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Dubai in 48 Hours

Two days – it’s not long. If you were in Paris, you would have enough time to visit the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, and possibly Notre Dame, maybe with enough time for a little café au lait and croissant before jumping on the metro, and heading back to the airport. In my home town of Melbourne, you would probably have to spend half the time figuring out if there is actually anything worth seeing – of course there is, but in two days you’re not going to find it. But in Dubai, you can see the natural Dubai, traditional Dubai, sleazy Dubai and modern Dubai. And you’ll even have time for a dip in the pool. I’ve just said goodbye to my friend at the airport, and although two days was not long enough to spend with her, I think she got a pretty good idea that the place that I live is not nearly what she expected.

1. The Desert

A six am arrival co-incided with our school-day wake-up. I knew there was a reason that school starts so early, and that’s because it gives you enough time to get to Bab al Shams with breakfast time to spare. Only half an hour or so will take you past the mind-boggling developments such as Arabian Ranches and Motor City, the space shuttle of the now-on-hold Dubailand, camels, and sometimes even a bedouin camp or two. By the time you reach the desert resort, you have caught up with the latest news, and your friend is starting to drift off mid-sentence, saying “The desert is right here! I can’t believe we are in the desert already! Ooh look! A camel! Ahhhhh, those dunes, they are so beautiful. Look at the patterns, they are creeping all over the road – are we going to be able to get back ok?”. Then when you walk your friend through the giant wooden entrance of Bab al Shams, they start planning their second honeymoon. Take them past all the carpets, exotic lanterns and water features, then above the restaurant. On the rooftop they are guaranteed to just stop and take twenty deep breaths before they realize they should be taking photos. This can be followed by a leisurely Arabic breakfast, and because it’s a buffet, another leisurely continental breakfast. And the whole time you can switch your perspective from the immaculate croquet green to the sandy towers, to the sand itself.

2. Traditional Dubai

By the time you get back to Dubai, it will be about 11:30 – a perfect time to visit the Creek. Park just near the wooden arch that marks the entrance to the Old Souk (many call this the textile souk – which is actually a little further down), then walk through for just a look. Don’t buy straight away, because you will have to carry it. Instead, think about what you want while you take a 1 dirham abra ride across to the spice souk, where you show your friend the difference between good, bad and fake saffron. Where you show them frankinsenc in it’s raw form, laugh at the size of the cooking pots (which incidentally I can climb inside of), and you buy spicy cashews to eat on the way back. Your friend will ooh and ahh again, because the place is full of middle eastern nationals, and the image completely destroys the cold hard vision they have been given to represent Dubai. Then you choof back across the creek, make your deal with the bedspread and wall-hanging man, and then cool off on the shady terrace of Bayt al Wakeel, which is perfectly positioned to capture the breeze. Drink mint tea out of Moroccan glasses, burn your fingers on the classic teapots, and eat sambousek and fatoush. Don’t forget to climb all the way to the roof to get the view of the creek on one side, and the blue mosque on the other before you depart to pick up the kids from school.

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One Response to “Dubai in 48 Hours”

  1. […] you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them? The souks. But again, I did a post on this “Dubai in 48 hours”. Dubai is such an incredible city – you cannot possibly sum it up with one site or […]


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