With just 24 hours to spare in the city, Ananya Bahl plans a perfect itinerary
I feel like a bird as I stand on the observation deck at Level 148 of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. After marvelling at the magnificent vistas of Dubai from the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, I descend to the Dubai Mall’s Galeries Lafayette, one of the world’s most resplendent retail therapy options. And in case you don’t like shopping, you can visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink and the dancing Dubai Fountain. If you’re travelling with children, you could spend your morning at the Wild Wadi Waterpark at Jumeirah Street. For those who love culture and history, the Al Fahidi neighbourhood is a great place for a morning jaunt. See what traditional life in Old Dubai was like during the mid-19th century here. Located along the Dubai Creek, this district is a key heritage site that has preserved much of the original infrastructure. You can gain some insight into the Arabic language, the architecture of the local mosques and traditional Emirati cuisine at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. End your Old Town adventure with a quick stopover at the famed Spice Souk to buy za’atar spice and dates.
For lunch, I stop at Madinat Jumeirah, a bona fide recreation of Arabian antiquity. Located by a private beach and comprising three hotels — Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A’Salam and the newly opened Jumeirah Al Naseem — offering 50 restaurants and a traditional souk, I am spoilt for choice! I choose to dine at Tortuga, a restaurant reminiscent of a Mexican home’s many gastronomic wonders. It’s a representation of modern Dubai: influences from around the world in an Arabic setting!
You can also head to the Dubai International Financial Centre: an area boasting restaurants offering every cuisine imaginable. The Mall of the Emirates houses several restaurants and concept cafés too.
The evening is reserved for Franco Dragone’s spectacular live masterpiece, La Perle, that’s staged at Al Habtoor City. With awe I watch the mise en scène, as scores of dancers and acrobats perform death-defying stunts and synchronised dances to put up a jaw-dropping show. If you like live entertainment, the Dubai Opera puts up shows regularly.
Another magical spot to visit in the evenings is the Dubai Garden Glow, with its unique glow-in-the-dark complex, dinosaur park and ice sculpture park.
It’s hard to come back to reality after the celestial La Perle, but dinner must be had, and so I head to the next-door W Dubai Al Habtoor City for a quick meal. You can also reserve a seat at Olea for some mouthwatering modern Middle-Eastern cuisine at the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.
For some laid-back fun on Dubai’s eclectic beaches, drive a short distance to La Mer, Dubai’s new beachfront. Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends or family, this destination features wide, open spaces with palm tree-lined boulevards, shops and street art.
The author is a travel writer and the views expressed in this article are her own