Dubai has become synonymous with luxury in the Middle East owing to its amazing variety in luxury hotels and resorts, experiences and dining offerings. The future looks bright as the city with its recent win to host the 2020 World Expo, is looking to surpass its initial target to welcome 15 million tourists by 2015. Hotels are expanding their capacity while several new billion-dollar projects, including the opening of the new Al Maktoum International Airport, located in Jebel Ali will be boosting the inflow of visitors into the city in the years preceding the event.
According to UNWTO, the Middle East has been the fastest growing tourist region globally in recent years and despite being hit by the ﬁnancial crisis, Dubai has becoming increasingly attractive for long-haul inbound travel. Like its neighboring emirate, Abu Dhabi, tourists flock to Dubai for its thriving, ever-growing hospitality industry and luxurious ambiance, be it the larger than life, Atlantis Resort or the Burj Khalifa. It’s recent ‘Hello Dubai 2013 Campaign’, as well as the ‘Vision 2020 Campaign for Tourism’ are testimony to the efforts of the government in investing billions of dollars for building exotic locales and entertainment sectors as a part of its tourist attractions.
With all its modern structures and magnificent skyscrapers, shopping malls, hotels and manmade islands, we take a look at our Top 5 favorite things in this city which makes it one of the most sought-after destinations in the Middle East.
Flying into Dubai
There is only one recommended way to fly into Dubai and that is using the world-renowned Emirates First Class service. For passengers seeking privacy and the finest on-board service, the Emirates First Class Private Suites is the ideal choice of travel. Each suite comes fully equipped with a sliding door, a personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, and its own vanity table, mirror, wardrobe, and privacy divider for central suites. Should you choose to stretch out and simply sleep, the seats can be converted into fully flat beds with a mattress.
Service onboard includes High Tea, hors d’oeuvres and first-class dining but not before you’ve freshened up with a mid-flight shower in one of the aircrafts popular Shower Spas. Meals are presented on Royal Doulton fine bone china with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery and served alongside some of the finest wines available inflight. For those looking to socialize with their fellow passengers, the Emirates A380 onboard lounge, located on the upper deck, offers a place to sample hors d’oeuvres and maybe a Grand Cru. Passengers can even request for their favorite cocktail which will be prepared by their dedicated bartender.
The Emirates Inflight Entertainment system which was awarded Skytrax Gold for the ninth time in a row offers 1,600 channels on their on-demand entertainment system as well as music, video games and the latest news. The ICE TV Live is the latest addition to their inflight entertainment and is currently available on select Boeing 777 flights flying over the Middle East, Europe, Africa, parts of Asia and North America.
Surely, Emirates’ impeccable service does not end at the door of the plane. Along with complimentary Chauffeur-drive service and lounge access, First Class and Business Class passengers, as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members, also receive complimentary Fast Track vouchers at check-in and before arrival.
The cost of flying from London Heathrow to Dubai on Emirates First Class is approximately $4,800.
Staying in Dubai
Home to the region’s finest hotels and resorts, the Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, is unique in every sense. Nestled in a verdant palm oasis, deep within Dubai’s magical dune and desert landscape, the resort is located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and plays a vital role in its conservation of the indigenous Arabian wildlife. The reserve is one of the largest formally protected conservations in the Gulf and allows its guests complete tranquility while they explore the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins.
This internationally-awarded, hideaway offers 42 spacious suites each with its own private pool, set in a luxurious setting with fantastic views of the dunes of the Arabian Desert or herds of the Arabian Oryx or Gazelles grazing on the bushes. The resort offers the Al Diwaan Organic fine dining restaurant and the Terrace Bar while private, special meal requests can be made for those who would like to experience dining under the Arabian Sky or just in the privacy of their suites. For leisure, a range of activities are available including dune driving, falconry, horse riding, nature walks and camel trekking. For the less adventurous the resort’s Timeless Spa offer a range of beauty and relaxation treatments in the private massage rooms, in-suite, private Rasoul chamber and also offer Hydrotherapy bath, a sauna and steam room including a cold plunge pool, Jacuzzi, swimming pool and a fully equipped fitness center.
[Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa]
From indoor ski-slopes to world-class golf courses, there is no shortage of experiences for a luxury tourist in Dubai. Amidst these, the Dubai World Cup which takes place annually in March is one of the city’s biggest events. This thoroughbred horse race was founded in 1996 by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and is today the richest horse racing event in the world.
Held at the Meydan racecourse, visitors are offered many elite ways to enjoy the spectacle. The racecourse has its very own marina, allowing you to watch the race from the sundeck of your own or a chartered yacht. Alternatively, guests can rent the Meydan Hotel’s Presidential Suite, spread over two levels with views of the racetrack including the winning post. Guests can also watch the event from The Meydan Rooftop, a private space with its own infinity pool and bar and which boasts the Meydan’s best views.
[Dubai World Cup]
Pampering in Dubai
The One&Only Spa located in one of Dubai’s most stylish beach resorts, the One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai is well known destination spa located within the serene surrounding of the property. Together with ESPA, the Spa has 12 private treatment suites offering a range of holistic and tailored experiences to help aid the relaxation of mind, body and soul. Signature treatments include The Royal Hammam Experience, the Royal Mirage Ritual or the Deeply Relaxing Bodycare with Hot Stones.
The lower floor of the One&Only Spa is home to a traditional Oriental Hammam with heated marble massage table, two steam rooms, two Jacuzzis, two private massage rooms, plunge showers, a whirlpool and a resting area. In respect of local traditions, the Oriental Hammam operates separate hours for ladies and gentlemen while masseurs-experts from Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, known locally as Tayels or Tellaks, attend to your body’s every need.
[One&Only Royal Mirage]
Dining in Dubai
While there’s no shortage of luxury, Michelin star dining outlets in Dubai, our pick for this list is Nobu, the world-renowned Japanese restaurant created by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, located at the Atlantis, The Palm. Nobu serves up a cutting edge Japanese style cuisine with Arabian influences, while retaining some of their classics favorites like the seared black cod served with sweet miso sauce, yellowtail topped with thin slices of jalapeño or even the Squid Pasta with light garlic sauce,
The menu is complemented by a sushi bar and stylish surroundings, including private areas for more intimate gatherings. For those interested, cooking classes are also available allowing guests to learn the secrets behind this world–famous restaurant chain.
Must visit in Dubai
Amidst its skyscrapers and many shopping malls, Dubai boasts of a rich cultural and historical history. For those who have experienced the glamorous Burj Khalifa and have rode over its many desert dunes, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a breath of fresh air.
Once the visitors are educated on the UAE customs, history and religion and have explored the many alleyways of Bur Dubai, they can enjoy a hearty Emirati breakfast or lunch. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre will also give tours of the Grand Jumeirah Mosque, a unique chance for Muslims and non-Muslims to see and understand this architectural marvel of Islamic geometry.
[Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding]