Developing from tiny trading village to global tourism hub, Dubai has enjoyed a development trajectory unlike any other city in the world. Starting with a blank sand canvas, it has made the impossible a reality.
Over the last thirty years, anything worthwhile that was missing from its asset portfolio has been built or is being planned – from theme parks and attractions to man-made island paradises. The result is one of the most modern and forward-thinking cities in the world.
At the centre of Dubai’s tourism proposition is the notion of “affordable luxury”, spanning the city’s infrastructure and high standards of service, most evidenced in the huge number of five-star hotels spread throughout the emirate. It is worth noting that Dubai has the highest number of five-star hotels per capita of anywhere in the world!
If you’re looking for a secluded escape, private dinner with a glittering city view, or thrill-a-minute activities, Dubai is sure to have something to suit your interest – and budget – whether large or small.
1. Explore the majestic desert landscape with a private safari
While there are a plethora of desert safaris to choose from, very few come close to a private adventure in a royal desert reserve. Designed to cater only to you and your group, the experience gives you a glimpse into the Bedouin way of life with a touch of luxury. You’ll be led into your exclusive Range Rover and a guide will take you through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, home to exotic desert wildlife, to a secluded private set up in a picturesque oasis surrounded by flame torches. Dine beneath a blanket of stars with nothing but the serene desert as your backdrop, and enjoy a memorable evening with activities including camel rides, a falconry demonstration, henna tattoos, a belly dance performance and shisha, all priced at AED1500 per person.
2. Take a culinary flight to Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
Leaving Dubai without a royal brush with Burj Al Arab is a definite no-no. After all, it is not every day that you get a chance to dine at one of the most acclaimed and photographed hotels in the world. And we have just the experience you need to enjoy the very best of the venue’s gourmet delights. Culinary Flight, a signature Burj Al Arab dining concept, takes you on an incredible journey through the hotel’s portfolio of restaurants and bars from the atrium up to the 27th floor. Explore a delectable selection of European, Arabic and Oriental fare with a specially curated four-course menu that is sure to be the stuff memories are made of. We can’t think of a better way to get your name on Burj Al Arab’s reservations list. Culinary Flight packages start from AED975 per person.
3. Go theme park hopping
Although a more recent addition to Dubai, the city’s foray into the world of theme parks could give Florida a run for its money. From IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, to Dubai Parks and Resorts’ three incredible destinations, Bollywood Parks, Legoland and Motiongate Dubai, and waterparks including Aquaventure and Wild Wadi, these attractions promise a whole lot of fun for the entire family. Tickets start from AED245 per person.
4. Book a staycation at the Middle East’s first and only overwater villa
A true escape from Dubai’s sleek steel structures and fast-paced lifestyle, Thai-inspired resort Anantara Dubai is a treat for the senses. Nestled amidst the serene surrounds of Palm Jumeirah, overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the property boasts the first and only overwater villa in the Middle East. Imagine waking up to uninterrupted views of endless blue waters, discovering underwater life through your villa’s glass viewing panel and watching the gorgeous sunset from your very own private deck. Priced at AED2,765 per night for two, the experience is unlike any other hotel stay in the city.
5. Share a private dinner on top of the world
On level 122 of the world’s tallest building, 442 metres above the ground, the entire city unfolds right before your eyes. It is this unforgettable view that sets the scene for a memorable gourmet experience at At.mosphere, the world’s highest restaurant. Book a private dinner at the venue’s stylish private lounge and take your pick from a comprehensive menu featuring caviar, foie gras, smoked oyster or venison carpaccio amongst the dishes available. Private dining packages start from AED3,000 per couple.
6. View Dubai from a new angle
When it comes to exploring the emirate, options are aplenty. But towards the top of the list, we recommend making the most of the experience by discovering Dubai from the sea and sky. Gain an interesting new perspective on the city while cruising down the Arabian Gulf on board a luxury yacht and taking in views of the futuristic skyline outlining the shore. Or enjoy a bird’s eye view of Dubai with a helicopter or seaplane flight. Soar over the city’s most prominent landmarks including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Creek, Palm Jumeirah and the World Islands. Packages start at AED565 per person.
7. Pamper yourself at Talise Ottoman Spa
Winner of multiple awards, the palatial Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is the last word in luxury pampering. The venue boasts 42 treatment rooms, all oozing opulence and presents even the most seasoned spa goer with limitless ways to relax and de-stress. Discover the ultimate in pampering with a treatment of your choice from an extensive menu and treat yourself to some downtime at the spa’s sauna chambers, steam rooms, snow rooms and thalassotherapy pools. Spa packages range from AED250 for a basic hand or foot massage to a whopping AED25,000 for the exclusive 24 karat chainmail facial.
8. Conquer the desert with a dune buggy tour
The vast Arabian desert is a playground for thrill seekers. Take off on a memorable off-road adventure and explore the stunning desert terrain over high dunes, fast trails and sandy peaks in your very own dune buggy. And with every twist and turn, feel the rush of adrenaline pumping through your veins. Packages start from AED713 for a one-hour fully-guided tour for two.
9. Enjoy a sunset supper on the Middle East’s highest active helipad
Get whisked away to the capital to take your dining experience to a whole new level. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi recently raised the curtains on its ‘Helipad Sunset Supper’ experience, allowing guests to relish an exclusive dinner perched 255 metres in the air. Watch the landscape transform as the sun sets below the horizon and the city lights up, before you can indulge in a lavish selection of epicurean delights including premium caviar and fresh oysters paired with bubbly. Limited to a maximum capacity of 20 guests and available only once every month, this ‘Helipad Sunset Supper’ is priced at AED400 with soft drinks and AED550 with sparkling wine.
10. Escape to a hidden jewel in the city for a private breakfast
Desert Palm PER AQUUM is truly an oasis of peace nestled within the bustling city. Set amidst a 160-acre polo estate, the property boasts an array of restaurants among which are five exquisite private dining venues. One of them – The Waterfall – is the ideal spot for an intimate breakfast for two. After an indulgent start to your morning, you will be ushered to the horse stables within the estate for a private tour. The experience is priced at AED1,800 per couple.
Can’t get enough of the city and its surprises? We’ve got two more, just as a bonus!
Skydive over the Palm Islands
Take in the most magnificent view of the manmade Palm Islands from the Dubai skies with a dose of adrenaline. Experience everything from a racing heartbeat to extreme excitement while skydiving over the structure and shooting towards earth at 120 miles per hour. Whether you choose to do it in tandem or soar solo, the adventure is as exhilarating as it gets. Packages for experienced skydivers start at AED120 per person.
Dine in the dark
How would you like to experience five-star gourmet cuisine in a pitch-black setting? A true adventure for the taste buds, Noire at Fairmont Dubai brings you the first and only ‘Dine in the Dark’ experience in the emirate. Imagine being engulfed in velvet blackness while night vision equipped waiters surprise you with the finest culinary creations. Prepare to truly savour every bite as you take in the unique flavours, textures and scents of every dish. Priced at AED325, the experience features a surprise three-course menu with beverages.