Of souks, sheikhs and dazzling Dubai

It was a trip that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Amidst the ancient landscape, the date palms, camels, undulating sand dunes and the mindbogglingly high-rise structures, nestles Dubai, a place of both ethnic and modern wonders.

The breath I had held before taking off from India, converted into a fact-paced excited rhythm upon finally reaching my destination.

On day  one, my parents and I went on a desert safari aka ‘Hummer Safari’.

We went up and down the ever-changing sand dunes in a Range Rover. It was like a roller coaster ride but with much less speed and lasted for one-and-a-half hours.

Next, came the camel ride after which we went to an area, reserved in the desert for the tourists, wherein cultural programmes, replete with the traditional dance and authentic Arabian food, was held. People could dress as sheikhs and truly enjoy the ambience of a desert habitat. The hosts ensured that Indian food was also served.

On day two, we took the city tour in a private taxi. Amazing architecture and engineering have truly made Dubai a city of stunning skyscrapers. These skyscrapers mostly house banks and corporate offices and all were made of glass that shimmered in the afternoon sun .

The Dubai authorities invest lavishly on tourism; they change the map of the city every year to keep alive tourist interest. It is truly marvellous that they have successfully made a beachfront in such harsh desert conditions, created comfortable sitting areas in the shade of an artificial palm. Overlooking the beach is Burj Al Arab, the only seven star hotel in the world and unbelievably, its walls are plated with 24-carat gold! A testimony to the wealth of this tiny desert nation, a stunning symbol of modern Dubai.

We headed to the Atlantis hotel where the shooting of the Bollywood movie “Happy New Year” had taken place. It’s in a region called the Palm. The residential area is made in the shape of a palm tree with water lapping along its sides.

The houses are literally ‘standing on water’ which accounts for great engineering. We visited the Atlantis Hotel and, as the name suggests, is about the lost city of Atlantis. An area called “Lost Chambers” leaves one dumbfounded with its 12,000 species of fishes, structures and symbols that bring alive the submerged Atlantis.

On day three, we headed to Abu Dhabi for Sheikh Zayed’s Palace and the Ferrari World. On the way we saw Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in
UAE. The king’s palace is quite simple, made of granite on the outside and simple Muslim architecture. Ferrari World is an amusement park themed on the Ferrari car.

Apart from indulging in Go-carting and motion sensing games, I also went on the world’s fastest roller coaster (56 sec) all by myself! After this, we headed for the Meena Bazaar, a shopping area managed by Indians. The place sported huge hoardings of Bollywood stars.

On day four, we visited two famous malls–The Mall of Emirates, famous for ‘Ski Dubai’, an area of -5 degree Celsius that they’ve managed to create in the sweltering 45 degree Celsius outside. We then headed towards the Dubai Mall which houses the famous Burj Khalifa. It was a wonder to behold, truly. All in all, it was a place I’d love to visit again. Nothing beats the lively city and the livelier people residing there!

As told to Vidushi Sagar

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