Most recognised as the city with the tallest building in the world — 828 metre-high Burj Khalifa, as well as the world’s deepest pool — Deep Dive Dubai — at 60.02 metres, Dubai has been garnering attention in the past few years for its extravagant feats. However, there is more than meets the eye in the city that is brimming with life, lights, and motion.
An international hub of tourism, finance, and technology, Dubai is constantly innovating and creating. One of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it owes its nickname, the City of Gold, to the strong trade activities that take place there. Whereas once it was most famously known for its pearl trade, today, Dubai has become the city that never sleeps with a string of activities from dusk until dawn to keep any individual entertained.
Dawn in the Clouds
While there are endless options for breakfast along any one of Dubai’s numerous commercial walks, breakfast followed by a hot air balloon ride is one of the attractions the city offers. There are a number of spots that grant hot air balloon rides with a picturesque view of the city’s landmarks, most of which offer breakfast as part of the package.
The aerial journey usually begins at the break of dawn at 4:30 AM. Prices start at USD 335 (EGP 10,350). However, the prices vary depending on the package chosen.
The ride lasts between 45 minutes and an hour. Moreover, packages can include an excursion on the sand dunes or a camel ride, depending on the activities each operator offers. Some companies include add-ons like a violin player on board the flight to serenade the guests as they float amongst the clouds.
An Afternoon of Gold, Spice, and Everything Nice
The spices and gold souks (markets) are staples of the city that grant visitors a look into the country’s rich history. Dubai souks have been imprinted on the city’s topography since the 1850s.
The one most recommended is the Dubai Spice Souk, which can be found in old Dubai and is close to the Gold Souk. With upwards of 150 shops selling soaps, herbs, and spices such as saffron, cardamom, and everything in between, the souk is made up of alleyways that seem to be misplaced amidst the city’s modern urban landscape.
Located in Al Ras Deira, the souk also sells textiles and perfumes.
Following a stroll down the charming streets of the Spice Souk, a trip to the Gold Souk where buyers will get the best deals for Gold, is recommended. Constructed almost a century ago, the souk houses the ring, Najmat Taiba (the star of Taiba), believed to be one of the world’s heaviest at almost 57KG.
Or…Go on a Trip into the Future
For those more interested in the future than the past, Dubai’s Museum of the Future is an alternative. It officially opened its doors in February 2022.
The museum grants its visitors a look into what the future might look like in several fields from aviation to smart cities.
The building itself is a sight to see. One of its main structures is designed with Arabic calligraphy spelling out inspirational quotes by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
One of the quotes which embodies the pioneering spirit that has been a defining feature of Dubai over the past few years reads out, “the future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await but rather create.”
Hosting exhibitions, talks, and myriad activities, the Museum of the Future has a section where visitors can experience space travel, among other things. Moreover, it is equipped with robotic baristas that serve guests their coffees.
It is located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the Financial District of Dubai.
General admission tickets cost USD 40.5 (EGP 1253).
A Culinary Journey in the Evening
Dubai’s culinary scene is one that is eclectic with Michelin star chefs flown from all over the world to bring a taste of their homelands to the Gulf city.
While the options are unlimited, Dubai International Financial Centre is a destination where one can find a number of different cuisines to choose from. It has Asian, Latin-American, Thai, Italian, and French restaurants among others.
One can explore the district and pick the venue that most resonates with them, as each restaurant has its own personality and different forms of entertainment to go with the ambiance. While some offer live music, others offer a quaint romantic setting.
LPM Restaurant and Bar has been hailed as a fan favourite with a menu that is inspired by the cuisine in the South of France.
The fine dining restaurant is, however, relatively pricey. A meal that includes an appetiser, a main dish, and dessert costs around USD 87 (EGP 2688).
For a venue that is less high-end one can head to Miss Lily’s, which is a renowned restaurant with branches in New York and Jamaica. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, the restaurant offers classics of Jamaican cuisine such as jerk chicken, sweet plantain, and cod fritters. A meal including an entrée, a main dish, and dessert costs USD 60 (EGP 1954).
The atmosphere of Miss Lily’s is lively and the staff extremely friendly.
Dancing the Night Away
Known among other things for its nightlife, the city has a few spots where one can go dancing.
One of the recent additions to Dubai’s bustling nightlife is the Nice Guy. Hailing all the way from Los Angeles, the Nice Guy has a restaurant section and a club section. Playing a mix of music, the club section stays open until 3 AM on weekends.
Whether past, present, or future, one is rarely at a loss for activities in the City of Gold.