Discovering the homeland of excesses, between future and past, a city with a sparkling skyline, huge spaces, futuristic works and a suggestive starry sky in the middle of the desert where emotion is guaranteed.
By: Sara Chiarelli
FPJ Communication & PR Manager
FPJ Communication & PR Manager
The pearl of the Arab Emirates, Dubai, the metropolis of a thousand and one nights, it is the city tailored to dreams that hides much more than its very tall skyscrapers that, as if by magic, spring out of the fog in autumn. The city of the United Arab Emirates is today one of the coolest destinations in the world: cosmopolitan, futuristic, exaggerated, so much that many designers and artists have chosen to live there to be inspired and created. Walking with your eyes perpetually upward, admiring some of its futuristic attractions, this city is the perfect destination for a safe and fun journey, where luxury is king.
Located in the heart of the Persian Gulf, in the famous Arabian Peninsula, capital of one of the seven emirates that are part of the United Arab Emirates, an exotic location aside, Dubai has recently become a true symbol of unbridled luxury, shopping sprees, dream trips, of wealth and prosperity, attracting many tourists from all over the world. Dubai is a particular destination because, unlike the main tourist destinations that are found around the globe, here there are no ancient archaeological sites and historical museums, but instead it is possible to visit large buildings and huge shopping centres, ski in the largest indoor ski area in the world and enjoy amazing water parks. To move between the various points of interest, you need to use the metro, which runs parallel to the seashore, the monorail or the taxi. Among the many attractions of Dubai certainly one cannot fail to mention the ski slope installed at the Mall of the Emirates.
Projected into a futuristic dimension, in fact, in this place it is possible to ski on a covered slope, also equipped with a chairlift, while outside it is 40 degrees in the shade. Another completely innovative structure is the “Aquaventure” which hides surprising attractions. For those who go to Dubai with children it is certainly a destination to be included in their travel itinerary. Dubai is also a city known for the countless shopping opportunities it offers. Here, in fact, stands the largest shopping center in the world: the Dubai Mall. In addition to having more than 1,200 shops inside, what is striking is the immense aquarium which, in a few hundred meters, houses more than 33,000 fish, the huge Olympic ice rink, the dancing fountains that spray water to the rhythm of classical and jazz notes that reach up to 140 meters high, even more magical at dusk, super luxury hotel with breathtaking views and the majestic Opera House, which since 2016, with a theatre and a concert hall, enriches the panorama of the local culture. In short, a place that is truly out of the ordinary!
Dubai is also famous for its tall skyscrapers. Among these we cannot fail to include the Burj Khalifa, the largest building in the world with 828 meters high and 160 floors; a real colossus, which almost triples in height the Empire State Building. The construction of this impressive work began in 2004 and was then inaugurated in 2010. At the feet of the building, part of which is the Armani luxury hotel, there are the largest fountains in Dubai and in the world, which dance at rhythm of music at night. Inspired by the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, like anything in Dubai, these too are much larger than their muses.
For those who love maximum comfort and exclusive treatments, it is a must to stop at the Spa and the Afternoon Tea at The Palace Downtown: still in the same area, you can relax with the personalised treatments of this five-star hotel overlooking the Burj Khalifa. In the afternoon, different qualities of very rare tea accompany a snack consisting of different qualities of sweet and savoury on a multi-tiered tray. From here the view of the Dubai Fountain Show is privileged.
To get to know the most authentic Dubai, however, it is necessary to go beyond the most famous places to discover the true soul of the city, which is that of trade; its cosmopolitan vocation was born in the Creek area, which now sees many areas of excellence, each with its own characteristics and peculiarities. For lovers of the historical and oldest part of the city, it is possible to visit the Baskariya district. A few kilometres from many skyscrapers, today little remains of the fishing village that was the soul of Dubai 50 years ago, but it is still exciting to wander around any afternoon in this small neighbourhood, full of ancient buildings. Of course, old Dubai is one of the must-sees if you are in the capital. In this area, you can also visit a small Hindu neighbourhood, which hides some temples that seem to have been transported from Mumbai. It is also interesting to take a tour of Dubai Creek, a tongue of the sea that heads inland as if it were a river that flows towards the center of the city. A navigable inlet full of dhows, the wooden boats of fishermen transformed into taxi-boats for the use and consumption of residents and tourists.
On these shores the old Dubai offers the possibility of shopping with the gold and spice Souqs. In the Madinat Jumeirah district overlooking the Burj al- Arab, you can relax with a romantic walk sliding on the water of this neighbourhood where Arab-style architecture blends with luxurious multistorey buildings: a show! The most exciting moment is lived when the “sail” of the Burj al-Arab appears in all its beauty.
