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A city of contrast
Dubai’s infamous cityscape is a diverse collection of architectural styles. A short walk from the harbour is its historic Al Fahidi Bastakia Quarter, where the museum, narrow lanes and tranquil courtyards have a backdrop of cloud-skimming skyscrapers. In the distance, the world’s tallest building punctuates the already ambitious skyline. You quite literally can’t visit the city without seeing the dynamic Burj Khalifa, it soars 830 metres into the air. Ascend to the 148th floor for impressive views, stop off at the 122nd floor bar, or watch the fountain show on the 30-acre Burj Lake at its Hymenocallis-inspired base.
Atop the reclaimed land of the waterfront you’ll discover more of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, including the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab. A luxurious hotel dripping in extravagant décor and world-class facilities, it stands proudly on a purpose built island and can only be visited with a reservation. If you get the chance, splash out on afternoon tea to get a glimpse of its opulent, seven-star interior. A few miles either side, scattered across the Persian Gulf, are striking man-made archipelagos of The World and Palm Jumeirah. Take a trip on the monorail to experience the latter island’s pièce de résistance at its furthest point. Atlantis, The Palm is an impressive, ‘lost city’ themed hotel boasting a waterpark, marine experiences and a labyrinth of 20 exotic aquariums.
Shop to your heart’s content
Whether you love boutique stores filled with designer labels or prefer hunting around ambient marketplaces, Dubai’s shopping experiences are sure to satisfy. Soak up the scents and sounds of traditional souks near Dubai Creek, where patterned pottery and Oriental rugs sit beside glittering gold jewellery and sacks of mouth-watering saffron. Downtown, browse duty-free goods at vast complexes, such as the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. Onsite entertainment zones, such as an underwater zoo, indoor ski slope, cinemas and restaurants, offer a myriad of leisure activities when your feet, or purse strings, need a little rest.
Discovering Dubai’s roots
Beyond the sprawling metropolis lie the undulating sand dunes of the Arabian Desert. Reminiscent of Dubai’s not-too-distant past, this vast ochre landscape makes for an exciting escapade. Keep an eye out for native wildlife as you explore this remote setting on an exhilarating 4x4 safari, or channel your inner Lawrence of Arabia and climb aboard a friendly camel. Optional adrenaline rushes come in the form of sand boarding or quad biking, while belly dancing performances and shisha round off the experience.