IGO TRAVEL | 15 February 2019
In September 2018, I was lucky enough to win a 3-night trip to Dubai, including tours, at a Dubai Tourism Tradeshow. I decided to make it special and go for my Birthday, in November (also considered the coolest month to visit).
It was my first solo trip and despite what you hear about the UAE towards women and their appearances, I felt very safe walking around the city by myself and didn’t feel judged or like I was doing anything wrong (except when I jumped on the train to go explore and didn’t realise it was the “Gold Member’s” section – a very nice and not crowded area right at the front of the train – where I got directed off, at the next stop and received a R400 fine (be aware of the signs and fines you could receive).
The first aspect I noticed, was that not everywhere is as glamorous and that there is a lot of construction happening everywhere. This is due to the 2020 World Expo, being hosted in Dubai, where millions of people from all around the world will come to share ideas, showcase innovation, encourage collaboration and celebrate human ingenuity. They are organised every five years and last for six months. As it is Dubai’s turn, they are making everything bigger and better and building new areas.
After a full day of walking around and going to the Mega shopping malls, a trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without going on a Desert Safari. This involves driving at varying speeds over sand dunes and manoeuvring the car in such a way as to maintain balance while coming down the dune at great speed, which is highly thrilling.
The tour starts off with your driver picking you up from your hotel and taking you to the desert. After deflating the tyres and meeting up with the other groups of people, your dune bashing adventure begins, after which you are taken to a central camp in the desert, where you are given a true Arabian experience.
You are invited to sit on carpets/cushions on the floor and partake in authentic Emirati activities like sheesha smoking, henna painting and even camel riding! During dinner, Belly-Dancers and Tanoura Dancers are performing whilst you eat.
The next day I moved on from my first hotel in Downtown Dubai (near the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa) to go to the Marina area. This was my favourite area and really felt like I was in a beach destination.
I stayed at the Rove Hotel, which is part of the Emaar property group (in Dubai you will see this name everywhere) and was welcomed with friendliness and a quirky vibe. This day I took my time to explore the Marina walk and beach, which is lined with chic restaurants, cafes and food trucks. And even though the beach is man-made it still felt real, with MANY people enjoying the sun, sand and sea.
On day 3, after a delicious breakfast at the Rove, I was picked up for a Half Day City Tour, which allows you to see both sides of the old and new city.
The itinerary of the tour includes the Jumeirah Mosque, which is the biggest in the city, the Palace of Sheikh “MOMAMMAD”, the Dubai Museum (Al Fahdi Fort), which provides visitors a glimpse of Dubai’s past as a trading port. The route includes the Jumeirah Beach Road, which is home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents as well as the banks of the Dubai Creek. It also includes a stop at a spice shop and a glimpse of the Palm Jumeira (the iconic man-made island) and Atlantis.
My last day ended with meeting up with the man who made my trip possible. Originally from Kenya and living in Dubai for the past 10 years, being a part of the management for the Emaar group. He showed me a glimpse of their flagship hotel. The beautiful Address Downtown, which features the most amazing artwork and marble features. It is next to The Dubai Mall, and provides the best views of the Burj Khalifa.
After a hotel tour and brief history on the development of Dubai and how Emaar has been a big part of their growth and popularity, we went and had dinner at Zeta. A newly opened restaurant, perched on the very edge of the terrace on level 5 of the hotel, providing the closest view possible of the iconic Burj Khalifa fountain show. Every half an hour, a different fountain and laser light sequence is synced to a song, providing a very magical atmosphere and experience. Which was made even more special by getting my very own birthday cake to end off the night and my time in Dubai. This was definitely the highlight of my trip and I am very grateful I got to experience what Dubai has to offer and see how they make everything seem so glamorous and impressive.
Planning your next trip to Dubai? Have a look at some our Dubai experiences over here: https://www.igotravel.co.za/offers/dubai-holidays/.