Dubai and Abu Dhabi are incredible cities found in the United Arab Emirates.
My husband and I were fortunate to visit both of these amazing locations in the U.A.E. We flew Emeritus Airlines and experienced a remarkably comfortable 17 hour flight. While in Abu Dhabi, we stayed at the Marriott Downtown and at Crowne Plaza Dubai-Deira in Dubai. Both were exceptional hotels offering spacious luxurious rooms and breakfast buffets fit for a king! For about $100 the hotel concierge can hire you a private driver to take you anywhere during the day. I highly recommend both accommodations.
Depending on the time of year, the U.A.E. can get a bit hot due to the desert climates. Conservative dress for women is expected and can easily be achieved by packing loose fitting linen pants, light weight tops, and scarves for your head and shoulders. Comfortable walking shoes (Sketchers) is all you really need. Men should pack loose fitting pants, light weight short sleeved shirts and comfortable walking shoes. Keep a pair of socks with you, as shoes are removed when visiting religious sites. And it goes without saying; Pack LOTS of sunscreen. While there, drink plenty of bottled water to stay hydrated even if you are spending much of your time indoors.
The photo shown above is of the fabulous Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque located in Abu Dhabi. Inside the mosque is the largest Swarovski chandelier in the world, although some of the smaller mosque chandeliers were equally as impressive. The structure is luxurious both inside and out. Be sure to go downstairs to the lower level to see the bathing area for worshipers outside of the public restrooms. There are NO photographs allowed in this area, but the image will remain in your mind forever. Conservative dress for women is required which involves loose fitting attire with head, shoulders and legs covered. Men may wear long pants and a loose fitting short or long sleeved shirt. While in Abu Dhabi, be sure to check out the Zayed Heritage Center, Emirates Palace, the Falcon Hospital and Yas mall. Try to visit a grocery store and you will notice that pork has it’s own special room (sometimes behind an actual curtain), as the meat is restricted to non-Muslims. You will also find most grocery products found in America, but it is fun to walk down the chips and cookie isles to see the unique flavor varieties not seen back home.
Now, let’s talk about the incredible city of Dubai. There is much to see, so plan to spend at least four days in this beautiful place.
An attraction not to be missed is Palm Island. Seeing it from a helicopter to get an aerial view is the superior way to actually see the man-made structure of the palm. The real estate in this part of Dubai is astounding! While on the Palm, check out the Atlantis Hotel Aquarium and take some time to walk on the breathtaking grounds. Do not be too surprised if you run into a celebrity during your visit here. Tycoon, Richard Branson is rumored to own his own island here and a number of Hollywood celebrity consider Palm Island to be the perfect playground. Before leaving the area, stop by the beach to stick a toe into the Persian Gulf or “Arabian Sea” as the local prefer.
Next, take a day to see the Mall of the Emirates and visit Ski Dubai, an indoor skiing facility complete with ski school, a penguin encounter area and snow bullet zip-line. For those who do not wish to ski or play, photos of the slopes may be taken from inside the Avalanche Café. Don’t miss the LEGO store in the mall and let your “inner-child” play awhile. The toy store is hands on with loads of opportunities to be silly and have fun! If you begin to feel homesick for American food, feed your appetite at Fuddruckers, Johnny Rockets, California Pizza Kitchen or Chilies, just to name a few.
Not to be outdone, the Dubai Mall which hosts the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa is another fascinating place to spend a day. Take time to “go to the top” in order to snap some spectacular photos of the city views. Professional photo taking is offered on site and if you purchase a post card in the gift shop, you can stamp and mail it immediately. By the time you finish exploring this gigantic mall it will be time to see the glorious Dubai Fountain Show compete with lights and sounds. This is the world’s largest choreographed fountain show and is not to be missed! If you are hungry, grab a burger from Five Guys Burgers (near the fountains) and get to the show about 15 minutes early for a good spot. Evening performances are free, begin at 6:00pm and run every thirty minutes until 11:00pm. My personal favorite performance is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
You have not been to Dubai without a Desert Safari Ride, camel ride, and dinner show. Plan about eight hours for the thrill of your life in the gorgeous Lahbab Desert. Buckle your seatbelt and get ready to scream as your 4×4 drivers take you and your travel companions over great hills and valleys while they avoid smashing into the other 4×4’s doing the exact same thing. Do NOT close your eyes. Next, ride on a camel as the sun sets over the Lahbab. Later, enjoy dressing in traditional Arab clothing, perhaps get a henna tattoo and take a photo with a live falcon. Enjoy a barbeque dinner Arabian-style while watching Whirling-Dervish and belly dancers entertain you under the starry night.
Another fun attraction is the Dubai Miracle Garden. Spend a couple of hours wondering through displays and structures made completely from various flowers from all over the world. If you go, take an umbrella with you for extra sun shade. We found this place to be quite unique because it made us forget for awhile that we were in a desert region of the world. There are many interesting photo opportunities so have your phone or camera handy.
To summarize, I HIGHLY recommend a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Never did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable. American credit cards and even dollars are accepted at most places in the U.A.E. The local people are rather quiet, but kind and friendly. Please show them respect by not taking their photographs.
The U.A.E. is undoubtingly the most luxurious destination that I have experienced in my lifetime. It is my hope that my husband and I will visit the U.A.E. again in the future soon.
SAFE & HAPPY TRAVELS!