Middle East. Dubai
|Price||Start from £318|
|Travel Periods||1st May 09 - 29th July 10|
The Pearl of the Arabian Gulf grew up as a seafaring settlement along either side of the Creek, a natural harbour for how traders, pearl divers and fishermen. Deira on the northern bank and Bur Dubai to the south are connected by a tunnel and two bridges and can also be reached by abra (water taxi).
Bur Dubai has substantial areas of old buildings, atmospheric alleyways and souks (markets), including the world-famous Gold Souk and colourful Spice Souk.
Fascinating glimpses of the past can be gained from Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum (which houses, among other things, artefacts recovered from the ancient graves at Al-Ghusais), the traditional windtower houses of the nearby Bastakiya district and, at the mouth of the Creek, the magnificently restored Sheikh Saeed’s Palace, as well as the diving and heritage villages.
The Deira side of the creek is cosmopolitan and lively, with many attractive gardens and first-class shopping facilities, ranging from Western-style shops to the ancient souks where spices, perfume, clothing, antiques, handicrafts and jewels are available. Dubai’s thriving tourist industry is based on guaranteed sunshine, a clean and safe environment, bargain shopping and superb sporting facilities, especially for golf and watersports.
A long ribbon of development alongside the Gulf, extending south and west of Dubai city to Jebel Ali, offers an impressive range of coastal hotels and resorts.
The recreation and sporting complex en route to Jebel Ali includes a golf course and an all-grass cricket pitch. Freshwater lakes can also be seen here, full of Japanese carp. The emirate has many well-qualified tour companies offering such activities as desert safaris by 4-wheel drive, sand-skiing, moonlit bedouin barbeques, camel riding and how cruises. The Dubai World Cup (the world’s richest horse race), the PGA Desert Classic Golf Tournament, Dubai Shopping Festival and more than 80 major trade exhibitions are among the high-profile events attracting business and leisure visitors to the city each year.
The Palm Islands: These three islands, said to be visible from the moon, form the largest manmade islands in the world. The Palm Jumeirah will feature a number of hotels as well as private residences when it opens in 2006. The Palm Jebel Ali is slated to have more leisure facilities, including an aquatic theme park, when it opens in 2008. The third of the islands, Palm Deira, will be more geared towards residential use with over 7,000 villas, and will be the largest of the trio when it opens in 2009. New bridges will connect the islands to the mainland in one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by man. The three islands are going to be accompanied by ‘The World’, all very Dubai, an ambitious attempt to recreate the shape of the world on 300 offshore islands, slated to open in 2008. Watching these outlandish projects take shape has become one of Dubai’s main attractions, with the view perhaps best from the Burj al Arab hotel.
Opened in 2002, at Dubai Creekside Park, Children’s City is proving a big hit with both local and international youngsters. The 7,700 sq-m (82,882 sq-ft) development takes young minds on a journey through the human body, science and space, with the help of different ‘zones’. With plenty of hands-on action to keep even the most demanding children occupied, this is no dull old museum. All exhibits are in English as well as Arabic.
Much of the long expanse of Jumeirah Beach is dominated by luxury hotels and their facilities. However, there is a stretch of public beach available, with clean white sand, crystal clear seawater and bath-temperature surf. Some of the hotels allow non-guests to use their pools and stretches of beach if they buy lunch or pay a nominal fee.