We actually only know Dubai as a transit airport on our trips around the world. That should change at the turn of the year 2021/22, because there were good reasons to visit this desert city at the Persian Gulf in the United Emirates after all. The main reason was the long-announced, probably the largest and most attractive world exhibition of 192 countries on this planet, called EXPO 2020. Yes, you read that right. This event was supposed to start in October 2020, but it didn't. Corona wanted to have its fingers in it and so - just like the Olympic Games 2020 - they were postponed by a year. Well, there were more brilliant points that led to our decision to do this photo tour together with Hanno, a very good friend of ours, for 10 days at the end of December e.g.
• The highest building of the world
• The largest shopping mall in the world
• The cleanest city in the world
• A super fun New Year's Eve fireworks - fired from 829.80 m (and below). Unique on this world.
Real world record! And of course we wanted to see all of this for ourselves. Let's go! You don't have to pack too much for a trip to Dubai, that's really nice (except for the photo stuff of course). The always warm and dry weather allows it.
At around midnight we arrived at our beautiful blue hotel called Radisson Blue Waterfront in Downtown Dubai and would have died of thirst if we hadn't been allowed to sip a 12 euro draft beer. A business room on the 19th floor with a balcony and a sensational view of the Burj Khalifa made up for the hassle of a Covid19 face mask arrival. The three of us each enjoyed a large glass of beer with this nocturnal, glittering view of the big city's skyscrapers.
Where to start telling? Eight "net experience days" lay ahead of us. The result is a mixture of metro and taxi rides and a total of 127 km walk on and through the streets, parks and paths of Dubai. What a blessing it wasn't hot with the desert right next to it. No, it was way too cool even by Dubai standards. At the beginning around 27 degrees in the shade, the last few days not more than 22 degrees. Really pleasant for Central Europeans. So: The city is really inspiring, overwhelming and full of superlatives. You have to visit it (at least) once in your life. There's nothing wrong with that.
We think that in this travel blog we will report in a kind of telegram style, because otherwise we would not be able to stop writing. And finally, you should also be able to look at and enjoy Andrea's exciting photos, which visually accompany this text perfectly.
Let's just start with the world records:
The highest building of the world. The Burj Khalifa. Almost 830 m high. We nearly dislocate our necks to see all the way up to the top when standing directly in front of it. As a masterpiece of engineering the skyscraper embodies the heart and soul of the city of Dubai. The super tall building is located right next to the Dubai Mall and has attracted visitors from all over the world since it opened in 2010. Two viewing platforms (124/125th and 148/152th floor) are available to enjoy the incomparable view. The Burj Khalifa is not only the tallest building in the world, but also holds other world records, for example for the highest restaurant and the longest elevator shaft. A total of 26,000 hand-cut glass panes adorn the exterior facade, which takes three months to clean. The weight of concrete used to construct the Burj Khalifa is roughly equivalent to the weight of 100,000 elephants. Of course, the illumination of the Burj is brilliant at night. Millions of LEDs let the building shine. Including the blue glowing laser beams that emanate from it, which can be seen from miles away.
The tallest ferris wheel in the world. The Ain Dubai. Official opening on October 21, 2021. This moment was long awaited, now it finally happened: The maiden voyage over Bluewaters Island Dubai was duly celebrated with spectacular fireworks, a digital laser and light show. The dimensions of the desert city's new jewel are truly impressive.
Here are a few exciting fun facts:
• With a height of 260 m, the Ferris wheel sets the record as the largest Ferris wheel in the world.
• Up to 1,900 passengers can be accommodated in a total of 48 capsules.
• The ferris wheel needs 38 minutes for a complete rotation.
• The total weight is over 11,000 tons. The steel comes from Saarland (Germany).
• A total of 192 rope spokes are installed in the wheel, which are 2,400 km long. This corresponds, for example, to the distance from Dubai to Cairo.
• The frame of the ferris wheel alone weighs as much as 16 Airbus A380 aircrafts.
• The length of the A-shaped legs is 126 m. For comparison: 15 London buses fit in each leg of the ferris wheel.
