Over 5 years ago, no one had ever thought of traveling to Dubai (the United Arab Emirates – UAE), but a few years ago, this small state was chosen as an attractive destination. In this time of the year, Dubai is not crowded or hot but very cool and attractive with many exciting places and activities. A week in Dubai will blow you away with a space of not only wind and sand… Now, let’s discover Dubai through this my trip to Dubai — The memorable experiences in the mysterious city of Middle East.
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To the top of the world
Dubai owns the highest man-made architecture in the world – Burj Khalifa tower of 828m high, opened in January 2010 and quickly become a new symbol of this small state situated on the banks of the Persian Gulf. There are so many articles about the record of the Khalifa, however, to achieve today’s look, two interesting things need to be mentioned.
Hymenocallis flower with 6 petals 3-lobed, popular in Arab countries is the inspiration for the building’s design. The pure white flower has a fragile look but is enduring and graceful, like the shape of the tower. From many places in the states, people can see the Burj Khalifa rising strongly. Prime Minister Khalifa, head of Abu Dhabi – played an important role when the tower building project faced economic crisis. He helped disburse billions of dollars to continue the building process.
With the price of 200 AED (the currency of the UAE, approximately 55 USD), a trip to the 124th floor gives visitors overwhelming feelings about a mysterious Middle East, from the road decorated with vivid LED screen recreating human life in the desert to the detailed information about the tower. The elevator takes less than 1 minute to open the door from an airy altitude of 300m. The outdoor balcony is windy, everything below looks like toys. The skyscraper known as Manhattan of Dubai rises in the sun. Looking further, on a clear day, tourists can see palm islands in the desert on the horizon.
The Dubai government knows how to do tourism as everything can be turned into tourist attractions or cultural promotion. On top of the tower, there are a variety of services such as binocular magnification show detailed information about the works under construction or you can take photo just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 4. The shop here is full of gifts from $ 5 – $500 to choose as much as you like. You can also buy gold, real gold, with a credit card at the world’s highest gold-selling machine. Pieces of gold in the shape of the tower or rose are sold at prices ranging from $ 500 – $ 1,000.
From Dubai Mall to Souk
$20 billion invested along with the Khalifa Tower, Dubai Mall is the “paradise of paradise” for any shopaholic. Connecting Khalifa tower are more than 1,200 large and small shops and the same number of brands can make tourists fall in love easily. Famous fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes… are located in the main lobby, spreading out and around are various kinds of items from watches, shoes, tie, cosmetics, phones, candy, toys, etc. Thanks to a 0% tax policy, shopping in Dubai has always been a great attraction. With approximately 150.000m2, Dubai Mall offers a vast aquarium that can be viewed from the outside, children especially interested in the fish tank cleaning staff in their wetsuits occasionally waving from inside. Across the bridge of musical fountain tank outside Dubai Mall, visitors will encounter a Middle Eastern market where they sell sand paintings, silk and lovely jewelry.
To experience the daily life of Dubai people, Souk would be an indispensable address. In the native language, “souk” means market. Located near each other in the old Dubai Deira, Spicy Souk and Gold Souk – the spice market and the gold market – take you to the friendly booths. In the spice market, sellers always smile inviting guests to try candies, date-palms, chestnuts… Those who love gold jewelry can choose more jewelry in Gold Souk, which is not far away; Average prices are $100 – $200 for one bracelet, $200 – $400 for a necklace and $50 for earrings. You can also try your bargaining skill here to make it more fun.
Experiencing luxurious Dubai
In the water taken from the ocean filtered through a tank at Atlantis Hotel, your task is just lying on a buoy floating on the lazy river. Atlantis Hotel, a luxury hotel lying towards the Persian Gulf at the top of Palm Island, is a real resort destination for spring. You can also board a train traveling around the island with 4 stations stretching over more than 2km distance from the hotel to the entrance. Each “branch” features hundreds of luxury villas helping Dubai to have an additional 70km of coastline and to become the greatest man-made work that the Dubai government takes pride in.
In the evening, dinner at Burj Al Arab hotel provides a chance to experience the noise and sparkle of Dubai. The hotel is located on an island 280 meters away from the shore, connected by a bridge lying on the blue sky. The hotel interior is extremely luxurious with numerous details carved in gold and marble. The main lobby displays works of many famous artists. 202 rooms are a private paradise with an area ranging from 170 – 780m2. Each room’s furniture is made of solid gold and from the world’s top suppliers. This feature along with the world-class service makes Burj Al Arab the only 7-star hotel in the world. The hotel restaurant is at the altitude of 200m, taking only 33 seconds by elevator, serves typical Mediterranean cuisine. In the shimmering sunset on the Persian Gulf, sip a little white wine and try a raw oyster sprinkled with sauce or roasted beef with a glass of red wine… it will be an unforgettable dinner for all guests.
