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If you thought that Dubai is good only as a shopping destination, then think again. Dubai today looks quite close to your fantasies of Heaven on Earth. Be sure to see the best of architecture, the latest state-of the-art facilities, the best hygiene and sanitation, the best deals in the market, the friendliest people, and the safest travel destination.
When time is short, and you wish to cover the city and its adjoining areas of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman all in three days flat, do not think that you are thinking the impossible, even in the harshest of the summers. Be sure though, to always carry your must-haves: sunglasses, sunscreen, water and a sun hat or scarf, should you be travelling in the months of May to August.
Dubai is often scorned by the ignorant and uninitiated as a place boasting only of malls. However, when you set out to actually see these malls, they come across each as different as different can be. A good place to start with would be Kanat-al-Kasbah, located in Sharjah. This comprises continental style promenade, reminiscent of a walk down the promenade along the River Seine in Paris. Alongside, one comes across several eateries and glamorous shops. In the weekends, which happens to be Thursday nights to Saturday, one can see families leisurely dining in the several eateries, which have open-to-air options. Children of all ages can be found here, skating, playing, getting soaked in the fountains, eating icecream, etc., while their parents enjoy a little bit of adult company themselves. At night, this place literally comes alive, with interesting lighting effects, which bring out the best of the architecture of the place.Boat rides along this canal are very popular too. Kanat-al-Kasbah has now metamorphosized into a commercial and cultural hub, and is often referred to as “The Eye of the Gulf”.
Very near the Dubai International Airport, is the famous Ibn Batuta Mall, which is modelled along the lines of the famous traveller of the middle ages, Ibn Batuta and his explorations. Hence, this mall is both exciting and educative. Each section of this lovely and fascinating mall follows the travel route undertaken by Ibn Batuta, and hence, the shopper gets a feel of various cultures and countries, as he shops. The food courts offer a wide variety of lip smacking food: Iranian, Lebanese, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, etc. Interestingly, the ceiling of the mall assumes the colours of dusk, even though a fierce mid day sun may be beating on the outside of it. The Ibn Batuta Mall is guaranteed to make you think about it, long after your trip to Dubai is over…it simply falls into the category of a “Must-See”
Another famous mall is the Mercato Shopping Mall in Jumeirah, which is inspired by Italian Renaissance period architecture. In this covered mall, one can immediately be transported to the laid back Italian lifestyle, with shopping squares, cafes, and restaurants. Artistically made, this mall has balconies in the upper floor, with benches for taking a break. In the evening, this mall also hosts live bands and gets the best of the upper crust clientele, due to the high quality environment and shopping experience on offer.
Do not for once miss out on the out of this world experience of the Dubai Mall. Besides being a virtual meliting pot of all the races in the world, this place is alive with shops, people, and variety. There are musical fountains ( having show timings) and the best part: the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. This is an absolute must-see for the young and old. The Dubai Aquarium has been awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest acrylic aquarium in the world. It houses thousands o varieties of fish and sea life, and it is a fascinating experience to walk in the tunnel, watching fish pass you overhead and beside you. Indeed, the sea creatures are well looked after, and enjoy an ecosystem that they are used to. The Dubai Mall also has an ice skating rink, favoured by most adventurous and sport loving enthusiast.
Upstairs, one has to climb around two flights of stairs to the zoo. This too has an amazing variety: Penguins kept in melting ice, water rats, beavers, snakes from all over the world, and the deadliest of spiders: the Tarantula.Each animal variety on display have a information bulletin next to the cage. Needless to say, this is one experience you will not forget in a hurry.
While in Dubai, do not miss a trip that takes you in front of the Burj-al-Arab or Al-Burj. This super luxury hotel charges for even crossing over the bridge, so if you are unwilling to pay for that, then the emerald green sea beach that surrounds it will do just as well. Observe swimmers, surfers and sun bathers take the best out of this white sand beach.
The Atlantis, (The Palms Hotel and Resort) is another destination worth the effort of reaching. Today it houses hotels, resorts, aquariums, luxury villas, etc, all in the shape of a Palm Tree, which has been built out onto the sea. One can see this design plan even more clearly if one takes the helicopter ride across it. The Atlantis has several stay options for the tourist and the corporate man. It also offers celebration venues for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and other memorable occasions.
Dubai today is the venue for global cuisine, as much as it is for global fashion, electronic goods etc. One can savour the tastiest of dishes from a wide range of countries, and pick up bargains from any of the shops. It is doubtful whether you could pick up a better deal anywhere else in the world.
If you still have the time, then do squeeze in a moment for the Mall of the Emirates: this has, besides shops, Swiss style snow slopes, which are maintained at -4 deg.c.! There are even trainers to help you along, in case you are inexperienced.
A ride in the Arabian Dhow (fishing boat) is a good way to see the city by night. For a nominal cost, you will enjoy a leisurely cruise down the Dubai Creek (Khor River), with a dinner buffet thrown in.
The Dubai Desert Safari is the jewel in the crown of Dubai. This, in short, is a ride over the sand dunes in Land Cruisers, by able drivers. The thrill of the safari should not be missed, for this is an experience of a lifetime. In the camp, belly dances, and dances by whirling dervishes are organised, with a dinner thrown in. You can take a camel ride, have a henna design made on your hands, get photographed with an Arab Bedouin and his pet falcon, buy middle eastern belly dance attire and enjoy a cup of tea… even though it may be summer, and even though the mercury is hovering around 45 deg.c.!