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Saturday, June 21, 2008

10 Reasons to go to Dubai now

Call me crazy, I'm in Italy and I'm telling you to go to Dubai. But my beloved Dubai has been getting some bad press lately. Call it a backlash, jealousy or - dare I say it? - racism, it's undeserved. Ignore the critics and go look for yourself.
AFFORDABLE HOTELS - Hotels have slashed prices up to 50% off rack rates, including includes luxe hotels like Bab Al Shams, Al Maha and Burj Al Arab. If these special luxury packages are still be beyond your budget, there are great deals to be had at the rest of Dubai's 400+ hotels in all price brackets. Check Expedia to see what I mean. My picks: Bastakiya boutique charm at Orient Guest House for $86, sleek business-style at Novotel for $90, stylish BurJuman Rotana for $160, Carlos Ott-designed Hilton Dubai Creek for $170, and Moroccan-chic at Park Hyatt Dubai for $286.
2. SPA SPECIALS - Dubai has some of the world's best spas with a long list of luscious Oriental treatments (a milk bath anyone?) and most are offering summer promotions, including the Angsana, Akaru and Talise.
CHEAP EATS - Many of Dubai's restaurants offer great value degustation menus, promotions one night a week, all-you-can-eat champagne brunches on Fridays, and fantastic fixed-priced set lunches, but there are more restaurant deals than ever at the moment. So why is everything so cheap right now? Well, because...
DUBAI IS SIZZLING! - I'm talking about the temperature. Right now it's a scorching, sweltering, suffocating heat hovering around the low 40s in Celsius (around 105-110 Fahrenheit). And it's only going to get hotter. It's something you may never have experienced before, and probably won't again, so why not try it once?
5. EMPTY BEACHES - who wants to lie on a crowded Italian lido, only centimetres from the person next to you, when you can have a whole gorgeous white sand beach to yourself? And, um, the thousands of other holidaymakers in Dubai for the summer deals. But seriously, Dubai's public beaches are lovely and wide and rarely far from a leafy park, while the hotel beach is never far from the icy swimming pool, a wet-bar, or your air-conditioned room.
6. STAYING COOL IS A CINCH - you can escape the heat, whether it's in the temperature controlled hotel swimming pool, swooshing down the slopes at Ski Dubai or ice-skating at one of the city's rinks. Everywhere is air-conditioned in Dubai - taxis, malls, hotels, restaurants - so the heat is only a problem when you go outside...
7. PIERRE GAGNAIRE'S REFLECT IS OPEN - this sublime restaurant by three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire, one of the world's greatest chefs, has just recently opened its gorgeous doors, promising a multi-sensory experience. We interviewed restaurant manager Etienne Haro and saw the the glam space while it was still being decorated. We can't wait to try it!
SALES ARE ON! - the city's seasonal shopping festival, Summer Surprises, is on and the bargains are unbelievable. Ordinarily shopping in Dubai is cheaper than Europe, especially when it comes to electronics, designer fashion, shoes, perfume and cosmetics. Why? Because there's no tax. So when the sales are on, the prices are even crazier.
THE KIDS WILL LOVE IT - as part of Summer Surprises,, there is tonnes of indoor family entertainment on everywhere, in the malls, libraries, hotels, and at Mohdesh Fun City, named after the festival mascot.
THE CITY IS TRAFFIC-FREE - well, not quite, but there are far fewer cars on the road because most expats have gone home or are travelling for the summer and the Emiratis have moved to cooler climes. The sensible people have left town essentially. But that means faster travelling time for you. Traffic is a problem in Dubai; it's the thing residents hate most. So go and enjoy something locals rarely get a chance to - empty roads! - and whizz around the city eating, drinking, pampering, and shopping yourself silly!


The Bohemian Bahamian said...

