3 spots in the United Arab Emirates you’ll fall in love with.
You know that travel game you play with a globe? The one where you give it a good spin and let your finger fall on a random place and decide ‘there, that’s where I want to go someday’. You might often find yourself dreaming of sandy beaches or towering mountains that you can visualise so clearly it’s like you’ve already been there. And then there are the places that you might think of as stopovers along the way. Merely places and airports between plane changes.
And that might have been the United Arab Emirates of old, but not any longer. For anyone travelling to Europe on Emirates, Etihad or Qantas, the UAE is a fantastic destination in its own right for anyone looking to experience something different – and luxurious. The Emirates’ tourism authority has gone to extensive efforts to support the thriving tourism industry and the results are so spectacular, you’ll want to make sure your ‘stopover’ is a holiday in its own right.
Read on to discover some unmissable experiences that’ll have you dreaming of Arabian nights in no time.
As one of the richest cities in the world, everything about Abu Dhabi screams extravagance and glamour. The buildings are modern yet ornate, clearly, the work of a diligent design team and the will of citizens to create a visually astounding experience for tourists and locals alike.
An unmissable demonstration of this meeting of culture and excess is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This place of worship is a sight to behold. It is the largest mosque in the country and houses seven elaborate chandeliers, pillars of marble and inlaid mother of pearl as well as an advanced lighting system which reflects the phases of the moon – very possibly something you’ll not see anywhere else.
An obvious but important note, the mosque is a religious building so you will need to dress to local modesty standards and observe cultural customs on your visit (your travel agent will be able to advise you on any additional measures you’ll need to take).
When you’ve had your fill of the mosque’s visual feast, indulge in a completely contrary experience by heading over to Ferrari World. Yes, you read that right, Abu Dhabi is the site of the first ever Ferrari branded theme park. Motorheads and dreamers alike will love this place.
More than just a tribute to the automobile empire, Ferrari World plays host to a variety of events to delight its visitors including a roller coaster, go-carting, light shows and live acts (this winter there will be an ice-skating performance – really). It’s hard to nail down what the ‘theme’ of this ‘theme park’ really is but you’ll certainly have a blast exploring all the weird and wonderful it has to offer.
Where Abu Dhabi is built for glamour, Dubai is built for people. As the country’s major business hub, Dubai is where you’ll find a more accurate depiction of day-to-day life in the UAE.
Dubai is also the perfect place to grab your wallet, put on your comfy shoes and get ready for a big day – of shopping! And we mean BIG! The Dubai Mall is a landmark in itself, the largest entertainment retail space in the world. Home to more than 1200 shops, ranging from boutique middle eastern brands to international designer locations, if you’re looking to pick up a souvenir (or ten…) this really is your one-stop shop. More than just a shopping centre, the mall’s high wattage signage and unique modern interior design will draw your eyes in a million and one directions – so be sure not to miss your favourite store.
Conveniently located right next door to the mall, is Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. You mightn’t have remembered its name, but you’ll know this immense and impressive tower on sight. It made an iconic appearance in the one of the Mission Impossible films where Tom Cruise’s character rappelled down its side – a stunt the actor famously did himself.
Built in 2010, Burj Khalifa has fast become the centrepiece of Dubai, standing as a testament to the innovative and individual style of modern middle eastern architecture. It features two observation decks and guided tours of a number of other floors. Visitor space is limited so we highly recommend booking through your travel agent to secure your spot – and the best price.
Like most places in the UAE, Dubai enjoys reasonably warm weather all 12 months of the year. To avoid sweltering, visit anytime from October through May, the UAE’s winters only ever go down to a balmy 20 degrees.
As mesmerising at the UAE’s cities are, they aren’t the only beauty to be found on your trip and the best way to see a slightly different side of the country is to venture into the desert on safari.
Head out from Abu Dhabi or Dubai for an unforgettable wilderness with a difference experience. With the help of a guide/driver, you’ll quickly become enamoured with the palpable air of vastness that pervades the desert. The wide expanses of sand look just like orange waves in the ocean – there’s a reason people find themselves seeing mirages in the desert, with the surreal atmosphere it’s not hard to be overwhelmed.
Your safari will likely feature a number of entertainment and cultural events, such as belly dancing and fire shows, as well as a camel ride across the dunes. Aside from the wonder of the actual experience, the pictures you take will be amazing (Albury Travel photo calendar 2020 anyone?). The desert sand under the pink dusk sky is magical and more colourful than you could imagine.
Ready to see the UAE’s hidden gems for yourself? We’d be delighted to help. You can give us a call today on (02) 6041 5577, visit our office at 601 Dean Street, Albury or book an appointment to speak directly with one of our travel agents via the form below.
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