A good number of international trips pass through Dubai but many travelers fail to make the most of this stopover. Many, in fact opt to wait for their flight in the airport instead of exploring this amazing city, and that is such a loss. Dubai is an amazing mix of Old World mystique and the most awe-inspiring modern architecture. If you ever have Dubai as a stopover on one of your flights, arrange to spend more time in this city and treat yourself to a truly memorable break.
The Gem in the United Arab Emirates
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that compose the United Arab Emirates. Located in the Persian Gulf, this city distinguishes itself from the other emirates because unlike its neighbours, it derives its income not from oil but from tourism and trade. Dubai has been named one of the best places to live in the Middle East, and its reputation as a global hub has won for it the honor of hosting the 2020 World Olympics.
Top Places to See in Dubai
If your stopover allows you only a day or two in Dubai, here is a short list of the places you need to see. Of course, these Middle Eastern marvels are guaranteed to either make you extend your stay or plan a return trip.
- The Burj Khalifa. At 829.8 meters, the Burj Kahlifa has been the tallest man-made structure in the world since was completed in 2008. The top floor of this astounding spire is the best place to see the city from a unique vantage point and orient yourself to the bustling city known as Dubai. Writing for CNN in “The Ultimate Dubai Stopover Guide”, Christopher Suttenfield says, “…Yes, the panorama is jaw dropping. And, yes, if you’re afraid of heights a visit probably isn’t a good idea…
“But did you know that if you visit during Ramadan and decide to break your fast on the observation deck, you’ll have to wait three minutes longer than everyone on the ground?
The world’s largest free standing structure is so tall that Dubai’s Grand Mufti has issued a decree that those above the 80th floor must adjust their prayer times in accordance with when they can see the sun set (not when it’s scheduled on the clock)…”
- Dubai Fountain. While you are in the vicinity of the Burj Khalif, take some time to enjoy the Dubai Fountain. As the world’s largest dancing fountain, this gigantic water feature is a fitting backdrop for the Burj Khalif, the world’s tallest building. Its waters pulsate and rise up to a height of 125 meters, controlled by an electric soundtrack that provides spectacular five-minute shows throughout the day.
- Dubai’s Gold Souq. Dubai’s Gold Souq allows you to experience what it is like to have gold and more gold surround you. The Souq is located near Baniyas Square in Deira, Sikkat al-Khali Street, and the best way to get there is to take a water taxi.
“Gold Souk, Dubai” has this to say about this unique marketplace: “…A trip to the Gold Souk truly demonstrates why Dubai has earned itself the title City of Gold. It’s worth visit even if you have no intention of buying, just to soak in the atmosphere of shop windows glinting with 18, 21, 22 & 24 carat gold, showing-off the abundant riches of this part of the world. Gold is aggressively promoted with special offers & raffle draws during Dubai Shopping Festival & Dubai Summer Surprises. The sheer scale & varity of gold on offer is impressive – earrings, rings, neclaces, bracelets & pendants. many different shades of gold are available : white, pink, yellow and even purple gold. Gold prices here are among the lowest in the World and are largely determined by weight; also varying depending on whether it is machine-made or by a craftsman…”
While you are at the Souq, make sure you feast on the sight of being surrounded by at least ten tons of gold, and in case you plan to get yourself a gold souvenir or two, make sure you are ready to haggle!
- The Spice Souq. If you take time to see the gold souq, you need to spare the spice souq a few minutes of your stopover time. It is every bit as enchanting as the gold market, and it is less than five minutes away. In “Top Ten Souqs in Dubai”, the blogger known as the Expat Woman identifies this totally Middle Eastern market as a must-see: “The Dubai spice souk is located just next to the gold souk.The colorful array of spices and their heady aroma is tantalizing. You cannot get over the incredible number of spices that are available. Here you will find spices of all varieties: cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, chilli, curry, cloves and lots more…” If you like to cook, treat yourself to a wee bit of saffron, the spice that costs more than gold per ounce.
- Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe. All that sightseeing and shopping will make you hungry, and while you are in Dubai, you must not miss the chance to taste the local cuisine at its very best. The El Fanar restaurant is a popular place to dine in Dubai, and if you decide to try their matchbous or their ghuzi, you just might find yourself dining with some members of the royal family. Their patronage of this restaurant is proof of the quality of its food and atmosphere.
There is so much to do and so much to see in Dubai. A brief stopover in this magical city can offer you a glimpse of Middle Eastern traditional life within a cosmopolitan metropolis. Your few hours there will also make you want to plan for a much longer stay.