Dubai with Vanora

Name: Vanora
Date: April 2012
Where: Dubai

Desert SafariThis visit concluded my stretch of ‘home-coming’ trips. The Philippines & Switzerland did not disappoint – and Dubai was no exception. When compared to my childhood memories, however, Dubai was barely recognizable!

Dubai has, to say the least, exploded into a mega city. While those of us who were lucky enough to call this place home before the boom do miss the simpler laid-back times (when we were just as spoiled or maybe even more so), I was relieved that the city’s new look and feel is very tasteful. With nicknames like ‘Disneyland for Adults’ or ‘Las Vegas of the Middle East,’ I was reserved with my expections, but the planners and architects did a fantastic job. Aside from its physical beauty, I was extremely impressed with the cleanliness, friendliness and efficiency – from the moment we landed til the moment we returned.

View of Deira Side

I would personally consider Dubai a stopover city. Unless you prefer a private tour, the 24-48 hour (I recommend the latter) Big Bus hop-on-hop-off tour is well worth doing

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(try to time it so you don’t miss the dhow cruise and 10am free mosque tour). Take a couple of extra days to experience a desert safari, to take in some sights & attractions that the tour may not have covered, and to enjoy the food and shopper’s paradise. The Dubai metro is very easy to use, and cabs are fairly inexpensive (probably due to the low fuel cost). It can get extremely hot, so the best time to visit is from November to

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April (but avoid the fasting month of Ramadan). Once upon a time, my memories of Dubai consisted mainly of camels and sand. According to recent reports, this emirate (there are 7 in the UAE) consumes 400 million gallons of water per day to keep the grounds lush and green throughout the year – so much so it’s easy to forget you’re in the desert. The population has risen to 2 million. Incredibly, the local Emirati make up only 15%, with the rest being foreign-born (hence the not-so-strict dress code).

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Some useful websites are www.timeoutdubai.com & www.bigbustours.com/eng/dubai, and another handy general tip would be to sign up with some deal-of-the-day websites for your intended destination.