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06 Nov 2015

Places to visit in Dubai

Dubai is a thriving metropolis with world-class attractions in every corner that are easily accessible. Dubai offers its discerning visitors, debonair businessmen and proud residents an excellent and affordable means of getting around, with plentiful taxis, comfortable buses and the majestic driverless metro system that efficiently connects this bustling city.

If you were to ask anyone in Dubai, what they would do when they have visitors, each one would have their personal list of favourite things. This is what makes Dubai unique; you would be spoilt for choices on things to do within your means. This city has changed so much in the last five years, adding in breathtaking attractions along the way that brandish Dubai’s aspiration to be the home to the biggest and best on a profusion of things.

Here is our list of 25 sine qua non experiences, when visiting Dubai. We start with the historical attractions in old Dubai and move on a trail that ends in new Dubai, covering all-the-not-to-be-missed attractions along the way in a logical sequence.

Deira Souks

A visit to the souks in Dubai is a must for their vivacious atmosphere, eclectic variety of goods and its age-old Arab tradition in doing business. Souks meaning “markets” are located on either side of Dubai creek. Items on sale in these markets have moved on from traditional spices, silk, perfumes to include the latest consumer electronic goods at good bargains.

Gold Souk, the largest gold bazaar in Arabia, is the ultimate destination for jewellery lovers. Sparkling windows adorn immaculate displays of fine ornaments ranging from bracelets, necklaces, rings, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and more, expertly crafted in the region. You must bargain hard, and you are sure to find the best deals in this City of Gold.

Dubai Museum

This museum, located in the Al Fahidi Fort, was built in 1787 and is unmistakably the oldest building in Dubai. It showcases priceless archaeological antiques and artefacts which depict the traditional life in the city as a tiny fishing and pearl diving port.

Ravi Restaurant

Any time of the day or night, this highly recommended Pakistani restaurant is teeming with activity. Try flavoursome and affordable signature dishes to tickle your palate from Chicken Kadai, Mutton Khorma, Dal fry, Tandoori Kebabs, Biriyani, succulent Rotis and lot more. This wayside eatery can get very busy, during weekends, and one would even wish there was a reservation system to avoid the wait.

Dubai Dolphinarium

Do not miss the astounding daily shows of dolphins and seals where you get up close and personal with graceful bottleneck dolphins and mischievous seals. You will be amazed by the interactive extravaganzas here as these sea creatures sing, dance, juggle, jump hoops and even paint their way into your hearts.

DIFC

You cannot miss the stately facade of The Gate, inspired by the Arc of Triomphe in Paris that takes centre stage at Dubai’s financial centre symbolizing its open gate policy. It was instituted to provide a platform for business and financial institutions to reach into regional emerging markets. DIFC is home to large business houses, financial institutions, fine residences, art galleries, restaurants, shopping centres and celebrated hotels like the Ritz Carlton.

The Spa at Palace Downtown Dubai

Indulge your mind, body and senses with an Oriental treatment in a unique Arabic décor. The Spa offers pampering choices for ultimate luxury. Spa facilities include Hammam slab, Jacuzzis, monsoon showers, steam rooms, relaxation lounge and private suites.

Meydan Racecourse

Designed as the ultimate venue for horse racing, Meydan raises the bar on racing standards to international levels, with well-appointed facilities including the world’s first trackside 5-star hotel with suite rooms offering unobstructed views of all the action. Every year in March, this becomes the venue for the world’s richest race – the prestigious Dubai World Cup.

Miracle Gardens

Miracle gardens hold multiple Guinness Book records as the largest vertical garden and longest flower wall in the world, with more than 45 million flowers in a variety of species and colours landscaped into stunning designs, awesome shapes and floral structures. This garden is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking destinations in Dubai; fittingly a miracle in the desert.

Jumeirah Mosque

This is the only mosque in the UAE that welcomes non-Muslims inside an Islamic house of worship. See this magnificent mosque in all its grandeur adorned with polished marble interiors, a tribute to modern Islamic architecture. Do not miss this unique opportunity, when in Dubai, to learn about Emirati culture and religion in a relaxed, casual atmosphere.

Ski Dubai

Take to the snow, while in the desert. Surprised? Ski Dubai offers exceptional ski experience with the longest run at around 400 meters. With its unique snowboarding slopes, snow park, ice slides, snow caves and ice towers, Ski Dubai is the ultimate playground for the young and young at heart. Imbibe nature in the arctic with unique personal interactions with penguins.

