Dubai is all about high buildings and extravagant architecture, which is an evidence of how modern the city of Dubai is and what people can create. It is not easy to explain the energy and how unreal everything is.
In one day, you can put on a snow gear to check out penguins and by noon you would have visited the largest building in the world and probably have ended your day heading out to get your adrenaline rush fix at the Dubai Theme Parks or having a nice dinner at a place like Thiptara at The Palace downtown, overlooking the Burj Khalifa and the magical musical fountains.
This happens only in Dubai; that is something you will find yourself constantly saying and that is not bad at all!
World’s largest mall
Stroll through the Dubai Mall for some extensive shopping and, trust me, you need to spend a whole day here. The mall itself covers 12 million square feet (equivalent of 50 football fields). With over 1,200 stores it also boasts of a 250-room luxury hotel, 22 cinema screens and 120 restaurants, ensuring you won’t starve either. Getting your bearings takes time, with its multiple levels and endless rows of shops, but you soon get used to it.
If you are bored with shopping you could head to the 10 million litre aquarium, which can be seen from three levels of the mall for free; or buy a coupon to walk through the 48-metre tunnel for the bursting panoramic experience and see the 140 different species of aquatic life, plus the largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks, or simply don a scuba gear and head underwater to feed the fish.
On offer are also an Olympic-sized ice skating rink and an entire theme park games station called Kidzania. They operate several sessions each day and staff monitoring the ice rink helps beginners get started.
Surreal or amazing, I really do not how to describe this place but just don’t miss the unique opportunity of ski testing one of the largest and best equipped indoor slopes. Ski Dubai, at The Mall of Emirates offers an excellent environment for learning and practising this wonderful sport.
Housing five ski runs (the longest of which spans more than 1,300 feet with 197 feet of vertical drop), a quarter-pipe freestyle snowboard zone and a chairlift, Ski Dubai still has enough room for toboggan runs and snowball fights. The staff is extremely friendly and on offer are excellent safety measures through proper signage, pole protection mattresses, stretchers and nets.
A visit to the top of one of the tallest man-made structures in the world, the Burj Khalifa, is an absolute must for every visitor. Adventure begins the moment you step into the world’s fastest elevator. At a speed of 10 m/s, you ascend to the 124th floor in less than a minute and even before you have a moment to bask in the marvel of the journey up, the doors open, and you are greeted by the awe-inspiring 360-degree view of Downtown Dubai and beyond. You need an hour-and-a-half here to take in the panoramic breath taking views.
Dubai theme parks
By hitching the finest of the east and the west, the Dubai Theme parks has been intended with the dream to stay ahead of trends, as more and more visitors to Dubai seek a sweeping experience beyond the swanky skyscrapers and firstrate showbiz venues.
Of course, there are roller-coasters and plenty of sophisticated rides but my favourite is the Bollywood parks offering a wonderful mix of exclusive rides, live entertainment and astounding shows, totally centred on Bollywood movies and Indian culture, in its five distinct zones spread over three million square feet. As I entered the park, Bollywood Boulevard beckoned me with its numerous performing and eating options.
Best way to reach: Fly Emirates or Jet Airways
Best place to stay: Hotel Rove Downtown on 312th Rd, Al Sa’ada Street, Zabeel 2 Downtown. It offers the best location and is amazingly chic and stylish.
Visa: Earlier in March, the UAE Cabinet had approved a decision to grant Indian passport holders with either a valid US visa or a green card a visa-on-arrival from 1 May.
Currency: 1 Durham equals approximately Rs.18.