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Dubai travel guide

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Dubai  is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is rather like an independent city-state and is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE, developing at an unbelievable pace in the tourist and trade sectors especially. A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai was gaining popularity in recent years until the global economic crash of 2008. Dubai is essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world.

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Sightseeings ( Old Dubai | Modern Dubai ) Activities Purchase ( Malls ) Where to go and what to do?

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Al Ahmadiya School , Deira. Built in 1912, this was Dubai's first school and has now been nicely restored. It would be a stretch to call the exhibits of old reed pens and diplomas fascinating, but they've tried pretty hard, and if nothing else, the air-con and clean toilets may come in handy. Free entry. Bastakiya District . One of the last remaining pockets of  Old Dubai , home to many reconstructed buildings in the traditional style. While information on the structures is slim here (see the museum in preference), the atmosphere is very evocative and there are plenty of delightful art galleries and cafes to explore. Old Dubai Dubai Museum . A must-see for anyone interested in the social history of the Emirate (and indeed the country). A visit starts at the al- Fahidi fort, which has a few examples of the traditional reed houses and other artifacts, but isn't much to look at. The more interesting part is the modern extension built  underneath  the fort, showcasing Dubai's history using the latest technology and culminating in a reconstructed souq from the pearling days, complete with authentic sights and sounds. Jumeirah Mosque . Is the largest in the city, and a wonderful example of Islamic architecture. Built in the medieval Fatimid tradition with the interior decorated with elaborate Arabic calligraphy. It is one of few mosques in the city open for visits by non-Muslims, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding conducts special tours for non-Muslims to help promote understanding of Islam. Guided tours are available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday beginning at 10AM, followed by a question-and-answer session. Located on Jumeirah Road, the mosque is an especially great place to visit in the evening when it's dramatically illuminated by floodlights. Shindagha District  — Home to the open museums of the Heritage Village, and has the home of former Sheikh Rashid Al- Maktoum . Sightseeings

Modern Dubai :

Modern Dubai The Dubai Fountain . At 270m (900ft) in length and sporting a jet that shoots water up to 150m (500 ft), the Dubai Fountain is indeed the world's largest dancing fountain and one with a very enticing display - a definite must see. The show starts every evening at the Burj Dubai Lake. Easy way to approach it is via the Dubai Mall. Shows are every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 11pm on weekends. It's the world’s largest dancing fountain with classical, Arabic and world music. About 1.5 million lumens of projected light and the spray heights of up to 150m/500 ft (22,000 gallons of airborne water). Burj Khalifa . Until recently called  Burj Dubai , at 828 metres and 160 floors this is the world's tallest structure by a long shot, over 300m taller than the previous contender in Taipei. The observation deck at the 124th floor is the 2nd highest in the world after the Shanghai World Financial center. Already dominating the Dubai skyline, the newly opened tower houses nine hotels and a Las Vegas-inspired fountain system. The visitors' entrance is located at the lower ground floor of  Dubai Mall . Although the tour is called  At the Top  be aware that it isn't! Although the observation deck is the highest open deck in the world, at 452m it's just over halfway up the tower itself. Console yourself with the knowledge that most of the rest of the tower consists of service areas and the view below looks suitably ant-like. Tickets cost Dhs 125 for a timed entry ticket, usually later the same day, or Dhs 400 if you do not want to wait. Tickets can sell out several days in advance, and it is advisable to book them online ahead of your visit.

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Burj al-Arab hotel . For a real glimpse into "how the other half lives", (self-proclaimed as the only 7 star hotel in the world), afternoon tea, or cocktails, may be an interesting experience. Entry to the hotel requires a reservation which will be confirmed at the entry gate, although residents of adjacent Jumeirah hotels may be able to visit by arrangement. Other tourists may occasionally be able to book tours of the hotel itself, however these will not run when the hotel is full. A "very smart casual" dress code applies. Reservations are usually required about a month in advance for a room, but a few days will generally suffice for a meal. Dubai Marina . One of the newer and more popular areas of Modern Dubai, both with residents and tourists. It offers numerous features such as a phenomenal skyline, world class hotels, a fabulous beach, a mall, and 2 different walkways (The Walk and Marina Walk) with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. Marina Walk is right on the "Marina water", and there are many yachts there. You can rent a yacht for a cruise around the area. The Walk has a nice open market run from October till May, every Fridays and Saturdays at daylight. Palm Islands . The three largest artificial islands in the world are located just off the coast of Dubai; a major urban development to add a significant amount of upscale beachfront property to the area. Each of the islands is shaped like a palm leaf, with a trunk connected to the mainland, fronds extending from the trunk, and a crescent (a breakwater encircling the trunk and fronds). Of the three planned, the Palm Jumeirah , at 5km square and near Dubai Marina, is the only one yet open, connected to the mainland by a freeway bridge and a monorail and sporting marinas, luxury resorts, and upscale shopping areas.

