The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates stands tall in what was previously a harsh, dry desert. The emirate is renowned for its luxury shopping, futuristic architecture and lively nightlife. Meanwhile, the city has a number of artificial islands, including Atlantis, The Palm, a luxury resort with water-related theme parks. However, among the many modern wonders are some truly unique and unusual attractions to experience on a visit to Dubai.
1. Dubai Miracle Gardens
Bearing in mind that Dubai sprung from a harsh, dry desert, “miracle” is the best word indeed to give what is likely the largest flower garden in the world. People used to joke that everything is bigger in Texas, but Dubai is taking over the lead.
The gardens spread over 775,000 square feet of land, with flourishing flowerbeds in every shape and form. In fact, the gardens are said to display an amazing 45 million separate flowers.
Of course, the fact that these flowers are blooming in the harsh desert climate is a miracle indeed, Meanwhile, the gardens are cared for through the careful re-use of wastewater and irrigated using the drip method rather than the more wasteful spray method. Apparently, they aren’t finished yet as there are plans to build (yet another) shopping mall, as well as a full nursery here.
Be aware that the garden is currently closed for the season, but reopens to the public in October 2022.
2. The Museum of the Future
Returning to the subject of Dubai’s futuristic architecture, the new Museum of the Future is a spectacular building, located near the financial district. In fact, this structure is an amazing feat of architecture among a skyline of extraordinary buildings.
Meanwhile, the exterior of the building is covered with Arabic calligraphy, spelling out a poem by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed. Moreover, the words describe the ruler’s vision for the future of his city.
Of course, it isn’t just about the amazing exterior, as the Museum of the Future offers exhibits of society in a time yet to come. Meanwhile, behind the museum is the Dubai Future Foundation, a place where innovative designs showcase Dubai in the future. Bear in mind that many people want to visit the museum and tickets sell out fast. Make sure you book your place in advance of your visit to avoid disappointment.
3. Ski Dubai
What is one thing (besides a garden) that you would never expect to find in a harsh desert? Just because you are visiting one of the hottest cities in the world doesn’t mean that you can’t cool down a bit. While this part of the world doesn’t see snow, the city decided to build its own snowy mountain inside a giant shopping mall.
Ski Dubai comprises a 279-foot “mountain” with multiple ski runs, including the first indoor black diamond-rated course in the world. When you have had enough skiing or snowboarding, the resort has other attractions. You can try out the toboggans or go and meet some friendly penguins.
The ski resort’s temperature is maintained at a chilly level thanks to a sophisticated insulation system. In the evening when all the customers have gone, the temperature gets even lower to ensure fresh snow for the next day. As your suitcase would hardly contain winter gear on a trip to Dubai, the resort’s entrance fee includes rental coats and snow gear to keep you cozy.
4. Queen Elizabeth 2
Rather appropriately, what with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, the next attraction is the famous Queen Elizabeth 2. The ocean liner was rescued from the breaker’s yard and in 2008, began a new chapter of life in Dubai’s Mina Rashid harbor. The QE2 has been converted into a 224-room floating hotel, where people can spend a night or two on the historic cruise ship.
Meanwhile, the ship has a lot to offer, with its British pub, the Golden Lion, said to be the oldest pub in Dubai to be found inside a ship. Moreover, the Chart Room features the original nautical interior and furniture. At the bar is the original glass route map that passengers used to track the ship’s progress. Meanwhile, the Grand Lounge is now a showroom where guests can enjoy dinner while catching a live show.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth 2 was the longest-serving Cunard Ocean Liner and among the fastest passenger ships of the 21st century. In total, she made 806 transatlantic crossings, sailing 5.6 million miles and carrying 2.5 million passengers. An overnight stay on the QE2 makes for a very special experience in Dubai.
5. The World Islands
While Dubai is full of architectural miracles, sometimes things go wrong. Readers will have heard of the city’s Palm Islands, a manmade archipelago off the coast of Dubai. Due to the success of that project, the ruler, Sheikh Maktoum, came up with an even bolder project in 2003. What he dreamed of was an archipelago of artificial islands representing a classic map of the world. However, instead of being yet another major attraction, this one turned out to be a global disaster.
Construction of the World Islands started in September 2003, with 321 million cubic meters of sand and a cost of more than $14 billion. Each country (excluding Israel) has an island to itself, with the World Islands covering more than 20 square miles in the Persian Gulf.
Located three miles off the coast, the 300 islands should resemble a world map viewed from above. However, regrettably, the expensive project turned out to be only vaguely recognizable. Unfortunately for the Sheikh, the World Islands lost their well-defined borders, due to weathering, erosion and sinking. For example, Central America is now almost non-existent, while Australia comprises five, roughly rectangular strips of sand. As for Europe, Asia and Africa, they have merged into a mostly indistinguishable blob.
However, any visitor with the money can rent a helicopter to take some amusing photos and video footage for their friends and family back home.
While the city has plenty to offer, there are other opportunities outside the city to enjoy. Watch the video included below, where Daniel takes an authentic desert safari in a vintage Land Rover among the sand dunes. While there, he experienced a falcon flight and enjoyed delicious Emirati food in a traditional Bedouin camp.