Bobbing in the desert
The 4WD Toyota car runs very fast on the highway connecting to the outside of Dubai center. The car is reinforced with a strong steel frame inside. The driver, Rajib, a Pakistani (most of jobs in the tourism sector in Dubai are done by immigrants), is happily humming to the music with cheery spirit. After about 20km, the camel farms appear on the right side. Before entering the desert, the car’s 4 wheels are blown with steam to increase grip and the exciting journey starts.
Selecting new dunes of sand, with no trace of car, Rajib takes us to the top and suddenly rushes down the steep slope the guests’ scream and then burst out in laughter. Dubai’s desert the golden sand connecting to the horizon with a multitude of small dunes lying close to each other. The car runs on top of sand, slopes on either side, in the afternoon sun, the watery dark and light pieces make it more miraculous. The visitors are filled with terror while the car runs across the middle of the 60-degree slopes but Rajib still smiles calmly, calling and screaming with the visitors, making it as exciting as ever.
After half an hour playing on the sand dunes, the car stops in the middle of a vast plain. Many small cars like ants crawl on the desert. We have a peaceful time looking at our shadows behind us. The cars run to a farm owned by the travel company. You can ride a camel, a 4-wheel terrain motor, wear traditional clothes of the Arabs to take photos or draw henna on your hands, a very popular and subtle form of make up in the Middle East. There are curry, grilled fish, meat skewers and steamed rice in the dinner on a long table, where visitors from all over the world become closer.
When it gets dark, the music starts; the dancer in colorful clothes with mounted LEDs makes the dance more vivid. But the most favourite is still the sexy belly dance performance. The beauty of their movements and their fascinated eyes embody the Arab night perfectly. The bright constellations in the desert sky, the car runs back to Dubai, hot desert wind surfing through the visitors’ faces. In the distance, the twinkling lights of downtown and the Burj Khalifa tower illuminate the vitality of UAE’s most dynamic city.
In the world of Muslim culture
The Dubai trip would not be complete without a visit to the Grand Mosque, the Muslim holy mosque located near Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Zayed Mosque – one of the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity of 41,000 worshipers celebrating at the same time. There are 82 domes, more than 1000 columns, hall chandeliers made from 24 carat gold and the world’s largest hand-woven carpets… such numbers of this majestic cathedral are difficult to surpass. Stepping into the main prayer hall, the world’s biggest hall chandelier with 10m diameter, 15m high and 12 tonnes weigh, attracts all the admiring gazes from visitors. The first ceremony which took place in the cathedral was the funeral of Sheikh Zayed, the first president of the United Arab Emirates and the head of Abu Dhabi. He was also buried here later.
Though it is still early, throughout the mosque, all the believers still gather praying around the Mihrab towards Mecca. Men wear the Islamic hat and dress in white; women wear veils and a black dress, creating two contrasting colors, but very suitable for the solemn air inside.
The lake around the mosque reminds people of the Taj Mahal in India. White and yellow stand out under daylight and at night that magic light lights up the sky full of moon and stars. A romantic scene that you shouldn’t miss is the sunset. Tourists should choose to visit the mosque at 4:30 pm as it is the best time to capture the magical moments. Unlike other mosques, Sheikh Zayed opens every day except Friday morning, when it’s reserved for the faithful to worship. They also offer 1-hour guide free from Sunday – Thursday at 10 a.m, 11a.m and 4:30p.m, 5p.m; Friday at 5 p.m, 7:30p.m and 8p.m; Saturday at 10a.m, 11a.m and 2p.m, 4:30p.m, 5p.m, 7:30p.m and 8p.m.
A day in Dubai is endless as each place has a different culture, architecture, cuisine, and history. Next time, if possible, we will visit Dubai Museum, where a half-century history of state is recorded over wax statues; or maybe we’ll try skiing in the desert at the height of 60m and 400m length, the widest in the Middle East … Without a doubt, Dubai will remain an attractive destination for many years to come.
+ If you want to travel to Dubai to experience the mysterious, luxury world of wind and sand, you can contact travel agencies such as: Saigontourist, VYC Travel, Fiditour, Vietravel, TST. Dubai tours often range from 50 – 66 millions VND (~US$2.900) for a 5 or 6-day trip.
+ Dubai souvenirs that have always been favored by Vietnamese tourists are
gold jewelry at the gold market, sand painting at many places from the markets to the shopping centers. Nuts and spices at spice market.
+ In addition, handicrafts such as Dubai carpets, silver cups, dishes are very beautiful & sophisticated. You can buy them at the Dubai Mall, clothing and Arabic traditional costumes can be bought at markets and shopping centers.