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Destinations · Asia · united arab emirates · Dubai · Things to do ·

Things To Do

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Things To Do

- Bastakiya is the old city of Dubai, or an illusion of antiquity, to be more precise. Although its oldest building dates back to 1870 and the whole area is a registered historic landmark, patina of bygone times is almost nonexistent. No trace left of Persian merchants and wealthy Dubai emirate families that once resided in 55 historic houses of this neighborhood. Narrow streets, typical to Arab old towns, are empty and void of authenticity, swept away by too meticulous restoration. It is still worth a visit, however, at least to see PREDECESSORS OF PRESENT-DAY AIR CONDITIONERS. Like chimneys or small turrets they rise above almost every building, once having served as ingenious wind-catchers. Seizing every fresh gust of wind, they sent it down into a house, cooling a living space. Most of the city art galleries concentrate there, especially XVA gallery being worth a closer look. Aside from regular contemporary art exhibitions, it offers pleasant moments at its café/restaurant as well. You can savor delicious salads there and freshly squeezed juices instead of their overpriced concentrate-produced counterparts, available at 5-star hotels. XVA operates as a hotel, too, yet rooms are smallish, rates rather elevated and a location, not accessible by car, not very handy either, hardly putting it among the best lodgings of Dubai.

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- Wishing to boast of having been at the largest hotel in the world, you shouldn't save efforts of going to ATLANTIS, THE PALM. It was opened with a big blast of pyrotechnic show in November 2008 that has made into the Guinness Book of World Records already. Staying there might seem a little less exciting, however, if only you are not a fan of fakes and Disneyland is not your dreamland. The resort is sited on one of Dubai's artificial islands - Palm Jumeirah (the others two being Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira), and goes way over the top in tastelessness and vulgarity. Atlantis, with its 1539 rooms, covers a total of 46 hectares. Its name, borrowed from the legendary sunken island, has served as inspiration for its main attraction, an underwater kingdom of the Lost Chambers, as well. One can wander along its spooky tunnels, watching a variety of marine creatures, dwelling in its in-wall aquariums, and admire fake treasures within submerged ruins.

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A centerpiece of the whole complex is a huge aquarium linked with the hotel building. Peering through a bunch of fish, you may even notice vague outlines of windows in the distance, and...a bathtub behind one of them! One of the Atlantis restaurants and some of the most exclusive suits overlook the artificial ocean. Therefore, do not be surprised to catch a glimpse of some two-legged creatures in the depth of this water realm - they have spent a fortune for a night with a mock ocean scene behind their windows. Another attraction is 17 hectares large water theme park Aquaventure, offering a dip with dolphins, among other amusements. Only the Nobu restaurant with its perfect minimalist style in the best traditions of Nobu Milan stands out in this jumble, featuring tasteful modesty in its décor. Not so long, and Atlantis will get a new neighbor - Trump Tower, currently under construction. 48-storey building will house a 5-star hotel with 300 hotel rooms and 360 residential apartments. All three Palm Islands, upon their completion, will extend Dubai's original coastline by as much as 520 more kilometers of sandy beaches.

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- To ski or not to ski, it is a question of one's individual preference, yet Ski Dubai is still a sight to see. At least you will quench your curiosity and be able to express your opinion, whether it gives the impression of a real mountain or not...Ski Dubai, sited within the Mall of the Emirates is just perfect for a slight adrenaline boost when lounging at the beach starts to bring boredom. The whole complex comprises a territory of 22 500 sq. m., or an equivalent to 3 football fields, the longest run being 400 meters. It features a gentle slope for beginners and a special snowboarding zone, as well as a bar and a café. Temperature is maintained at 2ºC below zero, and, due to artificial lighting, it's difficult to determine - is it day or night outside...Everything you need for "winter joys" is available, starting from equipment rental to constant 50 cm thick snow cover on Ski Dubai slopes. Moreover, 3 cm layer of clean and fresh snow is spread over every night, 30 tons of white stuff being produced for this purpose. Those who seek for utmost disneylandish sensations may stay over at one of the 15 Ski Chalet apartments at the nearby Kempinski hotel, with a "real" mountainscape beyond its windows.