One of the largest shopping malls in the world. The Dubai Mall. The famous shopping center has a sales area of around 350,000 square meters. When it opened in 2008 it had around 600 stores. More than 1,300 shops and boutiques have now settled there. There are over 150 restaurants, snack bars, fast food restaurants and cafés for those with a sweet tooth and those who are hungry for shopping. One of the largest gold souks in the world is located in the mall with well over 200 jewelers. In addition it offers its visitors a fountain that is controlled by music, a huge waterfall from which human puppets fall headlong, a large cinema, a big ice rink. As soon as you enter you will see the Dubai Dino - a skeleton of a dinosaur that is said to be over 100 million years old and comes from the USA. Another attraction in the mall is of course the A380 flight simulator – Emirates A380 Experience. There, flight enthusiasts have the opportunity to experience take-offs and landings of the A380 in different weather conditions and also at different airports. There is also a lot on offer for adventurous visitors. The Sega Republic adventure park consists of five different zones: the cyberpop zone, the sport zone, the wild adventure zone and the speed zone. The park is almost 75,000 square meters and extends over two floors.
One of the most wonderful New Year's Eve fireworks in the world, fired from a height of 829.80 m (and below). A dream to be able to experience this up close. Congratulations to the fireworkers at this altitude! Almost two million people around the Burj Khalifa and the small lakes in front of it saw the spectacle downtown up close. We from the balcony - comfortably with whiskey and without crowds. But you shouldn't imagine that you can somehow drive through the city in your own car or in a taxi the evening before, in the evening or even at night. No way! No getting through, but also not at all! By mid-afternoon at the latest, you should be at the place where you'll be celebrating New Year's later. Or you can just go for a run. But don't forget: Dubai is huge!
An almost unbelievable skyscraper culture. You could call it that. Every skyscraper is different. Combined lengthwise and crosswise. Weird and askew. Crooked and straight. Shiny and colored. Glass and reflections. High and up. The architects seem to want to surpass themselves every day. You look up more than forward. Thousands of apartments and business rooms. And there is plenty of construction going on. The madness!
This city is much, much bigger than you might think. You drive and drive and drive. In the districts drawn on a small scale on the map people keep walking and walking. So always allow plenty of time. Even with the metro we need a lot of time to get from A to B. Incidentally they always drive fully automatically here and not nearly as fast as in other major cities on this planet, such as New York or Berlin. Very cheap for this purpose is the metro, bus and tram week pass "NOL silver". For seven days you have to pay about 28 euros. The metro stations are super clean and ultra modern in design. Of course you can also get to your destination with the really cheap taxis or via the hop on hop off bus (but there are a lot of tourists). Incidentally, 14-lane streets in the longitudinal direction through the city are impressive. The 8- or even more-cylinder monster SUVs - always cleaned sparkling clean - are not uncommon here. Small cars are rather rare. No car accidents, you don't hear police sirens.
Not every location can be entered without an expensive extra entry ticket. We had to get used to that for better or worse. But more in the sense that we didn't visit the desired place. For example, what was unacceptable to us was a fee that would have been due to enter the area around the second most famous building in Dubai, the Burj al Arab, and have afternoon tea on the 27th floor. You really don't need anything like that. They actually wanted the equivalent of almost 170 euros per person for it. Even without this tea, just entering the area around the hotel roundabout costs 90 euros! Drinks and restaurants are generally expensive in this city. There isn't much you can do on a budget, unless you eat at fast food outlets or something similar.
The cleanest city in the world. Maybe a bit exaggerated, because there are other "clean" cities on this planet, such as Singapore. But wherever you look in Dubai, you won't find any scraps of paper, cigarette butts or even plastic. Nowhere. And even the public toilets are meticulously cleaned every five minutes. And we mean really cleaned, not wiped over it like in Germany ....... One could get off the floor it's that clean. Strange but true! Friendliness and willingness to serve above all is very important in this city. No angry word, no hateful or impatient words, no one shouts. Truck drivers stop on the streets to let pedestrians cross. Without zebra crossings. They are very patient, attentive and helpful. However, it has to be said that most of the time you are dealing with non-Dubaians, because Dubai is more than full of so-called foreign workers, e.g. from India, Pakistan and the Philippines. They all work almost everywhere here. And unfortunately they are not well paid......
What is positively noticeable in these strange pandemic times is that almost everyone here is wearing face masks - inside and outside. Very consistent and without controls. Except, of course, for one or the other visitor of the EXPO who thinks that one can probably do without it at this point. Because of the virus, we decide with a heavy heart to forget the planned one-day trip to Abu Dhabi by private taxi. The reason: At the border crossing you have to show a valid (and of course negative) PCR test. We don't have Corona, but that's really too much of a good thing. So maybe next time look at the beautiful white mosque in Abu Dhabi .....
