Surprising Dubai….

With most cities I have visited, I knew what to expect before visiting but with such an enigma like Dubai, I just didn’t know what I would find.  The flight over with the excellent Emirates Airlines made me anticipate an unforgettable stay – and that – and more – is what I experienced.

I expected sharp architecture – naturally – the UAE is just 41 years old and with the discovery of oil, this sleepy former fishing village became a vibrant, forward-looking city.

It probably holds the world record for having the most world records of anywhere I have ever visited.  Case in point – the magnificent Burj Khalifa – world’s tallest skyscraper – three times the height of London’s Shard … (with the world’s best views) … (tip:  buy tickets online in advance for the first viewing of the morning) …

The world’s largest shopping malls with the world’s largest sheet of acrylic glass encasing an enormous aquarium …

Some of the best sculptures I have seen, just decorating the world-class Dubai Mall (there are over 70 malls – Dubai Mall is perfect for label lovers).

More shoes than you can try on .. in every shape, colour and style …

They even offer a Sega Republic where you can take a ride on a roller coaster (exhilarating) or try one of their startlingly realistic simulations …. great fun.

And Kidzania just blew me away.  It’s  a mini-me world where “rugrats” experience an (almost) adult free world and learn what it’s like to work, take home a wage and have fun whilst learning.  We were told that these under age white collar workers can stay focussed for hours, howling when it’s time to return home … hmm, that’s handy if intent on bagging bargains in the Mall.

What I didn’t expect was to take an Abra back into another world for a mere pittance …

To visit one of the many souks in the city where bargains are to be had and bartering to be done (great for diamonds and pearls in particular) …

That the history of this nomadic people dates back centuries and you can see a little of what it was once like at the Dubai Museum, housed in the Al Fahidi Fort built in 1781 …

You can even break bread with the Emiratis at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and chat to them about – well, anything it seems.  A remarkably civil and enjoyable experience.

And who can resist sunset Dune Bashing and an evening of Arabian hospitality in the desert …

Whirling dervishes, belly dancers, great food, henna tattoos, courteous hospitality …

For me however, the stand-out experience was to watch the water ballet that is the Dubai Fountains by the Dubai Mall – the world’s largest dancing fountains.  Liquid reflections, spears of water dancing to music, amazing by day ….

… spectacular by night.

A good tip?  Book the Time Out recommended Thai Thiptara restaurant at The Palace – snag a balcony table – and watch these nightly watery performances all night long.  They take place every 30 minutes from 6pm to 11pm, each is different and best of all, they are free for spectators to enjoy time and time again.

We stayed at the Fairmont Dubai which features one of the most amazing hotel atriums I have seen in a while – and two pools – one for the morning and one for the afternoon – of course it does – that’s so Dubai!

A sister hotel – Fairmont Palm – is scheduled to open imminently on The Palm and will definitely show a different side to the city.

I admit to being unexpectedly and totally beguiled by Dubai but still can’t quite put my finger on what makes it tick.  It’s like quicksilver, changing direction at every turn: innovation & design complementing courteous Arabic hospitality.  I – ahem – obviously need to return – and quickly – to continue my investigative research to pin down the underlying soul of Dubai.

If you haven’t visited, do so soon – it is amazingly good value, there is so much to do, the food is magnificent and the hotels are all of an extremely high calibre.  Perfect for families, you can shop until you drop so take empty suitcases and fill them up with Mall and Souk goodies.

Final tip?  Take home Camel Milk Chocolates from the airport – surprisingly delicious – and taking everyone by surprise – chocolate made from camel milk?  Ridiculous!

Contributor:  Sue Lowry.  Sue travelled to Dubai with Dubai Tourism and Emirates, staying at Fairmont Dubai.

The Fairmont Dubai and the Fairmont Palm are part of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts which is a client of Magellan PR.  For more information, please visit, follow them on twitter @FairmontHotels or on Facebook/Fairmont Hotels.  Their community website is Follow The Fairmont Dubai on twitter @FairmontDubai and on Facebook/TheFairmontDubai – Fairmont Palm @FairmontthePalm and on Facebook/FairmontThePalm.

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+:  Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry.  For more information on our company, visit  Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller.

About magellanstraits

Magellan Straits showcases the observations & musings from Magellan PR, a boutique travel & lifestyle agency founded in 1998. We post items that are of interest from the clients we promote and from the travels and experiences that we independently undertake.
This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Surprising Dubai….

  1. Pingback: Feeling the cold? Then take a look at our Fab Five Best Beaches from 2012 | magellanstraits

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