When planning long trips somewhere it’s always worth checking if you could have a longer stopover to see something new on the way (for free, sort of). It does not necessarily have to be a stop with a bed. It actually hardly ever is – airlines would not allow this without a charge. But if you look around you can easily find trips that would include 6-10h layover at major hubs. Do not be afraid of that – use it! Get out of the airport (mind passport and custom controls) and venture into the city!
This is exactly how I got to see Dubai. I intentionally picked longer flight times so I could spend few hours in the city. I do have to admit it was not long enough to see that much, but walking around Dubai for 3 hours was pretty awesome and eventful! I managed to be told off for sitting in Women’s section of a metro train (never ever seen anything like that – and it wasn’t a segregation – women were allowed to sit anywhere on the train. It was more for their security). I also managed to see the tallest building in the World – Burj Khalifa (its the tallest until Jeddah Tower is complete). It does not seem to be this tall when you stand right in front of it. Maybe because our brain doesn’t capture the scale unless it’s put into perspective – which it lacks when standing up so close). And finally Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world by size – 1 124 000 m2 – and I am not proud I spend time there but I wanted to see the world’s biggest aquarium too (well, actually second biggest after Georgia Aquarium). The tank has a capacity of 10 000 000 litres! It’s inhabited by 33 000 animals including well over 400 sharks. It was just amazing. Unfortunately poor light conditions did not allow me to take any good pictures. Either way it was a fascinating and a little bit sad view. But well worth seeing if you are there. What I regret is that I did not get up to the top of Burj Khalifa. I did not book the tickets in advance as I wasn’t sure how long the customs at the airport would take (in my case the queue was 1h20 mins) and by the time I got to the Burj Khalifa ticket office all tickets for the day were sold out! So… maybe another time 🙂
What do I think of the city? I have had seen a lot of pictures of the city before I came and my visit did not really change my view. I still consider the city to be a cosmopolitan-wannabe. It takes more than money and buildings to create a great city IMHO. Although I really appreciate how the mindset is changing. The city has big potential. And of course is classified as Alpha city when it comes to importance. Therefore I sincerely hope that the rotten western values dominate. Why am I saying that? I just… I cannot shake off the memory of slave workers “employed” in the city construction I saw in a document few years back. People from poor countries were hired, brought to Dubai and their passports taken from them. So essentially those poor people had to work for peanuts and could not leave the country. How big the problem was / is I do not know, but it’s something to keep in mind when admiring the glorious new super-tall shiny buildings.
Dubai is the main hub for Emirates Airlines – anyone flying with them has a high chance to land in Dubai on the way anywhere. If you do and have at least 5 hours between the flights you can leave the airport, take a metro train (it’s actually at the airport) that would take you directly to the city. It takes about 25 minutes to reach Dubai Mall station from the airport.
Have a look into the below gallery and enjoy!