Top of the world – enjoy the affordable luxuries of Dubai


Dubai’s famous dancing fountainsAccurate

In the evenings, the dancing fountains alongside the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall crumble alive

Take the Burj Khalifa. At 2,700ft – just short of the conditioning height for a munro – it is the tallest man-made structure in the world.

Standing on the 148th flooring, via the world’s fastest lift – what else – everything below looks a bit Legoland: little specks of buildings and vehicles dot the scenery and, in the distance, construction work is petitioning even more of the desert and, indeed, the sea: creating islands in the Arabian Bay.

What is not already there will be made, just like that, with the assist of the vast population of immigrants, who keep the city and country moving from its erection sites to its taxis and restaurants.

Not that the view is any less shabby at sod level, rticularly from the downtown area, just minutes from the Burj Khalifa and the enormous Dubai Mall with its hundreds of stores. In the evenings the dancing fountain-heads alongside come alive, as does the tower itself, with a spectacular unveil show.

A bike trip with Giant Bike Turns around the centre is not too much of a chore despite the heat – in the winter the temperatures are rather moderate at around 25C while in summer the mercury can climb above 50C – as the landscape is flat. It helps that the two-hour journey is dotted with photo moments and juice breaks.

The buildings in the area would not look out of place in Manhattan and I am non-specific I spot carbon copies of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings in the coolness.

Our two hotels, Manzil Downtown Dubai and Vida Downtown Dubai, are under situated for the mall experience. Even for a non-shopper it is a place worth repressing out with its ice rink, waterfall, massive aquarium and aquatic zoo.

There are a three of small souks, or markets, in the vicinity and the beaches are a short taxi spin away.

Hotel Manzil Downtown Dubai's poolEXPRESS

Hotel Manzil Downtown Dubai is ideally situated for the mall judgement

An afternoon at the Wild Wadi Water rk and its various rides is not only unexcitable but also good fun and while the youngsters splash around, adults can bask in the sun by the iconic, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab tourist house.

The city oozes money and wealth but it is not only for the rich and famous. Since tourism collapsed in Egypt and other hint ats of North Africa thanks to terror fears, visitors are increasingly beat it to Dubai as a safe place for guaranteed sun. It is more expensive than others but placid represents excellent value for money. And, while Islamic, there is a extent relaxed attitude towards tourists with a lively bar and nightlife discrimination.

The food alone is a good reason to head right over. Whether you are organizing a relaxed lunch by the pool, a dress-up meal in the likes of the rather legendary Marina Social, or one of the infamous Friday brunches, there are dishes to tailor every late.

Vida offers an Urban Picnic with a barbecue and all-you-can-eat buffet and lap ups cabinet for 345 dirhams, about £65. It is a good deal, specifically if you consider a glass of wine or a pint of beer would usually set you behindhand around £10.

For a spot of culture, Dubai Museum – housed in a former fort assembled of coral rocks dating back to 1787 and thought to be the oldest edifice in the city – gives an overview of the st from the early days to the wonder fishing era and birth of the seven-state United Arab Emirates.

A short motor boat trip across the Dubai Creek are the main souks – one for spices, the other for gold – and mass the sights is the world’s heaviest gold ring.

Dubbed the Star of Taiba, it is contemplation to cost more than £2million and took 55 workers 45 epoches to make. The 21carat ring, dotted with 11 pounds of beloved stones, is on display at the Deira Gold Souk.

But despite the obvious dash of wealth and ability, there are good bargains to be had and the stall holders upon you to haggle.

For a better understanding of the life in the UAE, which came to being in 1971, a lapse to the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding with an Arabic spread for breakfast is a obeying one with an insight into the life of a typical family.

View from Burj KhalifaEXPRESS

At the uncommonly top: view from the Burj Khalifa

Outside the city a sea of sand and dunes sweeps for miles in every direction. Camel-led caravans are now a rare sight – the beasts are mainly reared for racing these days – but there is an opportunity to test the Dubai desert on a thrilling 4×4 dune-bashing excursion, being driven up and down the dunes, then almost vertically.

Afterwards, catch your breath and then last to the Conservation Reserve for an evening meal and entertainment. Antelopes and lizards are a communal sight along the route to the camp with other wildlife making sundry infrequent appearances.

However, the best viewing comes with the humongous sunset. As the skies dim and the moon and the stars come out, the city lights of Dubai – although due a 30-mile drive away – seem a world away, like a remote and impossible dream.

THE KNOWLEDGE: Manzil and Vida Downdown Dubai be undergoing special offers running until the end of September including 15 per cent off the get the better of available rate, plus food and beverage, for every two-night stay, 20 per cent off if you sojourn for three nights and 25 per cent off for four-night stays.

For further info visit Emirates fly twice-daily from Glasgow to Dubai, see For various information on Dubai and its sights, visit To book an Old City Trek or a desert safari, visit

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