353 Days of Sun, Sand and Surf

7 Mar
With 80% of the world’s construction cranes surrounding my every whereabouts, Dubai started to look boring after two years.  But the Emirate never had me bored with things to do.  With 353 days a year of sun, sand and surf Dubai never left me restless.

Desert Rush
The desert (or Big Red) is nothing but a large playground for visitors and locals alike.  I found myself dune bashing on a quad bike, off-roading in my Jeepand

Quad biking in Big Red, Dubai, UAE

camping under shooting stars with nothing but a sleeping bag and a cooler at least once a month.  For the adventurer who has their own automobile, anyone who lives in Dubai will be able to give you clear directions on locating key play or camp sites.  Otherwise, hotels offer guided day trip packages for around $53CDN.  Thrill-seeking in the desert is a great source for adrenaline and not for the faint-hearted.  Make sure you have plenty of petrol, water and maps before committing to the hour-long drive outside of civilization.

Dubai’s National Sport
You will never be short of a place to shop as there is literally a mall every 3km including the world’s largest, the Dubai Mall.  Since its opening in 2008, all 12.7 million square foot of it has become home to every major retailer around the globe. With an Olympic-sized indoor ice rink, a floor to ceiling aquarium to dive in and five stories of shopping you’re sure to lose time on a spending spree.  If you’re not too “malled-out”, head over to the Mall of Emirates for a quick $75CDN ski or snowboard rush before heading to the beach.  Whatever shopper’s haven you find yourself in, wear a sweater.  Autumn in Canada is warmer than Dubai’s AC-blasted malls.
Suss out the Souks
An alternative locale to shop is to visit the Gold, Spice and Perfume Souks located in Old Dubai, as it’s known to modern-day folk.  Most likely you will arrive from the Deira side so an Abras (or water taxi) is readily available to take you across to where the bustle is.  Water Taxis cost 2 dirhams (about 0.75 CDN), and are small with short wooden benches.  Standing isn’t an option so if you think you’ll be squeezed between the frequent local Asian commuters, wait for the next one – they come every two minutes.  Although you may get off with your clothes reeking of gasoline, for the adventurer, taking the Abras is definitely a Must-Do.  For the not-so-adventurous, regular Taxis are also available.
Beach Bound
Other than shopping, the beach is where most people spend their days.  You have options to join a yacht party, wake board, kite surf, play beach volleyball or drink at the bar.  No matter which beach you choose to spend your time, they are all a five-minute drive from main areas.  Some require an entry fee ($4CDN) for women’s safety control purposes but the only real downside to the beach is the construction of the Palm Island seen in the distance in the water, thus endless sea views are obstructed.
Evening Escapades
Nighttime in Dubai creates a whole new vibe for this Emirate and there is something for everyone.  Club-hoppers can find a pumping scene at any of the several hotel nightclubs.  Even on a Wednesday.  For male goers, make sure you arrive with an equal number of ladies to your group of guys otherwise you’re not getting in.  And don’t expect to flirt with female bartenders (anywhere) because they don’t exist.  For the ladies, Tuesday’s at most bars offer free drinks for you so grab the girls and go.  Shiesha is found at any quiet bar or restaurant for around $5CDN.  So for the low-key “leisurers”, make sure you try the green apple flavor.  And remember not to inhale.
Raves and Concerts
At any given moment the next hot pop-tart or sultry swoooner can make their debut in Dubai.  Since there is no major auditorium and it never rains, concerts are usually held outdoors.  For around $30CDN you can enjoy the beats of the next big thing while you rock out to the stars, under the stars.  For the rest of you who like to see and be seen, dress up in your beach-finest and head a half hour outside of Dubai to the weekly nighttime beach party, Plastik, where the men are Jersey Shore and the women are straight out of an Usher video.  Situated along the shoreline, the scene compiles of white leather sofas, private hot tubs, unlimited Champaign, international DJ’s and hoards of attractive people.  It’s (Plastik) Fantastik.
The Forgotten Emirates
The beautiful landscape of Fujairah
If you discover that you have a few days to spare, take a road trip to Fujairah.  Located almost two hours outside of Dubai to the north, the stunning rocky mountains and goat scattered villages breathe new life to the UAE you thought you knew.  Plan for a stay at the popular Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, or (my personal favorite), rent a Dhow (two-story, open air, cushioned sailing vessel) for around $200CDN.  Dolphins are commonly spotted hopping in and out of the water while barracuda and whale sharks are discovered during scuba.  Be careful of the baby jellyfish – they prick but don’t sting.  Park your Dhow at one of several private beach locations for an overnight camp on the shore.  You can also visit the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, which is about an hour’s drive outside of Dubai to the west.  Polar opposite to Dubai, it is the conservative business hub with overlapping city towers, sidewalks, a few major hotels, one small beach area and home of the grand Emirates Palace Kempinski. 

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