After a couple of days we had begun to really settle in and relax in this bubble of opportunity, having spent another full day exploring the different beaches and malls of Dubai, we were ready for Armani Club and dressed to the nines. First tho, was dinner at Tomo as we were in the mood for sushi!
Situated at the foot of the 5* luxury Raffles Hotel is Tomo, running for 30 years serving quintessentially Japanese cuisine you feel as if you have stepped out of the Middle East and into the Far East, just by walking through the door.
Now well fed it was time to hit the town, this time the Armani club in the Armani Hotel, right next to the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest skyscraper, so tall you can’t even get all of it in when trying to photograph yourself under it, it’s just too tall! It was here by complete coincidence this time, I bumped into another old friend from my travels – a Spanish chap who was my neighbour from my student days of New Mexico – world getting smaller!
The next day it was time to party on the Palm – quite literally -it was Sandance. Tipped as ‘Dubai’s ultimate beach party’, it takes place on Sandance beach at Atlantis on Palm Jumeirah. It’s a mad dash to get there on time, as it gets so busy and the car park fills up instantly that they close access to the Palm from the mainland – if you snooze you loose! Some people will even take desperate measures and sky dive onto the Palm – although I think this is more out of choice rather than desperate measures.
Towards the end of our trip we toned it down a little, having partied hard, been reunited with old friends from around the world, explored beaches, mosques and clubs and dined in some great restaurants. Now it was time to head to the desert…the real desert for some sandy fun!
We had booked with one of Rana’s friends as he had a 4X4 and we agreed he would take us out at mates rates. After a hearty American style breakfast of metre high pancakes covered in whipped cream and chocolate we hit the road – you really can have any cuisine you like out here! It’s about an hour’s drive out of main Dubai city along straight tarmacked desert roads until you reach the ‘Desert Safari Entrance’ – pretty much just a sign directing you onto the desert and informing you this is the beginning of the safari – the road is now not so smooth, and as we were bounced about our driver decided to put on some ‘beats’ for us to bounce along to. The sand seems distinctively orange here, especially in photos with the sky a deep sky blue in comparison. However, on later inspection (I took some Dubai sand home and compared it to my Sahara sand) it is not actually quite as orange as the Sahara sand. These trips last about a day and you can have pit stops along the way to marvel at the dunes and photograph and roll down them! Dune buggying can also be added for an additional fee. After due buggying you will then get to meet and ride a camel before making your way to the end destination – a small hotel with an outdoor area with rugs and cushions laid out. Here you can dress up and pose for photos, drink mint tea and eat some traditional middle eastern food before being stunned by belly dance and whirling dervish performances. If you’ve booked an overnight stay you’ll be shown your room and able to dance the night away in the outdoor area. You can also mingle around the little stalls – get a henna tattoo, pick up trinkets and souvenirs. If you have just booked a day tour, this usually lasts around 6 hours and you will be taken back to your hotel or apartment once the performance has finished and you are ready to leave – they are quite lenient about this. The whole experience will set you back about AED and is worth it, although personally I felt my camel trek from Merzouga in Morocco into the Sahara was a more authentic experience as we met with Berber tribesmen, it was also much cheaper – although this was a few years ago now, so the price may have gone up.