Admittedly for most Dubai is not a 'short break' but we actually had a 48 hour stopover coming back from Africa and decided to make the most of it. It would take weeks in my opinion to see and do most of what this purpose built city has to offer tourists.
Where to stay
Dubai is a city that the majority of which was built to attract people to come visit and live there. It's ambition was on an epic scale and it certainly achieved that. Yes, 48 hours is simply not enough time to see even a fraction of what's on offer in this glittery steel and glass oasis in the middle of the desert but we had a stopover on the way back from doing a charity documentary ion Zambia, Africa and so we decided to make the most of it.
We chose to stay at Irish owned Bodington Towers, but there is obviously a huge range of choice. I think if we were coming back with kids we might have opted for the Atlantis resort which has a huge aqua park, aquarium and much more, or if we wanted to have a once in a lifetime romantic memory it may well have been the famous Burj al Arab. At the very pleasant Bodington Towers the hotel pool is located about 30 floors up and it was quite an experience to start the morning off with a swim and looking down at the busy world unfolding 200 meters below.
As an example of the lengths that the Dubai has gone to in order to ensure that everything you could want is here I decided to give you an idea of what's on offer, so hold on... you could decide to go skiing or snowboarding in the desert at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha; ride the infamous freefall water slide Jumeirah Sceirah at Dubai’s iconic waterpark Wild Wadi, located on Jumeirah Beach Rd on the Umm Suqeim coast; swim in shark infested waters at Atlantis, The Palm; or jump out of an airplane and freefall above The Palm Jumeirah at Skydive Dubai, located in the Dubai Marina on Al Sufouh Rd.
As well as being home to the world’s longest urban zipline, the recently opened second XLine travels for twice the distance and lasts for twice the time. It also has twice the number of lines so that friends and family can ride in tandem.You’re going to need to hang tight for this one, the XLine flies over land and water at up to 80km/h, and takes you from 170m down to ground level.
If amusement parks and daring activities aren't your thing you could always head to the Dubai Miracle Garden in Barsha South and the Dubailand area for a relaxing day outdoors. This heavenly fantasy land is full of intricate flower sculptures. When you’re finished exploring the garden, be sure to check out the butterfly sanctuary.
For dinner we went out to Downtown Dubai. The Arabian Souk Al Bahar is a popular dining destination that offers brilliant views of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain—the largest choreographed fountain in the world.
Located in one of the many enormous shopping malls dotted throughout the emirates was an ATM that even dispensed gold rather than cash... only in Dubai!
After dinner we went for a walk. It felt like the only way to really absorb a bit of everything that was making this a really buzzy atmospheric night. We took the walkway towards the Dubai Mall and checked out the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Here you can gaze upon hundreds of different species of fish, sharks and rays. A truly wonderful experience.
Early the next morning we wanted to get a feel for the authentic Old Dubai for a cultural experience. Before walking out of the hotel it was pointed out that this is the traditional center of the emirate, so please be respectful and cover your knees and shoulders.
Next to the Grand Souk is the Dubai Creek, a popular tourist destination that serves as a reminder of the past and a time when Dubai was known as a seafaring trading hub for pearls, fish, textiles, and more.
We then took the water taxi called an Abra across the creek to the Bayt Al Wakeel for a traditional Levantine and Emirati lunch. We went for the grilled lamb and quail with a seafood salad, and a refreshing Middle Eastern lemonade—also known as a “lemon and mint juice.” The Bayt Al Wakeel is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai (built of mud, coral, and wood in the 1930s) and houses a maritime museum as well as the restaurant.
Alternatives include an excursion in the dunes. Desert safaris are a fabulous way of experiencing the UAE sands and Bedouin culture. All safaris include a range of activities, and the staples include: dune bashing, camel riding, quad biking, shisha, belly dancers, and an Emirati dinner under Arabian tents.
However we were excited to meet friends who live in the emirate and thus our evening was a more intimate and personal one followed by another stroll around the bustling city. The only conclusion I can give you is that 48 hours is far too little time and we will certainly be back with the kids at some stage.