Luxury, culture and a world of adventure awaits you in Dubai

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If you fancy luxury, thrilling adventure and a vast range of restaurants to choose from, we would highly recommend a trip to Dubai. Often termed as the world’s fastest-growing city, Dubai has grown from a trading hub between the Eastern and Western worlds to an ultramodern and urban destination filled with a glamorous, westernized atmosphere. If we were billionaires, Dubai would be the place to live without a doubt!

A bird view image of the now ultramodern city of Dubai

Just a five-hour away from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Dubai is one of the seven United Arab Emirates (UAE) states centred between Abu Dhabi and Oman. Its fast rate development stemmed from the discovery of oil in 1966 and grew to what it is today with revenues from tourism, real estate, aviation and financial services. It has a population of close to three million people, 15% of whom are UAE nationals and 85%, expatriates.

The country’s ability to achieve the unimaginable should have its own chapter in the annals of History and Dubai has a great deal to show off. This is evidenced by the various ingenious developments and those yet to be created.

Enough with the boring stuff, let’s get to the fun stuff!

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WHERE TO STAY

Rove Downtown

If you’re looking for an affordable place to stay while in Dubai look no further. The Rove’s surroundings are ‘Instagram worthy’ and that is noticeable from the minute you walk in. Millennials will feel quite at home in its quirky and modern interior and will have you taking out your cameras in no time.

The Rove hotel lounge area

Not only is the Rove made for social media but, its location is just as fabulous. Just twenty minutes away from the Dubai Airport, the hotel is adjacent to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. We also made sure to take advantage of the City Centre Deira mall that was just a 10-minute walk from the hotel and managed to squeeze in a little shopping into the fun hectic schedule we had. The service was informal, yet professional which made us feel even more welcome. The staff were chirpy, social and fit right into the millennial atmosphere of the hotel.

Don’t get us started on the rooms, they were just as social media worthy as the rest of the building. Those rooms spoke forth their own hashtags with oversized badges that reminded us of beautiful Tumblr or Instagram posts we’ve seen online. The rooms contain bedside USB cables, free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, a 48 inch TV and a large walk-in shower. Did we also mention that the room had a view of the Burj Khalifa? Well, now you know.

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WHERE TO GO

The malls

Some of the luxurious shops inside the Mall of Emirates

Trust us when we say Dubai is a luxurious city. This is evident because of the big name brand stores situated in the malls. We’re not advocating for bad behaviour here, but if it’s at all possible, pull a Money Heist. Trust us, you’ll need all the money. And, if luck is on your side, you might run into a famous person like rapper Tyga whom we saw walking around the food court.

 

The malls also have countless restaurants as well as food courts so whether you’re looking to eat gourmet or fill your belly with fast food goodness, there’s plenty to choose from. The Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates are not your average shopping malls. The Dubai Mall contains one of the largest aquariums in the world with over 140 species of aquatic animals while the Mall of Emirates contains an indoor ski resort that comes with exciting activities such as skiing, snowboarding and snow bullet rides. As if that isn’t unbelievable enough, you also get to interact with the resort’s new residents, the snow penguins! Are you still reading this? Why aren’t you booking your ticket right now?

La Mer

Who would think that shopping while walking on sandy beaches could be a thing? La Mer which translates to “the sea” is a manmade beach that offers quite the scenery with minimalist designs. Vibrant and colourful during the day, magical and romantic by night. With over 130 restaurants and adorable little café’s, shops and fun beach activities for everyone, La Mer is the perfect place to unwind as you watch the sun go down. Another location that your cameras will love.

La Mer Beach

Old Souks

Do you want to get a little historical while in Dubai? Visiting the Souks will be a great experience especially with a guide familiar with the historical background of the traditional market. The souks is a representation of the old Dubai and what it was before its glorious transformation. A spice haven for food lovers and a gold centre for those with an eye for fine jewellery. A guide will be a good investment  as they’ll assist you in identifying the cheaper market stalls that sell genuine and top quality products. If you have no talent in bargaining, maybe you should consider practicing at our very own Gikomba or Toi Markets as the prices are not fixed. The distance between the spice souk and the gold souk is just an Abra ride away and will only cost you 1 dirham (KSh. 27).

