After recently returning from a short trip to Dubai, I have to confess that I was truly amazed by the place and the cultural merge between Western and local Arabic civilization.

Although I wasn’t in Dubai long, I had to get a sense of what the ‘real’ Dubai was like. Many of the new and popular hotels house a Starbucks, a Costa Coffee and other famous Western brands – all nice, but not for me on this trip. After business was finished I was told to get away from central Dubai and the Jumeira area, and head into the desert.

Great advice. Only a 45 minute drive from the Dubai coast puts you in the middle of the desert, with only the distant Bedu village preachers to be heard in the distance.

Ok, I’m lying.

The increasing tourist trade means that venturing out on a desert safari ensures you probably won’t be alone for long. Nonetheless, its quiet enough.

You, friends or strangers, a guide, a 4×4, water and away you go!

Dubai desert dune riding
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Above all else a desert safari in Dubai is one of the best experiences. Powering over sand dunes, camel riding, quid bike dune jumping and soaking up desert camp life. Even sandboarding is great fun – if you’ve got good balance (and nothing valuable in your pockets!).

You finish off the evening with a great meal, smoking a shisha and boogying with a professional belly dancer. Yes, really.

Jumeirah Emirates Towers above the clouds

It is fact that Dubai currently has 20% of the world’s cranes. No surprise. Development in currently underway on the Burj Dubai – planned to be the world’s tallest building. But there are many exceptional hotels to look around in Dubai, many of which are owned by the Jumeirah group. The Jumeirah Emirates Towers epitomises the Dubai skyline, with two tall pointed towers the focal point for one of the central regions. Its also houses two great bars! Vu’s Bar on the 51st floor has one of the best views of the city and has been votes one of the best bars in the world, and Scarlett’s Bar in the shopping centre is also a popular place during the week.
One of the World's best hotels - the Burj Al Arab

The hotel that normally grabs the attention though is the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, further down the coast. Amazing place, and somewhere I’ll never be able to afford!

I only wish I had more time to explore, but it could be interesting to go back in 5 years time and see the difference the developments have made. Expats that have lived in Dubai for over 3 years will tell you how fast the city has changed. Dubai – development central. If you ever get the chance to go – don’t turn down the opportunity!!

For more information on Dubai, see TimeOut.

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