Burj Al Arab

An ultra opulent hotel that treats you like a king, Burj Al Arab, a 7-star hotel offer stupendous comfort and ultimate luxury. This magnificent destination offers you the finest service and facilities with well appointed, expensive, lavish duplex suites. It offers its guests 8 signature restaurants and bars, be it dining at the tallest atrium, romancing over a meal beside an underwater wall or high tea and cocktails at a bar in the skies, the experience is superlative.

Wild Wadi

An outdoor themed water park situated beside the Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and attractions for the entire family. Cool yourself in the summer heat or feel the warmth during the winter months with temperature-controlled water. Have fun in wave pools, water slides and surfing machines. It also features a 60 feet waterfall thrill that makes you return for more.

Aquaventure

This world class water park is located at the Atlantis hotel; it sits on top of the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island wonder shaped into a palm tree. It offers 17 fun-filled hectares of pure fun and drenching excitement. Meet dolphins up close, and if you love aquariums, you will be in awe of the giant displays of aquatic life at the “Lost Chambers.” Spectacular rides and thrilling slides make Aquaventure the most exciting day out in Dubai. 

Rhodes Mezzanine

Delight your senses with the first Michelin Star traditional English afternoon tea serving snacks, savouries and light bites in Dubai’s Grosvenor House, created by none other than celebrity chef Gary Rhodes himself.

Desert Safari

Gear up for something fun and adventurous with a Dessert Safari experience in Dubai. Drive through the expansive desert as you take in the sights and get up close and personal with the local life. Get your adrenaline pumping with a dune bashing experience or simply ride a camel. You’ll walk away from this experience with many memories to share.

Dubai balloon safari

Take to the air with the Dubai Balloon Safari. Get a bird’s eye view of the land when you gently float on the hot air balloon. Catch a glimpse of the rugged Hajar Mountains and the numerous sand dunes stretching to the horizon.

Global village

Few attractions and events in Dubai capture the essence of the land like Global Village. It’s a melting pot of cultures from around the world where you can learn, glimpse; experience and celebrate. Be it entertainment, shopping, showground rides or international cuisines, you have it all at the Global Village.

 

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05 Nov 2015

Dubai Gold Souk

The Dubai Gold Souk is one of the largest gold retail markets in the world, and an iconic, must-see site to experience when you are in Dubai. A traditional market (or Souk), this glittering expanse is symbolic of the opulence of Dubai.

Located in the heart of Dubai’s commercial district of Deira, the Souk is just a five minute walk from the old Souk marine station and bordered by the Dubai Vegetable & Fish Market and the Deira Corniche. Ideal access to the Souk is through the underwater Shindagha Tunnel, the driverless Dubai Metro at Al Ghubaiba, or by water taxi - ‘Abra’ from the Creek in Bur Dubai.

The dazzling environs of the Dubai Gold Souk give Dubai the fitting title, ‘City of Gold.’ But that’s not all. The Souk also trades in precious metals such as platinum, diamonds and silver and consists of over 300 retailers trading in an impressive collection of exclusive jewellery in the area of just half a square kilometre.

Prices at Dubai Gold Souk are some of the most competitive in the world and are, for the most part, determined by weight and the daily gold rate. The fluctuations in world gold prices, types of gold and craftsmanship are the main factors that determine the final price of jewellery. The quality of the merchandise found here is strictly controlled by the government. So you can be rest assured about the quality of your purchases here. If you plan on purchasing something, make sure to bargain hard when at the Gold Souk.

The Dubai Gold Souk has a stunning range and selection of merchandise. It features a glittering and grandiose collection of 18, 21, 22 and 24 carat gold in a variety of forms, such as earrings, rings, necklaces, bangles, bracelets and pendants. In spoiling its customers with choices, the Souk also presents gold classifications in white, pink, and purple to its diverse collection for sale. Craftsmanship found here is both impeccable and awe-inspiring. The Souk’s ambiance could be best experienced at night, when the lavish collections of merchandise come dazzlingly alive under sparkling display windows.

The Souk has come a long way and has grown exponentially since its inception in the 1900s. From just a few traders, it recorded its first-ever notable growth spurt during the 1940s and 1950s when Dubai’s free trade policies incentivized traders from India and Iran to set up shop in the Emirate. The Souk recorded its next major phase of growth as a knock-on effect of the expansion brought about by the oil boom in the 1970s. Today, it sits poised in all pomposity as one of the largest gold markets in the world.

