Dazzling Dubai

The Pearl of the Persian Gulf has all the ingredients for an entertaining family trip

Text by Namita Gupta

Dubai is a land of many wonders. The land of glitter, gold, gleam, grandeur and go-getters, this city clearly never seems to sleep. There are different shades and hues to this mystical and mysterious place that you can unravel layer by layer. Are you a holiday pre-planner or a last-minute person? Doesn’t matter! Because if you’re heading to Dubai – which is just a short nap away by air from any city in south India, scoring the best deals isn’t a problem. Not only are the hotel prices a steal, but you can find plenty of deals on attractions and a host of indoor activities- from accommodation to activities here’s a roundup of what you can expect on your next holiday in Dubai. A great getaway for families, couples, and solo travellers to discover the unparalleled offerings the city with skyscraper-filled skyline has to offer. Dubai is a perfect holiday destination offering exciting activities for all. Create a lifetime of memories as you hop on and off from exciting indoor activities; indoor theme parks, skiing, to posing with sea lions, swimming with the sharks, spending time with penguins, shop till you drop at the larger than life malls and get blinded by the glitter of gold. Its awe-inspiring architecture is futuristic and breathtaking. Take a tour of Downtown Dubai to marvel at the modern metropolis that has put the city on the global map.

The interesting indoors

Beat the heat and swap the summer sun for some of these fun family attractions like Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, The Green Planet, Ski Dubai, stroll across the expansive Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates and visit the Burj Khalifa. Take a stroll around the City Walk with big brand stores on all four sides. Street art fans will be mighty impressed by the striking graffiti on the buildings at Satwa. It is part of an urban art initiative called the Dubai Street Museum and most of the artwork can be found along 2nd December Street. The vibrant open-air gallery pays tribute to the heritage and history of the United Arab Emirates. City Walk has commissioned street artists to create site-specific works here. I spent a couple of hours admiring the exhibits that are scattered across this district.

Comprising three separate theme parks and a water park, Dubai Parks and Resorts is just the place to go to if you’re a thrill-seeker. Riverland Dubai is a fun, themed getaway with shops and eateries. Some of the attractions inside include the Motiongate Dubai with some of Hollywood’s favourite characters from DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate. Head to Bollywood Parks Dubai with rides based on some of Bollywood’s biggest blockbusters like Lagaan, Don, Sholey, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and others. There’s also a lifesize Rajmahal that is lit up every night and end your adventure ride at Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park.

The underwater world beckons at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo with a humungous suspended aquarium that is home to thousands of aquatic animals including many sharks and rays. Try the walkthrough tunnel or take the glass-bottomed boat tour or even sign up for the cage snorkeling experience. If you’re the adventurous kinds, you can even test your nerve with a shark dive.

Nature lovers will like a walk at The Green Planet, a bio-dome that recreates a tropical forest environment with over 3000 plants and animals. The flooded forest has a giant aquarium with arapaima, arowana and stingrays that leads to the 25 metre tall tree. Walk your way along the winding path as you come across exotic animals like the toucans, crocodile lizards and pre- 0hensile tailed porcupines.

There’s something about experiencing snow in the middle of a desert. At Ski Dubai, the indoor ski resort you can navigate the slopes on a ski or take the chairlift to Avalanche Café, snow zorbing and finish it off with a go on the Snow Bullet zip line that sends you whizzing over the slopes.

If the Hadid sisters at The Dubai Mall and Tom Cruise clinging onto the sides of Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible is not exciting enough then we don’t know what is. Standing over 828 metres high, the 160-storey Burj Khalifa is more than just the world’s tallest building-it’s a state-of–the-art monument to modern design. Once you’re done admiring its architectural beauty and clicking selfies, you can sip a coffee at the Armani Hotel or dine at At.mosphere.

