Dubai: a city in the superlative

I spent only two days in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, but I had the impression that getting around the city is only possible by car.

Those who follow the blog know that I love taking the subway, but the times I tried to get to know the Dubai line, I found that the stations are a bit distant (they might not be that far, but you can barely stand to walk 5 minutes under that sun).

Dubai’s shopping center

The locals recommended taking a taxi to the station, but as the fare was cheap, I ended up taking a taxi to the final destination.

By the way, one of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Dubai is that there is a taxi company with cars with pink roofs, in which only female drivers work, to serve unaccompanied passengers – as it is not well seen to be alone with a man.

Metro Station in Downtown Dubai

Walking around the city is impossible. When you look at the map, sometimes things look close, when they really aren’t, and facing that hellish heat just isn’t worth it.

And all this without forgetting that, in Arab countries, summer clothes are not well regarded, the ideal is to wear well-behaved clothes that cover, at least, the shoulders and knees. Some tourists solemnly ignore the dress code, but there are places that restrict the entry of those who are not dressed appropriately.

Life there is like that: between apartments, offices, restaurants, cars and malls. From one air conditioner to another, people take refuge from the hot sand that insists on witnessing the desert climate. Tourists, in turn, have luxury resorts, water parks and even a ski resort with artificial snow, of course.

To cater to luxury tourism, the airline Emirates has an exclusive, stunning, completely golden terminal. But when our flight to Bangkok was overbooked and we had to board through Terminal 1, we found out where the “ordinary people” were… lol

Golden Airport: The Emirates Luxury Terminal

We felt that we could have enjoyed the city more if we had taken some extra money to pay for certain luxury experiences – like a dinner at the Burj Al Arab, which costs no less than 150 dollars.

Booking a table at one of the restaurants at this 7-star hotel is an alternative to getting to know the famous Dubai icon from the inside, without necessarily staying there. It must be beautiful: the sail-shaped building is illuminated at night, with a water and fire show in a choreographed fountain.

Burj El Arab: the famous 7-star hotel

But a must is to visit the tallest building in the world, Burj Al Khalifa, with more than 830 meters and 160 floors (yes, the elevator is super fast). In fact, the tower holds world records, including the tallest cable-free structure and the longest-traveling elevator.

The visit begins with a brief presentation on the tower’s architectural design and some inevitable tributes to UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the man who envisioned Dubai as the modern city it is today.

The tower’s architecture is done in tiers, with the base wider and the floors narrower as they scratch the sky.

From up there, the view is breathtaking. No other tower in the world has a view as peculiar as this one: the vast expanse of sand that starts from the Persian Gulf interrupted by shiny buildings, huge avenues… and swimming pools! Hotel swimming pools stand out in the landscape like small oases.

How the city has transformed in recent decades

The ticket card also entitles you to two 2-minute sessions on the electronic telescopes available on the observation deck on the 120th floor. Be sure to see, in this little device, the historical view that shows how the city was 30 years ago.

Witnessing the transformation of a desert into a metropolis is undoubtedly one of the coolest parts of the visit. So you realize how everything is very recent in Dubai – to give you an idea, this tower was only inaugurated in 2010 and the Burj Al Arab hotel in 2008… Practically yesterday!

The view from the tallest building in the world

Entry to the Burj Al Khalifa costs 125 Dirhams (approximately R$70), but if you buy the ticket online (with scheduled day and time), it is about R$15 cheaper.Access to the tower is through the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping center in the world (yes, there is a delusion of grandeur in that city).

Take the opportunity and take a walk around to see that the biggest American and European brands are gathered there – all the famous designers you can imagine, as well as prêt-à-porter giants like Bloomingdale’s, Galeries Lafayette, Desigual… and even Hummingbird cupcakes , from Portobello Road, can be found there.

Shopping Dubai Mall

It is also in the Dubai Mall that the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is located, with a huge tank full of fish, rays and sharks already on display right in the middle of the mall. There’s even a ticket that entitles you to a swim in the aquarium, to swim with the animals.

Tired of so much modernity and want to go shopping in the more traditional Arab fashion? The way is to explore the different alleys of the souk, the street market.

The curious gold market in Dubai

The Gold Souk is the most famous in Dubai, with its extravagant jewelry made of gold and precious stones. It is said that there are more than 10 tons of gold in goods there. The windows shine and there is no lack of vendors inviting you to enter the small stores.

I have to say that I was disappointed with the lack of opportunities for bargaining in the gold market… After all, this is a tradition in the Arab markets!

fancy jewelry

I only managed to get a more lively negotiation at the Spice Souk, where spices and herbs are sold.

In addition to taking the best quality saffron to a friend who loves to cook, I also got some very tasty date candies! Joseph, the salesman we closed the deal with, is used to Brazilian customers and didn’t miss the joke of offering some camels for my friend Leticia.

The traditional crossing of Dubai Creek

To cross Dubai Creek, which divides Bur Dubai (the city center) from Deira (area where the souks are located), there is nothing like boarding an “abra”, a type of boat that has been taking passengers across this region of merchant tradition for centuries. The ticket costs only 1 Dirham and the scenery, which is more picturesque in this region, is priceless.

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