FOR MOST people, a family vacation entails months of planning on a destination that would have something for everyone, and be safe and relaxing. Dubai ticks all the boxes. Add to this mix, a multicultural social fabric and low crime rate.
The tall and short of it: The adventure-seeking can get their fill of dune bashing and belly dancing on desert safaris. Others can laze by the beaches. Most high-end hotels, like those in the Madinat Jumeirah area, will have private beaches too. Most of the public beaches look out to the tall, luxe Burj al-Arab hotel on the sea. Towering over Dubai’s landscape is its tallest building, Burj Khalifa, with 200 floors (with two observation decks on the 125th and 148th floors). Looking down from 555 m above the ground, the vast ocean seems to meet the desert down below.
Shop and drop: Bonding with family over trinkets and souvenirs? This land of malls won’t disappoint. Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Battuta Mall are some of the popular ones. You can spend an entire day at the Dubai Mall, with over 1,200 retail outlets, check out one of the largest suspended aquariums and underwater zoos, where you can pose with and say hello to about 300 fish, sharks and rays swimming around you. The Mall of the Emirates, with about 630 international brands and a 14-screen VOX Cinemas, has West Asia’s first indoor ski resort, the Ski Dubai. If malls don’t draw you, head to Old Dubai’s spice and gold souks. You can also visit Global Village to shop from the myriad country pavillions.
Desert snow: Penguins roaming around in -4 degrees in a desert city. Sounds bizarre, right? But the indoor Ski Dubai with 22,500 sq. m of real snow will delight those escaping the heat, skiers or not. Ski and snow-board only if you are trained, else try the Snow Bullet and Chair Lift activities. A colony of king and gentoo penguins put up a dance show every evening. You can also get up, close and personal with the penguins underwater.
Themes of joy: It is quite something for an Indian tourist to come across a Taj Mahal replica made with Lego bricks. While the original Agra monument took over 22 years to be built, this took 2,019 hours. The Taj is one among several Lego buildings, including Egyptian pyramids, Burj Khalifa, in Miniland, at Legoland Dubai. There are also nearly 40 Lego-themed rides, shows and stores. Also to be visited are the theme parks: the Smurfs’ Village and Motiongate, which has Columbia Pictures and DreamWorks studios. The latter’s enclosures is themed around films, including Kung fu Panda and Madagascar. Hop on to the Mad Pursuit ride: the car trudges gently, at the start, as characters speak to you from the sides, then a tunnel opens up and sucks you into an adrenaline-pumping roller-coaster ride.
The writer was invited by Dubai Tourism.