Where else can you ski in the morning, sky dive in the afternoon and land on a party at Atlantis on one of the ‘fronds’ of the ‘Palm’, a futuristic suburb of the sea for a crazy evening party?! Dubai, of course! A favourite location of many nations around the world, drawn by the cloud piercing skyscrapers, endless opportunities, glittering malls and glamorous clubs.
It’s one of those places that has a strange sense of being stuck in time when you look at the wooden aqua taxis that transport you across the creek, whilst also flying full throttle towards the future with all the supercars zooming around and crazy skyscrapers! Although most famous for oil nowadays, this city state comes from rather humble origins. Interestingly, archaeological findings suggest the emirate was first inhabited in 3000 BC by nomadic cattle herders. Later flourishing in pearl and copper trading, which continued to fund it’s growth throughout the Bronze Age. Islam wasn’t introduced until around 3rd Century AD when the Umayaad Caliphate took over the area. First records of a town being made date back as early as 1799, with Dubai being declared a Sheikhdom in 1833.
Back to the future, and touching down in Dubai, the screech of wheels on tarmac is met by woops, cheers and rounds of applause on board the aircraft. Anyone would have thought that we’d just flown through a storm, or it was the pilots first solo flight, or both. No, people were just super happy to have landed in Dubai.
After picking up the car, we first hit Dubai Mall where you can buy gold guilt shisha pipes, shisha pipes as big as yourself and solid gold camels, the size of large chihuahuas – just to put on the mantle piece. There is also a variety of outstanding pamper salons, such as The Nail Spa – where you can have a manicure, a pedicure, and get your hair done all at the same time!
After being pampered to our hearts’ content, it was time to explore some sights from a height – a roof top pool at a friends private apartment. Dubai is famous as an architectural pioneering city, and it’s clear to see that when gazing down from above – the landscaped green spaces and parks with numerous fountains and lakes is truly remarkable – despite being in the middle of a desert.
Later that night it was time to explore sights from a height by night. Don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of heights there are plenty of things to do at ground level as well. But for now, it’s Tuesday, and you know what that means? It’s ‘Ladies Night’! We began the night by heading up to the roof top bar Horizon Lounge; stepping out onto the terrace we were met by beats, smiles…free champagne and strawberries & cream! I could get used to this. It was here I bumped into some old friends – the German guys I had met in China two years ago, although this was somewhat planned, it was still strange meeting up with people over here I’d previously met in another country, the world gets smaller the more you travel! Horizon Lounge is situated at the top of Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa and is the perfect location to watch the sunset, and admire great views of the city by night. Only open to 10pm, this is the perfect ‘starter’ location, before moving onto the ‘main course’ – one of Dubai’s superclubs. Cue the hotly anticipated Cirque Le Soir restaurant, club and members club – be prepared to be blown away. With circus acts galore including mute clowns trapped in gold framed mirrors, dwarfs swinging from the ceiling and gymnasts on the drums, the atmosphere is fiery and buzzing (and not just due to the fire breathing trombonist!). This is a venue not to be missed, but tickets are hard to come by, so book in advance.
Leaving Cirque Le Soir around 6am meant plans for the next day were of a slower pace. Jumeirah Beach is perfect for such leisurely lounging activities. The sea is safe to swim in, and you can actually strip down to your bikini here! From this vantage point you will also get a fantastic view of the Burg Kalifha which can make for some great photo opportunities as the sun goes down. Bars and restaurants are close by if you need a drink, as is the small Jumeirah Beach Market, selling trinkets, jewellery, rugs, sarongs – the usual beach side souvenirs. But be warned – drinking or being under the influence in a public place other than a designated drinking area (such as a private hotel or bar) is strictly not allowed and can carry heavy fines and imprisonment. So be aware if you plan to drink in public that you do so very, very discretely at your own risk. And also be aware – you must hold a personal (yes, one just for you) liquor licence in order to purchase and drink alcohol at home from an independent store.
You do not need one of these licences to purchase or drink alcohol in one of the many clubs or restaurants that serve alcohol – which is what most people do if they are just holidaying here, as you can only apply for a licence if you have a UAE residency permit and are non-muslim.* It is also worth paying attention to dress codes – whilst women are not required to wear a full burqa or anything that extreme, you will still be required to cover up when out and about in public daytime places such as the malls, shops and local streets – cover up in the sense of no wandering around in bikinis, no sky high hot pants or spaghetti tops – save all those for the beach. Although you can wear more risque clothing in the evening when out clubbing and dining in restaurants that also have a bar – being glamorous in the evening is compulsory for any woman partying in Dubai.
*Please note, this information is based on the latest updated information and gives only a brief outline of liquor laws in Dubai, a more in depth explanation of the laws can be found here.