A to Z of Dubai

A is for… At The Top

From the observation deck on the 124th floor of the world’s tallest structure, Burj Khalifa, you will feel like you’re on top of the world – and here’s the kicker, you really are. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide a breathtaking 360-degree view of Dubai and its surroundings

B is for… Beaches

There aren’t many destinations that offer the kind of beaches you get in Dubai. From a number of free access beaches, to hotel clubs and the only exclusive beach club on The World Islands, there really is something for everyone. Grab your beach bag, butter up with sunscreen, slap on your designer shades and head out to the shores.

C is for… Creek

The birthplace of Dubai’s commercial trade and the primary factor which Dubai owes its modern existence to. Meandering through the heart of the city, the revered Dubai Creek remains a must-see for a glimpse of the old city. Catch an abra across the creek and pass by the old souks (bazaars) that brought this metropolis to life.

D is for… Dhows

With the gulf and creek being integral parts of commercial development in the olden days, the dhow – a sailing vessel – played a mighty role transporting pearl divers on long, arduous journeys out to sea to earn a living. These beautifully sculpted masterpieces can be seen cruising Dubai’s waterways shuttling goods and a great deal of heritage to this day.

E is for… Events

In 2011, Dubai was named the Events Capital of the Middle East. The Dubai World Cup (the world’s richest horse race), the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Duty Free Tennis Championships, the Festival of Literature, the Dubai International Film Festival, and the Bride Show, among many others, make Dubai their home each year. And the audiences just keep getting bigger.

F is for… Falconry

An Arabian cultural heritage. It has been practiced in the UAE for centuries and was an integral part of life in the desert. Originally, falcons were used for hunting prey such as hare or houbara (a large native bird species), allowing the Bedouins to supplement their diet with meat. Today, falconry is practiced to preserve this art. Visit the Falcon Heritage Sports Centre to find out more.

G is for… Golf

Golf found a home in Dubai in 1993. The PGA/LPGA tour passes through the city once a year.

Magnificent courses dot the map, and most of these are designed by golfing giants such as Els, Montgomerie, Norman and Nicklaus. Add to that 365 days of sunshine and you have a recipe for endless, epic playtime. Tee up!

H is for… Hotels

Hotels, hotels, hotels! Dubai is full of them. If you’re captivated by stars, you’ll find plenty of them here, in fact, up to seven if your wallet is deep enough. The grandest and fanciest hotels dot the sea shores or the creek, but for more tranquil, yet equally luxurious escapes, a visit to Al Maha Resort or Bab Al Shams that are located deep in the desert are experiences not to be missed.

I is for… International Airport

Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB; ICAO: OMDB) is right behind Heathrow Airport as the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic and the eighth busiest by international cargo traffic. DXB is home to retail giant Dubai Duty Free, the #1 retailer in the world by revenue. It also houses an exclusive A380 aircraft concourse, and a flower centre dedicated to importing and exporting flowers.

J is for… Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

This AED 6 billion waterfront strip, consisting of 40 high-rise towers in the Dubai Marina district, spawned development in Dubai as we know it. Stretching 1.7 km alongside Jumeirah Beach, and peppered with 5-star hotels, JBR has become a tourist magnet offering al fresco dining, beach bumming, boutique shopping and show stopping views of Dubai’s snazziest automobiles.

K is for… Kandura

The UAE’s traditional attire, and its companion, the izaar, are typically worn by Arab men in the Gulf region. This garment is often white and can be worn in combination with a ghutra and igaal; the headdress.

L is for… Landmarks

A term synonymous with Dubai’s exponential development post Y2K. Recall the world’s only 7-star hotel, tallest building and largest shopping centre, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, the World and Palm Islands, the Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai Marina, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (formerly known as the Bastakia Quarter) and the Dubai Fountain! And that’s just a snippet.

M is for… Malls

Boasting some of the world’s most renowned shopping centres that are both leisure destinations as well as shopping magnets, Dubai holds the title for glam and glitz...not to mention bankable footfall.