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Various spices sold at the Old Souks
Gold sold on the streets of the Old Souks

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)

The Emiratis take pride in their culture and are more than happy to share it with everyone, including tourists. This is exactly what they do at the SMCCU. With detailed explanations of why they dress the way they do, what they eat and other cultural beliefs, the SMCCU takes their guests through a very cultural experience to promote an understanding of the culture.

 

A guest serving themselves an Emirati lunch at the SMCCU

The tours are taken in different shifts; breakfast, lunch and dinner and all shifts come with standard Emirati meals. The tour will give you an authentic Emirati experience. You will gain knowledge and a deeper level of understanding of the lives of the Emiratis. You can ask as many questions as you’d like as you sip on some Arabian coffee while dressed in abayas (women) and kanduras (men).

The SMCCU speaker dressed in a ‘kandura’ as he describes the meaning of the ‘abaya’ worn by the women of Dubai

Desert Safari

The desert safari is one of those things you just have to experience while in Dubai. What we can tell you is that it’s worth all the hype. From the minute your driver picks you up in a 4×4 land cruiser to the minute you start dune surfing in the desert, you are assured of an unforgettable experience.

The desert safari land cruisers ready to head to the camp

The desert safari is not all about bashing dunes, there’s also the drive to the camp where you’ll have dinner. Believe it or not, this was the first place we went to that served alcoholic beverages. However, the drinks come at an extra cost and so do the souvenirs.

 

While having an authentic Arabian dinner, you will be entertained by two different sets of dances. A male performance that is both aesthetically and visually pleasing mostly because his costume is embedded with small multi-coloured bulbs that light up occasionally during the dance making the performance almost transcendent. The second performance features a belly dance.

For those into body art, there is also that option at the camp. You can get a permanent tattoo, or if you’d prefer a less permanent option, there’s free henna available that washes away in about 3 weeks. An Arabian night awaits you.

 

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Dubai Frame

Described as the biggest picture frame on the planet measuring at 150 meters in height, the Dubai frame is one symbolic structure that will blow your mind. The frame that opened in January 2018 is an emblematic representation of the past, present and future of Dubai.

The Dubai Frame

The location on which the frame was constructed could not have been more perfect as the frame gives you an aerial view of the old and new Dubai. From one side of the frame, a modern and flashy version of the city is observed while on the other is a more historical and ancient version. One could honestly think they were in the middle of two completely different places at the same time.

Old Dubai through the Dubai Frame
New Dubai through the Dubai Frame

 

This visually explains where Dubai began and where it stands now. As for the future, the frame takes you through a virtual reality gallery/video of what Dubai could be. Remember the cartoon series The Jetsons? That could be Dubai 50 years to come. Unfortunately, pictures and videos were not allowed during this tour.

Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR)

DPR is the ultimate entertainment hub that contains three theme parks, a water park, dining and retail streets and a hotel. Talk about being spoilt for choice. For a cinematic experience, Motiongate is where you need to be. Bringing together the worlds of Shrek, Kung fu panda, Hunger games and other various well-known films. You will also get to enjoy exciting roller coaster rides that will separate your souls from your body.  For the record, we don’t mean this literally.

Legoland Dubai, the seventh in the world, and Legoland Water Park, the regions only waterpark, will have your children going wild. For Bollywood lovers, Motiongate will have you strolling the streets of Mumbai as you enjoy dances and songs from your favourite Irfan Khan film.DPR is appropriately designed for people of all ages as there’s something thrilling for everyone.

 

In a nutshell…

Dubai has earned its place at the top of everyone’s bucket list. Very few cities can boast of having so much to do especially if it is as small as Dubai is. Filled with so much historical culture to learn from and a wide array of activities for everyone to enjoy, we certainly wouldn’t mind a second trip to experience everything else that we didn’t. Yes, there’s a lot more! Save that money, starve yourself for a couple of months (it will be worth it, we promise), book that flight and thank us later.

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