Not far away is the infamous Gold Souq of Deira: once you cross the threshold of this place you find yourself immersed in an intense yellow microworld. Here everything is laden with gold and there is even the largest ring in the world that is worth more than three million dollars and weighs 21 carats. Among sparkling jewels and rather exaggerated precious stones in this surreal place, being entranced is a guarantee. From the parts of Dubai Creek, where the glorious past of the place shows a short distance what will be in the future, the project of Al Seef, the brand new district that shows the Dubai of the past, was recently realized. Between small shops and buildings with the materials used in the past decades for the buildings, it seems to be projected into a village of other times, but with a view of the skyscrapers. To better appreciate the environment, a cultural walk in the historic district of Al Fahidi is recommended, which houses small museums, historic galleries such as Majlis Gallery and the suggestive XVA Gallery, part art gallery, part boutique hotel, and then maybe indulge in a lunch like a real sultan, taking a taxi to The Artisan by Enoteca Pinchiorri, located inside splendid art galleries and tasting the best of Italian cuisine. Right on the banks of the Creek, in full contrast with the old Dubai, a new luxury address has been inaugurated: Palazzo Versace, a gold-coloured hotel, completely decorated in marble and mosaics, generally booked by the coolest creatives from all over the world. And it is precisely creativity that acts as a catalyst for many who decide to move permanently to the magical capital, an incubator city of Stimuli, the perfect place to get inspired and create. Among the creatives who have decided to move permanently to this enchanted place, one cannot fail to mention the English artist Patricia Millns who now lives in a house-atelier, all white, like the works she creates. Viktor Udzenija, one of the most important architects in the United Arab Emirates, with a past in the London studio Foster + Partners, also fully embraced his love for the city of Dubai.
This trend is evident if you decide to take a tour of Al Serkal: an old industrial area that has been converted into an art district, in which streets meet the wives of managers looking for business and London artists looking for inspiration. Among the various attractions there are 35 galleries, a theater and a cinema. Known for being the only seven-star hotel in the world, another of the symbols of Dubai, famous for its sail-shaped building, is certainly the Hotel Burj Al Arab which overlooks Jumeirah beach. A dream for all those who cannot give up a dip in the sea. In this place the security measures are imposing. The food offered at his restaurant and the panorama from the top floor are excellent to enjoy a truly spectacular 360 degree view. To take your breath away!
For the most romantic, the ideal is to spend an afternoon among the beaches and trendy clubs in La Mer: an entire coastal neighbourhood overlooking the water is the best you can afford after a city tour. Constantly changing but recently inaugurated, it offers sun and fun in outdoor spaces, restaurants, bars and creative works, as well as artistic graffiti. Relaxation is assured, before resuming shopping and walking.
Obviously Dubai is also very beautiful for the magical context in which it is inserted. In fact, around Dubai it is possible to participate in the classic excursion on the desert dunes to see the sunset. After having spent a good day climbing and descending the dunes with a 4 × 4, you can also have dinner in a camp. All in the name of the most unbridled luxury. Other activities that can be done in the surrounding area are camel rides or adrenaline pumping and fun activities aboard a quad bike. For those who want it all is accompanied by traditional dance shows.
If you find yourself walking through the streets of Dubai, the impact is certainly dizzying: in every corner you can hear different languages spoken and, fascinated by the unbridled luxury of the windows of the most prestigious boutiques in the world, you can climb to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and open your eyes wide to a hi-tech skyline surrounded by horizons of sand.
A real enchantment for the eyes is the Dubai Miracle Garden, the most flowered garden in the world that changes every season and has the scent of 45 million flowers. Once through the gates of this enchanted place, the suggestion is immediate. The gaze begins to wander, getting lost among colourful and absolutely perfect vegetables. The eyes are filled with joy observing the multitude of flowers in the different chromatic shades of species and shape with the most bizarre designs. Opened in 2013, on the occasion of Valentine's Day, with its round shape it covers an area of 72,000 square meters, but it is not accessible all year round, as in summer temperatures would make it impossible for visitors to enjoy a relaxing walk in a flowery microcosm.
Inside the Dubai Miracle Garden, flowers are not always arranged in the same way. From time to time, in fact, different designs are created, ranging from hearts, to stars, to pyramids; in this way the experience is always different and coming back is a surprise. Inside, the most ambitious flower project is certainly an Airbus A380, true in all respects but no longer usable and entirely covered with floral wonders. Among the favourite species there are certainly petunias, marigolds, geraniums and marigolds.
Right next to the Dubai Miracle Garden, also worth seeing is the Dubai Butterfly Garden, the largest indoor butterfly garden in the world and the first to open in the region. In an environment of tropical temperatures, with typical flora, 15,000 specimens of 26 different species can be seen. A stop like this is perfect for everyone: during a trip with friends, family, children or as a couple.
Another unmissable destination is the Design District, a new city center, with schools, offices, shops and restaurants. D3, the Dubai Design District, is one of the most interesting areas of downtown, a showcase for talents in fashion, design and creativity. Very popular is the chic hub of the Gate Village in the Financial Center quadrilateral, with prestigious art galleries such as Cuadro. The neighbourhood is also famous for the initiatives of the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding: on the calendar there are always guided tours to discover the local heritage, visits to mosques, traditional dinners and Arabic courses. Today Dubai is an example for the dozens of neighbouring projects that are emerging which, in the collective imagination, evoke the dream and the ability to make the impossible possible, that is, to create a vibrant center starting from the desert. A few years ago in the city of the United Arab Emirates, Bluewaters, the new island of Dubai and home to Ain Dubai, the largest Ferris wheel in the world, was presented to the public. It is a real gem, a new neighbourhood with panoramic and breathtaking views of the local skyline.
