There is more to see in Dubai than the world’s tallest building, largest shopping malls and indoor ski fields. Situated conveniently between New Zealand and Europe, Dubai makes an excellent stopover, but it’s also a cool destination in its own right.
1. Art Dubai - This is the biggest art show in all of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In its seventh year now, art galleries and renown artists descend upon the Emirate to show and sell their work to discerning buyers from all over the world. It runs for four days in March and features 75 galleries from 32 countries. You'll find sculpture, painting, photography, multi-media pieces and thought-provoking installations.
2. Nasimi Beach at Atlantis - The Palm is a manmade island in the shape of a palm tree bursting with beachfront apartments and hotels on each "frond". At the top is the Atlantis Hotel and huge waterpark which is great for a day trip with the family. But for the best beach in Dubai with views to die for, head to Nasimi Beach. From 4pm lounge music plays and then it becomes a dance party at night. The food, while pricey, is fantastic. No cover charge but they make up for it on the food and drinks.
3. Bastakiya - Dubai might seem all modern and glitzy, but it was an important part of the spice trading route between India and Iran in the early 19th Century. The Bastakiya is the historic area which still has the roughly clad walls surrounding houses of wealthy traders and the royal family's fort is now a museum. Their ingenious wind tower air conditioning is impressive. You'll find lots of little galleries and cafes down here now.
4. Souks - The Gold Souk is famous its great prices. A digital sign at the entrance denotes the international rate for the day and then it's up to you to barter in the many shops with windows laden in bling. The Spice Souk is no where near as big as Istanbul, but you'll find the same things including tea, fresh dates and I bought Iranian saffron here for a quarter of the price of Turkey and a tenth of what I'd pay in New Zealand.
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5. Desert safari - When you're in Dubai it would be rude not to go into the desert! Arabian Adventures Sundowner Tour includes a white-knuckle 4WD dune-bashing ride, falcon display and barbecue in a Bedouin Campsite with belly dancing, henna tattooing and sheesha. It's an eye-opening experience!