Dubai, the Greens, Featured image, dusk, golf field

Dubai – Where Oil Is Cheaper than Water

Grains of sand.

Irrigated trees.

Luxury meets pomposity.

I never had too much of an expectation about Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates as a whole. It has never been on my “to-visit” list, yet I just came back from a journey there. Had it not been for my best friend who works and lives there, probably I would not have visited it (or at least in the conceivable future). I would also have to express my gratitude to Wizz Air, which established a Sofia-Dubai line some years ago, and thanks to that, I got a reasonably priced ticket.


We arrived slightly after 19:00 and less than 30 minutes after that, we picked our luggage. Wow, that was supersonic!

Tsetso, the host, had just made it to the airport and we hopped into his car and headed from Al Maktoum International Airport (a small airport planned to become world’s largest for the World Expo in 2020; the people in UAE are maniacs when it comes to creating large and tall objects) to his place in the Greens neighbourhood in Dubai.

The roads, the buildings, the traffic jams, the distances – everything has a gargantuan touch and a sandy fragrance. Tonnes of enormous cars driven around by an international mix of people.

Flashy Dubai – First Impressions and Scrumptious Bites

After we dropped our luggage, the host took us to a Lebanese restaurant – Karam Beirut in the Mall of the Emirates – which offers a splendid view of Ski Dubai’s slopes.

Dubai Karam Beirut Hummus and Baba Ganoush with Pomegranate

Hummus and Baba Ghanoush with pomegranate seeds.

Dubai Karam Beirut Raw Lamb Meat Mint Leaves
Raw lamb meat with mint leaves – delicious!
Dubai Karam Beirut Complimentary Bread, Vegetables
The bread and vegetables are complimentary.
Dubai Ski Slopes Karam Beirut
The slopes at Ski Dubai as seen from the restaurant “Karam Beirut”.

 

The food was delectable, the service was exclusive, and they even offer liqueur. Keep in mind that alcohol in the UAE is only offered in restaurants and bars that belong to a hotel. Which means if you want to accompany your food with a beer or wine, you would have to search for a hotel – no worries, there’s a host of them in the city.

 

Desert Safari Dubai – an Adrenaline Boost for All Senses

Dubai is a vibrant business hub, a global, booming metropolis at the tip of the Persian Gulf. If you want to escape Dubai’s hot hug pressed tightly by state-of-the-art skyscrapers, a safari is a wonderful decision. That is what we did.

The driver took us from our address, picked the other participants (6 altogether) and we headed to the desert to bash some dunes. It is located at the meet-up of Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman. The tour takes around 1 ½ hours and Mohammed, our driver, stopped us, along with many other Land Cruisers, at a point where we took mesmerising sunset photos.

Dubai Safari Car Toyota Land Cruiser
Inside the Toyota Land Cruiser. You can see the roll bars inside the car – in case it flips over :))
Dubai Safari First Stop Air Pressure
Stopping to deflate the tyres for the safari ride – it gives more traction to 4×4 vehicles in the sand.
Dubai Safari Svetoslav Dimitrov in the Desert
Svet in the desert 🙂
Dubai Safari Camel and Baby Camel
During the ride, we passed by a camel and her baby. So cute but yet so sad with these cages around them.
Dubai Safari Sunrise Stopover
The fleet of Toyotas that have stopped to let tourists observe the sunset.
Dubai Safari Sunset over the Dunes
Sunset over the dunes.
Dubai Safari Melting Sunset Photo 2
Nat Geo should contact me for this, right? 🙂
Dubai Safari Sunset Photo 1
Sunset as seen from the car.

The tour ended in a camp in the desert around 18:30 where we unwounded with tea and coffee until the main feast was being prepared.

The programme also included watching a whirling dervish dance as well as belly dancing. The dervish was amazing, but I have seen much better belly dancers.

Sheesha smoking and camel riding are also included in the price (we had bargained for 250 AED or 68 USD), but the camels looked so sad I couldn’t hop on them. I guess I will have to ride a camel somewhere else. The dinner was hearty with a variety of Arabic meals and grilled meats and fish (no pork, sorry).

Around 21:00, we were taken back to Dubai. Take into consideration that safari riding is a bit dangerous since it is very bumpy and the car can flip over.

Dubai Desert Safari The Camp
Inside the camp where we had dinner
Dubai Safari Very Sad Camels
These camels looked so tired and sad that I decided to skip riding them.
Dubai Safari Whirling Dervish
The whirling dervish. Amazing dance.

