It was summer at its peak two years ago. Dubai was waiting for us on our last day of exploring the city. One good thing about summer is you will never have to worry about the weather but its scorching heat. It is just the way to go and there is absolutely no lack of options for activities during this season.
Our itinerary for the day included (1) checking and shopping (for a few items) at the Emirates Mall to align our route; (2) revisiting the Dubai Mall to fully explore it because we only dropped by there for lunch during our second day; (3) architectural photography at Souk Al Bahar; and (4) partaking in the captivating water, light, and music spectacle in Downtown Dubai: The Dubai Fountain.
Thank heavens Dubai offers a range of convenient transportation options from its reliable, comfortable, and affordable Metro to the readily available taxis. I, Leonel, and Ren took the Metro though as it was the fastest and cheapest means of transportation from where we were at to the Mall of the Emirates. It was approximately a forty-minute navigation from Ramada Hotel in Deira.
“The Mall of the Emirates has an area of 2.4 million square feet and is the second largest mall in the UAE. This shopping center is bustling with more than 560 international brands, more than 700 stores; 11 anchor stores; 90 restaurants” (worldatlas.com) such as the well-known ‘Din Tai Fung’, the modish coffee shop ‘Common Grounds’, and Omnia; and high-fashion brands such as Apple, Chanel, Burberry, and Missoni.
This mall also houses a fourteen-screen cinema complex and a ski field—which is absolutely a must-see and must-try attraction because it is the first ski resort and snow park in the Middle East. (We did not though because of budgetary constraints.) Its most noteworthy characteristic is the chic Fashion Dome adorned with intricate iron ceiling similar to that of the railways in the old West. Surely, it did not disappoint our optical organs with all its sense of aesthetics, accessibility, and security.
We had our lunch at one of the restaurants and a few usies at the dome before we left for our second malling experience.
Before the clock was chiming a quarter past one in the afternoon, we were already treading the floors of the, undoubtedly, largest mall in the entire Emirates and Arabian soil: The Dubai Mall.
This shopping center has an area of 12 million square feet and is part of the Burj Khalifa Complex.
The Dubai Mall is also the world’s largest shopping mall based on total land area and fourteenth largest by gross leasable space as per worldatlas.com’s data as well.
The mall contains more than 1,200 shops including an ice rink; a SEGA game center that features a 3D bowling game; a five-star luxury hotel; 22 cinema screens; one of the world’s largest candy stores—Candylicious; an aquarium that is also one of the world’s largest water-filled tank attractions; a dinosaur Skeleton gallery; an underwater zoo, and 150 restaurants.
With all its amenities, stores, restaurants, and attractions, it is a given that Dubai Mall is the world’s most-visited shopping destination.
We were not able to photograph everything because we were only able to visit a few of those. The sheer size and other statistics of the mall explain why. Add to that the constraints of time.
After almost four hours of roaming around Dubai Mall, we zoomed off to Souk Al Bahar that is very famous because of the local souvenir and restaurant shops and stalls in it.
The catch is, the items are expensive as this one is considered a modern luxury souk—a far cry from the ones in the streets with sidewalk vendors.
It is definitely a high-end souk with shops designed primarily for (well-off I may say) tourists, with many restaurants (i.e., alfresco or dine-in) such as Karma Café, Left Bank, and Margaux.
The Souk is just opposite Burj Khalifa and its bridge, a walkway actually, spans the artificial lake in between thereby making it like an extension of Dubai Mall.
The bridge is actually quite an attraction as well as can be gleaned from the considerable number of people posing in it.
The Souk’s ground floor is where the restaurants and lounges are found as well as the terraces that provide a decent view of the world’s tallest skyscraper and the artificial lakes, fountains, hotels, and other visual masterpieces around it.
Note that bringing a car is definitely not a problem with its more than 2,000 parking lots.
Without a doubt, the architecture the Souk has is its most appealing feature.
The waterfront promenade, as well as the artificial lake and canal in it, makes for a perfect urban relaxation haven.
Before the gloaming took over, we gaped for a few minutes at this ultimate wonder that is Burj Khalifa.
Based on what I read, this super architecture was designed to raise the Emirati metropolis’ global profile. Gleaning from what I did experience during that moment and from what can be seen on TV or on various social media platforms, I could asseverate that said feat was definitely accomplished. At 5:45 PM, we and all other tourists from across the globe convened at the walkway to lay our eyes on the vast artificial lake at the back of the mighty Burj Khalifa for the much-awaited fountain show.
It comprise five circles of different sizes; two arcs; thousands of superlights; multiple color projectors; and humongous nozzles that shoot over thousands of gallons of water up in the air.
At exactly 6:00 PM, the fountain show was on play with all its visual spectrum of colors, variety of world music from classical to contemporary songs, and different water expressions went in unison.
The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain in the world captivating water, music and light spectacle in.
After the show, we stayed for a few minutes more by feasting on the same views but at night then had dinner at Soy Restaurant—for the second time. (We could not get enough of their palatable congee.)
It is safe to say that both scenarios—day or night—make for a very attractive scene in landscape photography.
We left the complex with a smile on our faces, on our way to the airport, knowing that we had a wonderful experience in the big city of Dubai amid the high temperatures. The good thing that came out of our decision to come here during summer peak was we availed of the lower prices and better values for our money. No wonder we only paid SAR 1,250 for both flights and hotel for three days and two nights.
Our visit to Dubai was just a short trip yet I felt like I had already seen a large part of the city. A city that represents the look of the future where nature, architectures, and entertainment blend perfectly.
This is, by the way, my first international travel and it happened without much plans, itinerary wise, yet it turned out just fine. Thank God I was with friends who embrace spontaneity. The entire experience would not have been that thrilling and fun. And you could just tell by the kind of warm fuzzies we got from striking a pose beside, in front, behind or along some of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks over the course of the trip.
I am honored to have set foot on this place, which I hope to revisit when I get another chance.
Top Things To Do in Dubai in November 2018 (passionfordubai.com)
5 Best Neighborhoods for Tourists to Stay in Dubai (passionfordubai.com)
Dubai travel guide: 20 things that will surprise first time visitors (traveller.com.au)
What Dubai Taught Me And The 10 Things You Should Experience There Too (aworldtotravel.com)
Why It’s Great to Travel Without a Plan (nomadicmatt.com)