Dubai has always been ahead in the tourist game. And it is not just Burj Khalifa, Atlanta and desert safaris, but a whole plethora of experiences that awaited us as we embarked into the glitzy city, expectantly. The bustling metropolis is a haven for the adventure seeker, foodie and luxury searcher. The desert of sky scrapers is a place where families can revel in. It is a perfect spot for family get-aways, with its pristine beaches, golden deserts, skiing, simulator activities, sky diving, and even a Bollywood Park, incase you feel homesick! But first, it was (apparently) snowing in Dubai! We visited Ski Dubai, where we marvelled at snow in the middle of a desert! And then it got even more surreal as we spotted Penguins! Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort where you can go down slopes as cute penguins flap around as they see innumerable eyes peering at them. The cold drift and the slippery slopes are a fun experience, that is of course if you don’t fall flat first!
The next place we visited made the desert a fleeting memory as we entered the Green Planet, to peek into nature’s bounty. As we entered this lush green vista, it was amazing to see the forest come alive. The amazing green planet is a bio-dome where a tropical forest environment with nearly 500 species of plants and animals has been recreated, something to get us city slickers in touch with Mother Nature, an apt endeavour. We spotted families and children marvelling in the beauty as we walked past a leafy rainforest canopy. A tall 25 meter- tree tree is where we stopped, as a chirping symphony played on. We were told that it is home to hundreds of tropical birds.
The big city and its bright lights are a sight in itself. And the best way to see the city is a dinner cruise along the Dubai Creek. Cruising by the moonlight, you can revel in the lights and sky scrapers as you are served the best of Arabic cuisine, be it the Fattoush, Tabbouleh, etc with pita bread. And for company, we had the delicate movements of a tanoura dancer, performing beautifully, in a crunched up space! Dubai Creek was our most memorable stop. It’s like a mini-world floating on water as you see tourists from different parts of the globe exploring. The journey along the creek lasted two hours. The double decker cruises attracts many to the top floor.
The Dubai Mall came next, and it’s a shopper’s paradise. We literally got lost window shopping amid the best of brands, and were thankful for the buggy ride through the mall. It also boasts of one of the world’s biggest aquarium, where we headed for some water world forays, and then to the Underwater Zoo. We spotted an endangered Largetooth Sawfish or Pristis Microdon. A tunnel walk, there are also dives into the aquarium to feed fish. This gem of the Emirates and its beautiful marine life is among the best, and the interactive displays are admirable, especially the famed Musical Fountain, which was a spectacular display of music, light as the water danced to the beats.
The city, of course, is incomplete without a visit to the Burj Khalifa, a builder’s marvel and the world’s tallest building, with 124 levels one can get to in a shocking 52 seconds! From atop, gaze into the desert, and mull in wonder at what this bustling city has to offer. For those who love Bollywood, if Switzerland has Deepika Padukone (a picture) atop Mount Titlis, Dubai is not far behind with its Bollywood Parks at Dubai Parks & Resorts. We went through five zones for rides, games and environment-inspired by top Bollywood movies — Sholay, Don, Krishhh, Lagaan, Dabangg and more. There are simulator rides based on Shrek and Hunger Games, not much of an adult endeavour, but a delight for any child! Out Egyptian guide Usama and Sam from Pakistan were prompt and very helpful, and we skipped the endless queues with VIP passes! We loved the recreation with the simulators. The voice of Amitabh Bachchan rang out loud, calming us lost souls. In one of the simulators, we flew with Krissh, touching the many skyscrapers, which was fun, even for an adult!
Every Wednesday in Dubai, the massive traditional spread of rice, meats and grills at The Palace Downtown’s Ewaan restaurant is accompanied by energetic tanoura (a form of dance) and belly dance performances where the artist performed a spinning feat effortlessly for more than five minutes! For jewellery lovers, the gold and spice souq is among the largest gold markets. India may be the land of spices, but the spice Souq at Dubai can give India a run for its money with the innumerable spices, including medicinal ones. The fragrance attracted us to atleast half a dozen shops, some with top quality kesar, which we bought. Whether it is culinary, luxury, art walks, adventure or kiddie tourism, Dubai rules the roost, and it’s just a quick flight away!