Most people who have never been to Dubai would probably share the same preconceptions as I did before my recent trip. I knew it was surrounded by sand so I expected it to be swelteringly hot and dusty. You hear stories about how conservative it is, like not being able to kiss in public, women can’t wear bikinis and it’s a dry city in more ways than one. But once you get there, everything is… different.
Firstly, if you’re going to go to Dubai, I would recommend flying Emirates. What better way to begin your Emirati experience than to journey there with the destination’s airline. Upon boarding, the elegant uniforms of the flight attendants and the blingy fit-out of the cabins immediately give you a sense of what to expect when you arrive.
We were lucky enough to be flying first class on this route and it was a total experience in itself. Not only are you offered the best in food and beverage selection, you are able to choose what to eat and when to eat… yes, anything you want at any time during the flight. I guess that’s so that the meal times don’t clash with your booking time for the shower. Yeh you heard right, your shower, on a plane. Anyway, I could go on about this for days but getting back to the trip… 14 hours later and I was in Dubai. On this trip, I wanted to stay at Atlantis, The Palm. I had heard great things about it, sure the styling wasn’t exactly in line with my usual aesthetics in hotel choice but when in Dubai, do what the Emiratis do and bling it on.
And this hotel certainly did not disappoint. The mammoth building stands right at the apex of a colossal man-made archipelago, the Palm Jumeirah. Stepping into the lobby for the first time will astound you, simply by the sheer size of the cavernous room, and then again when you notice the huge glass sculpture in the centre of it all.Walking towards the east wing of the hotel, you approach the resident sea life, thousands of species all packed into one ginormous aquarium. At this point, you have to pinch yourself because it’s all just a bit surreal. In awe, I headed to my room and it was a good size and very comfortable, it was also one of the cleanest hotel rooms I’ve ever been in… don’t ask how I know. Here’s a tip, book yourself a pool and city view room because the view on the other side of the hotel is a little less exciting at night.
Atlantis, The Palm comes with its very own aqua-venture waterpark – think Wet-And-Wild but in Dubai and all part of your hotel.The taxis in Dubai are relatively cheap, I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that petrol is only 50 cents a litre. That means you can get around pretty cheaply by taxi or pay around $8 AUD for an all day rail ticket. The rail stations are huge (there’s a bit of a theme here) and are also spotless. It’s very convenient and quite fun to ride as it’s fully automated with no drivers in sight. As a tourist, I would probably get the ‘gold class’ ticket, which is double the price of the all day ticket but you will thank me when you encounter peak hour… which seems to go from 4pm-9pm. Gold class gets you into a carriage where you don’t have to be squeezed in like a sardine in a tin can with the rest of the peak hour crowd.Did you know that only 10-15% of the population of Dubai is made up of Arab UAE nationals? The rest comprises of expatriates from around the world. This is what makes the food variety in Dubai so diverse. Being home to 202 nationalities with over 5,400 restaurants, Dubai has an ever-growing culinary scene. For example, you wouldn’t think that a hipster cafe scene would exist there, but it does, see for yourself on this Townske guide, Hipster Cafes In Dubai. This is actually the point that Dubai Tourism is trying to drive to Sydneysiders this week with their Flavours of Dubai pop-up cart at Bondi Junction Westfield. Together with our very own Gelato Messina, they’ve developed two exclusive flavours inspired by the traditional Arabian taste palette. The new flavours are FREE to the public during centre opening hours from Thursday 19th – Sunday 21st February. We’ve been lucky enough to have had a taste and they are good! Also, if you want to experience Dubai for yourself, the pop-up is running a competition for a family of 4 to win a trip there including airfares and accommodation, staying at Atlantis, The Palm. That’s including flights, 5 nights, daily breakfast and entry to the waterpark worth $20,000. Just head to the pop-up store and take a photo with hashtag #TakeMeToDubai.