Dubai, the most popular Emirates among all the seven Emirates in UAE is on the discussion as a growing tourism Hotspot. This cosmopolitan city welcomes approximately 5 million annual visitors. This city houses the world's tallest man-made architecture, The Burj Khalifa which is why Dubai is always in discussion across all social media platforms. Posts, pictures and discussions related to Dubai are regularly shared by travel agents on Social Media. It shows the popularity of this Emirate city growing at an accelerated rate.
Group travel bookings for Dubai are on high demand as the travel advisors reported. Dubai is a global shopping paradise with tons of options for enthusiastic shoppers. This city is full of glitz and glamour with tons of activities to explore. Travel Agents always post in Social Media about all the exciting activities, places to visit and things to do in Dubai. If you look at the ultimate Dubai bucket list, it seems the city is larger than its original size of 1,600 square miles.
Franda Graves, a local travel advisor in Dubai and owner of Journey with Franda said: “Many say Dubai is like New York City on steroids. It is a vast metropolis, complete with a very diverse population." He also mentioned: "Also, like New York and some of the larger cities in the U.S., one does not need a car to get around, as we have a fabulous metro system, Uber, Careem, and taxi service."
The amazing public road transport system in Dubai is one of the prime reasons for tourists to visit and explore the city easily. You can take a metro and easily access Dubai's top attractions like The Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Ibn Batuta Mall, etc.
In a similar context, Ivaline Joseph from Ivy League Travel in Charlotte, North Carolina, mentioned: "Dubai has everything, from gorgeous hotels to deserts and beaches. It's a mesmerizing, beautiful place."
Women's Travel Group owner Phyllis Stoller from New York City said: "It’s exotic, modern, and ancient, all in a small area you can manage on a short getaway or an extended vacation,"
The number of visitors visiting Dubai is rapidly growing. According to the Dubai Department of Tourism between January to August 2019, the city already welcomed over 10.85 million visitors. It was 10.44 million visitors during the same period last year. Tourists visiting Dubai are from different parts of the world. The reported percentage of visitors from Western Europe and North America is 20% and 6% respectively.
Graves said: "The ideal client for Dubai and the UAE as a whole is someone ready for fun and adventure, open to the nuances of different cultures and respectful of its edicts, as it is a Muslim country. There is literally something for everyone, from the sedate to the adventurous, male and female, young and old."
The tourists drive through the Sheikh Zayed Road which is the longest road in the Emirates after coming out from the Airport. They easily get a glimpse of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa. These are sparkling social media posts by travel agents about the stunning views you get from the top of the Burj Khalifa. This is the world’s highest observatory deck located on the 124th, 125th and 148th floor. You can reach At the Top, Burj Khalifa just in sixty seconds as you step inside a high-speed elevator.
Joseph said: "I have a picture of me looking down from a group trip there. I was blown away by the experience to see this incredible city from that viewpoint."
Dubai is a paradise for shoppers
There is a water fountain show that takes place at the foot of the Burj Khalifa everyday evening. This is a light and music choreographed water fountain show that reminds you about the Las Vegas Strip. This emblematic fountain was built to rejoice over the massive infrastructural development boom that took place in Dubai. It gave rise to various amusement parks, massive malls, indoor ski centre and other important landmarks. The world's largest shopping mall, The Dubai Mall is located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.
Graves addressed all shoppers mentioning: "a full-day shopping experience, lavish stores on Fashion Avenue to the Souk al Bahar and the Village."
Dubai Mall has a beautiful Aquarium and an underwater zoo which are popular tourist attractions. Other children attractions include Olympic-sized ice rink, virtual reality park, and Kidzania.
Graves also recommended the best places to shop in Dubai like the Mall of the Emirates and the Ibn Battuta Mall. The former is popular for Ski Dubai and Magic Planet and the later is the largest themed shopping mall in the world.
From Jacksonville in Florida, the president of Jordan Executive Travel Service, Margie Jordan stated: “All of this, though, will be outdone by Expo 2020”. The upcoming event of the Dubai Expo 2020 is the largest exhibition in the world. The 1,100-acre exhibition centre will have offices, 176-store Dubai South Mall and many hotels.
Jordan described the upcoming Expo event and said: “like Epcot on major steroids. It's estimated that you can see three pavilions in a day along with entertainment and food from each of those countries,”
You can find beautiful souks and traditional Arabian style marketplaces in Dubai. The Gold Souk located in the Deira commercial business district, Dubai has over 400 jewellery shops. It is a popular tourist spot in Dubai. The Al Fahidi District is a popular place for Arab heritage.
Jordan mentioned in this regard: “It’s a great example of what Dubai used to be. This neighbourhood has restored homes turned into museums and art galleries. You can wander through the neighbourhood from home to home and check out artwork from local artists. There are also tea houses and cafes. It's a great cultural scene to dig a little deeper.”
