Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Our first venture to the Middle East region took us to Dubai. We spent four nights in the city and learned there is more to this region than sand and malls.

A review of one’s time in Dubai does not start when they arrive at the hotel or with their first glimpse of the city’s skyline. No, it starts much sooner. It begins with the airport itself. The hype surrounding this airport is real. Moving sidewalks, glistening marble(esque) bathrooms, neon lights, gold plated pillars, high-end shopping and well-groomed staff are just the beginning. The sheer number of travelers in the airport at off peak travel times is also noteworthy. We flew into the country during mid-morning and the number of guests was high, but not unusual. However, (skipping forward, for a minute) our departing flight left at 2 a.m. and there were the same number of people milling about the pristine terminals as when we arrived mid-day. It reminded me of an anthill with disturbed ants scrambling around. *I wish we had taken our camera out a snapped a few pictures, but we didn’t!*

Our hotel was just off Sheikh Zayed Road, which is the “main drag” in the city. It has views of the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and is convenient to the train – which is safe, clean and a great way to get around the city without a car.

The Burj Khalifa is an absolute, must-do while in Dubai. Be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time and dress accordingly (cover shoulders and knees). The building is impressive from the outside, but also from the inside. Everything from the security lines, 3-D architectural models and hi-speed elevator. Once at the top, be prepared to have your breath taken away in response to the views and the heights!

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The Burj Khalifa – The world’s tallest building

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2012_Dubai 025Next up for our 4 night jaunt in the desert was a Desert Safari with Lama Tours. The safari included “dune bashing,” scenic ride through the Dubai Desert Reserve, a camel ride, dinner and a show.

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Dune Bashing with Lama Tours

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The Dubai Desert Reserve

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Wildlife in the desert.

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A gorgeous desert sunset.

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… and we’re up!

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A beautiful show as the sun set.

The next day we went snow skiing. No, that is not a typo. That’s right, you can snow ski in the middle of a hot, arid desert. Where you might ask? Where else, but inside of one of the insanely impressive malls that dots the city. Ski Dubai is in the Mall of the Emirates. It’s really a very ingenious idea that was very well executed. I mean, let’s face it, Dubai. Is. HOT! It’s difficult to do much outside, especially in the summer and therefore we fell victim to the allure of snow, cold and fun that is Ski Dubai.


From the outside, it appears to be just another huge store in the mall.


But inside is a winter wonderland of ski slopes, tubing, games and SNOW!

By our final day in Dubai we desperately wanted another way to cool off. Ski Dubai did the job the day before, so we thought the beach would be a perfect way to relax and beat the heat. We were wrong. It’s even too hot for the beach! However, we also understand that sunbathing and skimpy bathing suits are not a huge priority for the locals and most tourists pay an arm and a leg to go to the water parks all day. None-the-less, we walked the beach for a few minutes, started to melt and hailed an air-conditioned cab to an air-conditioned mall for some food. Yes, we went to ANOTHER mall. (They really are that impressive and interesting!) We walked the endless corridors, ate falafel and made-up stories of how the people leaving high-end retailers with bags of merchandise earned their millions.


It’s even too hot for the beach!


Oh! To be allowed able to explore this resort… maybe one day.

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(Want to know how to make falafel? Click here for my recipe.)

We eventually ventured back to our hotel to prepare for our 2 a.m. flight out. I do wish we had more time in this city. If we did, I would not miss out on a day trip to Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World and the new gardens outside of the city.

A few words come to mind when looking back on our time in Dubai: hot and impressive! There is no way around it – the July heat is stifling. However, you can get around this fact because of the impressive nature of the entire city. Man made islands, gardens in the desert, pristine public bathrooms and (what appears to be) enough condos to house everyone in the state of California. 


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