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Whether you prefer spending your vacation indoors or out, there’s always an activity – from skiing to fishing and go-karting – to keep on the shady side of the summer. When Glenn Frey belted out his cult ’80s classic The Heat is On, his lyrics – ‘on the street, inside your head’ – was a spot-on description of what most residents feel about Dubai’s most extreme season. So to cool off, here are some of the best summer busting activities.
Things to do in Dubai
Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai. Established in the 18th century as a small fishing village, the city grew rapidly in the early 21st century into a cosmopolitan metropolis with a focus on tourism and hospitality. Dubai is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. This can be accredited to Dubai’s mix of cosmopolitan lifestyle and local culture, as well as the city’s having the second most five-star hotels in the world and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Because of upcoming competition and other reasons, the taller Creek Tower is being built to keep that title.
It is composed of two halves, Bur Dubai and Diera, separated by The Creek, an inland waterway that forms a natural harbour and navigable channel through the centre of the city. The Creek area, in fact, is the site for some of the most modern hotels you will find anywhere in the world, and it is a fact that at least half of the tall cranes in the world are situated in Dubai.
Diera is where the modern buildings are still being erected, while on the other side of The Creek, Bur Dubai, you have the traditional heritage area and Dubai Museum, situated in the Al Fahidi Fort with its diorama displays of traditional Arab life. Here you find exhibits of old dhows and the pearl fishing that once was the main income of Dubai before the Japanese pearl fisheries became too strong to compete against.
Ice Skating and Skiing
The emirate is snowed under with the international media’s coverage of the sand box’s only ski slope, but before that Ski Dubai residents took a chill pill at the skating rinks in Al Nasr Leisureland (ANLL) and the Hyatt Regency Galleria. A a nominal Dhs20 (inclusive of Dhs10 entrance fee and skates) at Leisure Land, can buy time to practise some twirls and pirouettes for two long hours.
Mall Visits and the Dubai Shopping Festival
With the Dubai Summer Surprises usually running until August 31, there’s about two months of serious shopping time – enough for any self-proclaimed fashionistas to update their wardrobes. With 40 malls participating and loads of prizes to be won – it would be folly not to pick up some deals. Grab a frappucino and enjoy the sub-zero temperature that is the norm in most malls as each weekly surprise is revealed.
Al Mamzar Beach Chalets
Pack off to Al Mamzar Beach where the air-conditioned confines of the park’s chalets provide respite from the heat between dips in the sea. Located near the Hamriya Port, the 15 bungalows can be hired by families at Dhs160 or Dhs210, depending on the size, from 9am to 10pm. A small chalet can house 10 people while a larger one can accommodate up to 20. Come prepared with hot dogs and buns, as the chalets are equipped with a barbeque and shower facilities as well.
Fishing in the Arabian Gulf
Drop anchor a couple of miles off the coast and savour the Arabian Gulf’s natural, salty air-conditioning while waiting for dinner to be caught. For complete serenity, deep-sea fishing with the Desert Rangers is the perfect choice for a relaxing four-hour trip where sun worshippers can catch a tan while waiting for the sailfish to bite. Stay tuned to catch a glimpse of mackerel, kingfish and – if you’re lucky – some shark and barracuda.
Go-Karting at Emirates Kart Centre
Speeding on the emirate’s busiest highway Sheikh Zayed Road is never a good option but is expected at the Emirates Kart Centre so buckle up and enjoy the adrenalin rush. Dhs50 provides protective gear along with 15 minutes of a joyride through chicanes and hairpin bends on karts fitted with Rotax Max engines that reach up to 150km/h. Open from 2pm to 10pm, head there during sundown to enjoy the light evening temperature.
Ice Sculpted Chillout Lounge
Take refuge in the Chillout Lounge at Times Square Center, complete with furniture and crockery sculpted from ice. The Dhs60 cover charge includes a warm parka, gloves, special shoes and a mocktail to help guests get acclimatised in the 5°C Buffer Zone before stepping into in the freezing -6°C ambience. Subtle rainbow-hued lighting casts a gentle glow around the 2,400 square foot restaurant that serves cold cuts, cheeses, ice cream and fresh juices – nothing reminiscent of the heat outside.
Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
If you are a golfer, Dubai has a lot to offer with the championship Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, to which visitors are welcome, and of course, The Emirates Golf Club, the first all-grass course in the Middle East and home to the European PGA Desert Classic. The other sport that Dubai is famed for is horse racing, and the Godolphin Stables are named after one of the three Arab stallions that founded today’s thoroughbred racing bloodlines.
The Dubai skyline is something you must see. Manhattan may be good, but Dubai is in a class of its own. The Burl al-Arab is the tallest hotel in the world, claimed to be taller than the Eiffel Tower. It is built in the shape of the sail of a traditional Arab dhow sailing boat, the sail being the most awesome feature, and is built on a man made island in the Gulf. Speaking of hotels, since you are in a Muslim country, there are no pubs. However, in Dubai, alcohol is allowed to be served in hotels to cater for Western tastes. There are other provisions made to Westerners here, though we should not dwell on those.
Although Dubai is advantageously sited with respect to the trading routes from the East and the West, it was still only a small trading town until the late nineteenth century when the British ‘discovered’ it and it became part of the Trucial States, or Oman. It became part of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, the formation of which was largely due to the efforts of Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai and Sheik Zaved of Abu Dhabi. Its rich history, as part of ‘the Pirate Coast’, is evident in the old parts of the city still remaining such as the fort, and displayed in the Dubai Museum.
No Dubai vacation would complete without a visit to the souks. The souks, or souqs, are traditionally market places, or places where things are sold, and the main souks in Dubai are the Gold Souk, where gold jewellery is sold by the weight of the gold plus a ‘making charge’, the Spice Souk (wonderful spicy smells), the Perfume Souk (wonderful scents) and the Fish Souk (not so wonderful smells and perfumes). These are traditional style markets, apart perhaps from the Perfume Souk that seems to be dominated by the classic perfume houses rather than anything truly traditional.
There are too many attractions in Dubai to talk about here, but a Dubai vacation also offers the wonderful Dubai Children’s City and Creekside Park, and the flumes of the Wild Wadi Water Park close to Jumeirah Beach. Dubai has so much to offer, whether you are interested in history, shopping, keeping the children entertained or just out for a good time. Dubai has it all!
Image Credit: Depositphotos