Dubai is a city that has been in the news quite a bit recently and in the last 5-10 years has undergone huge changes to make it a favorite tourist destination. In fact before the recent financial downturn, Dubai was wanting to have 15 million visitors to the Emirate by 2015. The reason that Dubai is wanting more tourists is because the approach has gone multi-dimensional and so they needed to come up with another income stream.
There are many things to do in Dubai for the casual visitor. One of the great things is that the climate is great for a large part of the year so there are plenty of hotels that have beach access and the beaches can be used all year round. The problem comes in the summer when the temperature rises to more than 40 degrees every day for about 3 or 4 months of the year (June-September). Although some people will still go out in these kind of temperatures, humidity is also high which makes for quite an oppressive temperature overall.
So if you visit Dubai outside of summer then in addition to the most popular pastimes of shopping and sunbathing, you can find plenty of other things to do for the whole family. One of the most popular tourist activities is to take a desert safari in a 4 wheel drive car. This is not for the faint hearted as the trained drivers hover on top of and dive up and down sand dunes. Usually there is a desert camp afterwards where you can take a camel ride and eat local food.
Other activities are to visit the old Bastakiya area of Dubai where you can see the museum or take an Abra across the creek to have a look round the spice and gold souks. The creek used to be the heart of the city and still today you can see all the boats that bring in imports of all sorts of goods from the subcontinent. Watch the men unload the boats and it will seem like you are stuck in another era.
There are plenty of activities for the children (and bigger children) with a choice of great waterparks in and around Dubai. These waterparks are all pretty much state of the art with each competing with each other to be the best. Two of the water parks are in Dubai (Aqua venture and Wild Wadi) and two are about an hour’s drive away.
Of course you mustn’t forget the ski resort in the desert that is Ski Dubai. This is located in the Mall of the Emirates shopping mall and means that you can go from being in more than40 degrees heat outside, to a snow filled ski slope inside within a few minutes.
Dubai is great for a beach holiday or a city break – there are a large number of hotels that you can choose from so come for a visit.
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The emirate is brimming with iconic landmarks and sweeping landscapes, all of which make for stunning, dramatic photography. Knowing where to shoot the sights, however, can be something of a challenge.
DUBAI SKYLINE. New Asia Bar, Raffles Dubai Location: Next to Wafi shopping center. Off Sheikh Rashid Road, in Oud Metha Photographer’s tip: Place your camera on one of the tables, turn off the flash and set the selftimer to minimize camera movement and blur. The phenomenal rate of growth in Dubai over the past five years has seen the skyline flourish spectacularly. Here, the majestic skyscrapers lining Sheikh Zayed Road create a magnificent shot at dusk. Take your position on the balcony at the New Asia Bar and capture the changing light as the sun sets.
BURJ AL ARAB. A hotel in Dubai Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai Vantage point: Souk Madinat Jumeirah Location: Umm Suqeim 3, off Jumeirah Beach Road Photographer’s tip: Visit mid-afternoon for the best lighting. Rest your camera on a sturdy surface and switch off the flash.
One of the best places to photograph the seven-star hotel is from the bridge at the entrance to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. From here you can not only capture the famous icon, but also several beautiful examples of Arabian architecture.
DUBAI CREEK Vantage point: Bait Al Wakheel Location: By the Old Souk abra (water taxi) station, Bur Dubai Photographer’s tip: Visit an hour before sunset for the best lighting and to capture the busy locals going about their business. The Creek has been the heart and soul of Dubai for centuries as pearl divers, fishermen and tradesmen used the inlet as their base. With abras, wooden dhows, (traditional boats) and flocks of seagulls scavenging for food, the Creek today is a photographer’s paradise. Situated near the abra station on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek, Bait Al Wakheel was the city’s first administration building, but now houses an excellent Arabic restaurant.
BURJ KHALIFA Dubai – Vantage point: The Palace – The Old Town Photographer’s tip: Strategically line up buildings in the foreground to hide the surrounding construction work. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa now stands at more than 800 meters high and when it officially opens later this year, it will be home to residential apartments, commercial space and a hotel. To photograph the record-breaking giant take your position anywhere in Downtown Dubai although The Palace – The Old Town offers particularly good views.