Dubai is known as a millionaire’s playground and a second home to many famous and super rich celebrities.
With a skyline full of glistening skyscrapers, the only seven star hotel in the world and a series of building projects so vast that they make the Egyptian Pyramids look like Lego, this is one place that most of us mere mortals would never dream we could venture.
However, for all its glitz and seemingly unattainable glamour, Dubai is surprisingly accessible to any who want to explore this Middle Eastern jewel…here’s how!
Firstly, you’ll need to find some cheap flights to Dubai which are not so hard to find if you pick the right time of year to fly. July, August and the period of Ramadan are the cheapest times to travel as the temperatures soar. This may not seem ideal, but given that temperatures in Dubai rarely drop below 35 degrees, the city is perfectly geared to dealing with the searing heat.
Dubai doesn’t do backpackers hostels but what they do do is affordable luxury. You may not be able to afford the beautiful sail-shaped Burj Al Arab but that doesn’t mean you have to seep in a tent in the desert. One of the best value hotels in Dubai is the Meridien Dubai City which is just 3 km from the airport. Don’t let that put you off though; it is more peaceful than the beachside locations and affords the luxury of a beach resort with a choice of two swimming pools, 10 restaurants and easy access to City centre all at a third of the price of staying down by the beach.
See and Do
There are many tours of Dubai offered to suit every budget ranging from desert excursions where you can take camel rides or four wheel drives across the desert and afterwards enjoy a true Bedouin feast in a tent under starry sky. Culture vultures can take tours of the old town like the once quiet fishing village in the Bastakia Quarter, which squeezes itself between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district. It’s a maze of stone towered buildings some of which are now art galleries and cafés.
If you want to see the world in a day then it’s possible in Dubai. A stately yacht, motor boat or speed boat can whisk you around the most audacious of Dubai’s development projects, The World; an archipelago of islands that forms a world map in miniature…and you don’t have to be able to afford an entire country to see it!
If retail therapy is more your hookah then Dubai is the ultimate shopper’s paradise, complete with palm trees, Venetian waterways, malls the size of airports, tax free goodies and even a market dedicated simply to gold; the Gold Souk! Be sure to haggle for bargains in the markets so that you can drape yourself in gold thread embroidered silks and really feel the part.
Feel like a royal by taking to the slopes; yes, Dubai’s indoor ski dome is often frequented by the rich and famous and is a sight in itself! There are world class golf courses and gorgeous sandy beaches. However, depending on the time of year, it may just be a little bit too warm for lying in the sun!
Another thing Dubai does spectacularly well, is food, both in terms of quality and quantity. You will find everything you could ever want in this exciting city from buffets and fast food of every variety to the best Michelin starred cuisine cooked by some of the world’s top chefs. If you couldn’t afford to stay in the seven star Burj Al Arab hotel, you could still pop in for dinner. It won’t cost you quite as much as a room but make sure you avoid the £7000 cocktail!
Be sure to try at least one authentic Arab meal of shawarma, falafels and delicious breads. It’s some of the best street food in Dubai and lets you eat like a king for a pauper’s price. Spend an afternoon writing your postcards in the Basta café, set in a lovely garden courtyard in a rather regal looking restored house.
One of the very best value deals in Dubai though, is the Friday ‘Champagne Brunch’ where hundreds of cafes, restaurants and hotels throw open their doors every Friday to offer free champagne and mountainous, groaning buffets to anyone who happens to be passing. Don’t miss it!
Dubai has a strange relationship with alcohol. You cannot buy alcohol in shops or supermarkets but it is readily available in bars, hotels and restaurants. You can buy it in duty free and take it into the country if you wish to enjoy it in the comforts of your own home or hotel room but it is illegal to drink outdoors and to buy from an unlicensed vendor, so beware.
If you want to treat a loved one to a special evening, why not get dolled up to the nines and take yourselves off for drinks at the Sky View Bar where stunning views across Dubai are guaranteed and perhaps even a celebrity sighting or two.
Nights in Dubai are mostly consigned to hotels and restaurants thanks to the alcohol licensing laws but there are so many trendy and exciting bars to choose from and such fantastic food on offer that you shouldn’t miss the club scene too much. Apart from anything else, it’s far too hot for dancing! Alternatively, why not enjoy a few nights camping under the brilliant stars in a vast desert and have a unique, elegant and very regal experience.