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Archive for the Category "Middle East"

Day 6: Desert Safari May 20

Active travelers will find a wide range of land and water sports in Dubai.

Venturing outside the city of Dubai for a full day or even overnight, you can enjoy a desert safari in 4 wheel drive vehicles, camel riding or even sand skiing or sand boarding. For an extended adventure, feast on an evening  barbecque buffet while listening to traditonal music in a Bedouin tent. The edutainment might also include a falconry demonstration.

Meanwhile, snow skiing and toboganning are available at the indoor Ski Dubai in the Emirates Mall.  You may even engage in a snowball fight with your companions in a separate area.

Horseback riding and trekking are also available. Water sports enthusiasts can go scuba diving and deep sea fishing. And with several world class golf courses to choose from, golf addicts may even play at night on floodlit greens.

At the end of  a busy day, relax with some pampering at  a local spa. The Morroccan hammam or bath ritual begins with an invigorating exfoliation, followed by a relaxing steam bath and finally a rassoul clay wrap.

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Day 5: All That Glitters May 18

“All that glitters is not gold” except in the Dubai Gold Souq (or souk) where it is regulated and offered to you at the lowest prices in the world from over 300 jewellers.

Dubai has an open port policy, without any sales taxes, making prices very competitive. As a trading hub, “Do-Buy”  has traditional Arabic marketplaces or souqs selling a lengthy list of goods.  Use your best haggling skills to purchase hand-crafted items from neighboring countries – Persian rugs from Iran, silver from Oman, antique art from Syria and even modern abstract artwork from Iraq. In addition to copper and bronze, silks and textiles, spices and perfumes, you can also shop for designer fashion and imported electronics in any one of over 40 modern shopping malls. The Dubai Mall has over 1,000 stores and is known for having the world’s largest aquarium while the Emirates Mall has an indoor ski slope.

If you’d like a more personalized experience, you can even arrange for a 3-4 hour private shopping tour.

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Day 4: A Culinary Melting Pot May 13

Naturally, Dubai offers Middle Eastern cuisine but it is also a culinary melting pot of international foods from French to Indian, Thai, Japanese and even Mexican with a population of slightly over 1 million comprised of 140 nationalities.

In terms of Middle Eastern or Arabic cuisine, you will find Lebanese, Iranian and Moroccan restaurants serving mezze or several courses of appetizers accompanied by flat breads and olives. Buffets will almost always include hummus, tabouli, roast lamb and chicken dishes.

In Dubai, you may be welcomed with coffee flavored with cardamom and other spices served in tiny cups.  Although it’s thick, sweet cousin Turkish Coffee is also served in lounges and restaurants. And yes, the ubiquitous Starbucks has found its way into Dubai as well. However, alcohol is not widely available in this Islamic nation, except to visitors in hotel bars and restaurants.

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Day 3: Dress Code May 11

Before stepping out, consider the appropriateness of your attire. While Dubai welcomes all religions, Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the country abides by  the Islamic code of conduct and laws. Therefore, visitors are advised to dress modestly in public areas out of respect for the local culture and religion.

Local people can be seen wearing the traditional kandouras or long-sleeved, loose-fitting, full length garments. Men usually wear white robes and women wear black dresses or abayahs, often embroidered with silver or gold thread.

Obviously, this is not the place to sport skimpy clothing.  Halter tops and micro minis should be left at home for another trip to a less conservative destination. 

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Day 2: Your Palace Awaits May 06

Dubai is a modern and cosmopolitan Arabian city. Your palace awaits, if only you can make a decision. During the height of new construction, it seemed there was a new hotel springing up every week. Every major international hotel chain is represented here. Luxury accommodations are available from city to beach to desert. I always seek the upscale and the unusual in terms of location, architecture and ambience and therefore also in experience.

The most famous icon of the city is the 47-story Burj Al Arab built in the shape of a billowing sail on an Arabian dhow. This magnificent 7 star all-suite resort, set on its own island off Jumeirah Beach, has everything you could ask for in terms of accommodations, dining and entertainment. The “Tower of the Arabs” even has a helipad on its 28th floor rooftop.

It prides itself on the highly personalized service from the chauffeured Rolls Royce or helicopter transfer, to the discreet check-in, to the private reception desk on every floor to the fleet of well-trained butlers.

I’m sure the concierge will be happy to make a recommendation and a reservation for our dinner tonight.

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Day 1: Dubai Welcomes You May 04

Travel destinations draw our attention for different reasons, often driven by media exposure. This year (2010) Dubai expects to welcome close to 15 million international visitors.

Perhaps you are interested in international business and are already aware of the ambitious construction projects undertaken in Dubai. If you have seen the Sex and the City preview, you may also be curious about the film’s exotic and opulent setting, the neighboring emirate and capital city of Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is the center for business and tourism in the Middle East. It is the second largest of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates commonly referred to as the UAE. Covering only 1,500 square miles south of the Persian Gulf on the  Arabian Penninsula, it is an 8 hour flight from Europe and 13 hours flying time twice daily direct from New York on the award-winning luxury Emirates (airline).

All visitors are required to have a visa. However, American and Canadian passport holders may obtain a free visa, good for 60 days,  upon arrival at the airport immigration counter.

Dubai is known as a fantasyland of  magnificent luxury resorts and as a world class duty free shopping mecca. Let’s get settled and then do a little exploring . . . in the modern and cosmpolitan city of Dubai and beyond.

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