I’m lucky enough to have had holidays in several cities outside Lagos (where I live). While thinking about these different places recently, my mind turned to trying to decide which was my favourite. So far, my favourite city for a holiday is Dubai in the U.A.E. and here are 10 reasons why I love it:
- The weather: I went to Dubai in August and it was crazy hot and this is coming from someone who lives in the tropics. In spite of the heat, I loved being there as I always prefer being too hot to being too cold. Besides, thanks to the abundance of taxis, it’s possible to go from hotel to taxi to destination (usually a mall ;-)) without really experiencing the heat. Another thing to keep in mind is that the weather is more bearable at other times of the year so if cooler weather (cooler meaning less hot, not necessarily cold) is really important to you, consider visiting Dubai between December and February.
2. The taxis: Unlike in many other cities where taxis seem to disappear just when you need them the most, the opposite seems to be the case in Dubai. You almost never need to wait for a taxi there. When I was in Dubai on holiday, a taxi always seemed to turn up within a minute of my standing on the road wondering where to get one. In addition, the taxis have metres which take away the need to haggle, a pesky task you usually have to go through in Lagos and some other cities across the world.
3. The shopping: Dubai has enough malls to excite the most jaded-shopper. The Dubai mall and Mall of the Emirates are probably the biggest malls there and the Dubai mall is my favourite. According to Wikipedia, the Dubai mall is the largest mall in the world in terms of total area covered and has over 1200 shops. Dubai Mall has an ‘underwater zoo’, an ice rink (pretty intriguing for a city in the middle of a desert) and its own gold souk. With shops covering several floors and over 100 places to eat, it is possible to spend all day at the mall shopping and eating. This I discovered from personal experience 😉
4. The gold souk: I personally love gold. I looked on it with disdain when I was a teenager and only wore the thinnest pieces when my mother forced me to wear jewellery. Today though, I love it and really believe that when it comes to gold, the bigger, the better ;-). So you can imagine my joy when I went to the old gold souk in Dubai. I went to Dubai with a girlfriend and told the driver taking us around that day to come back for us in an hour. Sadly, one hour later, we had only been in about 4 shops which of course wasn’t up to 1/100th of the shops in the souk. There were just so many different designs to admire that we lost track of time. Don’t make the same mistake I did. When you go to the gold souk, spend at least half a day there if you know you want to see even a quarter of the shops there.
A picture of me at the old gold souk in Dubai
5. The Attractions: There are so many things to do in Dubai, I certainly didn’t do or visit as many of the attractions as I wanted to but I did a good number. My favourite was sand-boarding in the dunes of Sharjah (Sharjah is technically an emirate outside Dubai but what’s a few kilometers between friends?). You can also ride in 4×4 vehicles in the desert (which feels just like a rollercoaster, only you can see the driver and you’re in a car), watch belly dancers, go camping at night in the desert, have high tea at the Burj Al Arab (sometimes described as the only 7-star hotel in the world), play in Wild Wadi (a water-based amusement park) or just chill on a beach. It’s difficult to be bored on holiday in Dubai.
Heading for the quad-bikes
Riding into the sunset
Sand-boarding in Sharjah
On Jumeirah Beach with Burj Al Arab in the background
The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi (another emirate in the U.A.E.)
6. The Safety: The crime rate in Dubai is low meaning I worried very little about my bag being stolen. Quite a relief, really.
7. The Friendliness: Or maybe I meant the flirtatiousness? The guys my friend and I came across just seemed really nice. Of course, most of the people you meet in Dubai aren’t actually Emiratis. Many of the people you meet come from countries outside the Emirates like Egypt, Iran and so on. Overall, Dubai seemed like a friendly place.
8. The Opulence: Dubai is over the top. For example, one afternoon I saw two Porsches. That’s more than I’ve seen in two weeks in other places. Some people feel that Dubai’s over-the-top-ness is too much but I love it. I felt it showed me what was possible in this world and that life really is limited by one’s imagination.
9. The Roads: Narrow roads and pot-holes don’t exist in Dubai. Of course, this may not be strictly true since I was a tourist and there for only four days. But in contrast, one of the first things I noticed on a trip to London was the narrow roads and the tiny cars which just made me depressed and within four hours of being in Lagos, you’ll probably have come across more pot-holes than you thought were possible. Dubai was a refreshing break from all that.
10. The food: I had planned to eat an ‘authentic’ shawarma while in Dubai but with the variety of food easily available from Japanese to Mexican, I never got round to it. I will next time. And there will be a next time. Making this list has made me want to visit my favourite city again.
Who knows why the camel crossed the road.
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