It's raining for the first time in two years! That is impossible. Exactly in our week it pours like cats and dogs. All Dubaians are happy like snow kings, only we can't believe our eyes. And then, of all things, on New Year's Day, Andrea's birthday. Of course, for the nature is this super good here. If one can speak of nature here at all. But there are already plenty of palm trees, plants and golf courses that could definitely need the rain. Otherwise, the billions of liters of ex-seawater are available to them every day thanks to the numerous and monstrous seawater desalination plants. Huge, deep puddles quickly form on the highways and the local car and taxi drivers have hellish respect for them. Lack of experience with water on the streets. After all, there is no drainage system in this huge city. Small and medium-sized floods everywhere and in the world exhibition some national pavilions worth seeing are canceled for days due to short circuits, water damage or similar. So too - who believes?! - the German pavilion.
Much praised, but you really have to want it: The gold, spice and perfume souks in the northern part of Dubai. You can totally forget - not only in view of the horrendous entrance fee - the so-called aquarium in the Dubai Mall. Extremely disappointing, maximum something for children. If you've seen the Vancouver Aquarium in western Canada, British Columbia, the water and fish thing in Dubai is a real bad joke.
It may be that it doesn't come under the term "world records" right now, but the world exhibition "EXPO 2020" is actually part of it: ultimate, future-oriented, exciting, something that has never existed before to see and experience, colourful, open-hearted, friendly, everything there. Located far outside of Dubai and easily accessible with the new metro line specially built for this purpose, it is a feast for the senses in the truest sense of the word. A grandiose feat of architecture, buildings, colours, electronics, lights and themes. We were and are totally thrilled. We spent a total of three days here without ever getting bored. Admittedly, we got flat feet, but what do you not put up with for such a pleasure. Wonderfully designed and ingeniously creative, so-called pavilions, equipped with the highest level of presentation technology - from the outside and inside - not only delight children, but also adults in particular. In particular, the pavilions of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the one that stood out the most from the range of topics entitled "Mobility" were fantastic. The organizers are absolutely right with their marketing headlines "Join the creation of a new world at the greatest showcase of human brilliance and achievement. Change the way you see the world. Explore 192 Country Pavilions, indulge in cuisine from every corner of the world world, unleash your inner techie and experience entertainment like no other! Connect and collaborate: Accelerate collaboration, stimulate innovation and create tangible opportunities for everyone."
Finally, by the way: When choosing a hotel, please pay careful attention to timing, quality, facilities and, above all, the location. There is an incredible, almost unmanageable number of hotels in the desert city. And then again at least as large an offer from travel agencies and tour operators, some of whom lure with rock-bottom prices. It's not just the low price alone! So watch out before it's too late and you find yourself "far away" on the outskirts of Dubai or somewhere else.
Despite the very crisp prices mentioned above, here are three restaurants for you in Dubai that we really liked:
LEVEL 43 SKY LOUNGE
The Level 43 Sky Lounge offers breathtaking views of the Dubai Trade Center area from 155m above the ground. The lounge at Four Points by Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road has a large al fresco terrace and is a great place to spend a relaxing evening with friends.
www.level43lounge.com, tel: +971 56 414 2213
Puerto 99 is not only a Mexican restaurant, but also a place that renews the concept of contemporary urban cuisine, balancing authentic recipes with accents from all corners of Mexico. With an extensive menu of seafood, ancient Mexican dishes and unique cocktails, it creates an environment where music, design and spice are harmoniously intertwined.
https://puerto99.ae, tel: +971 45 576 627
Leave the desert landscape of Dubai behind and experience a true botanical wonderland at The Farm oasis in Al Barari. The restaurant is renowned for its international, European and Thai dishes served in a peaceful setting surrounded by lakes, waterways and gardens. With its bamboo canopy terrace, lush green lawn, tropical plants and sparkling stone-lined pond with water lilies, The Farm sets itself apart from other restaurants in Dubai. How about e.g. B. with a delicious passion fruit juice for your mushroom gratin, a few blueberry pancakes or he a treat from the in-house bakery? In the green thicket of this food temple, you can forget that you are in the middle of the desert. It's a place where you can enjoy delicious home-grown food in the middle of nature. If you're in the mood for a different kind of dining and leisure experience, The Farm is the perfect choice for gathering with family and friends.
https://www.thefarmdubai.ae, tel: +971 4 886 6223