to domestic Arabic food you will find dozens of restaurants which offer Italian, British, German, American, French, Chinese, Russian, Thai, Japanese, and Indian food. But I always suggest trying local food. Local kebabs, shawarma, falafel, and halva are a must try in Dubai. The price of a meal starts at about 7eur.
When night falls
Dubai is a city which never sleeps, and thus its opportunities at night are great. Maybe the night is a perfect time for walking around the city. Temperatures are not as high as during day, so you can walk along Dubai’s broad, splendid avenues. The avenues shine with lights, luxury, and a warm atmosphere. You can also walk through Dubai’s many parks, which are distinguished by white sand and palm trees. You will see people from all over the world, from the Americas to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The local people are a real contrast since some are dressed in a modern style while others are dressed in traditional attire with Arab scarves and hijabs. By night you can visit the Dubai Marina, which offers a perfect view of the city and many anchored yachts. Some of yachts cost several million euros. In addition to walking there are options such as clubbing and visiting pubs. They are full every night, any day of the week. You can enter some of Dubai’s many sky bars, located in cozy spots from which you can see the skyline shining at night. You will be served various domestic and foreign beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The citizens of Dubai are typically friendly and hospitable as is the case in most Arab countries, so they will be interested in talking to you.
If you are attending the Youth Forum, accommodation will be provided; but if you are traveling on your own there are plenty of places which you can book online.
See also: Abu Dhabi
While you are in United Arab Emirates you should visit Abu Dhabi, the capital city of this “Kingdom of oil”. Abu Dhabi is one of seven emirates and is the city where major governmental institutions and foreign embassies are located. It is less interesting than Dubai but is still worth visiting.
What to do and see?
As in Dubai, you will see many broad avenues, uniquely designed skyscrapers, parks, malls, and marinas. In Dubai’s luxury shopping malls you will find mobile phones made from gold with diamond buttons which cost “only” 1mln euros. Another interesting attraction are Lamborghini police cars, and they really do exist in Dubai. These fast and modern police cars seem to be the best solution for chasing potential criminals. Maybe that’s the reason why the crime rate is low in this country. It is better not to run away from the police here.
This is a special theme park devoted to Ferrari automobiles. You will see there a large exhibition of Ferrari models in various colors. There are even Ferrari cars covered with gold. In the theme park there are also swimming pools and roller coasters provided by the Ferrari company.
Sheikh Bin Zayed Mosque
This is one of the largest mosques in the world and also one of newest, finished in 2007. It has 4 minarets and 85 domes. The mosque is 420m long and can accommodate 40 000 people. The exterior is very special since the building is entirely white, and the white is pure like snow. The mosque’s minarets and domes have golden peaks which make the building look even more magnificent. Inside its halls there is a beautiful, colorful carpet, and the pillars and walls are carved with golden ornaments and other colorful decorations. It is the most beautiful mosque that I have ever seen. Women have to wear scarves or hijabs if they want to enter the mosque while all visitors must remove their shoes before entering the mosque. Just have in mind that it is a religious site, so be respectful.
This is probably the most expensive park in the world, with the cost of construction exceeding 50 million euros. In addition to gardens and ponds the park has athletic fields, a museum, and a train which can take you in various directions.
Similar to the situation in Europe, where horse races are popular, here races of “desert ships” are common. There are several areas where these events are organized and are frequently visited by locals and tourists as well.
If you love flying over amazing landscapes and the sea, this is your chance. You can take a tour from Abu Dhabi to Dubai by slow seaplane, which departs from the Abu Dhabi Marina. It flies at an altitude of only 2-3km and thus offers perfect views over Abu Dhabi, the desert, the sea, and Dubai. If you want this experience, don’t hesitate to pay about 250eur for a tour.
When it comes to food, nightlife, and accommodation, the situation in Abu Dhabi is identical to the situation in Dubai.