Dubai is a city of superlatives. Best, biggest, tallest, largest, highest, most expensive… you name it, and you’ll find it right here in our very own Dubai. It’s been called the city of gold, the city of dreams, the city of life, the city of skyscrapers, of attractions, of holidays… the list is pretty long.
The city is growing and modernising at a breakneck speed, but at the same time is making special efforts to preserve its rich past and cultural heritage.
What makes the emirate attractive to millions of tourists is not one, two or a handful of things, but that it offers something for everyone, whether they be children, teenagers, young adults, couples, families, groups or older travellers.
Who doesn’t know about Dubai’s iconic landmarks such as the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, but for the uninitiated, Dubai also offers several more attractions and experiences that are unique to this desert oasis.
Stunning beaches, water sports, indoor skiing, ice skating, a host of desert activities, a growing arts and culture scene, and amazing cuisines that span the globe are just a few of the other things that make Dubai, well, Dubai.
The Dubai-based global airline Emirates and the emirate’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) last week launched a new global campaign that celebrates different facets of Dubai.
The $20 million (Dh73.5m) ‘See you in Dubai’ campaign aims to reach audiences across the globe, focusing particularly on markets in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
“Dubai is a global hub and a global destination in itself. From Emirates’ perspective, it is our unique differentiator. Our mission has always been to connect the Dubai to the world, and connect the world through Dubai,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group.
“Our dynamic home city is developing apace,” he said. “Whether they’re new arrivals or they’ve been before, visitors to Dubai will always discover something new to enjoy and share in the emirate,” he added.
“Last year, Dubai welcomed more than 11 million visitors and our aim is to continue to grow these numbers by constantly enhancing every aspect of Dubai’s destination offering, making our city the top choice for all types of travellers from across the globe.”
There are 1001 reasons to visit Dubai – too many to accommodate in this article. So we’ll stick to what we believe are ten of the most fascinating reasons to visit the emirate sooner than later.
#10 Safe in Dubai
Even as the city becomes more global than several other established international hotspots, it is literally untouched by the crime that usually accompanies globalisation. Unlike other commercial capitals around the world, people in Dubai don’t fear stepping out alone even late at night, confident in the knowledge that the emirate’s world-class police has ensured that it remains one of the safest places on the planet. In addition, stories abound of its friendly and honest residents, some of whom have returned millions that they found left behind by an absent-minded tourist or fellow resident.
#9 Weather in Dubai
Summer months are hot, indeed, but the winter months (October to April) are immensely pleasant and plentiful. Besides, even during the summer months, a host of available indoor activities coupled with lower than usual hotel rates add to the charm of visiting this immensely popular place. Visitors, especially from Europe and the Americas, tend to frequent even during peak summer months as that’s something they don’t usually get to see in their own countries.
#8 Desert in Dubai
Dubai is not just sun, shopping and modern buildings. The one thing to do while in Dubai is the desert safari, where while on a Dune dinner, you will experience the deserts of Dubai, an exciting drive over sand dunes, a camel farm, watch the sunset from high dunes and finally after sunset, a barbecue dinner is served at a traditional Arabic Camp.
#7 Food in Dubai
It’s a city that boasts of 200 nationalities among its residents. It would be safe to say that these 200 nationalities have brought with them a similar number of cuisines, and the visitor is spoilt for choice when it comes to food variety. From the epic brunches to eclectic taster lunches, belly-buster experiences abound in Dubai. Ethnic treats from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Asian cuisines of the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, or even the continental fare – Dubai has more to offer than your average taste buds can take in the span of a trip.
#6 Shopping in Dubai
It’s the place in the world when it comes to shopping – if the world’s largest mall isn’t enough to convince you, remember that the Dubai has been ranked as the world’s second most important international retail destination for the third consecutive year. The emirate closely trails London in the 2014 ‘How Global is the Business of Retail’ report published by real estate consultancy CBRE. From smartphones to apartments, designer labels to fast cars, luxury watches to million-dollar shoes, Dubai has it all for the shopoholic.
#5 Mega festivals in Dubai
Dubai is an all-year-round tale. Whether it’s shopping or sports, arts or entertainment, food or culture, business or leisure – Dubai has a festival or event for everything. Not for nothing is it said that Dubai never sleeps. The Rugby Sevens, European Tour golf, Dubai Cup horse racing, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai Jazz Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, Dubai Shopping Festival, Gitex Shopper… the list is indeed quite long.
#4 Wonderful to-do list in Dubai
The list of activities to do in Dubai makes an amazing read. Take the world’s fastest elevator to the 148th floor observation deck of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, for a 360-degree view of glittering Dubai. If that doesn’t suffice, take a helicopter ride to soak in views of Dubai’s skyline, numerous man-made islands, beaches and the desert itself. And remember that it’s the only place in a radius of thousands of kilometres to offer indoor skiing, and the only one to offer so in the midst of a desert. Hot-air balloon rides, skydiving, snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming around shipwrecks… there is indeed a long and wonderful list of activities to do in Dubai.
#3 Gold and spice in Dubai
Dubai is known as the city of gold – and there’s a good reason for it. No, Dubai’s roads aren’t paved with gold, but consider this: Dubai is the biggest transit city for gold in the world, with 40 per cent of the global physical gold trade – or 2,250 tonnes of yellow metal – passing through the city in 2013. Visiting the iconic gold souk should be a must-do item on the list of anyone coming to the emirate, as should be purchasing gold as, at times, the difference in prices with some countries, especially those that tax gold may go up to 25 per cent or even more. Just next to the gold souk is the spice souk which offers a heady mix of spices, notably the frankincense, and will definitely thrill your senses.
#2 Culture in Dubai
Dubai offers an eclectic mix of nationalities and culture, but it also offers a window into the rich history and culture if the region. A must-see is the beautiful Arabic architecture and traditional buildings such as the Jumeirah Mosque situated on the Beach Road. For those who want to discover more about the history and culture of the area, the Dubai Museum, Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House and Dubai Heritage and Diving Village are also a must-visit. A visit to Bastakiya will show that old Dubai lives on in this remnant settlement of coral walls and wind towers. The XVA Art Hotel located in the heart of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the oldest community in Dubai, is a charming boutique hotel and art gallery. Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort (1787) gives an insight into the emirate’s rise to riches.
#1 Hospitality in Dubai
Dubai is a dynamic destination that boasts of some of the world’s most iconic and luxurious resorts and hotels. Sophisticated, chic and urbane, Dubai epitomises hospitality and takes it to a whole new level. The city that boasts of a huge number of world records even has its own hospitality championship. Iconic hotels in the emirate range from the 7-star Burj Al Arab to the magnificent Atlantis, the Al Maha Desert Resort, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Bab Al Shams, Dusit Thani, Armani Hotel, Mina A’Salam and many more.
In the end, Dubai is the ultimate global destination not just geographically, but also in every other aspect. It is a modern city with deep roots seeped in history. The city with a golden heart is the dream destination of hundreds of millions of people across the globe, and for a million reasons.