At the foot of the Burj Khalifa lies The Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain, which dances to an eclectic soundtrack every evening. The other attractions that you might like to visit in Dubai are the sail-shaped hotel Burj Al Arab, Desert Safari with barbeque dinner and entertainment, Wild Wadi Water Park, IMG worlds of adventure, Madinat Jumeirah, artificial island Atlantis, The Palm and the beach at Palm Jumeirah. Those with an adventurous streak can also try skydiving in Dubai.

Food fiesta                                                                                                                                                                       

While there is plenty of adventure in Dubai, you can expect enough adventure on your plates too. The Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road is where you can unwind and relax despite being in the midst of all the action. Primarily a business hotel, it has many restaurants and the 43rd floor bar called just that – 43rd Floor is where you can lounge in style under the starlit sky with beautifully lit skyscrapers all around.

If you want to experience a bit of the old world charm, head to the Four Points by Sheraton, Bur Dubai. Don’t miss to catch a dinner at the Antique Bazaar, the hotel’s upmarket Indian restaurant, with extravagant furnishings and dark wood. Every Friday night the place comes alive with a live music and dance performance by Indian artistes.

Set in the heart of Downtown Dubai, one of the region’s most progressive districts, The Palace is mere footsteps away from iconic attractions such as Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera and Souk Al Bahar. From an abundance of options for dining, shopping and entertainment to being in close proximity to commercial hubs such as Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai World Trade Centre and Business Bay, its prime location ensures that any excursion or business engagement is easily accessible via hotel limousines or a highly developed transportation network. My dinner at Ewaan was one that I would remember for a long time. Regal arches, wooden trellises and luxurious drapery lend an aura of opulence to Ewaan an all-day dining restaurant. With alluring theme nights that appeal to the whole family as well as a famed brunch every Friday, it presents guests with a fascinating blend of Oriental and Arabic cuisine with live cooking stations and a show kitchen adding an exciting dimension to the experience. I was lucky to have stopped by on a Thursday, which is a weekend in Dubai and catch an entertainment show by a belly dancer and a tambura performance.

Another must try experience is a meal at Eau-zone – One&Only Royal Mirage. One&Only Royal Mirage pays tribute to Arabian architecture and hospitality on a truly regal scale. Considered Dubai’s most stylish beach resort, it rests on a private coastline. Overlooking Palm Island Bay, the resort is composed of three distinct environments – each flowing into the next to ignite the senses. There are many dining venues here like Tagine, Olives, Celebrities Bar, The Beach Bar & Grill, The Jetty Lounge and Kasbar.

If you have a few hours to spare do try some of the stalls at the flea market that takes place every Friday at the Ripe Fruit and Craft Market. Although the concept has been there for a while in another place, it shifted to its current venue at Zabeel Park only in October this year. Get your share of organic fruit and vegetables, superfoods, tea, local raw honey, local organic eggs, gluten-free items and interesting designs in clothes, accessories and crafts. We liked the charcoal activated coconut glazed chimney, nutella filled vanilla ice cream which had a cone made from a doughnut from Carl’s Chimney.

The urban oasis is always full of surprises. The dinner cruises are also very popular with the tourists. Cruising down the Dubai Creek by moonlight while you tuck in some Arabic dinner and watch the Tambura dancer live is an experience by itself. Dubai also houses some of the swankiest nightclubs in the world.

All that glitters

All that glitters is actually gold in Dubai. If you’re looking to find a nugget of your own in the City of Gold, then you will be spoilt for choice or even blinded by the gleam of gold as soon as you enter Gold Souk. In the 1900s, the destination’s trade-friendly environment inspired merchants to set up a marketplace near Dubai Creek. That supported the import and export of gold and the gold souk began to flourish. The sheer size of the Gold Souk in Detra is mindboggling. No wonder that it is one of the largest retail gold markets in the world. At walking distance to the Gold Souk is the Spice Souk where you can find all kinds of spices, teas, textiles, dates, dry fruits, perfumes, incense and chocolates.

Some of the main attractions in Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Burj Al Arab

Dubai Creek

Dubai Parks & Resorts

Dubai Museum

Ski Dubai

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Atlantis, The Palm

Dubai Mall

Mall of Emirates.