Watch the dance here:

 

Dubai Marina – Imposing Skyscrapers Meet Luxurious Boats

Dubai Marina is a district where an artificial canal has been constructed that stretches from the Persian Gulf. It is one of the most expensive residential areas.

Known as the “tallest block in the world”, Dubai Marina prides itself with many high-rise buildings, including the famous Princess Tower which used to be the world’s tallest residential-only building until 432 Park Avenue in New York City surpassed it in December 2015. When the Pentominium is finished, since construction has been frozen, it will claim the first place.

Infinity Tower, also known as Cayan Tower, is located in the Marina too. The tower is popular with being the highest building with a twist of 90 degrees. Don’t be too amazed by its shape because my friend told me they slowed its inauguration due to problems with its foundations. Probably not the best choice to live (not the most reasonable too, he-he).

Dubai Marina Skyline
Dubai Marina’s skyline.
Dubai Around the Marina
Around the Marina.
Dubai Marina Infinity Tower Steli and Svet
Stiliyan (Michigan) and Svetoslav (Hawaii) in front of Infinity Tower (Dubai).
Dubai Marina Princess Tower Highest Residential Building
Princess Tower with the spire.

Dubai’s Old Town – Spices, Gold, and Jewellery Blend into One

The Old Town of Dubai is quite an interesting place to see where it all started from years ago. The Dubai Municipality is domiciled there, as well as there a couple of souks (markets) – for spices, perfumes, and jewellery. Burj Khalifa can be seen in the distance. The old port, Dubai Museum, and Dolphinarium are found there as well as Dubai’s City of Gold.

Dubai Old Town Municipality Government
Dubai’s Municipality.
Dubai Old Town View of Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa as seen from the Old Town of Dubai.
Dubai Old Town General View
Sunset at the Old Town.
Dubai Old Town Old Port Sunset
Old port of Dubai in the distance.
Dubai Old Town Gold City Shops
Dubai’s City of Gold Shops.
Dubai Old Town Gold City Wire Fleece
This must weigh a lot.
Dubai Old Town Gift Land Store
If you would like to purchase souvenirs at very reasonable prices, this is the place. Located in the Old Town near the City of Gold.

Burj Khalifa – the Steel Gargantuan

Dubai is also very famous for the world’s highest building which was constructed by an international team of more than 100 nationalities. You can read more about its interesting construction history and browse breath-taking photos and videos in an article I devoted to it.

Dubai Mall – Ice Rink, Aquarium, and Waterfalls, Please!

Probably the largest mall in the world in several categories, Dubai Mall is adjacent to Burj Khalifa and the Burj Khalifa Lake. Having more than 1,200 shops, it is accessible by Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall metro station through an air-conditioned footbridge (in summer, the heat in Dubai and the UAE is unbearable so this is a great addition). Its main entrance is located at Doha Street.

Housing an Aquarium, Under Water Zoo, and an Ice Rink, it attracts more visitors than New York City or Los Angeles. Dubai Mall’s contribution to UAE’s GDP is close to 5%. It was also included in the Nat Geo’s Megastructures television series.

Dubai Mall - Catwalk Area
Catwalk.
Dubai Mall Pecualiar Waterfall
This is one of the three waterfalls inside the mall.
Dubai Mall Ice Rink, UAE
The mall has an ice rink.
Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
And an aquarium, too.
Dubai Mall Gigantic Bookshop
One of the largest bookshops in the world.

 

Kite Beach – the Best Place to Shoot Burj Al Arab

If you would like to lie under the sizzling Arabian sun, probably the best place to do that is Kite Beach. Located on the right side of Burj Al Arab, the most luxurious hotel in the world and a symbol of contemporary Dubai, it is a great place to swim, sunbathe, or take a selfie with the hotel (as did many Indians while we were there).

Dubai Kite Beach Svet Burj Al Arab
Svet at Kite Beach.
Dubai Kite Beach Burj Al Arab Close Shot
Burj Al Arab – the most luxurious hotel in the world.

 

Souk Madinat – a Market with an Arabic Charm

Another place which you may visit, should you desire a great shot (or a selfie) with Burj Al Arab, is Souk Madinat. It is a modern market with an ancient touch which makes it quite authentic and attractive to visitors. My friend told me prices are a bit greater than in other markets or malls, so take that into account.

Souk Madinat opens into a large garden, overlooking a beautiful artificial canal which offers a splendid view of Burj Al Arab.

