Burj Khalifa Observation Deck

On the southern end of Sheikh Zayed Road rises the Burj Khalifa but you don’t need to be standing near it to see it. The stunning building is the tallest in the world. After five years of construction, it reaches 828 meters. The structure is built around a central core with tiers forming 27 terraces as the building gets narrower and the central core eventually emerges at the top in the spire. It is also the building with the most floors in the world (163 with another 46 levels in the spire); has 57 elevators; the highest mosque in the world; the highest swimming pool in the world and has the world’s fastest and highest elevators.

When you go up to the Burj Khalifa observation deck you get to ride in one of the super fast elevators. The building is predominantly residential with the world’s first Armani Hotel on the lower levels and the observation deck on the 124th floor. After you wait in a line you can take the speedy elevator to the 124th floor. At the Top is an outdoor observation deck; it is 452 meters from the ground.

There are telescopes so you can see the city below and the rest of the emirate in the distance. If you buy an At the Top SKY ticket you get a guided tour, jump the queue and get to go to the 148th floor as well. If you’d rather not visit the observation deck, there is the Atmosphere restaurant on the 122nd floor. You can also enjoy the fountain show at the foot of the building and the 11-hectare park which surrounds the skyscraper.

Dubai Fountains

The Dubai Fountain show is the world’s largest fountain show of its kind. It is located on the 12 hectare man-made Burj Lake outside the Dubai Mall on the Lower Ground Waterfront Promenade. The fountain was devised by the same team which created the Las Vegas fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel. The fountain cost approximately $218 million to create. The fountains are spread out in the lake covering 274 meters (900ft); they shoot up 152 meters (500ft) in the air which is as high as a 45-floor building.

6,600 lights are used to create the incredible effects with 25 colourful projected images and 83279 litres (22,000 gallons) of water in the air. The fountains “dance” to the sound of classical music, Arabic music and famous internationally loved tunes. Visitors can get an up-close view of the fountains by taking the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride on a traditional Abra. The Abra takes you on to the lake itself while the fountains perform. Otherwise, you can watch the show for free from the Fountain Promenade and you can also see the show from as far away as 32km (20 miles) or from any high building in the area.

DUBAI MALL

3 Dubai Mall is just one of the mind-boggling malls in Dubai where you could spend the entire day shopping, dining and enjoying amazing places of entertainment. This is the world’s largest mall in terms of total area (1,124,000m²) and it has 1,200 stores including the world’s largest candy store.

The mall opened in 2008 and since then has set records for the most visited site surpassing many top attractions across the globe. The mall’s many attractions include DubaiDino a giant dinosaur skeleton. KidZania – an award-winning interactive edutainment venue where kids can dress up as any of 80 roles e.g. surgeons, nurses, mechanic etc. and play as if they are adults in a mini adult world.

Reel Cinema is the malls 22 screen cinema complex. SEGA Republic is a 7060m² complex with 14 attractions and more than 170 games, simulators and virtual experiences. The theme of the whole venue is the SEGA games hedgehog. Kids will also love Big Fun World, a play area for children. At the Emirates A380 Experience, you can enter an airplane cockpit for a 30 minute simulation and be a pilot for a while. The mall has a football themed arena called GOAL! The mall’s main attraction is the Dubai Ice Rink. Visitors can rent skates and skate on the Olympic size rink.

The mall is the site of the Dubai Aquarium and Underground Zoo (separate listing). Here you can see more than 33,000 marine animals through the world’s largest viewing panel (32.8 meters by 8.3 meters). Outside the mall is the huge man-made Burj Khalifa Lake where you can see the Dubai Fountains (separate listing) dancing to music and lights. The mall is also at the foot of the Burj Khalifa (separate listing) where you can enjoy the breath taking views from the observation deck on the 124th floor.

Dubai Aquarium

This site is in the Dubai Mall and is home to over 33,000 species of aquatic creatures. There is a huge 10 million litre tank on one level and an underwater zoo on an upper level where people can interact with the animals. A variety of experiences are offered. You can go underwater in a cage and get up-close with the marine animals including 300 sharks and stingrays. You can take a dive (without a cage) down among the sharks. You can even learn to dive and get certified at the aquarium. The aquarium is the proud owner of giant crocodiles 5 meters long. There are daily presentations and feedings. You can see the stingrays, fish, crocodiles and sharks being fed. One of the most thrilling experiences at the aquarium is to walk through the transparent 48 meter long tunnel which goes through the aquarium tank. So, you can see all the animals swimming around and overhead. The latest attraction is the UAE Night Creatures. This attraction covers 200m² and is home to creatures which live in the Arabian Desert environment. In the Underwater Zoo you can see creatures from the Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Environment.

While in Dubai, avoid the long lines and save money by getting Dubai Aquarium tickets in advance.

Dubai Gold Souk

I have yet to visit, but many locals recommended this place, so I had to include it on the list. Shopping in general is one of the top activities for visitors to Dubai and visiting the Dubai markets is another. Dubai is famous for its low-cost gold and you can really find bargains here. But even if you have no intention of buying any gold it is great to take a walk through the shiny souq where all that glitters are gold!

Enter the Gold Souq market and you will see wall-to-wall gold with over 300 vendors displaying their gold. You can shop with confidence in the Gold Souq and there is strict quality control. If you buy gold from a vendor on the street, you don’t have the same guarantee. You can buy ready-made gold jewellery here or come with a design and have it made. You can even bring broken jewellery or a precious stone that you want set in a ring.In addition to gold, you can find jewellery made of platinum, diamonds and silver.

