Dubai – winter sun

The Dubai skyline

The rise of Dubai as a top winter sun destination.

Dubai is now a top winter sun destination for sun starved UK residents. When the clocks go back to GMT and it gets darker and colder here, the climate of Dubai beckons. Looking for sunshine, where can we go that won’t give us serious jet lag, and is guaranteed warmth and amusement? One destination now at the top of the list these days is Dubai.

Luxury hotel – the Park Hyatt

Facts about Dubai

Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. On the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, it is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai. It is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Without the oil resources of its UAE neighbours, Dubai decided to focus on tourism, and this strategy seems to have been incredibly successful.
The country had 10.44 million visitors last year with the lion’s share coming from Western Europe. The UK is third in the visitor list behind India and the Kingdom of Saudi.
Spices in the Souk

Dubai as the world’s air travel hub

Dubai has big ideas. It is ruled by one royal family and this means that decisions are made quickly without endless prevarication. The enormous Dubai airport is one of those big ideas. It has undergone an extraordinary expansion, rapidly becoming one of the world’s busiest hubs. It is on course to becoming the world’s busiest airport, knocking Heathrow of the top spot.  50% of all flights from here are flown by Emirates, the country’s own airline. The business class lounge at Dubai is definitely a great experience, although you must be flying business class to get into it. You can have everything from a delicious running buffet to a personalised cocktail. You can have an omelette made for you at any time of the day or night, and that’s just for starters.

Emirate lounge Dubai airport

Dubai’s big attractions

I travel often on  Emirates airlines, mainly to and from Australia where my friends live. Breaking the journey from Australia back home at the Emirates airline hub in Dubai, is a good way of making you feel you’re not really going home yet.

The country almost went bust some years ago from continuous borrowing and expansion.  Dubai pulled itself up by its Shopping Malls, and is back in the volume visitor game. In financial difficulties, Dubai had its debts underwritten to the tune of 10 billion dollars by the UAE president, Khalifa Bin Zayed.

One of the reasons that Dubai has become a top winter sun destination, is that it has invested in some very big attractions.  Worth a visit if you are in Dubai, is the tallest building in the world, which opened here in 2010. It was to be called the Burj Dubai but was hastily renamed the Burj Khalifa after Dubai borrowed that equivalent of the world’s biggest cup of sugar from its oil rich next door neighbour. 

Reach for the sky – the Burj Khalifa!

Dubai is all about excess and confidence. The rather spectacular Burj Kalifa ,  features in the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible film to excellent effect. Dubai has at least another two ‘biggest in the world’ attractions.

The Dubai Fountains

The Dubai Fountains are the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. It is set on the 30-acre man made Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development. They were designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas.

The fountains are illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors. It is 275 m long and shoots water up to 500 ft into the air accompanied by a range of classical, contemporary Arabic, and world music. Built at a cost of 800 million AED these fountains these fountains were very very expensive but are indeed quite breathtaking.

Dancing Fountains

The fountains perform for about 10 minutes every half hour or so. The thud of the great jets shooting up into the inky Arabian night at each crescendo is heart stopping. Another ‘biggest in the world’ attraction is the gigantic Dubai Mall. It is very up scale and has lots and lots of very lovely shops, plus the impressive addition of a giant aquarium. There is a huge shark tunnel,  home to some sharp toothed residents actually inside the Mall itself.

Pop Up Shop – Dubai Mall

Old Dubai

Nowadays, there isn’t much left of the old Dubai – money has changed everything for this desert state. The things I like best about Dubai are not the ambitious man made ones, but the remaining bits of the original small Arabic settlement which grew up on the Dubai creek. You can still cross the river on a  water taxi for the princely sum of one Dirham (about 10p) and mooch around the old spice market or the gold souks.
The gold souks are full of gold obviously, but they also also sell amazing diamonds and precious gemstones at good prices. I bought a beautiful Tanzanite and Diamond ring there, which I shall treasure for ever.
Dubai creek crossing

One of the main selling points of Dubai as a top winter sun destination is of course the fabulous weather. Dubai has a tropical desert climate. Summers are extremely hot and humid, with an average high of around 41 degrees, but in our winter its more likely to be in the 30 degree range. An ideal temperature for warming up chilled bones. It is pretty much sunny every day.

Dubai a city to marvel at

The Burj Khalifa proudly boasts:“I am the heart of city and its people, the marker that defines Emaar’s ambition and Dubai’s shining dream’    That grand statement may be true, and advanced as the country seems to be in many ways,  Dubai does not have equality for half of its population. Women still walk around covered in black, even though apparently they are all wearing stuff from Top Shop underneath. There couldn’t be a worse garment to wear in this dry, often punishing heat.

Dubai from the sky

Is this the acceptable face of the Middle East?

Dubai as a country seems to be a contradiction. It promotes Western consumerism while practicing Middle Eastern religious tradition.  Dubai is a destination to marvel at, if not one to steal your heart.  It is  undeniably a top winter sun destination however. It is pretty accessible, has plenty of luxury hotels, lots to do, beaches and desert, and plenty of shopping. Check out more information about Dubai here at Visit Dubai