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- As you travel in an air-conditioned car (no-one ever seems to walk anywhere in this city) from one air-conditioned place to another, there are moments of bewilderment and disbelief: are all of these things you see around you actually real? What you should do then is go for a little adventure - a short ride in one of the small time- and seawater-worn and slightly tatty wood boats which serve as water taxis in the Dubai Creek. The Dubai Creek is a naturally formed sea bay running into the city and separating two of its districts, Bar Dubai and Deira. Historically it served as (and still remains) an artery of the city - also a great vantage point for anyone keen to take a look at a different Dubai. Besides, any city does seem slightly different when looked at from the water. Every day the small diesel engine-driven wooden boats (abras) ship people from the Deira-side market places to the other coast. However, any of the boatmen can normally be hired for an hour's excursion (Dhs 100) - a boat ride to the mouth of the bay and the inland Maktoum Bridge. The whole life of the city is spread out before you, including the Deira skyscrapers, Twin Towers and the National Bank building, reflecting on its curvy "belly" anything taking place on the water. And then there is the tallest mosque in the city (70 m), built in the early 1900s and rebuilt in the late 1990s.

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As the bay approaches the open sea, the old dockland district appears in front of you - a piece of the olden day Dubai. Ships from Iran, India and Africa enter the port with their cargos of spices and household goods. Built of wood and bleached by the salty seawater, they add a welcome feel of patina to the city that sometimes is reminiscent of a desert mirage. Air-conditioned water buses (Dhs 4) also ferry passengers along the canal: do not be surprised to see a strange swimming bus-like object that seems to drive on quite convincingly despite two thirds of it being submerged in water. It is a typical Dubai-style amusement: the bus is equipped with an air conditioner and an LCD screen TV set; it seats 44 passengers. The tour lasts approximately two hours: the bus first travels on solid ground, only to plunge into water a bit later. The route starts at the Bur Juman shopping centre; the tickets cost Dhs 75 for children aged 3 - 12 and Dhs 115 for adults.

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- THE CAPITAL CITY OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - ABU DHABI is located just 119 km or approximately 1.5 hours ride from Dubai, being a good enough reason to go there. Although Abu Dhabi emirate is the richest among seven in natural resources, it is notably greener and more relaxed in comparison with neighboring Dubai. Unlike the latter one, standing out with grand amusement, entertainment and shopping projects, Abu Dhabi has an ambitious aspiration of becoming one of the world's cultural hubs in the future. 27 sq. m. large Saadiyat Island is planned to house the Frank Gehry-designed Abu Dhabi Guggenheim Museum, Zaha Hadid Performing Arts Centre, Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando and a branch of the Louvre Museum by star-architect Jean Nouvel. Located just 500 m from the shore, it is a natural, not an artificial island, currently housing just colonies of turtles. Therefore, Sheikh Zayed mosque, which was opened in 2007 and is the 3rd largest mosque in the world, serves as one of the symbol of the city for time being. This man-made artwork is endowed with divine, almost incredible beauty. The project was started in 1998 under initiative of late Sheikh Zayed, the first president of the UAE. Sited on a hillock, an almost dazzling-white building stands out on the background of blue sky, comprising a territory of 22 000 sq. m. Built of marble, it features four 107 meter high minarets, 82 different size domes and, adorned with gemstones and semi-precious stones, columns - 1048 outside and 96 inside. The main prayer room features seven 10 to 10 meters large and 9 tons heavy crystal chandeliers and the largest hand-woven carpet in the world. 6000 sq. m large, made by approximately 1200 Iranian women, its estimated value is more than 8.5 million dollars. The mosque is open for non-Muslim visitors till 12 am. A white marble courtyard, surrounded by stately columns, is almost blinding in its glimmering whiteness.

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Another Abu Dhabi symbol is the hotel Emirates Palace. Owned by the state (which means, sheikh's family) and operated by Kempinski hotel chain, Emirates Palace is not at a classical hotel in a usual sense of this word, and not only because it's one of the most expensive hotel projects ever. A majestic sand-color building boasts 1002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers, 114 domes, covered in glistening glass-tile mosaics, gold, marble, and over 2000 staff members. It functions also as an important Abu Dhabi cultural and social life venue as well. In 2008, Emirates Palace housed Art Paris-Abu Dhabi, an international fair of modern and contemporary art, for a second year in a row. Abu Dhabi, in fact, is the first one to hold this originally Parisian project, founded in 1999. It was carried out under the patronage of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 57 international art galleries and 700 artists from all over the globe exhibited over 3000 artworks, their prices varying from 2000 to several million thousand dollars. Damien Hirst, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Man Ray, Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol are just few of the famous names having been featured there. Emirates Palace offers also an outstanding exhibition devoted to Abu Dhabi museums still to be built.

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