The XL family in Dubai! 


And here we are back, to talk with you about this beautiful journey in this amazing Arab city:

DUBAI!

The most important thing for us, in our journeys around the world, is to let our children know the beauty of the diversity: different places, people, cultures and traditions; as well as, of course, the languages and dialects spoken all around the world.

This time we chose for an Arab country, where tradition is combined with the best expression of modernity and openness to diversity.

Dubai probably represents a perfect synthesis of all this: a country led by an enlightened Sheikh, which is leading this country to be, in few years, a catalyst for economic interests and tourist flow; and going well beyond the oil-wealth binomial that we easily attribute to the countries that are part of this specific geographical area of the Persian Gulf, the so-called UAE (United Arabian Emirates) countries.

Not everyone knows, in fact, that the oil reserves in Dubai will soon be exhausted, and already the country’s biggest income derives from the tourist flow, which is expected to develop in the years to come.

The country is constantly developing and is like taken by an incessant movement: wherever new construction sites open and the aim is for Expo 2020 – to be held in the period between 20 October 2020 and 10 April 2021 – to receive 25 million visitors, practically more than 8 times its resident population: an incredible bet!

The challenge is on, and judging from what we have seen, they have all the potential to overcome it.

After this due premises, useful to introduce you to the influence it has on Dubai Lifestyle, let’s move on to our story and travel tips for those who travel with family or as a couple.

Let’s start with flights: the best airline for those who fly from Italy and want a direct flight to Dubai in about 6 hours (from Milan Malpensa), is – without any doubts – Emirates.

Of course, the price depends on how many advance you buy the ticket and the period in which you want to travel, but in any case it’s always cheaper to consider a stopover (we did it in Istanbul, Turkey) if you don’t think it’s too heavy for you. We always travel in “light mode”, with hand baggage only, but we are 5 of us, so even if the baggage is smaller in size, we have five of it on board, and we can manage to bring everything we need without having big luggages.

Also, consider that you are going to an area of the world where there are two seasons: the HOT one – from November to April; and another one VERY HOT – from May to October, with peaks up to 60°C – 140°C ! With a crazy thermal excursion inside / outside the hotel, taxi, shopping centers etc., due to the freezing air conditioning

And here is our travel tale:

Day 1 – Ski Dubai

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One of the probably most surprising and incredible things in Dubai is that here, regardless of the temperature, you can… ski!

Yep, you got it right: there is an indoor ski track!

This is located inside the “Mall of the Emirates” – one of the biggest shopping centers in Dubai, where you can also find several money exchange points;

the ski track max length is 400 meters / 1.312 feet, and the height is 85 meters / 279 feet, so it got a good slope.

However, curiosity aside, for those who can see the real snow and real ski tracks, not living in these latitudes, I can suggest you to avoid this waste of money for skiing here …

It is much better – and more related to this country – the sandboarding, of which we will talk about below.

Day 2 – Breakfast at Burji Khalifa and walking in Dubai Mall

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With its 163 floors and its 829 meters / 2.719,82 feet, the Burji Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world … right now.

Yes, because a skyscraper taller than 1 km. / 3.280 fett will be finished in 2020 … think about it! And do you know where? But always here in Dubai: the Dubai Creek Tower!

Burji Khalifa access is passing through the lobby of Armani Hotel, where very kind, young ladies will guide you to the fast elevator; the upper floors are accessed buying a ticket, to enjoy the view.

Armani Hotel

What we chose to do was enjoying a delicious breakfast at the At.Mosphere restaurant, located on the 122nd floor.

Here you can have breakfast, you can have lunch or just a tea, but remember: you have always to book in advance, and often there is no place.

Prices vary, depending on what you choose; consider an average of 50€ / 56$ per person, but it is absolutely worth it for hospitality, quality, and landscape view.

If you book, remember to ask for a window table, where you can look at the desert borders.

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Next to Burji Khalifa is located the Dubai Mall, which is the biggest shopping mall in the world not by extension, but by number of shops: 1.200!

