Burj Al Arab
It's pretty hard to not fall in love with this beauty of Dubai. Burj Al Arab is said to be the World's ONLY 7 star hotel and let me tell you that it lives up to it's name. Burj Al Arab stands on a man made island and is connected to the mainland by a private bridge. The shape of Burj Al Arab is designed to mimic a ship. When we stayed at the Burj Al Arab, we chose a pretty basic room but let me tell you that it was bigger than the 4 bedroom apartment I live in! It was a multi-story villa type hotel suite with a view of the ocean larger than my entire house. We had our own butler and the service was superb. The food - the glorious food - will leave you empty pocketed but it is well worth it. Sign up to Jumeirah's services to receive promotions that occur throughout the year. Once in a lifetime experience, definitely recommend. Note: the magical private beach is incredible,as well as the water sports available.
If you are not staying at the Burj Al Arab, there are 2 other ways to see this beauty - you can book a table at one of it's 9 signature restaurants and bars. Some faves of mine are Al Mahara (dining "underwater") and Bab Al Yam (a beautiful alfresco outdoor setting).
Another way to see the Burj (from afar) is to make your way to Jumeirah Kite beach and be amongst the hundreds of tourists that line up to take pictures with this magnificent structure.
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Originally called Burj Dubai, it was renamed Burj Khalifa in a tribute to Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, head of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, which came to debt-laden Dubai's financial rescue during building. Fun fact: Burj Khalifa took 1,325 days to build!
Burj Khalifa is magnificent. Pictures and words do no justice to the mammoth structure, so you must head Downtown to witness its glory. Once at the base, make your way to the TOP! At The Top provides spectacular views of Dubai (make sure you choose a non-foggy day!) and a visit lasts about 60 minutes. This is plenty of time to enjoy the view and take heaps of pictures.
This is a must see. A world class effort by Dubai, the fountains happen every night from 6pm onwards (happens every half hour, and duration is a song's length) and especially in the cooler months, be prepared for a ton of people watching the fountains sway to selected pieces of music. Why not try the abra for 65 dhs and get an awesome view? There are many restaurants that also offer an amazing view all while you are eating (it's loud, but it’s only a 3 minute song!) Abdel Wahab restaurant is a favourite and so is The Social House.
Bab Al Shams
Situated in the heart of the desert and nestled in the dunes of Dubai, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is the ultimate luxury retreat.
An exclusive low-rise resort in the desert surrounded by gently sloping dunes and natural desert landscape, Bab Al Shams offers guests a one of its kind traditional desert experience that is true to the culture and heritage of Dubai and the UAE.
With its literal translation from Arabic meaning "gateway to the sun", Bab Al Shams is built in an Arabic fort setting in and around an oasis. Inside the walls, shaded courtyards, walkways and water features provide cool shelter and maintain the unique ambience and atmosphere.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is located in the heart of the desert, adjacent to Dubai International Endurance City, yet is just a 40-minute drive from the city of Dubai and only 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport.
For those seeking a unique desert experience within easy reach of Dubai, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa presents the ideal destination. Offering the ultimate in comfort and entertainment, at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa your experience will be enhanced by history, splendor and magnificence.
There is a TON to do at the world record breaking Dubai Aquarium. Not only is it a gigantic aquarium, where 33,000 fishes live, sharks and rays look spectacular but if you want to get closer, Dubai Aquarium offer "swimming with the sharks" and "cage snorkelling". If that’s too thrilling, hop on a glass-bottomed boat for a glacial float.
This has to be the main stop for any visitor. Allocate A LOT of time for this trip to Dubai Mall and bring some walking shoes too. Some facts for your reading pleasure:
- opened in 2008 (after 2 delays)
- It's the world's largest mall
- It has the world's largest aquarium inside the mall.
- World's largest candy shop "candylicious".