Dubai Souk Madinat Entrance
Inside the Souk Madinat.
Dubai Souk Madinat Wind Maker Building
In the past, these “add-ons” were used to trap the wind inside in order for people to deal better with the scorching heat in summer.
Dubai Souk Madinat Burj Al Arab Hotel
Burj Al Arab in all its beauty as seen from the Madinat.

 

The Palm – One of the Contemporary Construction Miracles

The last day was designed for a visit to The Palm Island of Jumeirah. It is an artificially created island in the form of a palm when seen from the air. It stretches deep into the sea.

A lot of sand must be rainbowed occasionally to its foundations so that the island is not eaten by the sea. Myriads of gigantic stones (around seven million, to be exact) were dropped around its coasts to construct the breakwaters. It is accessible to anyone with a car.

The right side of The Palm offers a great view of Burj Al Arab and Dubai’s downtown, where Burj Khalifa is located. The Dubai Marina can be seen from the left side of the palm.

Dubai Palm_Island_Resort_seen_from_International_Space_Station
The Palm Island as seen from the International Space Station – Image: Wikipedia.
Dubai The Palm Drive Through
Driving through the Palm Island.
Dubai The Palm Atlantis Hotel Sheikh
The famous Atlantis Hotel where the Sheikh has an apartment at the top floor.
Dubai The Palm Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa Distance Shot
Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa as seen from The Palm.

Dubai said its farewell with a jaw-dropping sunset which, according to my friends who live there, is a very rare occurrence. Enjoy! 🙂

Dubai Melting Sunset The End of the Trip
Melting sunrise.
Dubai Melting Sunset the End Pink Sand
Where pink seeps into the sand.

Have you been to Dubai before? Did you party with the Emirs?

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Dubai - the bustling metropolis where water costs more than water.

 

20 comments on “Dubai – Where Oil Is Cheaper than Water

  1. Mia

    Oh what great pictures!!! Really hope to go there this year!!

  2. Dave (Silverbackpacker)

    I love the Old City of Dubai with its souks and narrow alleyways. I found it more authentic than the modern metropolis. Its really amazing what money can buy if there is an unlimited supply of the stuff 🙂

    • Svet

      Yes, the Old City has its very own charm which I also liked. The modern souks in Dubai are also quite nice.

  3. Expat and the City

    Looks like you had an awesome time! I can’t wait to visit Dubai! Just need to find a cheap flight!!

    • Svet

      Yes, I had! A week there should be enough to cover the most interesting places and unwind at the beach 🙂 Good luck with the flights!

  4. Laura @ Sometime Traveller

    Like you, Dubai has never really been on my to-visit list… although I’ve got to admit, the desert does look beautiful!

  5. The Roaming Renegades.com

    Awesome photos! Looks like you had a great time even though it wasn’t one of your preferred destinations. After reading this post and seeing your pictures Dubai is definitely a place we want to visit.

    • Svet

      Thank you very much! I am happy that I sparked your interest. Just avoid going there in summer – it is boiling and so humid!

  6. anneklien

    I just read recently about Dubai, it seems uts getting a popular choice for holidays now a days , maybe the luxury vibes or the breathtaking sunset views. Great pics btw

    • Svet

      Yes, it is increasingly getting more and more tourist attention which is, btw, their purpose since Dubai has run out of petrol (well, it never had too much, the majority is in Abu Dhabi). Thanks, I love the pics too!

  7. Rishabh & Nirali

    Great pics! Looks like it was a great trip!

  8. travellingchingrita

    Looks like you had an awesome time, and glad to hear that you skipped the camel ride. It’s tough when they look so sad, the beach look stellar though. I’ll be honest, Dubai isn’t that high on my list as I felt it was a bit overdone and exuberant with it’s flash and money; would you agree or disagree?

    • Svet

      Yes, I may say I enjoyed my time there and I am also very happy I skipped the camel ride. I agree that it is exuberant, but it is also true that we cannot blame them for creating these miraculous feats of engineering in the middle of the desert. Before criticising them for spending too much money on this and that, we have to take their point of view. In some years there won’t be too much petrol left probably, so they are trying to make it for with other means – promoting tourism, for instance. I am not saying they are doing in the greenest of ways, but..

  9. Kristine Li

    What a trip! I was giddy halfway into the video of the dancer >.<

    • Svet

      Yes, indeed it was. I also loved the dancer – I am trying to imitate him now, hehe 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  10. IbnHoor

    Nice Photography!
    I Love Desert Safari in Dubai

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