A glittering, man-made metropolis on the edge of a desert; a Dubai holiday with Kuoni is experiencing the glamour of Arabia
Step into a sleek, air-conditioned lobby of a hotel where there are lavish chandeliers above you, a fleet of Ferraris and Lamborghinis parked outside, and just down the road there’s the world’s tallest building and the most expensive hotel. This is Dubai – the Arabian city of superlatives where extravagance is the norm.
Marvel at the glimmer of high rises and saunter down the streets of affluent man-made islands. There are few cities where you could be drinking tea in a desert tent, eating in gold-filled Michelin-starred restaurants or shopping for hours in a futuristic, air-conditioned shopping centre all in the same day. Years of culture is preserved in the older Dubai Creek area, where you can haggle for spices and see great mosques.
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- An easily combinable stopover for a taste of Arabian luxury
- Shopping for designer brands in the swanky Dubai Mall and haggling for keepsakes in souks
- Great for families of all ages with beaches and theme parks all in one place
- Extravagant beachfront hotels with opulent spas and celebrity restaurants
- Dune bashing, desert safaris and Bedouin camps in the desert.
Best time to visit Dubai
Dubai has a desert climate with average temperatures of around mid-20s for most of the year. The most pleasant time to visit Dubai is usually between November and March when days are warm and nights cool down a little, while the summer months can be sweltering with intense humidity and temperatures frequently rising to over 40°C.
Dubai holiday highlights
Dubai is a manmade wonder. An ambitious city built on a slice of land between desert and sea, nothing appears to be out of reach for this former pearl-fishing village. Every inch of the city is engineered to be glamorous and newsworthy. Its elongated coastlines include artificial islands like Palm Jumeirah for all-new, extravagant resorts; there’s the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the sail-shaped billion-pound hotel on its own spit of sand; there are city hotels with views of the tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, and air-conditioned shopping bliss at largest shopping centre, The Dubai Mall.
And while it might seem like authenticity is harder to come by in a city determined on moving forward relentlessly, there are experiences that will instantly give you a taste of Arabia as it’s always been. Browse the regal-style jewellery casually on sale in the Gold Souk (where haggling is a normal part of the purchasing process), let your teeth get sticky with sweet dates or stop by the desert to drink tea in a Bedouin tent or ride the sunburnt dunes in a 4x4.
The beaches in Dubai are made for pleasure seekers. You can join the colourful display of crescents in the sky at Kite Beach and learn how to windsurf in its warm waters, or get Instagrammable snaps of the lavish Burj Al Arab Jumeirah from Sunset Beach. Head to The Beach at JBR for a cool hangout space complete with a manicured beach, big-brand eateries and flashy cars brandished in names like McLaren and Maserati – it’s also close to The Walk, where you can go shopping or cool off with a scoop of gelato. Jumeirah Beach focuses on simple sand-and-sea fun better suited to travellers who prefer relaxation over lively activities, though it can get fairly busy in peak season. Many of Dubai’s beach hotels can be found along Jumeirah Beach, including the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and hotels that are part of impressive resort complexes like Jumeirah Al Naseem – which includes unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark™ – and the super opulent The Palace at One&Only Mirage. Or sunbathe on the sandy fronds of a man-made island. The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island built in the shape of a palm tree, where each frond is laced with private beaches for each luxury hotel and resort. There are fantastic beach resorts on Palm Jumeirah Island, which include family showstopper resort, Atlantis the Palm, and its Aquaventure Waterpark which hotel guests get unlimited access to.
Where is Dubai?
The city and state of Dubai is on the north-east coast of the United Arab Emirates, south of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. It’s around an hour and a half’s drive north-east of the capital, Abu Dhabi, and has excellent connections from its international airport which makes it an easy stopover choice en route to long-haul destinations from the UK.
If Dubai is famous for anything, it’s shopping. There’s currently no tax on purchases in Dubai so you can look for deals on designer goods, or just enjoy the impressive, air-conditioned interiors of the huge malls. Dubai Mall is the largest in the world and has over 1000 stores, a virtual reality theme park and an Olympic-sized ice rink. Items that are usually better value in Dubai are local fabrics and gold which you can find at dedicated gold souks – just be sure to buy from reputable stores to avoid being sold fake items. Part of the Madinat Jumeirah Resort, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a meticulous replica of an Arabic souk surrounded by waterways.
Food & drink
Food is of a high standard in Dubai, with plenty of international options across central shopping areas and in hotels and resorts. Eating out is generally more expensive than in the UK; a pint of beer costs around £6 and a dinner for two with a bottle of wine in a mid-range restaurant can cost between £25 and £60 depending on the restaurant. Fast-food outlets are common for a quick and reasonably priced bite and you’ll be spoilt for choice if you like to try something different every day. There are classic Italian restaurants with wood-burning ovens, celebrity restaurants for acclaimed sushi and edgy European twists and spectacular chandelier-strewn venues for decadent seafood. Authentic Emirati cuisine can be hard to come by, but there are restaurants serving up Arabic dishes like mandi (spiced meat and rice) and dishes made with chickpea, tahini, flatbreads, salad and grilled meat and fish. Stop by a café for sweet dates and a cup of Arabic coffee – a classic set-up for locals meeting up with friends. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Egyptian bread pudding umm ali, a favourite in many Arabic countries.
Taxis are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around Dubai. They are marked and metered, and easily hailed in public areas. The super modern Dubai Metro stops at Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, Deira, Dubai Marina and Dubai airport.
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