Why You Need to Visit Dubai At Least Once in Your Life

I feel very lucky that I have been able to experience Dubai twice in my life already. It is a destination that is always on our list, and we would love the chance to visit again. A lot of people that haven’t been there, often wonder what there is to do there. We have heard a few of these things in the past:

‘It’s a bit fake, isn’t it’?

‘I bet it’s far too hot for me’

‘I don’t think I’d like the food’

‘Why would you want to go there’?

Well let me tell you why you would want to go there (and no, it’s not fake, nor too hot, and the food is varied and delicious)! There are so many reasons why you should visit Dubai, at least once in your life.

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a Ramadan tent, set up to enjoy the traditional treats

To start with, there is the culture. It is the first place that I have felt properly ‘abroad’, as ridiculous as that sounds. People at the immigration desk at the airport were wearing the traditional thawb and that isn’t something I see very often. We visited just as Ramadan was starting last year, so it was fun to learn about and try some traditional Arabic treats at sundown. Props to anyone that can fast all day in the heat of June!

dubaiWe have visited a mosque one of the times that we were there, and I think it needs to be on the list for anyone that visits. First of all, the buildings are so ornate and beautiful. Second of all, it was fascinating to hear about Islam and it’s traditions, even as a Christian. Of course it is free of charge to visit and only takes a couple of hours.

If you wanted to experience some traditional Arabic food and some more of the culture, then I can completely recommend a desert safari. It blows my mind when you just see miles and miles of sand dunes all around. Then you stop and have dinner, camel ride, star gaze and even try your hand at belly dancing! A fun and enlightening experience for sure. It can be a little pricey but I think it is totally worth it – Dubai is beautiful!

So other than a trip to a mosque, I would recommend a visit the Dubai Mall. It is humungous and there are all kinds of shops there. if you like to keep things mainstream, you can find all of your favourite shops there. There is nothing quite like trying on some Manolo Blahniks in the designer area, or admiring the gold in the Souk area; perfect place to get a few souvenirs, right? 😉 The also houses one of our favourite restaurants ever; the Cheesecake Factory. We only get to eat there when we are in the US, so it is such a treat for us! The water fountain show is beautiful too, with the perfect setting showcasing the Burj Khalifa (every time I see it, I’m reminded how much of a nutter Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible is).

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Another thing that I would recommend to do while there is to visit one of the water parks that Dubai has. They would work well for families and couples alike. You want to cool off  and have lots of fun too! The Atlantis resort has it’s own water park and that is one we have visited before. So much fun, a variety of rides and even spotted a few ‘celebrities’ 😉 The Wild Wadi park is older so is often quite, but just as good, so it would depend on when you are staying as to which you visit – in my opinion anyway!

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One of the things I love about Dubai is that there are things that don’t exist anywhere else? 7 Star hotel anyone? You can’t not visit, can you? So I would recommend afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab. Eating little cakes and sandwiches in the fanciest hotel in the world? It would be rude not to!

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bak on my first visit to Dubai in 2009 – pre children!

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Have you ever been to Dubai before? I’d love to hear the things that you would love to do, if you were to visit.

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*This post is an entry in to the Tots100/Dubai Dreams blogger challenge. Dubai Tourism will be selecting the best reader comment on the winning challenge blog post too – the author will win their own family break to Dubai!

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26 Comments

  1. 22nd May 2016 / 2:17 pm

    I love love love the Middle East and often visit Dubai. I was lucky enough to grow up in Oman and met my husband in Bahrain, so it holds a very special place in my heart. I love the Arabic traditions and customs and really hope to move back out there in the very near future. I’d like my kids to experience the same upbringing as me :)

    • 22nd May 2016 / 2:19 pm

      wow that is amazing! Such an amazing area! x

  2. Anita C
    22nd May 2016 / 5:09 pm

    Dreams of Dubai!

    I have never been to Dubai before but I’ve been dreaming of visiting for a few years. Here’s my dream itinerary for a fabulous four day holiday!

    Day One: I always like to spend my first day taking it easy after the journey there and try to get a feeling for the local area. So we would spend day one having a relaxing swim in the sea and then a exploratory walk. Later, we would take the 90 minute Yellow Boat tour (Dubai RIB Boat Cruise: Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina). It’s an exhilarating ride around the bay for the kids (but not too tiring) and a great way to see the Palm Atlantis, Burj Al-Arab and the royal palaces.

