5 Amazing Things to do in Dubai
Dubai can be a daunting place to spend time in, but don’t lose your head, because behind its gleaming facade of glass-fronted opulence it has a fun side. Here’s my pick of things to do in Dubai… because I don’t know of another city where you can go from plummeting down one of the world’s steepest water-slides or trying your hand at a spot of camel polo to experiencing the height of luxury with an afternoon teas at the seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel in the space of a day.
The Burj Khalifa
Start by getting an aerial view of the city with a trip up the world’s tallest tower, The Burj Khalifa. You can’t miss this towering spire of glass and metal, which rises out of the centre of downtown Dubai and scrapes the sky at over 828 metres high. This building is Dubai’s modern architectural masterpiece and you can get up to the 124th floor to drink in the views out to sea where the man-made Palm and the under construction World Islands float via their high-tech, ear-poppingly fast lift. Tickets to the Observation Deck are £20 for adults, £15 for four to 12-year-olds and free for children under four.
Dubbed the best waterpark in Dubai for good reason, this vast watery theme park has everything from slow-flowing rivers and private cabanas for relaxation hunters to high-octane thrill rides and record-breaking slides for adrenaline junkies and an onsite shopping mall and separate aquarium for those in need of some dry land. Even if all your common sense is telling you otherwise, don’t leave without testing your nerve on the Tower of Neptune – the Leap of Faith slide will leave you gasping for breath as you drop over nine stories in under a second before shooting through a glass tube that cuts through a shark-infested lagoon. Adult day tickets are £40 while kids under 1.2 metres tall get in for £33. Under twos go free.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience all the excitement of a skydive but didn’t fancy the part that included jumping out of an aeroplane, then iFly at the Midrif City Centre Mall (£35 per person) offers a safe, indoors alternative. Suit-up in some streamlined gear before stepping into what feels like a hurricane-force wind tunnel with one of the centre’s highly-trained and experienced skydive experts for a lesson in formation techniques and the chance to see what flying in zero-gravity really feels like. Then sit back and watch as the real pros show you how it’s done as your instructor will usually end with an impressive display of aerial acrobatics.
One of the most unusual and entertaining things to do in Dubai is having a go at their most grassroots of sports: camel polo. While they might seems worlds away from the preened polo ponies you’re used to seeing back at home, the sleek speedsters found at the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club are surprisingly well trained and well mannered and there isn’t a grumpy or a spitting camel in sight. The club offers an hour of training before you’re saddled up with your own jockey and forced to put your hand eye coordination to the test as you take aim at the sport’s specially adapted supersized ball with a seven-foot stick, all while trying to stay upright on the back of a running camel. Gulf Ventures can organise camel polo experiences on request.
Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab
It’s almost impossible to visit Dubai without finding an excuse to explore its most decadent hotel. This seven-star behemoth carves through the surf along the beach-front shore like the sails of a giant’s ship or some mythically-sized sea creature and inside it gets even more impressive. The atrium is tall enough to comfortably hold the height of the Eiffel Tower; the ceilings, which are all the colours of a sea-themed rainbow were only repainted from white at the last minute on the command of the Sheik and there’s 24 carat gold paved into the mosaiced floor tiles. The best way to appreciate this staggering hotel is to absorb the opulent surrounds with an afternoon tea at the hotel’s Sahn Eddar restaurant. Sit back and soak it all in as the waiters pour champagne or sparkling date juice and a succession of exquisite dishes from dainty shortcakes and finger sandwiches with bread that’s been freshly baked on premises to jewel-sized macarons and glazed pastries arrive, all washed down with loose-leafed teas or 24 carat gold dusted cappuccinos. Afternoon tea starts from £72 per person.
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