For a family who are somewhat well-travelled, people find it hard to believe when I say we have never been to Dubai before or anywhere in the UAE. 2017 will be our first ever holiday here with the kids in tow before we head off to South Korea.
A big city girl at heart, Dubai always sounded appealing but I have never seen it as a ‘bucket’ list type of destination (I don’t have a bucket list but if I did Dubai wouldn’t have been on it) and after spending four days in Dubai I can now understand exactly why.
Dubai isn’t a place to go to for culture or to experience authentic local cuisines, there are no lasting natural world wonders to see or world heritage sites to capture photos of. If it wasn’t for air con and the vast array of huge buildings to hide inside, Dubai is in hostile heat built on a desert and can’t be enjoyed much outside unless you’re out late in the evening or really early in the mornings. I do love a bit of sun but when it gets too hot I find it unbearable.
Before arriving we pre planned an itinerary for our stay and on the first day we had afternoon tea at the Ritz hotel on Jumeriah beach followed by shopping at the Dubai Mall.
Second day we enjoyed lunch at the business district of DIFC at Zuma which we booked after we were told Nobu has a no child policy. I’m sure this would have worked for us if we had several nannies and paid help to look after our kids like all the locals do. On the other hand, although we were the only couple dining with children, Zuma where very accommodating and served up a great lunch menu.
There is also the usual activities to do out there which I have no interest in. Paying to watch animals in cruelty and captivity. Paying over the odds to zip line across the skyline or sky diving, swimming with dolphins etc etc and more so recently taking your kids to Lego Land out in the scorching heat.
Essentially there is nothing in Dubai that you can’t do anywhere else in the world.
Admittedly Dubai does not leave a complete bitter taste in my mouth, I do have to add in some positive notes as we did intentionally choose to extend our stopover here. Travelling in from the U.K it is only a six and a half hour flight and is a great way to break up a long arduous flight to Asia or even Australia. The route is also served by one of the best airlines (Emirate Airways) out there and it is very family friendly with endless activities for children to enjoy, and for adults alike. Any cuisine to take your fancy will always be served to a great standard. I can see the appeal and understand the attraction in why it has become a popular holiday destination for those who have yet to travel afar or travel much at all. Ignorant in the world around them. Where a holiday for me means being spoilt by the real world, natural beauty, local hospitality, authentic food and experiencing the diverse array of cultural differences existing around the world.
Travelling a lot with my husband I always try to imagine living in the country we are at and if I would cope being out of London away from family. Dubai I know for sure would not be able to comfort me. I couldn’t live here, I wouldn’t ever feel relaxed or be able to zone out. Any expats I know in the Middle East only have ex pat friends. During our stay we only came across ex pats and immigrant workers. One thing I found disconcerting is, it is the only city in the world that I have been to where you wouldn’t meet a local and I can’t explain here as to why without accusation and assumption. All I can say is that it is a soulless city full of rich locals being waited on hand and foot by a growing immigrant population.
Any culture Dubai once had has been diluted by the huge multicultural influences and what’s left of Dubai which is now devoid of any culture and is just a sterile and superficial city.
Highlight: Being able to see Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, an easy one hours drive from Dubai. The best time to go is just before Maghrib prayer (sunset) to witness it in all its glory whilst the sun goes down and you also get to listen to the Adhaan (call to prayer) which creates in itself a breathtaking atmosphere of calm, peace and time for reflection.
Lowlight: The Aquarium in the Dubai Mall is always busy and the kids love it, but seeing the penguins in a small unkept depressing room, behind a glass looking miserable was heartbreaking. I am all for conservation, breeding endangered animals in captivity but this was not any of that. I don’t think anything of the sort exists in Dubai.