Been there, done that? Dubai can still manage to surprise you with its opulence
It may be a diminutive emirate on a spit of land that spikes out into the Persian Gulf, but Dubai scores big on fun and entertainment. Each time I visit the city, its smorgasbord of supersized shopping malls, theme parks, atmospheric bars, spiffy restaurants and hotels never cease to amaze me. Though modern Dubai is frequently criticised as a self-indulgent panegyric to consumerism, theres no denying the fun to be had here, more so if youre not on a budget.
BURJ AL ARAB
I feel Ive died and gone to heaven! Except, I havent. Im standing goggle-eyed in the lobby of the Burj Al Arab, the worlds only seven-star mega resort in Dubai, cranking my neck up to take in the hotels gobsmacking 600-foot-high lobby. Its a lot to take in. Mimicking the gigantic innards of an Arabic palace, the space is peppered with Corinthian columns, jazzy artefacts, Italian marble pillars and marble floors so shiny you can eat off them. Meanwhile, three smiling costumed attendants at the reception greet me warmly. And I can scarcely wipe the grin off my face as one sprinkles rose water on my hands, the second extends a scented cold towel and the third offers plump and juicy Mejdul dates. Soaring 1,053 feet over the Persian Gulf, on an artificial island off Jumeirah Beach, Burj epitomises the Emirate citys opulence integrated with sheer design genius. The profile of the building an Arabian sailing ship (now Dubais symbol) pays homage to the Emirati citys seafaring heritage.
Living up to Dubais nickname of the City of Gold, Burj is decorated with 19,267 feet of 24-carat gold leaf. There are 24-carat goldplated iPads as well as iPhones offered to hotel guests to use free of charge. A night in the cheapest one-bedroom suite can set you back by a cool $2,000 (`1,30,150). The hotels most expensive Royal Suite at $ 25000 (`16,26,875) per night, has a revolving bed and a private cinema. From an army of highly trained personal butlers and a staff-to-suite ratio of eight-toone, the guests are pampered silly. I feel like a queen in my own suite, a mini palace overlooking the crystalline waters of the Gulf. The interiors are swathed in 24-karat gold and the work desk area is outfitted with a 21-inch iMac. Theres a gigantic wallmounted TV, in-suite music and more. Oh yeah, theres also an exclusive 24-carat gold iPad for my use as a virtual concierge!
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Few destinations can compete with Dubai in the hedonistic world of shopping. A network of glitzy malls, one fancier than the other, promise immersive retail therapy. Dubai Mall, the worlds largest shopping complex at 5.9 million square feet and with over 1,200 stores, a 22-screen movie theatre with 2,800 seats, a copy of Londons famous Regent Street, a giant aquarium, as well as an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, is an Alibabas cave of consumer delights. The Mall of Emirates is another sprawling multi-tiered building which features more than 630 retail outlets, over 100 restaurants and cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. There are fashion, lifestyle, sports, electronics and home furnishing outlets and the largest Carrefour in the city. Theres also a Magic Planet family entertainment area here, a 14-screen VOX Cinemas, the world-renowned Ski Dubai the Middle Easts first indoor ski resort and snow park and more than 90 international dining and café options.
La Perle is Dubais one-of-akind live show created and produced by one of the worlds most renowned artistic directors, Franco Dragone. The mesmerising show transported to an alternate reality with its amazing stagecraft, performances, music and drama. The interactive theatre experience takes inspiration from Dubais past, present and future. With its one-of-a-kind theatre built in the heart of Al Habtoor City, La Perle is the regions first resident show, featuring a cast of 65 artists, each bringing their own unique skill sets to the performance, ranging from acting, acrobats to aquatics and aerial stunts. The gravitydefying performers dive into an on-stage pool or fly through the air, creating a visually captivating experience both below and above stage level. Not to be missed.
As they say the fun never ends in Dubai. The citys thriving cruising industry has an itinerary for all types of travellers. I hop onboard Costa Mediterranea, a beautiful cruise ship that offers a seven-day itinerary along the Mediterranean coast to check out its offerings. It is docked for the day in Dubai and I feel transported to Italy as I explore the gigantic, multi-level ship that recreates the beauty of the south Mediterranean nation for its guests. The ships buzzy interiors offer a casino, club, 24X7 entertainment, live shows, multi-cuisine eateries, cafes and more. At the Dionisio Lounge I savour a toothsome Italian lunch. The seafood salad, linguini pasta and a tiramisu is washed down with a velvety Prosecco wine while soaking in the shimmering waters of the Gulf.