Having cracked almost every Middle East country now, it still surprises me how untouristy some of the countries in that region are. I still have only really Yemen, Syria and Lebanon as a final triangle to have visited all Middle East Countries. My most recent adventures there were to Oman, Saudi Arabia and Northern Cyprus. With the World Cup in Qatar just 4 years away, it, the region should grow in popularity the next few years. One of the most visited cities, is of course Dubai in United Arab Emirates. I have visited the UAE three times now – twice to Dubai and once to Sharjah.
Where to stay in Dubai?
Firstly, hotels are important here and continue to attract people from all over the world to the skyscraping metropolis of Dubai. From the swanky 7 star Burj al Arab Jumeirah to the budget Ibis Hotel, there are options to suit all types of visitors. Promotions and offers are also available, and if you check in advance, you can find deals such as atlantis the palm promo code or by signing up for email updates from some of the hotels in the city. You won’t have a trouble finding a bed, but you will need to book in advance to secure a bargain.
We chose the City Max hotel for our three nights in 2013 as it had a swimming pool on the top floor, a bar downstairs and cosy rooms with Wi-Fi. We had just arrived after one month in Iran, and I had my first Guinness/alcohol for a month here.
What to see in Dubai?
I have covered the sights in Dubai before quite a few times, including how to do it on the cheap, including backpacking the Burj Khalifa on a budget and the best things to see and do. The fact remains that there is never a shortage of attractions in Dubai, no matter what time of year it is. There are some travel hacks to see the sights on the cheap, in fact for free. I recommend the palms, the Burj Khalifa, the markets, mosques and Dubai Creek. Also, the Gold Souq is a highly impressive jewellery market worth checking out.
What to eat in Dubai?
Despite being a very Arabic culture here, you might actually struggle to find exact, specific ‘Dubai cuisine’ There are certainly no shortage of food options though. All the swanky shopping malls are blessed with international restaurants. There are also plenty of supermarkets to cater for real budget tourists who want to buy cheap food and eat or cook it at your hotel or hostel.
Where else to visit in the region?
I find that if you do go to Dubai, you should try and visit at least one other country in the region when you are there. Dubai borders Oman, so that is definitely an option, but also flights in and out of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar mean that you can tick off a few cities or countries on one trip. Until Yemen, Syria and Lebanon come calling, it’s unlikely I’ll want to visit the Middle East again any time soon.