In 2011, The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates alone attracted more than 80 million visitors between them. That’s equivalent to the populations of the UK and Netherlands combined!

N is for… Nightlife

With a myriad of nationalities to enthral, desires to subdue and palates to quench, Dubai has built a reputation for having something for nearly everyone. From karaoke to hip hop and trance to R&B one is comforted in the knowledge that this city has them all. A lot of action can be seen in and around your favourite hotel hangouts, with many providing outdoor settings to take in a cool sea breeze or fantastic night views while the hours pass you by. If the genre isn’t what grips you and you prefer multicultural tunes, rest assured, there are plenty such venues to pick from too.

O is for… Oryx

A creature so entrenched in the country’s heritage that the capital city was named after it. The oryx is an antelope that is considered one of the symbols of this nation and personifies grace, dignity and pride. It was nearly extinct in the wild in the early 1960s, but was reintroduced through captive breeding and currently thrives in scattered herds across the region.

P is for… Pearls/Pearl Diving

One of the first trade commodities harvested off the shores of this emirate. "Pearling" began in the early 1700s in response to high demand from the Indian subcontinent. It was a trade that put Dubai on the commercial map, which continued until oil became the primary trading commodity in the 1970s. It’s said that a single pearl once fetched the equivalent of £350k in the 1920s.

Q is for… Quality-of-Living index

According to Mercer Consultancy’s annual report, Dubai ranks highest in the Middle East in terms of quality of life and 73rd worldwide among 221 rated cities. It also ranked 36th for best infrastructure, beating Geneva (47), Miami (48), San Francisco (55), Barcelona (57), Rome (72) and Kuala Lumpur (77). Not too shabby!

R is for… Restaurants

Culinary experiences in Dubai are as unique and diverse as the city itself. Fine dining is a must given the wide array of exquisite establishments that range from several Michelin-starred venues and celebrity-run boutiques to international and local favourites. Dubai is simply a quintessential gastronome’s paradise.

S is for… Safari

You can’t brag about being here and not having been on a desert safari. A day’s dune bash is nothing short of exhilarating. In fact, little else is nearly as exciting as this leisure activity. Take our word for it.

T is for… Terminal – Cruise Terminal

Dubai’s cruise terminal is the city’s marine gateway and a remarkably understated means of travelling.The port was awarded the World’s Leading Cruise Terminal five years in a row by the World Travel Awards body. Consider this mode of travel on your next excursion into or out of the emirate.

U is for… Umbrellas

Simple... you’ll hardly ever need them.

V is for… Variety

With a considerable assortment of places to go, cuisines to sample, people to meet, malls to splurge in, beaches to bum on and attractions to see, how could you pass up an opportunity to visit a wonderful place like Dubai?

W is for… World Records

According to the Guinness World Records, the UAE currently holds over 1000 records including: the longest driverless metro network, the largest acrylic panel at the Dubai Aquarium, the biggest hand-washing event, the most expensive cocktail, the tallest residential tower, the tallest hotel... Burj Khalifa alone holds a few records of its own: tallest structure, fastest elevators, highest elevator, highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck... and the highest everything else you can think of.

X is for… X-treme Sports

Year-round sunshine, white sandy beaches or expansive desert terrain and the freedom to test your adrenaline in any manner you please. Desert safaris, deep sea fishing, wakeboarding, bungee jumping or sand boarding... take your pick. Not extreme enough? How about dune buggying, snowboarding or sky diving to round things off?

Y is for… Yachts

Starting with The Dubai, Sheikh Mohamed’s private vessel, which was until recently the world’s largest mega yacht, the emirate boasts significant mooring footage and over 500 yachts in Dubai Marina’s yacht club alone. Dubai has seen a threefold increase in yacht ownership over the last few years. Travel the length of Jumeirah Beach on a weekend during the ‘pleasant’ season and try counting the number of awesome ships that grace its waters.

Z is for… Zuma, Zinc and zero tolerance

This is not an advert for these fantastic night hangouts, but rather a side note to make sure you party responsibly. Driving under the influence is never cool – so take care and get home safely.