My sister and had one month left before she started her full-time job. We wanted to go somewhere. Somewhere safe, somewhere vibrant and somewhere where there was lots to see. It was Dubai.
After spending 17 hours on the Emirates flight, we finally arrived in Dubai. Fortunately, our time at the airport wasn’t spent in long lines allowing us to get out and meet our driver. He took us to our hotel (Novotel, Al Barsha) where we were greeted with a delightful buffet breakfast. We filled our plates full of foods from all the continents, and feasted in preparation for our big day ahead.
Our first destination was the Mall of the Emirates. Glass domes and golden aisles made the mall quite a sight. There was an abundance of branded stores in the mall, many that we hadn’t even heard of, as well as a Tesla showroom on the 4th floor!
At noon, we were picked up for our most anticipated Desert Safari! As we entered the desert, the driver picked up pace and rapidly accelerated over the dunes and ditches. My sister and I were holding on to the safety rails inside our car thinking that it would topple any second. The thrilling ride lasted around 45 minutes before we were taken to a photo spot to witness the magical sunset.
The sky was painted magenta as a red orb drifted down behind the dunes. Never had we ever seen such an enchanting sunset.
We were then taken to a camp set up in the desert. We rode on camels, ate a full Arabian meal and watched a few performances including a fire show and traditional belly dance. Our first day well exceeded our expectations!
The following day, our driver took us on a Dubai tour. We visited the outside of the King’s Palace, Jumeira Beach (perfect viewing location for the iconic Burj al Arab hotel) and Saga Mall (traditional Arabian-design shopping centre). Along the way, we had a glimpse of Jumeira Mosque and the Dubai Frame. After visiting these locations, we were dropped off at The Dubai Mall – the second-largest shopping mall in the world, which is underneath the towering Burj Khalifa.
At the top of the Burj Khalifa, the rest of Dubai looked like a lego city. A thick layer of haze spanned the horizon emphasizing the sheer scale of land we were gazing at. On one side, Dubai appeared like an endless desert; the other side was the open ocean. In the middle was nothing but a concrete jungle.
After travelling down 124 levels from our viewing spot, we began our journey of exploring the mall. We saw an ice rink, a waterfall and a two-story aquarium with hundreds of crazy-looking sea creatures.
After being dropped back to Novotel, I had a relaxing swim in the pool which offered an enchanting night-time view of the Burj Al Arab.
Day 3 was dedicated to The Atlantis. We boarded a monorail that took us on the Palm Jumeira – a large artificial island shaped as a palm tree. The monorail took us to the end of the island where we arrived at the 5-star Atlantis Hotel. We visited a grand aquarium called The Lost Chambers where we gawked at some alien species of fish and sharks. Entire walls made up these aquariums, making us feel like we were in the bottom of the ocean.
Once our deep-sea expedition ended, we walked to Aquaventure Waterpark where we experienced thrilling water slides. The climate was relatively chilly, so we weren’t in the water for too long.
Our day’s events were still not over after Atlantis. That night, we had a relaxing dinner cruise at the Dubai Marina. A luxurious yacht took us through the marina into the open ocean, while we enjoyed a delectable three-course meal. Towering skyscrapers surrounded the marina illuminating the water. We also saw the world’s largest Ferris wheel (the Dubai Skywheel) which is currently under construction.
Our 4th day was spent at Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, and this is located 140 km (1hr 20min) from Dubai. Our first attraction was the popular and majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Grand Mosque).
Sheikh Zayed Mosque of Abu Dhabi is the third largest in the world following the mosque in Mecca and Medina. The 84 domes and magnificent marble walls reflect light, giving this mosque the glamour of the Taj Mahal. The world’s largest hand-knotted carpet can be found here, as well as colossal crystal chandeliers (one being the second-largest in the world).
A strict dress code is followed at the mosque. Men are not allowed to wear shorts. For women, legs and arms must be covered by loose clothing as well as a scarf over their heads. An ‘Abaya’ is given to visitors who do not meet the dress code.
Our second and last stop in Abu Dhabi was at Ferrari World. After a few hours of wandering around, we were taken back to our hotel.
On our last day of sightseeing, we left for the Dubai Miracle Garden. We were stunned. It was like entering a fantasy dreamland. Towering displays of grand castles, elephants and an entire airplane were masked under millions of vibrant flowers. This garden is the largest flower garden in the world with the maximum number of floral exhibitions. It felt like it was too perfect to be true!
In the afternoon, we visited Motiongate and Bollywood Park. We had a remarkable time experiencing thrilling rides at Motiongate and roaming around the picturesque buildings in Bollywood Park.
Our six days went way too fast. Coming from a country with natural scenic beauty, it was a welcomed change to see seemingly-impossible man-made wonders. It is truly incredible how a dream city has been built in the middle of the barren Arabian desert. Dubai opened our eyes to another world where anything is possible. I will definitely go back.