Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai. Located in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai aims to be the business hub of Western Asia. It is also a major global transport hub for passengers and cargo.
20 years ago, Dubai was considered a layover destination for those travelling to the rest of the world, but in recent years it has become a popular holiday destination offering a variety of reasons for travelers to enjoy a quick visit en-route to Europe or America. With a simple visa application process, travelers can explore the impressive architecture, glamorous shopping options and luxury entertainment of this Middle Eastern gem. Now this former desert is home to some of the most impressive architecture – top attractions include the 829.8 meter tall Burj Khalifa where you can see one of the most breathtaking city skyline views from the 124 th floor, the man-made Palm Islands off the coast, the Dubai Fountain and the Dubai Marina or Jumeirah Beach for those who enjoy the sun.
Dubai doesn’t fall short when it comes to shopping – it’s the retail metropolis of the Middle East, and it’s easy to see why. Known for its modern and glamorous malls as well as traditional Arabian souks – it offers a shopping experience for every kind of traveler. Serious fashionistas can explore the grandiosity of the famous Dubai Mall, the Mall of Emirates, BurJuman or Madinat Jumeirah Mall. Whether you’re after a luxury label like Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Chanel, or you simply want to be entertained, there are endless choices in this city. Shopping goes hand in hand with entertainment when you’re at the Dubai Malls – expect everything from ski slopes to more child-friendly entertainment like the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo at the Dubai Mall. You can hit the ski slopes at the Mall of the Emirates or float down the canals like you’re in Venice when you’re visiting the Madinat Jumeirah Mall. If luxury shopping is not your first port of call, you can head into the more traditional local shopping areas and visit the Spice Souk, Gold Souk and the Textile Souk – all three these markets are located in the northern neighbourhood of Deira, and if you’re one for bargaining this is where you need to be at. While you’re there you can see Heritage House – built in 1890 by a wealthy Iranian merchant – it gives visitors a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of ancient Dubai.
Getting around Dubai is relatively self-explanatory and signs on the metro can be found in both Arabic and English, making it easy to navigate from the airport to your accommodation. The city’s international airport is located just 13km from downtown and the metro system connects you to all the popular tourist spots. Alternatively, you can rent a car as affordable parking garages are plentiful throughout the city.
Dubai has become a hub in the Middle East, not only for connecting flights, but as a luxury stop- over, offering 5-star accommodation of the highest standards. Find cheap hotels and budget- friendly options close to the airport and in the quieter neighbourhoods like Bur Dubai. Look out for popular chain hotels like the Best Western and Citymax to get the best value for your money– they offer affordable accommodation for both tourist and business travelers and still offer the opulent experience of rooftop pools, breathtaking views and world-class cuisine.
Cheap flights to Dubai are available on a number or airlines operating from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Emirates, South African Airways, Etihad, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airlines all offer cheap flights to Dubai, but the most recommended route are the direct Emirates flights from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to Dubai – offering 5-star entertainment, service and comfort at affordable prices.
The Bastakia Quarter is known as one of Dubai’s most picturesque heritage sites. It dates back to the 1890s and was originally built by Persian merchants who dealt mainly in textiles and pearls. Narrow alleys, coral and limestones buildings and many walls topped with wind-towers which provided the ancient homes with a form of air-conditioning, are some of the area’s architectural highlights. The Bastakia Quarter is also home to many fine art galleries like the Majlis Gallery, where you can see a collection of traditional Arab ceramics or the Al Serkal Cultural Foundation which is located in one of the historic buildings. To take a break from the art and just enjoy the area, visit the beautiful courtyard of the Arabian Tea House. The turquoise benches, old trees and sound of birds will for a moment take you back to the old-school charm of authentic Dubai before the modern boom.