On your way to or from pretty much anywhere outside of Africa, you are bound to find a well-priced stopover flight in Dubai available. Sometimes the fares are just too good to resist. This was the case when we were shopping for tickets to New York earlier this year. Emirates had a fantastic sale on and we flew to New York and back for a mere R6,800 each. However, there is really no point to put yourself through the torture of waiting at an airport when you have the opportunity to visit fantastic Dubai for a couple of days, a city I am dying to visit again!
Firstly, on arrival at the airport, taxis are readily available and super cheap. If you are staying at a nice hotel, they will offer an airport pickup but this is an unnecessary expense. Secondly choose your hotel wisely to suit your requirements and attractions you are most interested in seeing.
Since we were on honeymoon we decided on the The Palace Old Town. We were pleasantly surprised at just how stunning it really was. To top off the beautiful interior, they also have a fully equipped gym, a spa to die for, and they serve a marvellous breakfast with options galore. They couldn’t do enough for us as honeymooners and spoilt us with a very special surprise on our first evening. We looked out onto the man-made lake and the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world at 828 metres) and the dancing Dubai Fountains, so we could not have wished for a better view.
It was odd seeing a lake that looks like a swimming pool, but we soon made peace with the fact that Dubai is a new city that was built in a desert not too long ago. Everything is man-made! Except for the desert of course. The Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in the world and was a few minutes walking distance away and even if you do not want to shop, it is worth a visit. There is no chance that you will see the entire mall in a day, but whilst strolling past the likes of Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Chanel you will also find yourself bumping into The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo which is home to a multitude of sea life. We watched sharks being fed and huge stingrays peacefully sticking themselves to the glass barrier that separates them from us. Further on you can find an Olympic sized ice-skating rink, a waterfall, and a traditional souk amongst many other things. The Emirates mall, which we paid a short visit, has the world-renowned ski resort. It costs around Dh200 (R455) for all the equipment and 2 hours of skiing. It’s a great way to break away from the 40 degrees outside and to get your chance at skiing, which is often rare when you live in Africa.
My personal favourite was the desert tour that our hotel arranged for us. It cost around Dh300 (R680) per person and includes all food and drinks for the evening. A huge SUV will pick you up from the hotel and after a 45-minute drive you will be slap bang in the middle of the desert. We were treated to a falcon show, which is another traditional must-see, by an unmistakable SAFFA (South African expat). The dune bashing is in no way for the faint hearted but so thrilling I couldn’t keep my eyes closed. As you get close to camp, you’ll watch the breath-taking sunset over the desert, an unforgettable sight. On arrival at the traditional dessert night camp, you can have a go at riding camels. A delicious dinner is served with drinks, belly-dancing and to end it off with shisha pipes.
Dubai appears to be an attractive spot for South Africans to immigrate to and gain some international experience, much like London used to be. At our hotel and at many of instances we had South Africans assist us in Afrikaans.
All and all, our 2 days in Dubai was one of the biggest surprises of our honeymoon and I am looking forward to going back and exploring the many aspects of the city that we didn’t get time for. The food is great, the people are friendly and there is an all-round strong culture mixed with an endless supply of futuristic structures to admire.
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All images courtesy of author.