Yes, the Burj Khalifa is the main attraction. But there’s so much more to see.
Continuing on from yesterday’s piece and the best things to see if you happen to visit Athens, today we move on to one of the most impressive places I have had the good fortune to visit on my travels— the United Arab Emirates.
All of the sites listed below are from the two biggest cities in the nation: Abu Dhabi and Dubai. After all, there really isn’t that much to see in the other five of the emirates (Fujairah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain, in case you were wondering) and considering how much the two most advanced areas in the region have to offer, you probably wouldn’t have much time for anything else even if you wanted to.
- Visit the Dubai Mall that connects to the Burj Khalifa
Just to get this out of the way, the city of Dubai has the greatest, largest, most impressive shopping center in the entire world. It contains an indoor hockey ring, an unprecedented number of shops, cafes and restaurants from all around the globe and even an indoor aquarium and zoo. It goes up four levels and while it is exhausting to explore them all, it is well worth your time!
But the main attraction is the outdoor area with the large fountains, right below the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. At any given time you can see hundreds, if not thousands of people gathered here with their phones in hand, taking pictures. What’s really impressive about this area however is that the fountains are scheduled to do little “performances” at certain times of the day which can really be a sight to see, as the jumping water combines beautifully with the various colors of the lights to create a real spectacle.
This is truly the number one destination in the entire region and you cannot say you’ve been to the Emirates if you don’t at least walk through here.
2. See the world’s first ever indoor snowboarding slope
As if the Dubai Mall wasn’t enough, this marvelous city has yet another large shopping center: the Mall Of The Emirates. While not as large as its counterpart, it will still require some patience, stamina and comfortable shoes to walk around if you want to see everything, but undoubtedly the most impressive of its sights is on the third level of this mega-complex.
An indoor snowboarding center, as impossible as it sounds, has been placed here, for fans of the sport (or of cold weather) who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it in this part of the world. After all, temperatures have been known to reach 50 degrees Celsius and you will rarely see a cloud in the Emirati sky.
Which is what makes this accomplishment all the more astounding. You’re in the desert, the last thing you expect to see is snow. And yet, here it is, in all of its white majesty. So hop in and try your hand at some snowboarding — or just get into a good old fashioned snowball fight.
3. Visit the Etihad Tower to get a view from the top
One of the best places to go to in Abu Dhabi is the Etihad Tower, not only because it is ideally placed in between the heart of the city and the marina, or the great architecture behind its design, but mainly since its 77th level is open to visitors, offering a unique view that is hard to compete with.
Many parts of this specific emirate are still under construction — in comparison to Dubai which is all but completed — and from this location you can clearly see all the different sectors of the city, everything that’s already been built and all the locations that are still coming up. You can also see the gulf, the Marina Mall, and the Sheikh’s Palace, which is almost as big as an island!
Furthermore, you can do all this while trying out the amazing food at the nearby cafeteria. What more could you ask for really?
4. Go… windsurfing!
While there aren’t that many beaches or natural sights in this region, there are still things you can do outdoors. One of them is windsurfing, where you’re tied up to the back of a speeding vehicle with a parachute on your back and you ride the strong desert winds. It’s one of the most popular extreme sports in the Emirati region.
Of course, if you’re not really into that, you could always try out a more quiet safari, which is nothing like its African edition with all the wild animals, but instead you’re taken out to the desert and you have the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the oldest traditions of the locals.
Or you could just try one of the other popular local sports, such as cricket.
5. Explore our cultural heritage at the Louvre
Opening its doors in early 2018, the Abu Dhabi Louvre has nothing to be envious of from its Parisian counterpart. The wide number of iconic historical items that carry such a great history within them will leave you impressed, even if you’re not a history buff — believe me!
Divided into sections based on different eras, civilizations or even themes (there’s a whole area with art pieces like paintings and sculptures) the Abu Dhabi Louvre is sure to capture your interest and will have you leaving the area with a sense of enlightenment and self-improvement. After all, there is so much knowledge within these halls that you’re bound to pick up on something that you didn’t know. And that’s the greatest memory you could possibly take out of this journey.
If you’re fortunate enough, you might happen to visit the museum during one of its many exhibitions. For example, during my visit, there was a whole area dedicated to the French Revolution. Definitely a sight to behold!
And those are just five of the things you can do during your visit to the UAE. Of course, there are many more that don’t fit on this list (for example, heading down to the Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi and treating yourself to some of the best chocolate treats you’ll ever find at the Godiva Bar) but I’ll leave those for you to find.
Next up we’ll continue with another holiday destination. Till then!