|The Burj Khalifa|
Dubai was a novel travel experience to cross off my list, and a highly unique one at that. It is a place as rich with contrasts as it is with displays of opulence. Malls, skyscrapers and hotels bearing every amenity imaginable, share the city with gold souks, traditional dress and Bedouin folk music. Old and new, extreme wealth and poverty, treasured customs and development (yes, they're still building). For the tourist, Dubai is surreal, astonishing and fascinating. You imagine that you've been asked to enter a futuristic world, in which someone was given full reign to create their dream landscape from scratch. Beaches? Check. Some of the tallest, most architecturally stunning buildings in the world? Check. Excellent transport?(take a ride on the space shuttle-like Dubai metro) Check. International and tourist-friendly? Check.
Here are a couple of highlights from our trip. Speaking of contrasts, it's strange to imagine I was only there a few hours ago, now looking outside at London's falling snow.
- The Dubai Mall - the name says it all. The ultimate Dubai shopping destination, featuring the world's biggest and best brands. Plus a familiar selection of high-street names: Topshop, Debenhams and Zara Home. What makes this (and other Dubai malls) such a must-see? Shopping is not the only attraction. How about the aquarium, the ice rink, or an art exhibition? Then, of course, you can return to one of the most seductive shopping line-ups (with cash to splash, of course): Hermès, Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, Temperley London, Chanel, Chloé, Stella McCartney and more.
|The Dubai Mall Acquarium|
|One of many atriums, The Dubai Mall|
- The Burj Khalifa (top photo) is the world's tallest man-made structure and is breathtaking. At 828m, construction began in September 2004. The exterior completed in October 2009, but the officially opening didn't take place until January 2010. A central feature to "Downtown Dubai" and nearby financial district, The Burj Khalifa houses an Armani hotel, private residential apartments and corporate offices. There has been much debate about the debt incurred from the build (as with Dubai generally), yet it remains a sensational sight for tourists and abode for those who stay/live there. There is an observation deck, but a wonderful view can be gained from Bistro Madeleine at The Dubai Mall (where the top photo was taken). Enjoy a cappuccino from 6pm-10pm on weekdays or 6pm-11pm on weekends and the beautifully choreographed Dubai Mall fountain display will dazzle you from your seats, in the man-made Burj Khalifa lake in front of you.
|Both photos: Dubai Mall fountain|
Images: all my own.