    Day Two: The second day would begin with a once-in-a-lifetime deep-water dolphin encounter at Atlantis The Palm – something all the family would love and remember forever. The dolphin experience also gives you free entrance to the Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark and 25% off your visit to the Lost Chambers Aquarium, so that’s day two covered!

    Day Three: After a couple of child-focussed activity days, my children are usually more open to a more adult-orientated sightseeing tour so we would spend our third day with Tour Val, a highly-recommended sight-seeing tour of the old and new city so we can learn more about the beautiful city of Dubai.

    Day Four: You can’t visit the desert without riding a camel so we would spend our final day on a Platinum Heritage tour, offering a Camel Safari followed by a Land Rover Safari in the desert where you are taken for a meal and entertainment at a bedouin camp!

    You see, Dubai is so magical. You would think you were dreaming, even when you’re there!

  3. 22nd May 2016 / 8:35 pm

    I’ve never been before but know loads of people who have. It’s on my list of places to visit before I turn 40 so who knows – hopefully I’ll check it off the list real soon x

  4. 22nd May 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Says Ickle Pickle……. ‘Mummy and my big sister have always wanted to visit Dubai – it absolutely fascinates them. It is at the top of our Travel Bucket List, how amazing would it be if I could make their dreams come true’. IP x x

  5. 22nd May 2016 / 11:16 pm

    I went to Dubai last year and I loved it. Desperate to go again. We stayed at the Atlantis. The people were all very friendly and brilliant with children. I really wanted to do a night dessert safari. X

  6. 23rd May 2016 / 8:17 am

    I love Dubai – I haven’t managed to take the children yet but I really would love to. I love the fact that in Dubai they dream big and you get a sense that anything is possible. This is expertly deemed with culture and tradition as well though which makes it a unique place to visit.

    There really is so much to do but in terms of the best thing to do that costs nothing, it has to be the fountains – they are just amazing.

    I like the idea that with Ski Dubai you could mix a winter and summer holiday – only in Dubai right?

    Good luck with your entry x

  7. 23rd May 2016 / 1:00 pm

    Oh my goodness, you are so lucky to have visited twice before. It is always so good to hear from someone who has first hand knowledge, as often we can have our own preconceptions (such as it will be too hot to handle) that just are not a fair reflection on reality.
    I have my own top 5 list for Dubai, which include swimming with dolphins, visiting a Bedouin camp, and seeing the Dubai Fountain.
    Having read your post I would have to add afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab, and visiting a Mosque. I think it is so important that our children learn about different cultures. I believe Dubai is one of those multi – cultural cities that would not only be a dream worthy experience, but an education as well.
    Good luck with your entry.
    Mel @mydaysni recently posted…Fantasies, Football and The Fall. #LittleLovesMy Profile

  8. Marie
    23rd May 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Hi Rebecca,
    Having never been to the Middle East your statements ring true, along with – ‘Surely that’s a stopover destination’ and ‘The heat would be no good for the children’ but the more I read, the more enticing Dubai is sounding.
    I love the cultural angle, the mosques and finding out more about a different culture. I’m not too fussed on the mall (I say now!) but the souk really appeals as it’s so different. We are a water family, so would love to visit a water park and the beach. I’d never considered afternoon tea until you mentioned it – but that would be a real treat. Last but by no means least I would love to take the children on a desert safari and maybe stay there overnight?
    At the moment these are all dreams, but one day maybe they will become a reality.

  9. 23rd May 2016 / 8:42 pm

    Wow it must be good if you want to go back again! It really is the ‘hot’ place to be seen right now (in all senses of the word). It’s so great that it’s a family destination as well – it mingles opulence with a warm welcome and a value for money. Good luck :)

  10. 24th May 2016 / 9:44 am

    I would ask all those questions too, as someone who has never been to Dubai. I can see that anywhere that has afternoon tea would have my kind of food, add in the shopping and the culture and I can see Dubai would be a great place to take my family. My son and Hubby would love the water parks and somewhere to cool down. The thrill of a camel ride and watching the stars from the middle of the desert sound like the type of family holiday that would be one we could remember for a lifetime. Good luck.

