The object of much international attention, Dubai is the ever-expanding playground in the desert where the rich and fabulous come to play. In their never-ending race to outdo themselves, the Emiratis have created a city that has all eyes on it in disbelief. With skyscrapers rising out of the desert and shooting straight up to the clouds, it’s hard to imagine that Dubai was not long ago just a small fishing village. But the skyscrapers continue to go up and the man-made islands continue to surface, and the landscape of Dubai changes with each passing year. These are the top 10 things to do in Dubai … for now!
Top 10 Things to do in Dubai
1 | Ascend the Burj Khalifa
Standing tall at 828m (2717ft), the Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world. And you can go almost all the way to the top to get a bird’s eye view over Dubai. This puts all other observation decks around the world to shame and I swear even the most even-keeled traveler will get a touch of vertigo up here! I suggest reserving your ticket time ahead so you don’t miss out.
2 | Explore the Desert
Surrounded by desert, it’s a wonder that Dubai survives as it does. They have a steady flow of de-salinated water fueling the city’s gardens, naturally. But while you’re here you should go out and see the desert in all its absent glory. Go visit a camel farm, go dune bashing in a 4×4, or go for an Arabian adventure. Do go out into the Sahara Desert, it’s quite the sight to see!
3 | Get lost in the Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates is just one of the megamalls popular in Dubai. With over 600 stores and a real indoor ski resort, this mall is the epitome of decadence. Go for the shopping or go for the people-watching, but either way you’ll be marveled by what you see here, at one of the top-awarded malls in the world.
4 | Ski in the Desert
Think you can’t ski in the desert? Think again! At Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates you can hit the slopes and chill off in the midst of the desert heat. The slopes don’t really rival those of the better ski mountains around the world, but the novelty factor is pretty cool!
5 | Go out onto the Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is one of the manmade islands erected in Dubai, so called because it is shaped like a palm tree. From the ground you can’t really tell the shape but from up above it certainly looks like one! You can take the monorail out to the top frond of the palm tree where the Atlantis Resort is located, and explore around there. Otherwise the fronds are mostly just private property, filled with hundreds of casual multi-million dollar homes of course. And the trunk of the Palm is lined with dozens of five-star hotels for your jealous rumination.
6 | Shop in the Souks
One of the oldest traditions in Dubai and a lasting feature from its fishing village days are the souks. Shop for everything from gold to textiles here and get a feel for the local commerce and the way that Dubai once was. You’ll notice a trend of shopping here in Dubai, and that is certainly reflective of the customary pasttimes!
7 | Learn about Dubai’s History
You can learn even more about Dubai’s history and heritage at the Dubai Museum, which provides an excellent display of artifacts and exhibits to showcase the city’s past. You actually have to leave “New Dubai” and go over to “Old Dubai” to get to the Dubai Museum, which gives you a broader view of the city than you get in the uber-luxurious new part of town.
8 | Go Skydiving with the Best Views
As I said, the Palm Jumeirah can really only be appreciated in its true form from above, and the same goes for the constellation of islands that replicate the world. Go for the thrill of a lifetime by skydiving in Dubai, and you’ll have a view like none other on your descent. I’ve always felt that when I try skydiving, it will have to be somewhere with great views, and I think Dubai may just be the spot for that!
9 | Watch the Water Fountain Show
Like the marvels and spectacles seen all around the city, the water fountain at the base of the Burj Khalifa and outside the Dubai Mall will surely impress. Naturally, it’s the largest choreographed water fountain show in the world. The complement of lights and water dancing and music is as enchanting as you expect in this magical desert city.
10 | Enjoy a show at Dubai Opera
The stunning design of the Dubai Opera resembles the traditional Dubai dhow, a sailing vessel. This grand opera house draws the greatest talent in the region for spectacular performances in a stunning venue. Join the crowds for an evening of culture at the Dubai Opera.