Why not begin your new life together in a new city? Dazzling Dubai, leader of the United Arab Emirates, is a striking, newer-than tomorrow oasis of futuristic buildings bordered by a majestic desert and the clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. A young look and a sophisticated vivacity that is palpable make it one of the most exciting destinations in the Middle East.
Its ultra modern facilities are the perfect combination of 21st century business and pleasure. Though it is a centuries old trading center and an ancient pearl diving capital, the city of Dubai is just over 20 years old and growing fast.
Some of the world’s most avant-garde architecture surrounds you from the moment you step off the plane into the ultra modern airport. Hotels are off the charts for luxury and design. Many are part of skyscrapers that also include giant shopping malls and sightseeing attractions. Some, which feature the latest perks for business travelers, are also sprawling seaside resorts with meandering gardens and pristine, white sand beaches.
You can step into yesterday by visiting a Bedouin camp in the desert, seeing the Spice Market and the Gold Market, or crossing the creek that intersects the city on a typical dhow (boat.) The future is just across the street in the world’s highest building and the world’s longest automated metro.
“Awesome” is a word you’ll find yourselves saying over and over on every honeymoon day as you discover Dubai together.
There won't be a dull honeymoon moment unless you want one. Dubai offers such a wide variety of things to do that you'll have many left over for an anniversary trip. Get a taste of life in the desert by visiting a Bedouin village. Watch sports you've never seen or practice your favorites. Ski on snow or on soaring sand dunes. Dine in one of the world's most luxurious hotels. Shop in centuries old markets (souks) or ultra modern malls. Visit internationally famous art galleries. (Dubai is the art center of the Middle East.) Desert Adventures (www.desertadventures.com) can make it easy to do it all.
- GET OUT TO THE MALL: Malls here are sights to see. Many house state-of- the art, multi-floor hotels and offices and some of the area's major attractions as well as hundreds of world class shops and boutiques. For example, The Dubai Mall has over 1,000 shops, an olympic sized skating rink, a giant Cineplex and a Cyber World. Mall of the Emirates has a ski resort with runs for every skill level and a 400 room Kempinski Hotel as well as plenty of fashionable stores and restaurants. Typical souks are choc full of local handicrafts and treasures. This is truly a shoppers' paradise. Everything is Duty Free!
- SKIING: This may be the only place in the world that you can choose to ski on snow or sand! At Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates, you can rent cold weather clothes and equipment (Bring your own hat and gloves!,) then step into the snow covered wonderland complete with a chair lift, 5 ski runs and a ski school. Non skiiers who want to experience snow can build snow men, have a snowball "fight" or go tobogganing. The slopes are sometimes open until midnight! Or, you can go into the desert with a snowboard and snowboard down high sand dunes. Be sure to wear light pants!
- VISIT THE SPICE MARKET AND THE GOLD MARKET: Get a taste of days gone by as you stroll the covered alleyways of these two centuries old souks. Taste juicy fresh desert dates and exotic spices at old fashioned shops, the prepared to be awed at the Gold Market shops next door. All that glitters is gold here and the price per carat is posted on an anachronistic ticker tape high above the ancient front gate. Gold comes in 14-24 carats and prices here are among the world's lowest. Shops close from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
- BASTAKIYA ART & CULTURAL CENTER: A cluster of small houses, wind towers and narrow streets dating back hundreds of years is a heritage area that is now a series of shops and art galleries. Their annual Art Fair complements the intera- tionally famous Art Dubai Fair. A small restaurant in the courtyard is a perfect place to cool off and enjoy a snack after sightseeing.
- RIDE THE METRO: It's amazing! Stations are air conditioned inside and out. Each train has wireless Internet access and cell phone reception. Buy a First Class (Gold Class) ticket to enjoy comfortable leather seats in the front of the train. This is not only a great way to get around but also a perfect opportunity to see spectacular city views.
- FIND YOUR FAVORITE SPORT, OR TRY A NEW ONE: Championship golf courses, tennis courts, sailing, windsurfing, fishing and diving (Bring your credentials.) are easy to find. You can also try sand skiing over high dunes, take a camel ride, drive over high desert dunes, watch a polo game or a hawking expert, or swim with dolphins.
- SEE IT FROM THE TOP: Panoramic city views can take your breath away and help you get oriented. The 40th floor of Burj Dubai, the world's highest building, is the perfect place to begin. For a romantic view after dark, have a drink at the bar at Grosvenor House Hotel where you can see sparkling city lights spread out below you as you listen to soft piano music.
Tips and Advice
- LANGUAGE: The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken.
- GETTING AROUND: An ultra modern metro can whisk you around town. Taxis are affordable and ferry boats cross the creek. At the airport, pink taxis whose female drivers wear pink uniforms are for women and children.
- CURRENCY: Dirham. Banks are open Saturday-thursday from 8:00 a.m.- l:00 p.m.
- AREA CODE: 009 714.
- ELECTRICITY: 220/240 volts, 40 cycles, same as Great Britain. U.S. appliances need an adapter.
- DRIVING: Driving is on the left. Be careful to keep the speed limit as hidden cameras can issue tickets automatically.
- SHOPPING: Dubai is Duty Free throughout. Many shops close from ll:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. but all are open until 9:00 p.m. every night.
HELPFUL HONEYMOON HINTS
- CUSTOMS: Here are a few local customs that you should be sure to follow:
- Dress: Don't wear revealing clothes, tank tops, low necklines, short shorts or revealing clothes in public places.
- Kissing and fondling in public can make you subject to arrest.
- Meeting: Women should not shake hands with Arab men. Men can shake if a hand is offered.
- Alcoholic beverages are only available in hotels.
- WEEKENDS: Fridays are the day of rest. Friday and Saturday are the weekend.
- MEDICINES: Many medicines, even some which are sold over-the-counter elsewhere, are banned here. Make sure that you bring a doctor's prescription or letter for everything you need.
- TIPPING: Check that restaurant bills include service. If not, a tip of 10% is adequate. Taxi drivers do not expect tips but most passengers leave small change.
- NIGHTCLUBS: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights are prime time when you can dance until 3:00 a.m. Some clubs are segregated into Arabic, Western, Indian, and Filipino clientele. Check with your concierge.
- RAMADAN: Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during this sacred holy month which falls on different dates every year. Visitors can dine in hotels throughout the day.
- BARGAINING: Most mall stores have fixed prices but bargaining is the a custom in typical souks (markets) and street stalls. Be patient and enjoy it. You'll save lots of money on items for your new home.