On landing at the airport, (your first shot of just how extravagant the city is, with its gigantic waterfalls and hologram airport info assistants), the swift exit process was easy and welcoming.
First tip; on exiting the airport try and hail a regular New York looking yellow taxi. The red roofed ones are VIP and cost more, and the pink roof taxis are driven by ladies for ladies but we realized that the ladies don't seem to know the city as well as the male taxi drivers, so ended up driving in circles.
First to the Atlantis hotel, where we dined al fresco, facing the sea. The food was world class, but no alcohol was served that day, as it was a religious feast. If you enjoy a drink, you might want to plan your trip outside of these days. After dinner we strolled around the hotel, taking in the giant aquarium full of sand sharks and palatial bars made of gold leaf and Venetian Murano chandeliers.
Next, the Dubai Mall area. (If you're not dressed decently in the mall they hand you a red card, asking you to respect their tradition and rules). We noted many strappy tops and mini dresses, which seemed to go unmarked, but then a lady with a totally backless dress was handed the card!
The mall is the biggest in the world, and would take at least 3 days to cover. (If you're tempted to visit a souk, imagining it will be an exotic market experience, like the one Carrie had in Sex and the City 2, you will be disappointed. Their souks are mini stores within mall like venues- akin to Southall Broadway).
Good reasons to visit the mall however are aplenty. The famous Dubai fountain is on site as is the world's tallest building the Burg Khalifa. It's a good idea to dine at one of the exterior restaurants in order to watch the fountains as they spring into action every half hour. If you've witnessed the original Vegas Bellagio fountains, it's similar. The Vegas one goes every 15 minutes, and the jets are perfectly choreographed to a diverse list of music, from classical to rock to pop. What gives Dubai that slight edge over Vegas overall, is the adjacent attractions like the Burg which gives it a more magical background.
Next, the world famous Dubai aquarium. Second tip; you can see the aquarium from the main mall, and there's no need to pay £20 per person to walk through its infamous underwater tunnel. Overheard ''you mean to tell me that we have paid £40 to walk 20 meters through that tunnel? I can see the exit from here!'' oops!
You don't need the tunnel- in fact after seeing the free aquarium at the Atlantis; this was less enchanting as it was full of hundreds of tourists, whilst the Atlantis was quiet and serene.
If taking a short trip ensure it includes a Friday and Saturday, as that is their weekend. (In Dubai the working week is Sunday to Thursday).
Dubai on a Friday, is all about traditional brunch. Off to the affluent Jumeriah Beach Hotel where brunch was spectacular. It deserved applause, a Grammy, an Oscar and a tummy tuck for me, after I'd eaten my own body weight in sushi, oysters and duck, and every other fancy foodstuff. Afterwards we sauntered next door, to the vision that is the Hotel Burj Al Arab -the visually striking image of the Dubai hotel, that resembles a sail, and took copious photos of the hotel that most will never afford, due to its 7* rating.
Saturday after some pool action, we were picked up by our dessert safari guide 'Amjed', who drove us miles out into the hot Arabian dessert, where we began with an hour of what can only be described as a dessert rollercoaster, aka dune bashing.
Our caged jeep climbed sand dunes and skid across them sideways at speed, making us shriek in fear. Then we were taken to a dessert village where we had the option of quad biking, camel rides and an evening BBQ feast with belly dancer.
I opted for a camel ride. I had dreamt of this moment. The camels walking us off across acres of bronze sand, as I dramatically pondered the meaning of life whilst disappearing on the exotic animal into the distant sunset. We climbed atop the agitated camel, were led around in a small circle- (circumference 5 meters max I kid you not), before being plonked down again and told ''ride finished''? Totally tragic! Tip- don't bother with camel rides. They're horrid for you and the poor camel. Also the men in your life wont thank you for their sore, crushed groin after the camel has bumped us literally and physically!
That night we went to the Crystal club at the luxurious Raffles Hotel. The club was like every central London hip-hop club you've been to, with skimpy frocked, stripper heeled ladies, men wanting to be big pimper's and regular Champagne Jeroboams being walked across to men with more money than sense.
We wanted to finish our stay on high and so went to have drinks at the Atmosphere Bar, in the tallest building in the world- the Burg Khalifa. We dressed up, rode the elevator 123 floors, stepped into the bar ready to witness the stunningly high, colossal ariel view. The reality was, that every window in the 360-degree bar looked like my shower pane. Apparently the extra hot temperature outside, juxtaposed with the icy air conditioning inside, meant that every window was covered in steamy condensation, so we could see absolutely nothing. We had to laugh. Especially since each person needed to spend 400 dirhams (just under £100) at the bar! Tip- enjoy the tower from down below.
In summary, many ex-pats live a very high quality life in Dubai. The pay usually triple UK salaries, and rising to the top is faster.
However, the government does put sanctions in place to pay indigenous Emirate's more, and Emirate female quotas for company boards are in place.
The weather's always good and the lifestyle flossy attracting the big names. Whilst we were in town David Haye, Busta Rhymes, The Game and more were there too..
All the things that are great about various locations across the globe have been stolen to mold Dubai. Hotels and fountains of Vegas, chic fashion of the French, beaches of the Caribbean, homes like Monte Carlo and skyscrapers like New York. Dubai is everything you could want in a vacation -it's THE good life!.