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SEVEN TOP REASONS TO VISIT DUBAI

DUBAI is the capital of abundance. Everything is big. Souks of gold, spice markets and extraordinary architecture, and gigantic shopping malls where ski runs and walk-through aquariums are housed.
Here are seven reasons to consider a holiday in one of the Middle East’s most dazzling cities.
Dubai's Burj Khalifa at dusk, the world's tallest building.
1. REACH FOR THE SKY AT THE MIGHTY BURJ
From the top of the Burj Khalifa building – the world’s tallest tower – you can absorb the magnitude of Dubai’s growth during the past 15 years. The views include the shimmering waters of the gulf and the rolling dunes of the Arabian Desert. It’s not only about reaching the top for some eye candy, either. The 10-part journey starts at the Dubai Mall, where you walk into a seriously elegant entrance featuring monumental fields of LED displays. Interactive displays chart Dubai’s evolution.
2. UNDERSTAND THE CULTURE
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is something every new visitor to Dubai should experience. It’s all designed to raise awareness and demystify the culture, customs and religion of the United Arab Emirates, and follows a motto of “open doors, open minds”. It also is an opportunity to visit the heart of old Dubai and explore a wind-tower house before tucking into a traditional Emirati brunch.
3. HOLD ON TIGHT FOR ADVENTURE
Hot-air balloon rides, skydiving above the famous Palm Jumeirah and even snow-skiing is possible. Ski Dubai is a faux winter wonderland built into the enormous Mall of the Emirates. There are also opportunities for diving into the warm gulf waters and swimming around shipwrecks and bumping into clownfish, sea snakes, Arabian angelfish and even barracuda. There’s also the ever-popular dune-bashing fun of desert safaris.
A warm welcome at the Centre for Cultural Understanding.
4. MARVEL AT NEW GALLERIES, MUSEUMS AND OLD SITES
Some are hard to miss the mighty Dubai Museum for Contemporary Art, Dubai Museum and historic walking tours of Al Bastakiya, but others need to be randomly discovered such as the incredible works of calligraphy artist Amir Hossein from The Golden Pen at Khan Murjan and the tucked-away Majilis Gallery and its fine art offerings in the heart of Dubai.
5. SET YOUR SIGHTS ON FESTIVALS OR EVENTS
There’s something all-year round in Dubai whether it’s sports, arts, culture or food and entertainment. On the sports front, there’s the Rugby Sevens, European Tour golf and the Dubai Cup horse racing. Other events include the Dubai International Film Festival and Dubai Jazz Festival.
6. STRAP IN FOR A GASTRONOMICAL JOURNEY
Food variety and quality is surging ahead in Dubai. With so much diversity in this multicultural melting pot, and with the high standards set, you simply can’t go wrong whether it’s having the traditional marathon “brunch” somewhere like the Thai Kitchen Park Hyatt, something fancy at the Conrad Hotel’s Marco Pierre White Grill or the all rounder belly-buster experience with Frying Pan Adventures. It’s the ultimate way to get a taste of everything as you restaurant-hop through old Dubai with an incredibly knowledgeable local guide. Ethnic treats from all over the Middle East are on the menu including Jordanian, Syrian, North African, Iranian and Egyptian.
The Marco Pierre White Grill’s rack of Patagonian lamb with polenta and malbec sauce is hard to ignore.
7. FAMILY FAVOURITES
“It’s so safe you could leave your wallet on a bench in the middle of the city and it would most likely still be there the following day,” says my Emirati taxi driver Ammar. With more than 200 different ethnic groups, Dubai really is a global city – safe, diverse and welcoming.
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