Activities :

Activities Beaches and sea . There are endless water-sport opportunities as Dubai has some of the whitest and sandiest beaches in the world. Ocean temperatures range from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer, there are few wave breaks and the strong winds can make swimming difficult. The water is also very salty so many prefer to use their hotel swimming pool. Diving activities have been severely affected by offshore construction work for the Palms and The World; consequently, long boat trips are necessary to reach wreck sites. Alternatively, one can make the 90 minute road journey to the East coast Emirate of Fujairah or the Sharjah enclave, Khor Fakkan , for top class diving on coral reefs supporting extensive marine life. Natural Outdoors . Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting, and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the emirate of Dubai, which extends into Hatta - the difficulty is in knowing where to find them! There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes - Weekenduae is a blog that freely shares ideas, routes and plans for weekend adventures with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos. Parks . Al Safa Park is one of the oldest in Dubai. It's a favorite for sports enthusiasts, and many visitors enjoy playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Children love playing games in the video arcade, or riding the ferris wheel and bumper cars. The park even has a maze to wander through. Barbeques and picnic areas are available for those who want to make a day of it. Camel Races . The Camel Race Track is one of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. Not only can you watch the races, but you'll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. Vendors sell everything from beads to rugs and blankets, so you can purchase souvenirs. Madinat Jumeirah is also known as Jumeirah City, and is a complex of residential neighborhoods, two luxury hotels, and a shopping mall. Water Sports . Thrill seeking water excitement. Banana boat ride and parasailing and many other water sports activities. Desert Safari  or  Dune Bashing . Dubai is well known of its Desert Safaris and extreme adventure sports in the desert. The most popular extreme adventure tour is called the dune bashing. Dune Bashing uses different things like 4X4 Safari Jeeps, Sand Boards, Quad Bikes and Dune Buggies.There are several giant tours operators promoting Dubai Deserts such as North Tours, Dubai Dune Buggy, Desert safari Dubai etc. Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist Desert Drivers. The drivers will take you for a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a lavish dinner with music and dance to complete the atmosphere. You may want to stay clear of the dune-bashing if you know that you get carsick easily.

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Fishing . Enjoy deep sea fishing in the middle of the Dubai Sea. Ski . Dubai now has its own snow skiing centre. Located in the new Mall of the Emirates (MOE), on the Sheikh Zayed Road, it offers both skiing and snowboarding. The slope is quite large for an indoor area. All equipment is available for hire. Although it is -4°C inside, you don't need to bring a jacket because they supply pretty much everything except gloves and a hat (which you can buy right there). A 2 hour pass costs Dhs180 plus Dhs20 for a locker. Wild Wadi  . Wild Wadi Park is the perfect place for the entire family to spend a day as well as being a great way to beat the heat and enjoy the day away from the bustle of the city. Located close to the hotels and resorts of Jumeriah Beach, the park has water rides, slides, and a lagoon that's hidden away. You'll enjoy waterfalls, out of the way swimming holes, and a tidal pool. Yacht Charter . A new way to explore coastal Dubai. See man-made Palm Islands and skyscrapers while being yachting and partying on Dubai waters. Dubai Creek Cruise/Ride . The Dubai creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures. You can book a ride on the creek with a dinner cruise or even rent a private boat to take you on a hour long ride up and down the creek. Golf . It may be a desert, but a lot of money and water is spent on irrigating opulent golf courses. Alternatively, for a more local flavor, try  sand golf ! Hot Air Balloon . Great Fun seeing all the sand Dunes and mountains early in the morning or during sunset. Dubai Zoo , Jumeirah Road. An outdoor zoo near to the beach. Considering the extreme temperatures during the summer months, there are plans to bring the zoo indoors. The zoo is not worth visiting as the number and variety of animals are few, and housing conditions are also appalling. Animals are trapped in cages too small for them to take more than a few steps, and are frustrated and bored. Admission 3AED. Global Village . Happens Annually and is operated by Dubai Land, this usually happens during winter; from Late November to late February. Countries around the world gather and set up a small village in the outskirts of Dubai, each country/region has its own pavilion with a unique replica of their famous landmark(s). This is usually like a flea market where you can get souvenirs from almost every corner of the earth for a bargained price and experience as if you're in that certain country for at least 10 minutes of your life even if you're 10,000km away. Raffles for cars and gold bars also happen. You'd see the hieroglyphics of Egypt, temples of Thailand, Forbidden city of Beijing, the Eiffel tower and many more. Admission is usually 5AED. Activities

