Short trips and layovers are about quality, not quantity. From camel rides to cocktails, you can find plenty of ways to “do” Dubai in one day. Check out these unique experiences that you’ll only find in the United Arab Emirates’ most popular city.
Camelccinos, anyone? Start your day by sipping one at The Majlis Dubai. Should you pass on the local favorite beverage, consider the Arabian green coffee and a camel milk muffin — or any number of beverages and baked goods made from camel milk — served in an elegant Arabian café, complete with a fountain, inside Dubai Mall.
The Majlis is dedicated to area products such as dates and Arabic coffee. Here you can also find a variety of baked goods, shakes, coffee drinks and ice creams that are made from camel milk, the region’s most popular superfood. Delicious and rich with a smooth texture, camel milk is low in saturated fat, high in vitamin C and easier to digest for those who are lactose intolerance.
For your meal, choose from the beautifully presented Arabic and French pastries displayed in a glass case at the counter. Pair your pastry with a traditional coffee served in an authentic dallah coffee pot. The date camel shake, camel milk pistachio éclairs and the Arabian breakfast are highly recommended as well.
After breakfast, head over to the biggest gold market in the world at the Dubai Gold Souk in Deira. Even if you aren’t in the market for solid gold belts and tiaras, the souk is an unforgettable sight. Rows and rows of shops sell pure gold that is as dazzling as the sun. International jewelers and businessmen fill the market daily to find something original and to haggle over prices. It’s also an ideal place for anyone looking for a new gold trinket, as the standard of gold is excellent — only 18- to 24-carat gold is for sale here.
For a souvenir, you’ll have many options: Rose, yellow and white gold rings and earrings are pedaled at a price that’s incomparable for such quality. If you wish to take your jewelry game to another level, have a peek at the cabochon ruby necklaces.
A lot of souvenirs, such as kaftans and local handcrafts, are also sold at the Dubai Gold Souk. Right near the market are fabric shops with exotic, printed textiles and ready-made clothing. Never accept the asking price at the souk; play the game and see how much you can lower your bill. The vendors expect it, and it’s all part of the fun.
Need a midday pick-me-up? Venture over to Dubai’s man-made, palm-shaped island for an experience unlike any other at Atlantis, The Palm. The impressive resort offers the chance to swim with dolphins, cuddle a sea lion, snorkel in the magnificent lagoon or go on the ultimate thrill-seeker’s adventure — a shark safari.
Dolphin Bay at Atlantis, The Palm is a place where people without a scuba-diving license or prior experience can get up close to marine life, thanks to the SeaTrek helmet diving system. Much like a typical diving helmet, which pumps oxygen into the headpiece and weighs you down, this equipment allows you to walk on the bottom of the lagoon and brush past the sharks and stingrays without an expensive license or the risk of bodily harm. Sharks are well fed before the dives and experienced guides are there to assist you. Available throughout the year, these underwater tours can be completed in less than an hour.
Start your night with belly dancers, wild animals and sand dunes by visiting the rural side of Dubai in just a few hours on a desert safari with Arabian Adventures. An exhilarating ride through the sand dunes to the desert campsite offers the unique opportunity to see wild oryx (the national animal of the United Arab Emirates) and falcons on the way to a bedouin-style camp.
While your traditional barbecue feast of lamb, beef, salads and Arabian sweets is being prepared, partake in a short camel ride, get henna tattooed by locals, encounter a peregrine falcon or try some delicious Arabian coffee. Belly dancers entertain you while you enjoy your dinner on a Persian rug spread on the sand. As the stars come out — and the desert has the brightest ones you’ve ever seen — a 4×4 vehicle awaits to take you back to your hotel.
After a desert safari, a warm bath and comfortable bed beckons. Dubai’s newly renovated Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai is a high-rise wonder. Every room and suite provides an exquisite view over the city or the Arabian Sea because all of the accommodations are on the higher floors. The luxurious, wood-paneled units are furnished with original artwork from the area.
The Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai is also one of the most central hotels. It’s close to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Dubai Mall and Jumeirah Beach are nearby as well. Though it’s in the middle of such a busy city, the hotel’s rooms are quiet and its calming pool is surrounded by palm trees and a cocktail bar.