Dubai and United Arab Emirates (travel in March 2016)

In March 2016, I traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with my cousin. Round trip airfare was about $1000 for each of us. We stayed at the JW Marriott for the first few days, and then had the pleasure of staying with family.

Dubai has been described as a playground for millionaires. This is, after all, a city known for Ferrari rentals and which recently passed laws to outlaw wild and exotic animals as pets (think lion cubs, cheetahs, and crocodiles!). Despite this reputation as being an expensive city for tourists, I can tell you that is just not true. 




Shopping is a favorite pastime in Dubai....  some amazing malls and shops!





Before oil was discovered 50 years ago, Dubai was little more than a small fishing village. Today’s vibrant metropolis offers a wide range of experiences and we enjoyed several of them!  Desert safaris have become one of the most popular activities in Dubai. There are literally hundreds of desert safari tours available and it can be tough to choose! Our Arabian Dessert Tour and Dinner Safari gave us the “full experience” of being in a desert camp. We were driven out into the desert (you will be amazed at how close the desert actually is to the city!) and spent some time playing with and riding camels, and driving desert buggies through the sand dunes. I was struck by how different the desert of Dubai is from the desert I know in Arizona; the sand seems much more “pure”. We enjoyed our meal and tea while sitting on the floor, being totally entertained by amazing demonstrations of belly-dancing.  By evening, we were back in the city and ready for the next day’s adventure.

Our next tour was in a helicopter to get a birds-eye view of the city. It was the best way to see some of Dubai’s iconic buildings and to really understand the interesting way the area is laid out…. Just off the coast of Dubai is an artificial archipelago (chain of islands) known as “the World” or “the World Islands” that extends into the Persian Gulf. We had a very unique view of it all from the air! Then it was on to…shopping!




What a great way to see the landscape and Dubai and how the city connects to the man-made islands that extend into the Persian Gulf. This has to be the most unique layout of land in the world! Our helicopter tour was incredible!




Swimming with the sharks!




Swimming with the sharks..... YIKES!!







Dubai is widely considered to be a global shopping destination with varied malls that offer a wide range of shopping experiences. So, as part of our sight-seeing, we did some good old-fashioned mall shopping! In Dubai the word for shopping is “souk” – you will see Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Perfume Souk and so on. Honestly, their shopping malls look very much like American malls, except for the Arabic writing everywhere. While in the Dubai Mall, we did the Shark Dive!  It seemed very crazy and was really, really fun! I suspect they would never allow anything like this in the U.S. since our training consisted of only 15 minutes of basic instruction before they sent us down into the shark pool. It was the “real deal” of scuba diving, using the scuba tank and everything, and I have to say that at times my head felt like it was going to explode. That was a minor inconvenience – we survived, and it was an unforgettable experience!!

I would definitely recommend a trip to Dubai; there is a wide range of experiences, and opportunities no matter what your budget. This website Visit Dubai is an in-depth resource for everything you will need for your trip: planning, getting around, what to see, where to shop and more!  Check it out!