  11. 24th May 2016 / 8:30 pm

    The water parks look outstanding but also a highly useful means of keeping cool! I get that Ski Dubai might seem a bit crazy for some people, but if you can’t face the midday sun, then it’s probably the coolest place in the city! If my my children were older, I’d throw a bit more culture into the mix (visiting a mosque is an excellent idea!). The Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort is also modestly priced. I’d love to go dune bashing on the desert safari, though again I’d have to wait for my youngest son to be a little bit older… Still there’s always the view from the Burj Khalifa – half a kilometre above ground?! Now that is crazy!

  12. Carmen Bateman
    25th May 2016 / 6:26 pm

    Our family loves Dubai and believe it is the best family holiday destination ever! An inspirational place, with so much to see and do, not just its year round sunshine and gorgeous beaches. The warm, unsurpassable hospitality you receive will guarantee it a place in your family’s heart. Dubai has the World’s best of everything, including horse racing, water parks, cuisine, shopping mall – complete with ice rink and aquarium inside, tallest building and must see musical fountain. There’s no poverty, and the public transport is easily accessible and inexpensive. Take Rebecca’s advice, give it a go; the entire holiday will be the best family thrill ride they’ve ever been on! You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by what excellent value it is.

  13. 25th May 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab would be awesome! We have done Dubai with the boys, but as your pace is a little slower with kids in tow, it is certainly somewhere I would love to go back too. They loved the beaches and waterparks. Oh and the food! Everything is so fresh. They even went and made fresh apple juice at breakfast when we asked if they had some! We weren’t expecting that! I would love to go back and go out and do a desert safari and that is the one thing I really wished we had done. I did make sure I had a camel ride on the beach though to make up for missing it!

  14. 25th May 2016 / 9:13 pm

    It’s lovely to hear from someone who has visited Dubai. I think you are right about the culture, and this is an experience I would love to share with my family. I feel like it would be an eye opening moment for us all on lots of levels. I keep reading about the desert safari’s and I’m completely sold. I love experiences that remind you that you are a tiny dot on a very big landscape, it gives me a real sense of perspective. The kids would love Atlantis too, I might send Daddy there with the girls while I hit the shops. There is a part of me that has got to see KidZania in Dubai too. I think I would love it as much as the girls. It sounds like a great family holiday destiantion, and one that now firmly has a place on my bucket list
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…Things I Will Never Do To My KidsMy Profile

  15. 25th May 2016 / 10:01 pm

    I have never been to Dubai before, although my brother has often as he works in the travel industry. I have heard such amazing things about it though and really want to visit someday. It sounds like you had a wonderful time and made some special memories. Afternoon tea at Burj al Arab sounds like my idea of heaven – I love afternoon tea xx
    Lindsay At Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Sophia You Are ThreeMy Profile

  16. Richard Beesley
    25th May 2016 / 11:39 pm

    Dubai looks simply amazing. So much to do, so many different worlds all wrapped up in one gorgeous place. Looking at what Dubai has to offer, I’ve been really impressed by the range of family-friendly options – theme parks, indoor fun sessions, skate parks – as well as sports, stunning beaches, and entertainment.

    What I hadn’t realised was how much variety there is in Dubai in terms of food and culture. Our son is a huge foodie, despite being only 10, and would love visiting some of the restaurants and tasting the new flavours.

    As a family we would love to be able to visit Dubai, and experience just a taste of what is on offer. Our elder son loves nature, so would enjoy the different wildlife on show. And dad… well, quad-biking in the sand dunes would suit him perfectly. As for mum… of course Dubai is a shopper’s paradise! And I’m sure we would all enjoy a tour of historic Dubai, as well as the many museums. There truly is something for everyone.

    The hardest part will be choosing what to do. It really does seem that Dubai has it all, a wealth of opportunities to explore and experience.

    Dubai really is the city of possibilities and I want to ‘Discover All That’s Possible In Dubai’.

  17. 26th May 2016 / 8:44 am

    Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more!

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to
    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry!

