Dubai – A mere Mirage or a Man-made Oasis?

If there’s one city in this world which is known for it’s man-made wonders, it’s Dubai. Growing up, I always associated Dubai with state-of-the-art technology, huge skyscrapers with ultra-modern architecture and city filled with immigrants, casually sitting in the middle of a desert. It’s a city that clearly demonstrates how mankind has the potential to harness the power of money and natural resources and take it from 0 to 100 in a matter of a few decades.  So when I realized I could stop at Dubai during my transit from USA-India and explore this city, I knew I couldn’t let it pass.

SB and I spent about 3 days in Dubai and we explored most of the must-sees in the area. If you are flying into Dubai through Emirates, you can submit a Visa application through their website here if you have an Indian Passport. If you are a citizen of USA, you qualify for Visa on arrival. The process is very simple and straight-forward and takes about 2-3 weeks in total.

As far as the accommodation and food is concerned, Dubai is reasonably priced for a tourist destination. You can find pretty decent deals on Agoda for about $100-$150 per night and each meal costs about $10-$15 per head. We didn’t rent a car, since most of the places are accessible by Uber/public transport and if you are traveling during Fall/Winter, it’s pretty pleasant. If you are visiting during Summer, Dubai is known for it’s notorious day temperatures so I would suggest renting a car and stepping out in the sun only when absolutely necessary 😀 If you want to book tourist packages like desert safari, Burj khalifa etc. you can find package deals on Viator. It typically would cost somewhere between $80-$100 per destination so that’s going to be the major expense. Contrary to the popular belief (at least mine ;P) that shopping in Dubai is cheaper than in the US – it’s NOT! In fact, I found that the branded items were priced at a much higher rate than in the US! That could be partly because we went during the end of the Dubai shopping festival, so keep that in mind before setting aside an entire day for shopping (like I did) 😀 Now onto the itinerary –

Day 1 – New Dubai, Ibn Battuta Mall and Burj Khalifa

Day 2 – Dubai Mall and Desert Safari

Day 3 – Dubai’s Gold and Spice Souk

New Dubai, Ibn Battuta Mall and Burj Khalifa

On the first day, we explored the New Dubai area, which includes Jumeriah, Palm Atlantis and Dubai Marina. We started off with the Jumeriah beach which was definitely one of the prettiest white sand beaches I’ve been to! It was such a welcome relief when I dipped my feet in the water and it wasn’t freezing cold (Woes of a West coaster). It is a perfect spot to spend a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot. This beach also has an unobstructed view of the Burj Al Arab, majestically sitting on an artificial island (WHAT!) near the Jumeriah beach.

Our next stop was the Dubai marina, which was a mere 20 min uber ride away. This area boasts a series of skyscrapers and world-class restaurants in a palm-tree lined waterfront. It’s an ideal place to grab lunch and people watch. We spent sometime here before catching the mono-rail to get to the most intriguing place that was on my list, Palm Jumeriah – the world’s largest artificial islands!

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Jumeriah Beach
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Burj Al Arab
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Dubai Marina
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Atlantis, the Palm
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View of new Dubai downtown from the mono-rail
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Dubai Downtown
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Dubai fountains from Burj Khalifa
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The view from “The Top”
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Night view from Burj Khalifa

 

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The start of Dubai fountain show

It was a very different experience to witness something that is so beautiful but not natural. If there’s one place that I’d like to visit again in Dubai, this would be it! The rows and rows of villas opening up to the pristine light blue waters against the white sands forming the branches of the “Palm” was indeed a sight! We got to the end of the Palm which is where the Atlantis, the Palm sits tall and majestic. We walked around for a bit before heading to Burj Khalifa for sunset. We did a quick stop at the Ibn batuta mall, its well-known architecture, is indeed impressive!!

The weather gods weren’t kind to us that day and it turned out to be a rather cloudy and foggy sunset. We still stayed there for sometime after it got dark to watch the famous Dubai fountains! They are timed and they happen right below Burj Khalifa. Since we were at the top(of the world) literally, we got an amazing view of the entire fountain as opposed to what you would see if you were on the road! I highly recommend timing your visit to Burj Khalifa with the fountain show. You can thank me later 🙂

Dubai Mall and Desert Safari

The next day we wanted to do some shopping at the Dubai mall, so we headed out early in the morning. Since we didn’t catch a glimpse of Burj Khalifa during the day, we thought we’d drop by and do a mini-photoshoot(Blogger duties) in front of the world’s tallest building before heading to the pick-up spot for Desert safari. One good thing about the tour packages is that most of them pick you up from your hotel itself so it’s super convenient. We were a group of about 8 people in a 4WD SUV and it was about a 1.5 hour drive to get to the desert. Once we got to the desert, the driver dude showed us some major stunts doing dune bashing (as they promised in their tour description) and I was glad I didn’t have a heavy meal before leaving 😀 They stopped in a couple of places (photoshoot timeee 😀 :D) before heading to the main camp area where they had set up tents. We then had the option to take camel rides or indulge in some henna while munching on some middle-eastern small plates. The rest of the night was filled with belly-dancing and fire shows and yummy Mediterranean food!

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The majestic Burj Khalifa during the day
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Dubai Desert
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Desert sand as far as eyes could see!
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Sunset by the desert ❤

Dubai’s Gold and Spice Souk

This was our last day at Dubai and we wanted to make the most of it! We visited the famous Jumeriah mosque in the morning (mainly because neither of us had been to one and we were curious) and it was a very enlightening guided tour! We then headed to the famous Gold and Spice Souk. This is accessed using a small boat on the Dubai Creek called abra ride (this was pretty fun :)) which costs a mere 1 dirham. We walked around all day soaking in the fragrances from the spice shops and gawking at the abundance of gold and silver paraphernalia. Later that night, with a heavy heart and a much heavier luggage (courtesy of our relatively light wallets ;)) we boarded our flight and bid farewell to the desert city, promising to return again!

Thanks for sticking around and making it to the end! 😀 If you guys have any questions regarding the itinerary, feel free to shoot me an email or DM me through my instagram @trendytraveltales.

Until next time,

Mal

 

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