Amongst the thousands of shops of every caliber (from Louis Vuitton to Daiso,) there are a stack of activities to do. KidZania : a kids size city replication "real life". Kids earn KidZo money after working. Jobs include - fire fighter, doctor, maccas worker, nurse, Emirates pilot, radio DJ and much much more. You have a choice to drop kids off without staying, or you can join the madness and hang around. My daughter's favourite is the theatre - kids audition and a talent show occurs every day. My son enjoys the biscuit making factory (kids make biscuits and get a chance to see them packaged!). Loads of fun.
ICE SKATING: There is something ultra cool (don't mind the pun) about letting go of shopping and ice skating in the middle of the world's largest mall. Perfect for kiddies, they have little penguin pushers to help. Ultra easy with service and not over-the-top expensive like it is in Europe.
Lafayette Gallerie: Wonderful modern version of the Parisian favourite. Top brands are featured and it might break the bank, but no harm in looking, The organic cafe is DELISH and the small play centre inside is perfect for the little ones. With a Kareoke room, a nail spa and a place to ride mini motorbikes. What's not to like?
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD.
You can get anything you dream of in Dubai Mall. Want to try Chinese? Don't go past P.F Changs. What some new york style cupcakes? Magnolia bakery! Want some Arabic food? Al Hallab. And what about Hamish Blake's favourite - Shake Shack? YUMMO! There's hundreds of choices, ranging from small cafes to massive restaurants and everything in between.
The person/s that invented Global Village are brilliant. So what is it? Imagine a massive area where there are a variety of country ‘pavilions’ (like a big market). Each ‘Country’ sells its country’s food, clothing and other special items in specialty to that culture.
In 1997, Global village started with 18 country pavilions – now there are over 70. There are a variety of kiosks, and fun rides for the kiddies as well as entertainment on the main stage (Bollywood dancing or Arabic singing).
Global village is a melting pot of multiculturalism. Prepare yourself to be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and authentic cuisines. There are buggy’s to drive you around (when you feel you cannot walk – this place is MASSIVE) and there is an abra that will take you for a cruise down the river. [Please note: Global Village closes during the Summer.]
Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden broke the stereotype that Dubai is a dry, barren desert where nothing can grow. Well, it actually is a dry, barren desert BUT in true Dubai style they have made things blossom into a beautiful showcase of flowers. DMG showcases a wide variety of plants and flowers that have been arrange din different shapes, such as hearts, stars, igloos, pouring water, cars, pyramids, houses and much more.
The Garden is huge and worth the trip out. It is very family fairly and reasonably priced (30 dhs per adult). There are kiosks and a variety of international cuisine available, although I saw plenty of people with their own picnic baskets there.
A must see for all tourists!
Ibn battuta Mall
Ibn Battuta Mall is the world’s largest themed shopping mall. It is uniquely designed to celebrate the travels of the famous Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta, the exciting mix of over 275 retailers, 50 restaurants and food outlets, 21 cinema screens including the UAE’s only IMAX theatre and a continual array of events and promotions have helped evolve and develop one of the city’s fastest growing areas.
This mall is one level and it is MASSIVE (there are red buggy’s that can take you from end to the other if need be, for a small fee).
Throughout the mall, you can see Ibn Battuta travels, as well as famous inventions made by Muslims.
Jumeriah Beach residence
JBR is home for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In technical terms, this is what JBR is: Jumeirah Beach Residence is the largest single phase residential development in the world and contains 40 towers (35 are residential and 5 are hotels). JBR can accommodate about 15,000 people, living in its apartments and hotel rooms. JBR has a total of six residential blocks, Shams, Amwaj, Rimal, Bahar, Sadaf and Murjan (in order from east to west).
The Beach is located at Jumeirah Beach Residence. It is creatively titled (?!) and is a retail complex constructed on the actual beach in front of JBR. There is the actual beach ofcourse, but so much more. Apart from the world class restaurants built there, there is also an outdoor cinema – perfect for beautiful balmy nights – and a splash park for the kiddies. You can drop off the kids and have a coffee close by, too!
The Beach also has an indoor cinema and on the weekends there are many local markets happening. Really cool kiosks are scattered around, selling Turkish ‘kanafe’ and bagels. A beautiful day out for the family here at The Beach.