Remember to haggle over the price, get a certificate of authenticity and when leaving the country, it is best to wear the jewellery to avoid paying extra tax as you enter your country. For more gold shopping visit the Gold and Diamond Park market.

Madinat Jumeirah

I visited this lovely place and ate at the meat Co where the food was fantastic, and our group sat by the waterway with stunning views of the Burj Arab. Madinat Jumeirah is a huge resort complex which includes two boutique hotels, 29 private summer houses, more than 40 restaurants, bars, conference facilities, a 1,000 seat amphitheatre, the Madinat Arena entertainment venue, spas and Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

The complex has its own private beach and is a recreation of ancient Arabia complete with lush landscaped gardens and 3km of waterways which connect the different attractions. Visitors can ride a traditional Abra boat up and down these waterways while visiting the different attractions. The Abra Tour takes you through the resort which has traditional Arabian architecture. The tours take you on a 20-minute sail around the resort waterways starting and finishing at the Souk Abra Station in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

The Souk Madinat Jumeirah has been set up to resemble an authentic ancient Middle Eastern market place. There are wood carved arches, winding lanes, waterfront cafes, boutique stores, open front stores spilling onto the walkways and barrow stores. You can buy traditional arts and crafts and products from the region as well as the top international brand names.

Street artists and musicians entertain on the streets and you can hear craftsmen at work and smell the delicious market foods. The market has a Saturday Souk which is an organic farmers’ market where there are cooking demonstrations.

Mall of the Emirates

In Dubai shopping is one of the major pastimes but Dubai malls are also a place of entertainment with attractions to keep you busy the entire day. The Mall of the Emirates cost an estimated AED 800 million to construct and was opened in 2005. It is a three level building with 700 stores housing both local and international stores. The mall has many restaurants and cafes. Each level of the mall is connected to the car park and the mall links to the Red Line metro system Mall of the Emirates station.

In addition to the stores and attractions, the mall is the site of the Kempinski Hotel and Sheraton Hotel and Carrefour’s flagship store. Carrefour is the world’s 2nd largest retailer and a huge hypermarket selling an extensive range of products. The main attraction of the Mall of the Emirates is Dubai Ski (see separate listing). This is an indoor ski resort and snow park where you can play in the snow, ski, snowboard and rent all the gear and equipment you may need.

DUCTAC (separate listing) is a community theatre complex which can seat up to 500 in the audience. The mall is home to Magic Planet where you can find a 14 screen VOX Cinema complex; Cosmic ten pin bowling alley with “glow in the Dark” bowling balls; billiard tables; video game arcade; a kid’s carousel ride; soft play zone for small kids; bumper cars; a racing car simulator; 4D cinema and amusement park type rides. Peek-a-Boo is an exciting play venue for kids 0-5 years old where they can learn and take part in entertaining activities at the same time.

Atlantis Palm

The Palm is a hotel resort situated at the outermost point of the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made group of islands resembling the fronds of a palm tree. The sprawling five-star resort covers 46 hectares (110 acres) and is home to several popular attractions. The hotel itself has magnificent architecture and has 1,500 luxury rooms. The entire resort is designed with the theme of the mythical underwater world of Atlantis. The hotel has an east and west wing linked by the Royal Bridge Suite. Most tourists will visit the resort for the attractions and not for the luxury hotel.

On the grounds of the hotel is the Aqua venture water park (see separate listing) which is spread over 17 hectares (42 acres) and has 12 water slides, a 2.3km long river ride and many fun attractions. Two of the water slides go through a transparent tunnel in a lagoon inhabited by sharks. Dolphin Bay and Sea Lion Point are other Atlantis attractions which specialize in one-on-one encounters with the creatures.

You can visit the resort’s aquarium – The Lost Chambers where there are 65,000 marine animals. The resort offers a variety of marine adventures where you can swim with sharks, pet the stingrays, scuba dive and pet the fish. The resort has an area devoted to luxury outlet stores, a conference centre, more than 20 eateries, spas and fitness centres.

Nasimi Beach, Royal Beach, Aqua venture Beach and Sandance Beach run uninterrupted along the shore of the resort’s man-made island facing the Dubai shoreline. Nasimi Beach is often the venue for large concerts and special events while visitors to Aqua venture have access to the Aqua venture Beach.

Burj Arab

This amazing place is known as the Tower of the Arabs and calls itself a 7-star hotel; it is, of course, a luxury 5-star hotel and is managed by the Jumeirah Group. The Burj Al Arab is the 3rd tallest hotel in the world and is best known for its aesthetic shape resembling the sail of a traditional dhow boat.

The Burj Al Arab is located on a man-made island of reclaimed land near Jumeirah Beach. The island stands 280 meters from the shore and is connected to the mainland by a curved bridge. Construction began on the hotel in 1994. Its unique silhouette appears to be of a vertical “mast” with a curved sail while the space between the mast and outer edge of the sail holds the building itself. The design and construction were achieved with the collaboration of several top professionals from around the world. The building was first opened in 1999. The building has a solid foundation of concrete topped by a 180-meter tall atrium. There are 202 bedroom suites in the building on 28 double-storey floors. The interior design is a mix of eastern and western patterns and architectural elements. The hotel’s Royal Suite is one of the most expensive hotel suites in the world.

For an exclusive dining experience, you can visit the Al Muntaha restaurant 200 meters from ground level on the 27th floor or the SKYVIEW Bar also on the 27th floor. The Al Mahara restaurant is another of the hotel’s eight restaurants and is accessed by walking through a transparent tunnel through a huge aquarium. Although most tourists won’t be able to enjoy the VIP luxury service of the hotel, they will be able to take a photo of this iconic building for free!