Even if, you don’t like (like I don’t) super-crowded shopping malls, this is worth a visit for several reasons:

aside shops, inside Dubai Mall is located the Dubai Aquarium, where besides being able to admire thousands of marine species, you can dive, assisted by expert divers, walking near the sharks!

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If you love valuable objects, here you will also find the biggest “souk” in the world for jewelry and gold.

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For children and families, there is the “SEGA Republic” park and Kidzania, a cinema with 22 screens.

And an amazing restaurant that will take you into the African jungle!

Also, take a stop to admire the internal waterfalls, with the statues of the divers: it’s a beautiful artwork, with a deeper meaning for the Arab people born here: the “divers” are the pearls fishermen, who, before oil and tourism, represented a very important source of income for the Emirates.

And don’t miss the Fountain Show outside, in the artificial lake in front of Burji Khalifa:

the project was developed by the same company that built the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, lighting is guaranteed by 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors, the water jets can reach over 150 meters / 492 feet high and the “dance” of the water is accompanied by classical, Arabic and commercial music.

The show is on at 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm, and then every 30 minutes from 6:00 to 10:00 pm – 11:00 pm from Thursday to Saturday.

Day 3 – Desert Safari

This is one of the trip that you should not miss if you go to Dubai:

the 4×4 Safari!

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You will have fun like crazy when the expert drivers will slide sideways on the dunes of Sharjah or jump from one to another, and you will feel like to fall on deaf ears , but don’t worry! Drivers know what they are doing and will not expose you to unnecessary risks, less than ever if you are with children.

Watch the video and imagine you’re on board: it’s really supercool!!

And if you like skiing, jump off a steep dune with the board they will provide you, and try the sandboarding, the best that can happen is to fill your shoes with the sand when you roll in the dunes!

Usually, most of these excursions also include a camel ride – if you have never tried to stand on a camel that gets up after you sit down on it… well, try it! Is very funny.

The walk is “animated” by the typical camels gait, it’s a lot of fun and it really is worth thinking about approaching these desert “ships”.

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Usually, are included the dinner and the show with belly dance, dance in typical Arab costume and fire-breathing, as well as photos with hawks – falconry is still very popular here – and henna tattoos, for those who wants to have one.

You can also book a 30-minute ride on the dune-buggies (not included, you have to pay for it), you will personally drive and believe me: again, it’s very funny!!

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Day 4 – Jumeirah beach and Creek cruise

When you come to Dubai and if the weather is ok – I mean, if it’s not very HOT – one of the “must do” is a visit to the Jumeirah public beach:

it is a white sand beach located in the Jumeirah district of Dubai, up to The Palm Jumeirah.

From the beach you can see the Burj Al Arab, the famous (and very expensive) sail-shaped luxury hotel, built on an artificial island, where – among other special features – you will find gold tablets, butler and a private cinema in the suites at your disposal !

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Someone might ask: what about the dress code on a beach in Dubai? Are there any limitations for men, or women?

The answer is simple – and shall apply not only to Jumeirah beach: there are no defined limits, apart those of common sense, regarding the dress code.

Obviously, there are no nudist beaches and no topless, and once you leave the beach you have to get dressed, it is not allowed to go around bare-chested or in swisuit around the city, but that’s also a matter of good taste.

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Another experience we made, which was highly recommended to us, is the evening cruise, departing at 9:00 pm from Dubai Creek (or Khor Dubai):

it is a sort of branch of the Persian Gulf sea that crosses the city, used for urban and tourist transport.

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The dinner aboard these big and colorful wooden boats is buffet style, and I assure you that there is such a large quantity of food, from appetizers to main courses, from fish to meat, and desserts to satisfy any kind of taste; while for alcoholic beverages the choice is limited – as everywhere here.

The cruise includes a show with a singer and a couple of typical dances (already seen); as for the view from the boat you will see the skyscrapers lighted at night, but frankly speaking this is not an excursion that I would suggest in the “must do” list.

