One of the most advanced cities in the world, Dubai is sparkling with glass and metal grazing its desert sky against the blue of the Persian Gulf. It’s a city of superlatives, encompassing the largest immigrant population in the world, the best metro system in the Middle East, the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa), the biggest mall in the world (The Dubai Mall), the world’s largest man-made port (Jebel Ali), and more such honorific titles. Visitors are spoiled for luxury shopping and street markets, pristine beaches, fine dining restaurant, remarkable nightlife and unique attractions to discover found nowhere else. Hopefully no traveler only has 24 hours to take in the world’s glitziest city, but if they do, here’s what to do.
One of the very few mosques in the city open to non-believers, Jumeirah Mosque seeks to inform visitors of the local culture, customs and religion of the United Arab Emirates by hosting guided tours of the large, airy columned mosque, a focal point of the skyline and one of the last vestiges of what some call Old Dubai. Its distinctive architecture is based on the medieval Fatimid style and can hold up to 1,300 people. Visitors who are truly interested in the religious aspect of Dubai should take a tour to learn about the mosque and the faith, including explanations of the five pillars of Islam, the prayer habits and the purpose of wearing abayas.
Visitors who visit Dubai with the travel philosophy of "Well, when am I going to be in Dubai again?" will be wise to take up the option of dining in the Burj al Arab, an insanely luxurious hotel. Al Iwan, "The Royal Hall" in Arabic, is an opulent, majestic space serving Arabic buffet of such delicacies as shrimp majboos, fish shamola, Arabic mixed grill and lamb ouzi, alongside fruity and fancy cocktails.
The tallest skyscraper in the world, the exquisitely designed Burj Khalifa houses a luxury hotel, apartments, corporate offices and thrilling observation decks on its whopping 164 floors. Its tip reaches just under 3,000 feet tall. All this is to say that this very long pinprick shooting into the sky is tall enough to dwarf every other building visitors ever thought were tall. Visitors can splash around in the pools, go shopping, check out the chicest of the chic Armani hotel (designed by Giorgio himself!) or simply take a tour to the top.
It’s a bit strange that the chicest and most popular restaurant in Dubai is a Mediterranean/Italian Ligurian restaurant with a French name that serves cuisine made with almost all local produce. La Petite Maison is a testament to the international appeal of Dubai, however. The restaurant has built a name for itself in London and Nice, France, New York and it only makes sense that Dubai would be included in its roster of elite global cities.
The Buddha Bar Dubai is as stylishly designed as the Buddha Bar’s outposts in London and Paris, housing the iconic giant gold Buddha bathed in red LED lights. Located in the chic Grosvenor Hotel, the atmospheric two-story restaurant is one of the leading nightlife hot spots in the city, with a DJ spinning live every night from 9:30 p.m. onward. Enjoy Asian-inspired fusion dishes, sushi and hand-mixed cocktails with some of Dubai’s socialites and jetsetters.