A touch of tradition is still visible in the crafts and ambiance seen here at the Dubai Gold Souk. Though modernized and refurbished to be on par with international standards, the Souk still retains the old world charm of the Arab world, through iconic wooden archways and narrow alleys that are characteristic of the architecture of the region.

According to some estimates, the Souk holds approximately 10 tons of gold at any given time and about 20 percent of the world’s gold passes through this market. It might be interesting to note that considering the volume of gold traded at the Souk, gold dust gathered through housekeeping day by day at the Dubai Gold Souk is substantial enough to be sent back to the refinery for casting.

Even if you don’t intend to shop here, it’s well worth the visit. It is glittering evidence that the Souk has truly established the Emirate of Dubai as the ‘City of Gold’.

 

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04 Nov 2014

Dubai Summer Surprises

Fun Times, Great Deals and Unexpected Gains Galore

As the summer sizzles on, Dubai offers yet another event, and it comes in the form of Emirate’s very own summer fest, the ‘Dubai Summer Surprises’ (DSS). Presently in its 18th year, the DSS offers super deals across shopping centres, spas, restaurants and more. 

Launched in 1996 with a mission to position Dubai as an international summer destination, DSS is an event that is scheduled annually from August to September in Dubai. The celebration is one of the principal summer attractions in the city, with GCC occupants and tourists thronging the city, looking for deals in more than 6000 stores. 

According to figures released by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), DSS has hosted more than 25,774,400 guests who infused an aggregate of AED 43.62 billion into the economy in the last 14 years. The 2014 season of this festival launched on a high note with the theme ‘The Fun Side of Summer.' 

Shoppers’ Paradise

At DSS, be prepared to be surprised. It astonishes and delights shoppers, both residents and tourists that throng to take advantage of its many offers across all categories of consumer durables, luxury items and consumer goods. 

Apart from the shopping districts, the plush shopping malls also participate in DSS and are hosts to a range of simulation shows, presentations, play areas, fun zones and entertainment. When it comes to sizzling shopping deals, Dubai is the place to have it all. 

Shopping malls and retail outlets have recorded a rise in sales and footfall while hotels have registered high occupancy levels. Cars, clothes, home-decor and perfumes were recorded as the most “shopped for” merchandise in 2014. Great deals, prizes and surprises fuelled anticipation at this year’s ‘Summer is Dubai’ promotion. For each spend of AED 200 at a participating mall, customers stand a chance to win one of six BMW cars and shopping vouchers worth AED 500,000 with attractive bargains at shops across the city. As much as 75% of discount at some retail outlets are up for grabs. 

Family Fun

DSS is a guaranteed boredom-buster for children on their extended summer vacation. It goes a step further in catering to children of all ages, from toddlers, adolescents to teenagers, through one excitement-packed venue called Modhesh World. Hailed as a child’s dream zone here in the region, Modhesh World comes alive and buzzing with playgrounds, soft toy areas, latest video games and excitement-packed 4D cinema experiences. If that’s not enough, it tops it all off by delighting its junior customers through the presence of its festival mascot, the smiling-and-sunny-yellow-clad ‘Modhesh,' who fittingly keeps to the season’s colour theme. 

Influx of Visitors

Emirates Airline has reported that they have seen a large number of additional travellers lured to Dubai by DSS, with visitors originating from both the GCC locale and the rest of the world. 

Boosting Economy

The Dubai economy has been given a huge boost with DSS in 2014 alone, with shopping centres and retailers over the Emirate reporting an increase in guest numbers and revenue over the previous year. Hotels too listed high occupancy levels as the DSS impact penetrates the retail and other financial segments of Dubai. 

In 2014’s summer promotion Majid Al Futtaim Properties Group, a vital partner of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, professes that extraordinary summer advancements and arrangements have seen a 39% increase in sales this summer. 

Furthermore, hotel occupancy in Jumeirah Group hotels recorded an average occupancy rate of 70.2%, an increase of 3.6% on the same period last year. 

Relaxation & Leisure

To keep yourself entertained, you can additionally get show tickets to watch your beloved artists perform, or unwind in one of the numerous jazz clubs or mixed drink lounges. If you are a theatre aficionado, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (DUCTAC) offers the best of both regional and international thespians. 

Head over and experience ‘Dubai Summer Surprises.' You’ll certainly come back for more! 

 

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