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Dubai is practically synonymous with shopping. The huge amounts of cargo passing through its port and the low tariffs ensure that practically anything is available at fairly competitive rates, although the appreciation of the Dirham, and the plentiful supply of shoppers means that Dubai is no longer a bargain basement shopping city. You'll also find products in western chain stores, still with the original tags quoting euro or sterling prices, being sold with a 20-30% mark-up once converted to Dirhams . The best things to buy in Dubai are textiles, electronics and gold, electronics is believed to be much cheaper while textiles and gold offer a wide range of selection. Even in the mega-malls, Dubai shops have no storeroom and no stocks in reserve - and for clothes shopping this may mean that you may struggle to find the style you want in the size you want. Shops open as early as 9AM and stay open to 10PM and on weekends to 12AM and some stay to 1AM. Remember to haggle in the souks, as discounts are almost always available and even in situations where the item will not become much cheaper, the customer is always expected to "play the game" of haggling. A simple question of "what's your best price?" will often result in a shop-keeper going to extraordinary lengths to sell his stock. Prices in the malls and other Western shops tend not to be negotiable. Far from being a bad thing, this allows the canny visitor to work out comparative prices for common souvenirs - an invaluable aid when a shop-keeper in a souk is asking for a higher price. Dubai Shopping Festival  has been the biggest shopping event in the middle east since 1996. Almost every shop has a sale, starting in January and ending February. There's also a very similar  Dubai Summer Surprises  trying to pull in punters during the summer low season. Purchase

