What to Expect from Dubai
Dubai wouldn't normally be the type of destination I would choose to visit. It's extremely modern, commercialised and a playground for the rich and famous. However, after visiting it for the first time I discovered it has so much more to offer.
Lots of Brits choose to live in Dubai and I can understand why, it has stunning beaches, amazing weather and plenty to see and do.
The reason why I decided to head to the United Arab Emirates and see Dubai is because of all the thrilling activities on offer, and I just couldn't resist the white sandy beaches (nobody would guess these are artificial if they didn't know). I also wanted to experience something a little out of my comfort zone and I wasn't disappointed.
Endless activities and action-packed adventures
During my ten-day stay in Dubai I managed to try lots of different activities. I always like to test myself and try new thrilling activities in all the destinations I visit and Dubai was no exception. The coastline is so gorgeous and ideal for a wide range of water sports.
I have always loved water sports, I learnt to water ski from the age of 8 and my parents owned a jet ski for a few years. We managed to do both in Dubai. The feeling when you are gliding across the crystal clear waters, weaving in and out of the wake is spectacular. One thing you need for water skiing is calm flat water and on the day I went the conditions were perfect.
We also went quad biking across the desert. This is a great activity for adrenaline junkies - driving at high speed around a desert on a quad bike; negotiating around the sand dunes certainly gets your pulse racing. We pretty much exhausted most of the activities that you can do in the Dubai desert.
Sand surfing/boarding was our next adventure and was probably my favourite activity. We went on a desert tour where they took us out to the tallest sand dunes and we sped down them on a small skateboard. You can go down sitting or standing depending on how confident you are feeling. Be prepared for a few tumbles and to get buried in the sand a few times. I consider myself to be pretty brave but for me this was quite nerve-wracking as the dunes were so steep.
Next we went on a 4x4 jeep tour through the desert. I thought this might be quite a relaxing experience but it turned out to be extremely tense! The guides that drive you up and down the dunes have obviously been doing these tours for years and are very skilled drivers, but this doesn't stop you from clinging on to the edge of your seat. Negotiating the sand dunes isn't easy and at times it really felt like we were so close to toppling over.
Our next activity was a camel ride which was a lot more relaxing but pretty uncomfortable. Everyone says it's a bit awkward sitting on a camel but you don't truly understand until you sit on one. It's quite an awkward experience but one you should definitely try. I really enjoyed taking in the desert horizon from the back of a camel, there's just no better way to do it.
Endless white sandy beaches
We didn't stay in the luxury tourist hotels near Jumeirah Beach; instead we stayed in a more traditional area near Sharjah. I wouldn't recommend this area if you want to experience the more upmarket side of Dubai, it's more local people that live here and you can feel a little out of place. For us it was great value for money and we got to see parts of the old Dubai.
There are so many lovely beaches in Dubai, some are free and some are extremely exclusive. We went to a beach near Sharjah, technically not in Dubai, that was part of a hotel; you just had to pay a small fee to hire a sunbed.
I absolutely adored the clear blue sea and beautiful sandy beaches, that although manmade, still look stunning. Dubai is an ideal beach holiday destination for those who just want a bit of rest and relaxation. We wanted to see the city and get stuck into some activities so we didn't end up spending a huge amount of time on the beach apart from when we were doing watersports. The public beaches tend to get very busy and a lot of the beaches belong to hotels which was a bit frustrating.
Lavish hotels and architecture
I couldn't go to Dubai without seeing the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. It's a very famous hotel built in the shape of a sail. It's supposed to be the world's most luxurious hotel with the owners having given it their own seven-star rating (although this rating doesn't actually exist). The sail reaches a huge 321 metres and the building rests on an artificial island just out to sea. We weren't able to go into the hotel but we got pretty close to it and took a few pictures. I think that's the closest I'll ever get to staying there.
There is also a spectacular hotel currently being constructed, the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel (Dubai's first underwater hotel) and this is something I have to see when it is completed. Another hotel and must-visit site that we managed to see was the Atlantis Resort and Hotel. This enormous structure is 93 metres high and has around 15,000 rooms. We wandered through the grounds and saw the aquarium and did some shopping. The Atlantis Hotel is located on the lavish Palm Island and is only a 25-minute drive from the city centre.
One of the best ways to take in the spectacular urban scenery and first class architecture is by going on a boat ride from the Abra Dock in Bur Dubai. This boat taxi service is used by 15 to 20 million people a year. We got to ride on one of the traditional wooden boats and admire the city from afar.
An extraordinary experience
Dubai dazzled me, it surprised me with its futuristic charm and I loved that there was so much to do. It's an ideal place for sun-seekers, shopaholics and those wanting a little taste of luxury. I felt I needed a little more time there to see everything. Next time I would go and witness the captivating Dubai Fountains where you can see water and lights choreographed to music. I would also head to the The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) and the Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple for an insight into the local culture.