Other popular places where Graves takes tourists during Dubai city tour are, Souk Madinat Jumeirah and the Sheihk Mohamed Center for Cultural Understanding. You can find over 50 restaurants, an amphitheatre and also enjoy a traditional Emirati meal during this day tour.
Dubai has an open culture and great club life. Generally, consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited in most of the Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but not in Dubai. You can consume alcohol in clubs, hotels and restaurants without any restriction. Thus, Dubai is a great place to celebrate New Year Eve and popular among Americans. Graves further mentioned: "There is so much to do and see that one never gets bored." The artificial island in Dubai, Palm Jumeirah has luxurious resorts, homes, water and marine animal parks. It is, therefore, a great place to visit and explore in Dubai.
Reasonable rates for good quality hotels
At a reasonably low rate, you can get high-quality accommodations in Dubai. This is another strong reason for which Dubai tour packages selling fast. Including all 4 and 5 star properties, the city has over 270 hotels. There is a significant drop in the hotel occupancy rate according to the data published by Smith Travel Research (STR). In this regard, Joseph mentioned, “ A 3-star hotel in Dubai is more like a 4-star hotel here in the U.S.” Graves also mentioned, “Our hotels are all amazing, even the 3 - and 4-star ones”
Overcoming the fear
Overcoming the fear to visit the nations located on the Arabian Peninsula is important. Graves love the Middle East, she mentioned: "primarily due to culture, diversity, and safety. I love taking a long walk in the marina or at the beach, and I have always felt very safe in this environment." Even being a Muslim Nation, UAE has over 200 diversified nationalities living and working. Thus, Dubai has a huge number of expat population and a city of great cultural diversity. Grave further mentioned, “So, you may find a mosque across from a church across from a temple."
Graves already got over six years of experience booking individual and group trips to Dubai. She mentioned: “is an excellent place for an American woman to visit and live, as well as any nationality. I think the biggest myths throughout this region are that women are oppressed and have no power. It is the complete opposite, especially here in the UAE,”
There are various misunderstandings about the treatment of women in the UAE with regards to 'strict' dress code. She also mentioned, “Also, the belief that female visitors to the UAE must be fully covered from head to toe. While modesty is highly appreciated, female visitors are free to wear most anything that they would wear in their hometowns, again with the focus on modesty,”
Joseph added: “The only time we were aware of the distinctions between men and women was when we visited a mosque,” Women need to cover their head, wrists, and ankles while entering any Mosque, otherwise, there is no strict dress code for women living or travelling to Dubai.
Joseph further said: “When I went there, I had some family members who asked me, ‘Why would you go to Dubai? Aren’t you afraid of terrorism?”. He replied, “Instead, I felt such peace in Dubai. The people are so friendly. The tourism community is so welcoming. Several members in my travel group said if we could find the right job opportunity, we would move there.”
Jordan recommends travel agents must include a meal with local Emiratis in their tour package. She said: “During our lunch, we asked everything from why do the women cover-up, why do they wear black, are they oppressed, and the list goes on,” She further mentioned: "I took a video of a lot of the discussion. It was open, honest conversation about things you might otherwise be scared or concerned about asking. The food was amazing. The hospitality made you feel comfortable enough to ask until your heart was content."
Lastly, Graves mentioned: “There are just not enough words to describe the unlimited dining opportunities in this city. Due to the fact that there are so many nationalities here, one can have a complete international culinary journey, choosing from local street foods to luxury dining and literally everything in between,”
Day trips are best for Dubai
The Dubai Department of Tourism mentioned that the average length of stay in Dubai wasn't more than 3.5 days. However, many tourists add an additional couple of days to experience all the attractions in Dubai. The Dubai Desert Safari, IMG World of Adventure, LEGO LAND, etc. are few of them. Graves added: "The ideal visit to Dubai UAE should range from 5-7 days in order to really enjoy the sites, participate in activities, and have downtime or beach time, etc.," You can also visit Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital and marvel around The Grand Mosque, Ferrari World Theme park, etc.
Hatta is an exciting place to visit. It is around an hours drive from the city and a perfect outing location. Jordan said Hatta tour packages included exciting adventure activities: “In Hatta, you can kayak, hike, mountain bike, learn axe throwing, archery, and well, just get back to nature. There is a full range of accommodations from American Airstream campers to hotels. I never knew this part of Dubai existed." Dune Bashing is a popular adventure activity to do in Dubai and 4 x 4 Jeep Tours are popular for that. Joseph mentioned."For the adventurer, many Dubai tour companies offer 4x4 Jeep tours on the sand dunes."Thrilling, They take you out to the highest sand dunes. There are camel rides and dinner in the desserts, with entertainment, belly dancing."
Abu Dhabi full day excursion tour from Dubai is highly recommended. The main attraction in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. You can even visit the Emirate of Sharjah if you are keen to know more about Arab heritage and culture. In this regard Joseph added: "It can be a bit overwhelming to see so much in too short a time, getting out of the hotel after breakfast and not getting back until dinner. I would build in more downtime for my groups.'"