Destination, The UAE: Abu Dhabi and Dubai
I’m in love.
I visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the first time ever during Summer 2017, and here’s a post to share some pictures, places and little tips!
To clear out any confusion, the currency used in the UAE is the Dirhams, and the conversion to Malaysian Ringgit is almost one to one (as I’m writing this post, its 1 DHS=1.17 MYR).
Now, where did I go, and what did I do?
- Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi.
No matter your age, you’ll have fun here. There are so many things to do, from roller coasters, to mini rides and beautiful Italian architecture, Ferrari World will take up almost a whole day for you to properly visit and check it out. Of course, visiting on weekdays means it’ll be less busy, but with tourists around all most all the time, it never really is empty.
The highlight of my visit to Ferrari World was when I got to ride a Ferrari. For an additional amount of $, you can experience riding in a Ferrari as a passenger in the front seat, with the driver being a professional racer. The ride lasts about 10 minutes, and is thrilling throughout; the drivers know what you’re sitting there for. Included in the package is a 360 degree video of you in the car and a few photos. If you do have the money to spare, I say go for it. You’ll probably only ever do experience it once. Would I do it again? YES! If you have an International Driving License, you could even drive the Ferrari, with a speed limit of 140 km/h.
Again, there are roller coasters (the fastest one in the world too, the Formula Rossa), rides, restaurants, TONS to do! Your average theme park, but better. Its also fully indoors, save for the Formula Rossa, and is connected to Yas Mall.
2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
A beautiful work of architecture, the mosque should definitely be on your list. I visited during sundown, just as the Maghrib prayer started. Its quiet, yet so alive, as people from all over visit to admire its beauty.
3. At The Top, Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Tallest building in the world, and here’s your chance to get riiiight on top of it. Sort of.
The regular ticket allows you to fly up (literally fly, though in an elevator) to the 124th floor of the tower and admire everything that Dubai has to offer. There’s an outdoor deck and an air-conditioned room to view Dubai, with a souvenir store and photographers. The lift takes only 60 seconds to get you up there; its fast and really cool (they turn off the lights and play a video to distract you from the fact that you’re literally shooting for the stars. Sorry, I’m a tad bit afraid of heights.) Its beautiful, and not overly packed as the staff make sure not to allow too many people up at one time. For extra $, you can visit a higher floor and have coffee (or so I’ve heard.) I personally went on the regular ride, and it was wonderful, to say the least.
4. Dubai Mall and the fountains, Dubai
The biggest mall in the world.
Needless to say, you can shop till you drop, or just really drop while walking around this mall because its HUGE! And so beautiful! Different locations of the mall have different themes, and they are very well designed to suit said theme. The place to go if you’re looking to take photos and do some shopping.
On the other hand, I never thought I’d cry over a fountain show. The dancing water stole my heart. Music plays and the fountain literally dances to it, be it Arab or English hits. Must see, must record, must experience, it really is magnificent. Keep in mind that the mall can get really crowded, especially outside where it connects to Souk Al Bahr, another mall, as you have the best view of the Burj and the fountains here.
5. Motiongate, Dubai
Another theme park you should visit. Seriously. I had the time of my life here, and I don’t even like roller coaster rides! There are indoor and outdoor parts in the park, and again you’ll need a whole day to really enjoy it. You’ll see lots of animated movie themes, including Madagascar, Shrek, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Ghost Busters, Kung Fu Panda, and so many more! Since my visit was in the Summer, we only went outdoors after sunset, but it was still so much fun! Motiongate is located right next to Legoland and Bollywood Parks, and right outside is Riverland, a scenic area full of restaurants, picturesque corners and souvenir shops. Most of Riverland was closed due to the heat when I visited, but I’d definitely come back!
6. Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
The camera started acting up around this time, so I don’t have lots of pictures here. Nonetheless, the Aquarium is fun and educational, and its more than just a super-sized aquarium. There are other sea creatures and animals to watch, including otters, penguins, birds, crocodiles and starfish, among others. Definitely a must see if you’re in Dubai! Its location is a big plus too, inside The Dubai Mall.
That was my short list of places to visit. It’ll definitely be more in depth the next time I visit.
Here’s some general information about the country:
1. Eating out is expensive. A typical meal at Mcdonald’s will sot you 25 dhs minimum, as with other fast food outlets. A meal from the food court will probably cost 30-50 dhs, if its kabab, shawarma, or even other international cuisines, though this price range varies from place to place. But of course outside of the malls there are cheaper places, especially in supermarkets. (they have a Giant, but Carrefour is really popular there, and has great food!)
Of course its only pricier in restaurants, but give it a try. The food is delicious and the service is even better. More on food in the UAE in my post here.
2. Taxis are safe, efficient and not as expensive as you’d expect, though it can burn a hole in your pocket if its your only mode of transport. My advice is to highlight the places you want to visit and try booking a hotel close to it, so its convenient to walk to said places. As for me, since I stayed with my family and really, they showed me around and took me pretty much everywhere.
3. Summer was hot. Like, you have a chicken cooking in the oven for 2 hours and you decide to check on it. Bam. Malaysia’s heat is NOTHING compared to the heat there. But since it is much drier in the UAE, you don’t sweat as much (if at all). I wouldn’t recommend visiting in July and August, because if you’re not a fan of the heat, you’ll have a hard time. On top of that, lots of places were closed due to the weather 🙁 thank God for malls and dancing fountains.
BUT SUMMER IS GREAT FOR SHOPPING. When they say 70% off here, they mean it. Mango, Zara, H&M, Aldo, Charles and Keith (!!), this was the best sale I’ve been to. It not just the prices, its the products; not only are there hundreds of stores, they have such a variety of items that will just leave you in tears! Seriously though, everything I got was under 200 dhs, and I shopped at the stores mentioned above. Not to mention the brands we don’t have here in Malaysia, Riva (Ig: @rivafashionme) being my favourite! They probably have a similar sale as Winter ends, but make sure to check online before you pick a date!
4. You can be sure to get the best service no matter where you go. Workers in stores and restaurants are so pleasant and helpful you’ll adore them. Restrooms, no matter where, are always, always clean, dry, and equipped with toilet roll. Best restrooms. TMI, yes, but they deserve the praise.
There’s lots to see and do, and they’ve recently added more tourist spots, including the Dubai Frame. But simple activities like walking down the streets of Old Town Dubai and visiting the Corniche (seaside) in Abu Dhabi are also worth doing!
I hope this post has helped you pinpoint exciting locations for your next visit to the UAE. Obviously you could just Google to find out more, and so I just wanted to share my little side of experiencing Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This was my first visit, and it was really all about experiencing. If (when) I return, there’ll be another huge UAE post up here!