Just do it if you have extra time to spend, and if  it’s ok for your budget.

Day 5 – visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

One of the excursions I would rather recommend is the visit to the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi: starts early in the morning, between 8:00 and 9:00 am, because getting there takes a couple of hours, but you can get picked up at the hotel where you stay. Usually, the guides are punctual and very patient, when you book remember to leave your phone number to get in touch with the agency in case of need, also via whatsapp.

On the way to the Abu Dhabi mosque, there will be a stop at the world famous Ferrari World, with the fastest roller coaster in the world – with 240 km/ h – 149 mph reached in only 5 seconds – imagine the acceleration … – but it’s a very short “technical” stop, so you will only have time for a tour and pics.

The mosque is really AMAZING:

it can host more than 40,000 people praying, and has 4 minarets over 100 meters / 328 feet high.

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The courtyard is 17,000 m² and is all covered with a beautiful floral mosaic.

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All the outside part of the mosque is covered with marble, while the “pools” along the external porticoes reflect the columns, which in the evening, together with the external walls, are colored through an ingenious system using the moon light, and creates a blue lighting.

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The carpet covering the entire main prayer hall is the largest made in Iran: measuring 5,627 m², it took 1,300 craftsmen to knot it, and weighs over 35 tons.

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To move it to the mosque, were rented cargo planes and warships. And it took a lot of people to fix it.

Other world guinness objects are the Swarowski crystal chandeliers:

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here there is the largest / inside a mosque chandelier in the world, with a diameter of 10 meters and a height of 15. No needs to talk about its value.

And the 96 internal columns: obviously in marble, but inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Just to give you an idea of the Emirs’ financial resources:

in November 2017, a museum was inaugurated in Abu Dhabi, which build cost was around $ 700 million.

Local authorities decided its the name: Louvre.

Obviously, they found the opposition of the French government, parbleu!

Opposition that has turned into compliance with the payment of about 600 million dollars (!!!) for using the name Louvre for 30 years (plus an option for +30 years); plus, another 750 million dollars to loan various artworks and consulting.

When you say: culture is priceless…

If you are a fan of the “Fast & Furious” film series, you must visit the Etihad Towers complex, which were used as the location of the “Fast & Furious 7” movie:

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drive the Lykan Hyper Sport through these towers!

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Day 6 – Jumeirah Beach Residence

On the last day, after so much walking and visitingaround, let you do what we did:

enjoy relaxing moments at the JBR beach (Jumeirah Beach Residence) located in the residential area of Dubai Marina:

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in spite of the area, the prices for renting sun beds and umbrellas are accessible (more or less as in any non-VIP beach), there are a lot of shops and restaurants for any taste on the beach or close by, and the atmosphere is very cosmopolitan … except for the camels on the beach: fantastic!

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Then, eat a typical Turkish ice cream sold by the street carts: try to grab it!

But keep in mind that they will also charge you for the show … an ice cream will cost you as much as 6 euros / 7 dollars.

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And then, at the end of the day, enjoy the fireworks show, looking at it from the beach.

 

Final considerations and suggestions:

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this photo of the cranes raising new buildings, taken while we were going to the airport for our flight back to our country, represents very well what Dubai is today:
a city in the grip of a perpetual movement.
Sure, Expo 2020 represents a bet to be won for the foreseeable future, and it will probably be a unique opportunity to visit Dubai.

But also consider what I wrote above, regarding the best period of year to spend an holiday without being frustrated by extreme temperatures.

Another good advice I’d like to give you is to choose hotels with swimming pool, with bar – remember that you can drink alcoholic beverages only in hotel, so if you want to have a drink to relax in the evening after you are back from a day walking around, think about it first.

Dubai is a city where modernity and traditions meet, you always remember to respect all the few limits literally, and avoid being offensive.

Like I said, it’s a matter of simple common sense.

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Have a wonderful trip,

the Pascales 🙂

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