REVIEW: The delights I found in the Dubai dust
PUBLISHED: 16:45 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 June 2019
Soaring skyscrapers, desert dunes that lead to adventure and enchanting entertainment are all part of the dizzying heights of Dubai's success.
"There is no such thing as impossible in Dubai..." The words that greet me as soon as I land at the airport are a glimpse of what the next few days will bring.
The rugged mountain region of Hatta - around an hour away- is the first stop and an adrenaline junkie's paradise.
The Damani Lodges Resort at the heart of the town offers the perfect escape from city life and is an action-packed bucket list of activities from zorbing and kayaking to archery and axe throwing.
Wake up at one with nature in the cosy purpose-built cabin lodges - but make sure to pack the factor 50 sunscreen as temperatures rise to 38c during midday in April.
For the perfect Arabian night, spend it underneath the stars while traditional cuisine is served around the camp fire.
Dishes include zaatar savoury spring rolls, spicy kibbeh minced balls and the creamy dessert of kunafa.
Or watch the sunset over the mountains besides the glittering letters of 'Hatta' that tower over the region in a nod to the Hollywood sign.
But if it's that larger-than-life atmosphere you crave, banish FOMO forever by turning the heat up a notch in Dubai city centre.
On the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf it is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, with a hazy city skyline cluttered with skyscrapers for as far as the eye can see.
Delectable dining in the business hub of the Pier 7 marina boasts more than 200 restaurants while luxurious beach resorts fit for royalty line the highways.
And the Burj Khalifa - a 160-storey needle-shaped skyscraper - is the main attraction for tourists and thrill-seeking Instagrammers.
Standing at 829m it is the world's tallest building with elegant lounge bars, hotels, shopping malls and breathtaking views that remind you of Dubai's cultural heart and soul.
Or if death-defying stunts with mind-blowing aqua and aerial feats is more your thing; then Dubai's number one show La Perle by Dragone is a must-see.
The enthralling two-hour show offers a magical, tear-jerking tale of romance and heartbreak with artists diving an astonishing 25 metres into an on-stage pool while rain cascades down the arena walls. It really is unmissable.
However, remember to leave time to visit the Old Town - a hidden gem which is home to traditional markets, authentic meals and cultural experiences.
Spice up your life by wandering through the side streets and souks while being tempted inside by traders.
But after bartering your way to a bargain, round-off the trip by learning about the UAE's principal religion of Islam at The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
The talk offers an insightful look into the customs and traditions of the world's second-largest religion - with hosts not afraid to answer difficult questions from visitors.
A delicious Emirati meal is also provided with guests sitting in authentic surroundings while sharing stories with other tourists from around the world.
Before departing Dubai, a welcome stay at hotel Fairmont The Palm on the island of Palm Jumeirah is recommended.
The resort offers a luxurious setting to unwind in while taking in unrivalled views of the Arabian Gulf.
It is the perfect place to conclude the trip of a lifetime in exquisite surroundings with impeccable service and ten-world class restaurants on site.
Foodies can enjoy regional Indian flavours in the Little Miss India restaurant while taking in spectacular views of the sparkling marina skyline at night.
Ultimately, size really does matter in Dubai - big buildings and lavish lifestyles are reminders to live like tomorrow is never promised in a city that never sleeps.
But don't just look on the surface - dive deeper and you'll find a rich history of pride, emotion and joy in a place where your wildest dreams really can become a reality.
How to get there
Flights to Dubai start from as little as £500 with Emirates, on their twice daily route from Birmingham International, which takes around seven hours.
Even in economy class Emirates flights offer the best service with their fabulous in-flight entertainment. Binge on the latest box-sets and cinema releases or zone out to dozens of playlists.
Once arriving in Dubai International you are only 20 minutes away from the city centre by taxi.
Visit https://www.visitdubai.com/en to plan your trip.
THREE THINGS NOT TO MISS
1. Relax at Fairmont The Palm
If you want luxury, look no further. The hotel resort has the comfiest beds in Dubai, its own sandy beach with waiters and cocktails at hand and the reception smells of the sweetest Arabian incense. Bliss.
2. Visit the Jameel Arts Centre on Dubai Creek
The independent institution is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art to the public from some of the best young artists across the globe. Visit https://jameelartscentre.org/ for more information.
3. Eat at Aghatti restaurant in La Mer
A charming restaurant offering the best in local cuisine with stylish interior and spacious outdoor seating. The Fattoush salad is refreshing and comes with toasted bread and hummus. Bon appetit!
Damani Lodges Resort
Hatta Wadi Hub activities and Resorts (Hatta Caravan Park, Sedr Trailers Resort & Damani Lodges Resort) will reopen on 1st October 2019.
Priced from 585 AED (£125/£141) per night
For more information visit visithatta.com/en
Fairmont - The Palm
Fairmont King rooms cost from £116 based on two people sharing on a room-only basis
For more information visit fairmont.com/palm-dubai
For more information about Emirates, please visit www.emirates.com
Transfers and excursions are available with www.knighttours.ae
SMCCU - www.cultures.ae
La Perle - www.laperle.com/en
Burj Khalifa - www.burjkhalifa.ae/en
Jameel Arts Centre - https://jameelartscentre.org