I’ve always been longing to see Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It makes me feel bad whenever I think that Dubai is just a stone throw away from Saudi but still I can’t even take a glimpse of it.
So I told myself, on my next vacation I will see you Dubai!!!
I did researches on the easiest way to obtain a UAE visa since my profession on my iqama (resident card) did not qualify for a visa-on-arrival. I found out that Emirates Airline offers e-visa. Since it’s also time for my annual vacation, I requested our HR manager to book me an Emirates flight to the Philippines. There were lots of options to choose from on Emirates’ e-visa service. Because I only want sightseeing in Dubai, I availed of the 96 hours transit visa. The process was fast. It only took me 2 two days before I received my e-visa. All transactions were done online. They only asked few requirements like a scanned copy of my passport, ID picture and a minimal fee.
To make the long story short, it was May last year when the moment that I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. There I was onboard EK flight to Dubai. It was less than an hour flight from Riyadh to Dubai. I arrived past 12 midnight so I decided to just stay on the airport and wait till the sun rise. Dubai airport was a huge one. It’s complete with all the amenities a passenger needs. It has spacious sleeping areas for those with long waiting hours. There are different food chains to choose from once your stomach starts to grumble. There’s also a play area for kids. There are so many ways to keep you busy while on the airport. After strolling, I took a nap on one of the benches.
Past 6 am when I got out of the airport. The immigration was fast, there was only a short line of people queuing. After doing all the protocols, in less than 20 minutes there I was excited to see what was waiting for me outside.
There were many taxis waiting outside, I chose the pink one. I was surprised that the driver was a lady, maybe same as my age, from Eritrea. After some chit chatting, she stopped on a building with the name “Orchid Hotel” on it. That’s my hotel. It will be my home for the next three days.
I arrived too early for check-in but thankfully the staffs allowed me to have an early check-in without additional charges! The room was great. Its size is just right and it’s complete with amenities. After I fixed my luggage and had some rest, I took a shower to freshen up.
I only had few days in this country so I have to make the most of it. Time is gold so I should not waste my time sleeping on my hotel room. I asked the reception how to go to Abu Dhabi, I also called my friend and asked her some advice.
Abu Dhabi is the capital city of UAE, although Dubai is more famous. The bus ride from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is more than two hours.
I admit that I’m not a fan of cars but my curiosity led me to this place. This amusement park in Yas Island has the fastest roller coaster in the world.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is really a spectacular architecture. This masterpiece should not be missed when you visit UAE. My tiredness vanished as soon as I saw this gleaming white mosque.
It is really grand for it houses the largest carpet and the third largest chandelier in the world. It can accommodate 40,000 worshippers.
Ladies are required to fully-cover their body with an abaya. Don’t worry if you don’t have one because they will let you borrow it for free. But you have to wait for a very long queue.
Since I only had limited time to explore this beautiful country, I chose to avail of the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. I bought the 48 hours ticket to maximize the tour to Dubai. With the help of my friend, I purchased the ticket for half of its original price (I got 50% discount since my friend has a UAE Residence Card).
Dubai Museum is located in Fahidi Fort, one of the oldest sites in Dubai. It has exhibits and diorama of the life in Dubai from the olden days up to present. It has galleries of the evolution of Dubai from an ordinary pearl diving and fishing port to a progressive metropolis.
Abra Cruise to the Old Souks
Whenever we hear the word Dubai, what comes first in our mind are the tall skyscrapers and a very modern city. Despite its modernity, Dubai still preserves its old heritage. The traditional wooden boats or abra are still cruising along the Dubai Creek. It was an amazing experience seeing Dubai on a different perspective. It only cost 1 dirham to get to the other side of the creek. I took abra cruise going to the Spice Souk.
Spice Souk is one of the most popular souks in Dubai. The air is bursting with aromatic scents from the wide variety of herbs and spices.
Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world by total area. It is an attraction by itself and a day won’t be enough to explore this gigantic mall.
It is famous for its indoor Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. With more than a thousand aquatic animals, everyone will surely have a great time. One of the highlights of the aquarium is the tunnel where you can walk and see the sharks, rays and other species swimming above you. It feels like you are walking in the ocean floor.
The Underwater Zoo houses several species like penguins, crocodiles, and otters among others.
The Dancing Fountain in the Burj Lake located outside Dubai Mall is another great spectacle. The world’s largest fountain choreographed to the tune of famous songs with Burj Khalifa on the back drop is a must-see attraction when you visit Dubai. The shows in the evening start at 6 pm- 11 pm and run every 30 mins.
It is the tallest skyscraper in the world. I was mesmerized to see it up close and personal. This shimmering soaring tower houses several hotels, residential units and other establishments.
Burj Al Arab
I had a nice view of Burj Al Arab in the Jumeirah Public Beach.
The City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tour is the best way to explore the city if you only have a short time. It passes through all famous landmarks in Dubai. I had both the day and night views of the city’s famous spots.
Although my budget and time on this quick UAE escapade was very limited, I was still able to enjoy and made the most out of it.