Tom Cruise has been there, done that, and you’ve seen him at it: dangling from the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa—as a massive sandstorm hurtles his way. While I do not recommend performing such feats, achieving an exhilarating escapade in Dubai is certainly no mission impossible.
As the commercial capital and coastal cosmopolis situated in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a desert gem that bustles with activity. For the explorer, a plethora of adventures await—sky diving, parasailing, scuba diving and more. Check out Skydive Dubai for an elevating view of Dubai’s glitzy coastline or Balloon Adventures Emirates for a calming, off-city, early bird view in a hot air balloon ride across the desert. Scuba diving is a popular sport in the country and a way to explore the local underwater flora, fauna, and old boat wrecks; dive in and cool off with various water sporting offers from Al Boom Diving, and Sky and Sea Adventures.
If you are looking to engage more with the cultural aspects of this contemporary city, you should certainly consider a cruise across the Dubai Creek in a ‘ dhow’ boat—or a traditional Arabic boat—preferably at night, when the city lights sparkle along the water’s edge. Emiratis are also very keen on horse and camel racing: The Meydan racecourse is world famous for hosting the Dubai World Cup horse racing event in March, and Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack is home to the Dubai Camel Racing Festival in February; events are often free to the public, although there are also ticketed seats available. if you travel at the right time, you may be lucky to be a part of these seasonal events.
There is, however, an activity that you simply cannot miss, one that perhaps culminates to be the most memorable and spirited experience you could have in Dubai—a classic desert safari. Book such a tour, and you will find yourself gliding across the golden Arabian sands in a 4×4 with a certified driver, speeding up and down dunes (dune bashing), dune surfing, and at times, going along the rim of the Hajjar mountains and its rocky valleys. The safari also includes an evening at a camp in the desert, which includes local food, music, camel-riding, and of course, belly dancing. You have a myriad options when looking for such packages, with popular offerings from companies such as Arabian Adventures, and Delta Tours and Adventure Sports, Dubai to name a few.
Given the region’s climate, your outdoor explorations may get a little too ‘heated’ for your liking. Do not fret—Dubai has long since catered to all sorts of indoor, air-conditioned activities. One example is Ski Dubai, among the largest indoor ski parks in the world. Here, you can chill all year long, despite the sweltering external conditions. This park is located in one of the city’s favorite malls. Dubai is also the city of the Shopping Festival, the city of an overwhelming number of stunning malls. For a different kind of adventure, a visit to the some of the choicest malls—the Dubai mall (world’s largest mall), Mall of the Emirates (still pretty large), and Souk Madinat Jumeirah (more traditional and exuberant set-up)–can provide days worth of exercise and feel-good expenditure.
Image by: Kevin Sebastian.