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The Dubai Mall . Sun-Wed: 10:00-20:00, Thu-Sat: 10:00-00:00. is Dubai's Largest Mall, which was opened in November 2008. It has over 1200 shops of brand names from all over the world. It is currently the largest mall in the world. Contains an indoor ice rink and indoor aquarium. It is right next door to the Burj Khalifah , the world's tallest building, and the visitors' entrance to the Burj Khalifah is located at the lower ground floor of the Mall.   Mercato ,  Jumeirah Beach Rd.  Mercato , which is Italian for  Market , is the only Renaissance-themed shopping mall in the Middle East. It captures Italian, French and Spanish flavors and artistic characteristics playing host to regular fairs and festivals from each country. Mercato provides a unique shopping experience, the best in international entertainment and popular brand names like Virgin Megastore, Top Shop, Mango and Hugo Boss; Mercato is simply  The Good Life.  Also, Mercato houses a big Spinneys Supermarket, a 7 screen Grand Cinema, a Starbucks, and mouth watering restaurants such as Bella Donna who have a balcony overlooking the sea that cannot be missed.   Town Centre Jumeirah ,  Jumeirah Beach Rd. With a bright, open, and spacious atmosphere, Town Centre Jumeirah is a place to shop, relax and casually dine at a wide selection of eateries like Sumo Sushi, Cafe Ceramique , La Cafette by Carpe Diem and Simply Healthy. The centre also houses an extensive range of ladies' beauty outlets like the Nail Station, Paris Gallery, Kaya Skin Care Clinic, Wax Lounge and SOS Salon.  Mall of the Emirates , near 4th interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road , Outside Ramadan: Sun-Wed 10AM-10:00PM; Thu-Sat 10AM-12PM (midnight); Ramadan: Sun-Sat: 10AM-1AM. It was largest shopping mall outside of North America, until the Dubai Mall opened in 2008. 200+ shops, cinemas, plus the Ski Centre. Has many international high street chains as well as luxury brand stores, including Harvey Nichols. Many restaurants and cafes, though cafes tend to be much more crowded than at other malls. It's attached to a Kempinski hotel, which has restaurants licensed to serve alcohol that are accessible from the mall. Very large Carrefour hypermarket attached, next to the Kempinski Hotel. Arabian/Middle Eastern souvenir shops upstairs. Ibn Battuta Mall , Jebel Ali Daily 10AM-12AM (midnight). Areas themed around six countries (China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and the Andalusia). Wide range of shops, although fewer high class brands. Has various restaurants and cafes (including three Starbucks), and a multiplex cinema including an Imax. No restaurants serve alcohol. Also has extensive, permanent exhibition of Islamic science, invention and astronomy. Attached (access via outside) is one of Dubai's few second-hand bookshops, House of Prose. Has a Geant supermarket attached. Souk Madinat Jumeirah , Jumeirah Road. Includes 75 shops, numerous bars, restaurants and cafes, a nightclub, theatre. More expensive and targeted directly at tourists than other, general malls where residents go. Most bars and restaurants are licensed for alcohol. Nice to wander through as it has been designed to resemble a "traditional" souq , but with the modern comforts of air conditioning. Lots of souvenir-type shops. Malls Burjuman Centre , Khalifa Bin Zayed Road, Sat-Thu 10AM-10:00PM; Fri 2PM-10PM. Recently opened after expansion, focus is on premium brand stores and luxury boutiques, but high street stores are also available. No restaurants serve alcohol. Walking distance to the Consulate District. Deira City Centre  . This is by far the most popular mall in Dubai and a visit to Dubai is not complete without a visit. Debenhams, Virgin Megastore, Zara and other international high street brands. A multiplex cinema, and many restaurants and cafes. Also has a large "Arabian Treasures" souvenir and traditional textiles area. A new extension includes many more high-end boutiques and upmarket mall restaurants. A big Carrefour hypermarket sell just about everything and is nearly always very busy. There is a Sofitel hotel at one end of the centre, where there are bars and restaurants serving alcohol. Wafi Mall . Includes Marks & Spencer, Goodies. Focus is almost entirely on luxury brands, jewellery and expensive boutiques. Many upmarket restaurants and bars, many of which are licensed (have alcohol available). A luxury spa is attached to the complex. The Egypt-themed architecture, which includes quite beautiful stained-glass pyramids, is worth seeing. Emirates Towers Boulevard , Sheikh Zayed Road, Daily 10.00AM-10.00PM, Fri 4.00PM-10.00PM. Part of the Emirates Tower Hotel complex. The shops here match the hotel, very high class, plus a Starbucks. Lipton cafe has free wifi . Restaurants and bars all serve alcohol. Quite a popular nightlife spot, with bars and nightclubs and it is considered the most expensive mall in Dubai. Gold & Diamond Park , Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road (South side). Sells gold and diamond products. Has none of the character of the more historic gold souq , but is air-conditioned throughout, and easier to reach and park at than the historic souq (which is in the depths of downtown Deira ). Can be better value, as it is less "touristy". Al Ain Plaza , (known locally as Computer Plaza), On Mankhool Road along from the Ramada Hotel, Bur Dubai heading towards the creek. A mall specializing in computers, laptops, computer parts and computer add ons like monitors, VoIP Phones, hard drives, etc. Prices aren't particularly low, even after haggling, and choices are limited (for example very few shops sell AMD hardware). There is an internet cafe here. AED 10 per hour (minimum 1 hour). Also other malls in this area are good for computers and computer equipment. Festival City . Has Dubai's only Ikea , since it relocated from City Centre, and a huge Plug-Ins electronic store. Also an ACE Hardware and a amazing mall which has 550 shops. Dubai Outlet Mall , on the road to Al Ain . A very large mall, with many "factory outlets". Dubai Marina Mall , located on Sheikh Zayed Rd, a mall with Books and Stationery (Borders), mobile telephony (du), photography (Nikon), cards (Hallmark), children toys, nutrition, pharmacy (Boots), supermarket (Waitrose), luxury watches, clothing, Starbucks, Dubai souvenirs, etc.

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