Hi Lara! Thank you for your comment. I loved trolling through your archives! I especially appreciate the list of books you recommend. I was curious, what field is your PhD in; is it a liberal arts subject? Also, how did you and your husband end up being able to work together; do you guys make it known that you work together? I think that is awesome. End of rambling now, and I apologize if you have addressed my questions in an earlier post. Have a magical day!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lara, just added your linkedin profile...thanks!
I´m getting ore and more interested in working with Dubai agencies, since I am a private travel planner and offer concierge services aswell , all in Spain. Can you suggest any good agency?
also I´m thinking of visiting Dubai soon, which is the best time for it?
sunny regards from Spain, please reply to if possible...
thanks! Eduardo Blanco

Wendy said...

Hi Lara,
I stayed at the Orient Guest House in April and loved it. Charming, peaceful, good value and a great location as I wanted to explore rather than sit on a beach (although I did indulge one day as it would have been a crime not to, the water was gorgeous).

Lola A. Åkerström said...

Haaa! Dubai *sigh*

Still top 5 on my ever expanding list of places to go :)

Vermont Woman said...

I loved Dubai on my last visit...too bad for the bad press. Having just returned from Amman, I'm even more determined to do more travel to the Middle East...

Anonymous said...

I've never heard Dubai get bad press Lara....even here in the states. I'd love to go there. It's one of the top places I want to see but I can never seem to get there!!!! :(

Lara Dunston said...

Hi all - thanks for reading and thank you so much for your comments. Apologies for the delay in acknowledging - I've been finishing a book.

Hi Tamara, the PhD is on the connections between film and travel. I started it years ago in the travel studies department at Nottingham Trent (UK) but that wasn't quite working for me, so then I shifted to the film studies dept at Uni of Belfast. When my supervisor left I put it on hold so I'm still looking for another uni and supervisor that's a good fit. It's cross-disciplinary so it's tricky.

As for Terry and I working together, when we were young we made films together (15-21 years ago), I was also a publicist for his band, he edited a couple of teen novels I wrote, and we worked on our first travel writing project, the Sydneyside Guide for the publishing company he worked for about 13 years ago, so we've always worked together in a way. Now, as travel writers, we definitely let people know we're co-authoring books together - it's on the contract. We get a lot of work also because Terry is a photographer - they like that we can both write a book and he can also shoot it. So do we.

Hi Eduardo - sorry, but I don't deal with travel agencies. I book all my flights online and I book hotels online or directly through the hotel. Sorry I can't help.

Hi Wendy - Orient House is really charming, isn't it? This kind of hotel is a rarity in Dubai - if only there were more like it! The water is beautiful there, isn't it?

Geotraveller - you must get to Dubai. It is a cool city. But you must make sure to see some of the 'real' Dubai. Make sure you get one of our guidebooks or see my posts on Backstreet Dubai. Check in with me before you go and I'll give you some recommendations. Can't wait to hear what you think.

Wanderlust Woman - you must visit Syria. It's my favorite Middle East country Damascus and Aleppo are incredible - the Old Towns are very astmopheric. Our new Syria and Lebanon guide is coming out next week too! Let me know if you want some tips.

Thanks for reading everyone!

Randy Shiner said...

OK, it's really perverse that I have to ask this question, but how does a Jew get to travel in the Middle East (aside from Israel)? I know that people go to Egypt and Jordan, but I am not familiar with anyone who's been to Damascus or Dubai or Saudi Arabia. What can I expect? Thanks for a GREAT blog. Good work, if you can call it that (what with deadlines, there are probably times you do...).

Lara Dunston said...

Randy, as far as the Syrian and UAE governments are concerned it's not your religion that is the problem but your nationality - if you have an Israeli passport or Israeli stamps in your passport you could be refused entry. This is likely to be the case until the Palestinians are given their own state and right of return. Having said that both countries have had cultural and business delegations from Israel. Saudi Arabia is another story because tourism hasn't really developed there, so getting an independent visa is difficult enough. Most people visit as a tourist through organized groups and agencies or on specialist trips such as archaeological tours.

Glad you like the blog! The blog is really a personal project, the travel writing with all those deadlines you mention is the work. that keeps me sane when the work. Thanks again!