Nov 23 2021. views 59
With the ongoing pandemic lasting nearly two years, Dubai felt like the perfect getaway from a monotonous routine that consisted of work and university studies. Having their travel restrictions relaxed for Dubai Expo 2020, we decided to take advantage of this opportunity and stay there for a week. While I do admit that the initial preparation such as PCR tests and vaccination certificates were a hassle, it felt worthwhile as Dubai became one of the most memorable vacations for my family and me.
Our first stop was at one of the largest shopping malls in the world, the Dubai Mall. Housing over 1000 shops, Dubai Mall had everything you needed. From designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci to more affordable, common stores such as Max, H&M and Forever21, the shopping experience at Dubai Mall is truly a holistic experience. Being an avid lover of fashion, I definitely drained my bank account by shopping for clothes and shoes. However, shopping here was more expensive than I anticipated which is why I was careful to not buy anything I didn’t want. I had to be certain that I would wear these pieces when I got back home.
Dubai is also infamous for having the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Unfortunately, due to limited time, we were not able to witness the enchanting city view from its rooftop. However, I was able to see the beautifully lit skyscraper at night, with many tourists gathered around it marvelling at the sight. With the city still awake at 10.00 pm, it was truly a wonderful sight to see a hint of pre-Covid in which I revelled in the simple sight of people walking around with their families.
The souks are not to be forgotten when one travels to the Middle East. A souk is an open-air street market where vendors sell traditional perfumes, jewellery, art and food items. We went to the Old Souk which hosted many types of souks. During the day the weather was scorching hot, yet it strangely made our experience much more wholesome. With vendors screaming from both sides trying to sell traditional goods, it is safe to say that we were a little overwhelmed with the bustling state of the souk. Enamoured by the vivid colours of Persian ceramics and lanterns, it felt like a must that we bought something to capture that exact moment of joy we felt walking in the souk.
The Gold Souk is also one of the most popular souks in Dubai, where jewellery is sold for a relatively cheaper price and its variety of prices make it affordable to almost anyone. From pure gold to sterling silver to the combination of silver and gold, the variety of jewellery in the souk is unrivalled. The perfume market also has an identity of its own, with its strong and memorable scent lingering in the air. However, if I was being honest it did not appeal to me.
To make our sightseeing experience more holistic, we decided to travel out of the city. We went to Jumeirah District where the city was much quieter. As it was a weekend, the beach was crowded with many families, from having picnics on the shore to playing around in the translucent waters which was a lovely sight to behold. Against the backdrop of Burj Al Arab, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the sunset at Jumeirah beach was euphoric and I was desperate for the moment to never end.
When you think of Dubai, you also think of the diverse cuisine it has. Due to ex-pats from all over the world working in the hub of the Middle East, you can find almost any cuisine in the city. It is also home to hundreds of fast-food chains originating from around the globe. I can confidently say that shawarmas were my best friend during my stay. The Lebanese-style chicken shawarma kept getting more immaculate with each and every bite I took and I simply couldn’t get enough of it. The Indian Hyderabad biryani was also a big hit for us, with its flavours giving a treat for our taste buds and the portion sizes so big that it sustained us for both lunch and dinner. We also went to Carrefour, a hypermarket in one of the many malls we visited, where we bought a range of delicacies, from 1 Dirham croissants to tiramisu pudding to different flavoured yoghurts and milk. It was nothing like we have tasted before and over the few days that we stayed, these became our breakfasts. This can also be a tip for anyone who’s planning to go to Dubai: if you have a mini-fridge in your hotel room, make sure to buy a few yoghurts and puddings as these are a must-try!
We also encountered a few hiccups along the way. Taxis were our biggest problem during our trip. We found it difficult to communicate our destinations accurately as some taxi drivers did not know where it was or they pretended to know and took us to a different place, costing us extra Dirhams. To solve this problem, I downloaded the Kareem app, the substitute for Uber in the Middle East and ordered taxis through it which made it more convenient and prevented further mishaps. The app was not only helpful in us finding taxis, but we were also able to order food through it when we were too lazy to leave our hotel room after a long day. We also made sure to get a tax refund on purchases that exceeded 250 Dirham, saving us some money to shop at the airport making it a perfect end to our stay in Dubai.
By Tiranya Ranasinghe