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#FriendlyFiles: Scenes of a Dubai Landscape

Recently Danielle, a member of Friendly Planet’s Sales Team, traveled to Dubai on our Dazzling Dubai package! Check out her 5 favorite experiences!

What does Dubai look like? Now that’s a tough question to answer. It’s a remote desert and a field of flowers, an incredible sunset and a metal jungle, a shopkeeper peddling his traditional wares, a delicious meal influenced by five different cultures, and the tallest building in the world. Dubai is often described as a city of paradoxes. Walk a few blocks and you’ll understand why. You will hear about twenty languages in a span of several minutes. You will see business workers in suits, a curious tourist staring up in awe, and locals dressed in traditional white robes all in one city block. But the multitude of cultures, foods and experiences coalesce into a fascinating array of different scenes forming one incredible city. Paradox or not, there were 5 experiences that stood out to me, and here they are.

Spice Markets (by Elroy Serrao/Flickr), Trinket Souk (by Sirah Quyyom/Flickr), Gold Market (by Binder Donedat/Flickr)

1. Gold and Spices
The Gold and Spice Souks are the most visible link to the past of the United Arab Emirates, and they are a shopper’s dream (as long as you aren’t afraid to haggle). Shopkeepers line the corridors presenting their wares, like cashmere scarfs, purses, gold jewelry, gilded-everything and colorful barrels of spices. It’s the perfect place to aimlessly wander and imagine you are in another time in the Middle East. It’s also the perfect place to buy souvenirs!

If you’re nervous about haggling, or just looking for a more modern market of sort, Dubai’s multitude of malls will not disappoint. The ultra-modern Dubai Mall has every store imaginable, and is a tourist destination in its own right, and if you haven’t had your fill of jewelry shopping at the souks, there are certainly enough gemstones to go around.

Burj Khalifa (by, View from the top, Sky over Dubai (by Michael Theis/Flickr)

2. Views from the Top
No trip to Dubai is complete without visiting the tallest building in the world. Although not geographically far from the oldest part of the city (it’s just down the road), the Burj Khalifa could not be more representative of Dubai’s modern present and technological future. On a clear day from the top, you’ll see just about every inch of the unique city. You will see all the diverse neighborhoods, and just how quickly Dubai is expanding. In fact, the locals joke that the national bird for the UAE is the crane – a construction crane that is. The scenes of Dubai today are much different than the scenes ten years ago. The scenes of Dubai ten years in the future will be even more spectacular. You’ll truly feel that you are on top of a new world.

Dubai's Miracle Gardens by Oiva Eskola / Flickr

3. A Floral Oasis
No one will ever say that Dubai does things halfway. So when the city decided to build a flower garden in the middle of the desert, it built the world’s largest natural flower garden along with the world’s largest flower arrangement. The Dubai Miracle Garden is an incredibly colorful and unbelievable aromatic display of thousands of flowers and displays. It’s a truly remarkable experience, both to behold, and to consider the sheer thought and engineering it must take to grow this garden in the desert.

Dubai Museum (Left - Florian G/Flickr, Right - Nathan Laurell/Flickr)

4. A Proud History
The glitzy and glamorous architecture may be what the city is best known for, but Dubai has a fascinating historical story to tell behind the modern facade. The Women’s Museum of Dubai is the first women’s museum in the Arab world and displays the achievements of women throughout the UAE’s history. The Dubai Museum is another great institution that tells the fascinating story of how the country has changed from a Bedouin society of nomadic peoples living in simple movable houses, to the discovery of oil that led to the meteoric rise of the city we know today.

Danielle takes a desert safari! (Right photo by Laurent Gass / Flickr)

5. A Desolate Desert
The desert safari ride is less than an hour drive from Dubai proper, but somehow feels a million years away. The expert drivers meandered up and down the dunes, twisting and turning to scenic lookouts, before finally arriving at the safari camp. To be honest, it was difficult not to wonder how the drivers knew which way to go, without any roads or signs. Take a left at the dead bush. Follow the occasional tire track. Go straight on towards that camel. At least that’s what I imagine they were thinking! There is something absolutely incredible about following the golden sand to the purple horizon and witnessing the fiery red sun set on another brilliant day. Dubai delivered another paradox. It might be city of skyscrapers, but the natural landscapes cannot be missed!

You can make your own experiences in Dubai on our 6 packages to the city. You can just visit Dubai, or do what most our travelers do, and take advantage of your included airfare to visit Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Cairo, India or Kenya too.

#FriendlyFiles follows Friendly Planet’s adventurous staff as they travel the world. It is crucial that our team experiences first-hand the sites, hotels, food and transportation so that we know exactly how the trip will feel for our travelers—and to help us as we strive to provide experiences, not sightseeing!

1 Comment

  1. nancy maskall

    What a beautiful city. Have been there 3 times and are looking forward to going there again. Just love the desert, beautiful beaches, spice markets etc. The buildings are just out of this world. A must see for everyone.


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