Dubai is home to many hardworking residents, people who have come from all around the world to seek ever-expanding job opportunities. Folks here regularly work six days a week, only resting on Sundays. However, for those who are on holiday, this city is the Middle East’s playground. Here, you will see a pageant of wealth all around you — gold Rolex watches, looming billboards displaying designer handbags and luxurious clothing, millionaires driving Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and incredible architecture that seems to come from a science fiction movie.
If you find yourself with a layover at DXB, which is quite probable, seeing as this is the world’s busiest airport, store your bags and get out of Al Garhoud District. This young city, established in the early 1980s, was designed to entertain. Dubai offers the finest the world has to offer, and it’s all yours to explore, provided you can tolerate the hefty price tags.
Here is how to spend a 22-hour layover in Dubai.
1. Eat Your Breakfast
If you happen to be visiting on the weekend, have breakfast at Boardwalk. Dubai is a multicultural city, and this is reflected in its cuisine. Its populace includes Filipinos, Indians, Malays, and more. As such, you can get the best of many countries in one city alone. At Boardwalk, not only will you get an incredible view of the Dubai Creek Marina, but the almond pannacotta is also heavenly.
If your daycation lands on a weekday, head to the spectacular Demoiselle. Here they serve up French-English fusion, such as the delectable poached eggs with smashed avocado.
2. But First, Coffee
Especially if this is your first time in the Middle East, you’re about to be introduced to the importance of coffee. Sip on a delightfully strong coffee from Arabic beans at The Espresso Lab as you prepare for a whirlwind tour of the city. The owner and founder, Ibrahim Al Mallouhi, personally visits his suppliers to check for the highest quality beans. The lab is located inside Jumeirah’s Hundred Wellness Centre.
3. Visit the World’s Tallest Building
Head to the top of the Burj Khalifa, or Khalifa Tower. Standing at 2,722 feet, it is currently the tallest building in the world. Located in Downtown Dubai, this structure was completed in 2009 and opened to the public in 2010. There are two observations decks: one called “At the Top” and the other “At the Top Sky,” which is 171 feet higher, and a bit more expensive. Grab your tickets inside the Dubai mall and prepare for spectacular views of the city — and bragging rights — from nearly 150 floors up.
4. Take a Safari Tour
While it may not always seem like it, Dubai is in the middle of the desert. Many tour companies, such as Desert Safari UAE, will pick you up in an SUV and show you an entirely different perspective of Dubai. Activities include dune bashing, sand boarding, camel rides, and more. Depending on how much time you have, you can have dinner at a Bedouin campsite, watch a fire show, or enjoy a belly dancing performance.
5. Go to the Mall
It’s not just the rich (and possibly famous) that love a shopping spree here in Dubai; heading to one of the city’s massive shopping centers is a common activity for most of its residents. Escape the heat inside this cool oasis and prepare for more glitz and glam than you’ve possibly ever seen in your life. Even Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles would be up for a challenge with the amount of opulence that Dubai’s malls offer.
Dubai Mall is the most impressive. You could spend all 22 of your hours here if you’re not careful; the allure of Yves Saint Laurent perfume wafts into your nose as you window shop and puts you in a spending trance. Enjoy some of the Middle East’s finest cuisine, catch the latest movie, go ice skating, wander through its spectacular aquarium, and catch the dazzling fountain show come sundown.
6. Grab a Drink
In the United Arab Emirates, such as many places in the Middle East, spirits are generally prohibited. By generally, I mean that the government wishes to honor the Muslim tradition of abstaining from alcohol. However, tourists are rife in this city, and Dubai also caters to its visitors with the utmost hospitality. Because of this, rooftop bars in hotels are quite popular. Head to my personal favorite, The Treehouse, located inside the Taj Dubai. Here, you can choose any libation you wish from a back-lit, interactive menu that looks like a large iPad. This is also the prime spot to people watch and view the city’s architectural treasures lit up against the night sky.
This is the best way to spend less than a day in Dubai, UAE. Will you have seen everything you wanted to? Probably not. However, will you leave Dubai with a sense of the city’s splendor and want to return for a longer stay? Most definitely.