Dubai is a fascinating city with many different ethnicities.
End of spring 2013 I decided to make a trip to Dubai in order to enjoy the warm climate and to observe the modern cityscape. Dubai offers some cultural sights, a rich selection of mind blowing architecture — which rivals any western metropolis — and even some great beaches.
One of the most visited sights in Dubai is the “Burj Khalifa” with its visiting platform “At The Top” on the 124th floor and the artificial lake with bars, restaurants and hotels at the ground level. This slim and tall (over 800 meter high) structure can be seen even from distant suburbs of Dubai and the view from “At The Top” is quite spectacular.
The only major disadvantage of this platform is its glass coverage : only one section is not fully covered with glass — so photography can be very tricky if you want to avoid reflections or you need a longer exposure time at sundown or at night.
There are few roof-top locations in Dubai which are available to the public. The “Level 43 Rooftop Lounge” located at the top of “Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai” offers a great view of Downtown Dubai and the beverages are affordable (alcohol in general is expensive in arabic countries).
The old center of Dubai can best observed at the different souks (gold, spice, …), markets, mosques and the “Dubai Museum”. You also should not miss a ride on the “Dubai Creek” using an traditional “Abra”. Crossing the river is very cheap and the boats can be rented for an hour with driver…
If you enjoy spending money on cloths or other modern consumer goods, there are plenty of different stores in Dubai’s largest malls :
- “Dubai Mall” at the “Burj Khalifa” features an indoor waterfall, ice rink and a large aquarium
- “Mall Of The Emirates” features the well known “Ski Dubai”-Resort
If you enjoy architecture you have to visit the “Dubai Marina” and the nearby “Jumeirah Lake Towers”. At the marina skyscrapers are mostly built for living and the so called “World’s Tallest Block” is located in this district.
I had the opportunity to make a photo tour with Sebastian Opitz, a freelancing photographer who now works for Dreamcore. This way I got the chance to access some great non public spots with incredible views of Dubai’s cityscapes at night.
You should also visit the resort “Madinat Jumeirah” and take a walk to the most luxurious hotel of the world, the “Burj Al Arab”.
There are also public and private beaches arround this hotel where you can enjoy the view while swimming in the gulf :)
One rather disappointing major sight right now — at least for me — is the “Palm Jumeirah”. Many palms are not completely finished and several stops of the monorail to the terminus at the hotel “Atlantis, The Palm” are closed yet.
As a consequence the only sights available for tourism on the palm are the hotels (including “Atlantis, The Palm”) and the nearby water park “Aqueventure”. Other activities or photographic spots require a taxi or car rental. Even getting to the monorail station “Gateway” by foot should not be considered before the public transportation from “Dubai Marina” is finished (probably before end of 2014).
Public transportation in general is safe and well organized in Dubai. There are many bus routes, two Metro lines and several ferries, which all were operated by RTA. Tickets are cheap and there is a maximum amount of money you can spend per day (if the silver, blue or gold NOL ticket is used). If you travel by Metro, make sure to take a note when the last train will leave from the station, as the last Metro leaves quite early at each terminus. But If you miss the last train — e.g. at “Dubai Mall” — a taxi ride is fast and cheap ;)
I strongly recommend making a desert safari with one of the many local Tours — it is really worth the time and money.
More impressions from Dubai and my Desert Safari can be found in the two photo galleries, which are referenced at “Topic”.