A trip to Dubai will mean shopping, a visit to the Desert Safari, Burj Khalifa, a tour of the Dubai mall and more – and with so many newer wonders, entertainment avenues and stunning structures adding to the skyscape there is never a dull moment when one is here.
The vibrant city is in a constant state of upheaval with construction happening at a feverish pace creating architectural marvels each better than the previous one. Yet, the older part of Dubai continues to charm with its souks. The gold souk is surely a visual splendour; the photographs do no justice to the experience.
While there is a price difference in the gold prices at Dubai, the tax-free market, and India, the shops at Deira souk slap ‘making charges’, which reduces the difference; however, the mindboggling designs and the flexibility the souk offers in terms of jewellery available in different karats makes it a good bargain, especially if you are a haggling expert.
The souk is tastefully shaded and hence with proper hydration, you can wade through the glitter while you experience the gold rush. The spice souk is only an extension of the visual treat. Spend time, loiter around until you see a well-stocked store and buy some of the best spices the world has to offer – saffron from Iran, cinnamon from Sri Lanka, Vanilla, Ginger, Tea, Peppermint... Spice souk is where the spices from across the world meet at one place to entice the visitors with heady colours and scents.
Shopping festival or no, the place has ample options to shop. To begin with, the Dubai Mall has created this massive aquarium that will surely take at least half a day of yours. One can gaze at the world of water creatures by walking through the water, below the water and float on a boat above the water and also dive into the water under supervision.
The mall has an amazing array of branded stores – you could be walking along the high streets of New York, or Paris as the Versace, Tiffany, Guccis of the world congregate to offer you the season’s best. On a trip organised by Dubai Tourism, I have also discovered these resourceful kiosks selling some good stuff while walking to the Burj Khalifa. Do stop at them on your way back. Dubai Mall deserves a day-long exploration, no less.
And if one stays connected online; with the help of GPS, one can find their way around this amazing mall easily. And of course, a trip to Dubai Mall is incomplete without watching the amazing performance of the dancing fountains towards the evening. The Mall of Emirates is yet another destination that in addition to shopping has a lot of fun-filled options like the Ski Dubai. Both these malls are places where if you come with family, you unleash the kids even as you go on a rampage making the most of all that the malls have to offer.
Also don’t spend your entire shopping budget in the city as the Dubai Duty Free shopping at the airport offers a wide range of products. You can shop for spirits, branded perfumes and cosmetics, and even gold at attractive prices.
Dubai is aiming to be an all-year-round destination. And, why not, it does have a lot to offer at all times. During summers, for example, you do enjoy off-season discounts, but you also have amazing resort properties to spend time and put your foot up and speciality restaurants offering world cuisines to binge upon and some stunning night places for the party animal in you.
Level 43, which is literally on the 43rd floor at Four Points by Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road, offers a stunning 360-degree view of the skyscrapers that dot the Dubai skyline. The open-air terrace lounge is in fact 155 metres above the ground, which is a pool bar by the day and during night it attains a swanky look; the cool desert breeze, the innovative cocktails and finger food adding to the ambiance that immediately puts you on a relax mode in the midst of the bustle that seems near yet so far when one is at Level 43.
Ewaan, the all-day dining at Palace Downtown, on the other hand, is ideal for families or group of friends. It offers world cuisine in a luxurious setting. The poolside restaurant has Arabian theme nights when the extensive buffet offers the best that the Mediterranean cuisine has to offer – cheeses, kebabs, etc, and a wide choice of Arabian desserts. Live performances of the Tanoura and belly dance complete the setting at the restaurant that has a royal setting with arches et all.
Tagine at the One & Only Royal Mirage (a hotel that has other interesting choices of restaurants) has on its menu Moroccan cuisine served in a traditional yet elegantly contemporary setting. The Eauzone located on the decks overlooking the Arabian sea offers Asian food with a twist.
Considering that India is the largest contributor of tourists (in 2017 alone 2 million Indians visited Dubai, which is, in fact, the fourth most visited city globally), there is a large number of Indian restaurants in Dubai. We have tried the award-winning Indian restaurant, Antique Bazaar at Four Points by Sheraton in Bur Dubai.
Antique Bazaar is renowned for carrying on the legacy of serving traditional Indian cuisines that once ruled the hearts of the royal families of India. It has live sitar performance followed by dance and music every evening.
Among the newest addition to Dubai’s food scene are the elegant eateries that one can find along the City Walk that include world-class confectionaries and the Indian touch of Farzis. The Ripe Food and Craft Market, on the other hand, can vaguely be described a flea market for food and craft; both amazingly displayed in a simple setting. From doughnuts and pizzas to shawarmas and pickled olives, organic fresh produce, hand-churned ice cream and much more this bustling space is casual and heartening.
While on the topic of new additions, just a little distance from the city walk is the Green Plant – the multistoried indoor tropical forest – yes a complete forest is being created with tropical creatures sourced from across the world and nurtured in near to natural setting, which makes one marvel at the ingenuity of it all.
And then there is of course the not to be missed dinner cruise, which is more about experience of travelling on the waters looking at the sparkling city passing by while you have your dinner. Get on the deck of the boat, and sit back and enjoy Dubai, the new and the old on either side of the creek. Finally, one can never say good bye to Dubai; one just leaves Dubai with a promise of coming back to experience more.