  18. Vicky Online
    26th May 2016 / 9:26 am

    My 3 Top things in Dubai.
    1. Miracle Garden. I saw it on Gardener’s World I think and it made a huge impression. (As an aside, that was me tweeting Monty Don about any chance of a programme on Islamic Gardening a few days ago.) Concept gardening against the odds, on a grand scale for me, and in your face whackiness for the kids.
    2. Dubai Conservation Reserve. A 4 by 4 safari in an exotic natural environment, which my kids would LOVE,
    3. The Malls.
    The Dubai Mall, because, WOW!
    Also The Dragon Mall. Read about it in the Economist as a microcosm of the interconnectness and dynamism of world trade. I have a vision of it in my head as being like something from Blade Runner, except not in the dark or raining, or having the underlying feeling of glamorous menace. Okay nothing like Blade Runner except constantly busy and diverse and that is more than good enough for me.
    Goodness, just thinking about it, I would LOVE to go to Dubai!

  19. 26th May 2016 / 9:42 am

    I think this is all so very true
    Dubai would be perfect – it is for me too
    Good luck with your entry and if you win
    Make room in your case, and please fit me in!

  20. Zoe
    26th May 2016 / 11:26 am

    Wow the Dubai fountain looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go to Dubai just to see that yet there is so much more all in one place – it is almost too hard to imagine so I will have to go there to find out for myself ? The beautiful beach beckons me, incredible concerts and entertainment, retail heaven and then relax and unwind by trying out traditional spa therapies at the hammam! The food in Dubai looks divine and I bet it is delicious. My husband would love the adventure sports, golf courses and falconry. There is something here for everyone. Dubai is my dream destination

  21. Bernadette Cooke
    26th May 2016 / 1:32 pm

    I would love to take my grandsons on a Dream Trip to Dubai – a clean, safe, family-friendly holiday destination, with plenty of activities to choose from for any age range. As well as relaxing on the beautiful golden sand of JBR Beach with its warm, calm and shallow waters we would all enjoy a dune-bashing safari followed by a camel ride and BBQ dinner in a Bedouin desert camp.

    We would visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort to learn about life from a bygone era as a contrast to the amazing architecture of the modern city which we could view from the front or rear carriages of the driverless Dubai Metro system and then take it all in from the At The Top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

    The free and impressive Dubai Fountain water, light and music show can be watched from one of many waterfront cafes just outside the Dubai Mall. The malls in Dubai have many family attractions to choose from. The boys could try ice-skating, helped by the ‘penguin pals’, visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and also see the giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton (DubaiDino), all in the Dubai Mall.

    The boys love theme parks and this summer Dubai will open the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure with four themed zones inside including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard. This will be completely enclosed and temperature-controlled with 1.5 million square feet of entertainment space!

    Our only problem will be going home with so much more left for us to see and do in beautiful Dubai

  22. 26th May 2016 / 1:52 pm

    The more I read about how wonderful Dubai is the more I am itching to go!! It’s interesting to hear from someone who has already been (especially twice!) and who would still love to go again. I just think it’s filled with amazing once in a lifetime opportunities and I agree, there seems to be so much which is unique to Dubai and couldn’t be replicated anywhere else; if that’s not a wonderful reason to go alone then I don’t know what is?!

  23. 26th May 2016 / 3:05 pm

    A desert safari would be high up on my list of things to do in Dubai. We went on a jeep safari 17 years ago on our honeymoon (not in Dubai but a lot closer to home) but it proved to be the best bit of our honeymoon. I would love to relive those memories and remember that feeling of being newly married before the rest of life takes over! It seems that Dubai is the perfect place to escape from it all and enjoy all the magic and wonder that it offers.

  24. 26th May 2016 / 4:49 pm

    You lucky thing getting to experience Dubai twice! I was rather jealous when my parents went…without me. But they did bring back amazing presents so all was forgiven!

    My dream is for me and my family to swim with Dolphins in Dubai (it makes me tear up at the thought!). I would love to do it in a much more natural setting than in a swimming pool and I have heard there are some amazing places to swim with them! I would love to visit Atlantis too as it would be a brilliant day for everyone (and I am a big kid). I also wouldn’t mind chilling on the beach with my boys, building sandcastles too. Just heaven!

  25. 26th May 2016 / 10:13 pm

    The desert safari sounds great! I think its important to sample the local cuisine, so it would be high on my list. Then of course a trip to the souks so that I could create similar dishes at home. At the souk I would be tempted by fabrics and probably go home with 3 suitcases full.

    Good luck with your entry.

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