Top 10 Things I Can’t Wait to Do In Dubai

Next week, I’m flying to Dubai, a city of wonders in the Middle East. Primarily there for the Dubai Air Show, there’s a metric ton of other things that I know I can’t go without seeing and experiencing. Check out the top ten things I can’t wait to do next week when I’m in Dubai with Matt:

1) Dubai Air Show


Definitely number one on the list is the Dubai Air Show, and is one of the reasons I’m heading out with our newest contributor, Matt. I’ve been getting some of the press releases from the event promoters, including visiting aircraft like Qatar’s 787, Airbus A330F, and hearing from Airbus about the A350XWB.

2) Burj Khalifa


It’s huge. It’s the tallest building in the world. And I want to see it.

3) Dubai Museum


When I travel, learning about other cultures is one of the biggest reasons to go on a trip, and from what I’ve learned the Dubai Museum is one of the most complete caches of history for the area and about the area. I’m really fascinated to see this – and especially since it’s in the Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787 to defend the city against invasion. It was opened as a museum in 1971 after being rebuilt.

4) Take a day trip to Abu Dhabi


One of the reasons I’d love to visit Abu Dhabi is to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. I’ve never visited a mosque – and I think it would be fascinating to see one first hand — not to mention that the mosque (the Grand Mosque for the UAE) is nearly five football fields in area). To be honest, I’m a little intimidated that I’ll forget one of the rules of etiquette and end up being “that ugly American tourist” who disrespects the culture, but I promise I’ll try my best. I’m really looking forward to the experience.

Abu Dhabi is about an hour and a half away from Dubai (or two hours and $6 by bus), making it perfect for a day trip. Abu Dhabi, famous for many things, is the seat for the United Arab Emirates government, the home for the Abu Dhabi Emiri family, and the president of the UAE.

5) Swim in the Persian Gulf

First on the “be a tourist bucket list” is swimming in the Persian Gulf, something I can’t say I’ve ever done. I’ve been in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean and Dead Seas, and I’d love to feel the Arabian sand between my toes.

6) Eat on and experience Al Dhiyafah Road

Al Dhiyafah Road has a myriad of small places to grab a cheap bite to eat, including a large number of foods from a wide range of cultures, including traditional Gulf food. I’m all about visiting places on a budget (to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of outrageously-priced things – odd since Dubai is known for its extravagance) and I find that sometimes the best experiences happen when you experience life and culture in a more “normal” environment – ie, not at a fancy restaurant. Sure, I’ve experienced these things, but I’m more in it to learn about the cultures than sipping champagne. That said…

7) Champagne Brunch


Champagne brunches in Dubai are allegedly over-the-top and free-flowing of champagne. Apparently Dubai is known for its free-flowing Friday Champagne brunches that are over the top, especially at hotels like The Fairmont (where brunch with unlimited bubbly will set you back AED575 – roughly $150 USD). On second thought, that’s a little much for my taste.

Of note, from my research, the UAE has some interesting laws surrounding alcohol. For instance, you can only consume alcohol in hotels, and if you have a permit (assuming you’re Emirati). For tourists, it’s a different story, though. Oddly, despite Friday being a religious holy day, these champagne brunches are heavily promoted. We’ll just have to see how it all works out…

8) Really visit the desert

Stunning Desert Sunrise - Picture of Dubai, Emirate of Dubai
(This photo of Dubai is courtesy of TripAdvisor)

Coming from Southern California, seeing a desert is nothing new – but I’ve never seen the Arabian deserts before. I’ve heard rumors that you can go on a hot air balloon trip over at sunrise somewhere in the desert, and for whatever reason, that sounds absolutely incredible.

9) Burj Al Arab


The Burj Al Arab is that sailboat-looking hotel out in the sea, boasting a 7-Star hotel rating (despite 5-star hotels being the alleged max), and judging by their web site with photos of crazy-insanely-extravagant hotel rooms, there’s no doubt about that. Owned by Jumeirah, rooms run from AED 5000-6500 nightly ($1300-$1770), or the equivalent number of Sirius points. American Express Membership Rewards was a transfer partner of Jumeirah, but has since terminated their relationship (they need to update their web site to reflect that). Suffice to say: it’s a bit out of my price range.

10) Camel Races

I just learned that Dubai has camel races.


[quote_simple]The races are held at the humongous Al Marmoom camel racetrack on the outskirts of Dubai between October 2013 and February 2014 . As soon as the season commences, the place transforms into a lively, action packed scene brimming with visitors, camel trainers, robot jockeys and humpy camels.

Robot jockeys?

There’s a lot to see in my 5 days in Dubai, and I can’t wait – it’s going to be an experience. Best of all, when I get back, I’ll have enough miles for another trip to Europe as a result of the trip alone – but most importantly, I’ll have see some awesome sights and hopefully have made some new friends for life.