The best time to visit Dubai is January and we arrived from Bangalore in an Air Arabia flight early in the morning at Sharjah. Clearing the immigration and baggage claim in 2 hours, we took the Mohammad Bin Zayed Road to Dubai in the morning hours with hundreds of cars moving the same direction, a pleasant drive to our hotel, Samaya Deira.
After a nap and lunch at our hotel we decided to explore the city for the remainder of the evening and night. We fired up our Uber app and were surprised to see a helicopter ride to the mall. While this was tempting, we decided to call for a Lexus to enjoy a luxury ride.
Dubai Mall – Also known as the shopping haven featuring more than 1200 retail outlets including their signature store Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s. 200 food and beverage outlets for dining experience, entertainment and leisure attractions.
We were in Awe of the sheer size that is unlike any malls we have ever visited. It took us an hour to circle around one whole floor.
At the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo featuring thousands of aquatic animals and a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel we were mesmerized by the 140 species of aquatic animals, 300 sharks and rays inside the 10-million-liter aquarium tank. The kids were in for a gleeful shock when we walked inside the tunnel, 11 meters below the surface of the tank and 48-meter-long built with thick acrylic glass.
The 160 stories, Burj Khalifa with its highest outdoor observation deck in the world was our next stop. Out tour operator had purchased the tickets in advance and we proceeded to wait in line for the fastest escalators in the world to take us to the 124th floor, the observation deck. We were treated to Tom Cruise’s Burj Khalifa action videos from the Mission Impossible movie while waiting for our turn to enter the escalator.
The ear popping 1-minute ride in the escalator was magical. We were greeted to the spellbinding 360-degree view of the city below -brightly illuminated streets, sparkling skyscrapers and a magnificent fountain show.
Content with the visit and after a sumptuous meal we wanted to experience the Metro network back to the hotel and used the Metro link bridge from the mall to the Metro Station.
This link bridge is a kilometer-long temperature controlled glass-enclosed walkway, with travellators as seen in the airports which runs from the second floor of the Mall to the Metro station and takes 30 minutes to cover the length. While we walked the distance we were treated to the beautiful sights of downtown Dubai.
Desert Safari with BBQ dinner
The desert that surrounds Dubai is endless, mystical and magical. The sand dunes offer a recreational and fun filled experience with modern amenities, adventure, entertainment and dinner.
We were picked up at our hotel and transported to the desert after a 45 minutes’ drive. At the desert camp, we climbed into the 4X4 with no idea of what was in store.
Thus began an exhilarating ride to dune bashing, climbing one dune and sliding down the other. As the 4X4 maneuvered, we flew in our seats screaming. As we climbed, the dune peaks were not visible from our seats and once reaching the top we plummeted down face forward veering on two wheels at a time.
A flat tyre forced us to stop for a 15 minutes. We jumped out of the vehicle for a breath of fresh desert air and a quick photo amidst the towering mounds of sand basking in the beauty of the desert. After sliding down the dunes and covering ourselves with sand, we dusted and climbed back for a Bedouin themed evening dinner and entertainment. With low wooden tables and cushions for seating, our feet touching the now cooled sand, we started relishing the dinner while a professional belly dancer mesmerized everyone with her performance. The other highlight of the evening was the Tanoura Dance performed by a man wearing long colorful skirts. He then rhythmically started spinning non-stop for more than 10 minutes while displaying patterns with bright colors and tubes of light in his dress.