The area reserved for alfresco dining and world-class restaurants is The Wharf, but on the stretch of land there is also a convention center, beach club, theatre and various hotels such as Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and Caesars Resort Bluewaters Dubai. Walkers can choose from several trendy shops with 132 outlets and restaurants scattered along an avenue characterised by low buildings and walkways that cross the neighbourhood, but also trees and palm trees. The restaurants are very refined and have a view of the seafront, with international cuisines. Bluewaters Wharf Station serves as a dock for sea freight. The brand new island-district was designed by Meraas, able to combine the charm and exclusivity of island life with the exuberance of a sophisticated urban lifestyle. And then there is no shortage of residential, commercial and hotel areas connected to the ground by futuristic aerial walkways. From here, privileged access is towards Ain Dubai. Next goal for those traveling to this place, is certainly to try the largest Ferris wheel in the world. At 250 meters, it is taller than the High Roller Las Vegas and the New York Wheel of Staten Island. In addition, the engineering marvel can carry up to 1,400 passengers at a time in its 48 double-glazed capsules and offers a 360-degree view towards the horizon. In short, between the wheel and the island that hosts it, there is an air of novelty in an iconic and psychedelic stretch of the world that can be loved or hated, but never leaves you indifferent. In this multi-faceted city, where over two hundred nationalities coexist, the cultural mix is one of the most important elements of the capital, which makes this place a real meeting point for ideas, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurial vocations and ambitious personalities. A city with an eye to the future. And the future is the key to understanding this constantly changing city, which has always set itself very high goals.
But Dubai is also made up of people and does not want to lose the connection with cultural heritage and its own tradition. For this reason, if you are in the city of a thousand and one nights, you cannot miss some "secret" addresses, such as the Al Amiri textiles shop, where the kandura - the typical dress of the Emirates - is iconic - and where they can appreciate the fabrics, the workmanship and the design of the garments displayed inside. If you are lucky you can also witness scenes in which local ladies choose their abayas, which are made to measure with fine fabrics by local designers.
Another unmissable address is that of the Al Fanar restaurant, to try the cuisine of the Emirates, a cuisine similar to that of home, in a typical and traditional environment. The tour in the desert is also not to be missed: in the middle of silence, under a starry sky, with a cup of hot tea in your hands, just 45 minutes from the sea. Nothing more suggestive. Trades are the soul of Dubai and, in addition to the most famous spice and gold markets, a must visit is the Textile Souk in Bur Dubai. It is still an authentic part of the city, where precious fabrics and silks from all over the world are bought through traditional negotiations. Another interesting neighbourhood is the Urban District. In 2015 the BoxPark was inaugurated, defined as an “urban district”. Following the urban renewal projects of other metropolitan cities, it looks like a series of "industrial sheds" used as fashion shops and cafes. For joggers, Dubai is certainly a perfect destination with its huge expanses of sand, crystal clear water and all the sporting activities it offers. Very relaxing is the walk in the JBR area, the beach City Walk, also very popular with runners.
For the more worldly, there is no shortage of lavish and sparkling parties. In autumn, Diwali is celebrated, the Indian festival of lights, followed by a sparkling Christmas and an incredible end-of-year party. And for those who still have leisure time, how can they forget the Dubai Marina with its elegant cafes and colourful markets and Atlantis The Palm; the iconic five-star hotel also boasts a water park with 65,000 marine animals, including dolphins, and several attractions to simulate a giant tropical beach. In addition, the beauty of Dubai is also its being so cosmopolitan which also allows you to taste any cuisine that exists in the world. The best time to do this, and also to taste the local food, is during the Dubai Food Festival, held between February and March, an outdoor event which is joined by Restaurant Week, with the best restaurants in the city. During this event the city is transformed into a traveling mega restaurant where, with its over 6,000 restaurants, chefs of different nationalities alternated, from Gordon Ramsey to Manal Al Alem, the most famous cook in the Arab world.
Dubai, the city in search of eternal perfection that seems to be represented by the road of modernity, necessary in a country that has the most modern skyline in the world and the most archaic law. And as with any ambitious goal, which sees the achievement of its apex in the maximisation of perfection, whose research also needs to rediscover the history and traditions of an ancient past rooted in the territory, also this capital with a far-sighted vision with an eye towards the future tends towards perfection starting to look to the past. And right here, in Dubai, walking among the lights of an ultra-innovative skyline, surrounded by imposing and majestic buildings and works, it is possible to breathe an air of novelty and be inspired by futuristic visions, between a glance upwards, towards the next skyscraper and back to an ancient tradition.