Last week I was in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to photograph a wedding (of which more later!) – but in between the wedding photo shoots I had a day to myself to do a bit of sightseeing and explore this amazing modern city.
I wish I’d had time to explore the older part of town, especially the souks in Deira – but there’s only so much you can do in a day – hopefully I’ll get to shoot another wedding in Dubai soon and can explore that part of the city.
Dubai is a city that has undergone huge growth in the last few years, with the construction of some amazing modern buildings, including the famous Palm Island and of course the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
My trip started at a suitably grey and drizzly Heathrow Airport, waiting to board the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380-800, operated by Emirates Airlines. It’s 40% bigger than a Boeing 747, and I must say I found it pretty comfortable despite the number of passengers on board.
Roughly seven hours later I landed at Dubai Airport and took a taxi to my hotel. Here’s the view that greeted me from my hotel window the next morning!
The Dubai Metro system is brand-new and fully-automated, with driverless trains like London’s Docklands Light Railway. It runs the length of Sheikh Zayed Road and also to the airport. However, as it was Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, the Metro didn’t open until 2pm so I had to walk!!
As the Metro was not running, I decided to walk from my hotel to the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. I could have taken a taxi but decided a stroll would be a good idea – the temperature was a comfortable 70F (21C). It took me about 45 minutes which was a bit longer than I expected, but part of that was trying to work out how to cross the numerous dual carriageways to get to the Mall!
And here is the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building at 829m (2,722 ft), which opened in January 2010. It’s really hard to convey the sheer size of this thing – it is absolutely huge. It’s twice the height of the Empire State Building in New York, for example, and nearly three times the height of the Eiffel Tower.
Inside the Dubai Mall I found another remarkable tourist attraction – the Dubai Aquarium. And yes, we have another “world’s biggest” here – the acrylic panel seen in my photos below, which has to hold back 10 million litres of water!
The Aquarium is located inside the Dubai Mall, which (you guessed it) is the world’s biggest by area, though some other malls have more actual shopping space. Amazingly, 65 million people visited it in 2012 – that’s more than visited New York City or Los Angeles! I didn’t explore more than a fraction of it, and I was glad to be able to stop and grab a coffee from time to time! It has more than 1,200 shops, including some British favourites such as Debenhams, Boots, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer!
If you like you can get your photo taken with the Burj Khalifa in the background and have it printed on to an iPhone cover! I wasn’t tempted. 🙂
As you would expect, there’s a lot of construction still going on in Dubai – though I did notice that a lot of the office buildings were still “to let”.
And finally – the night-time view from my 57th floor hotel room, looking south-west down Sheikh Zayed Road in the direction of Abu Dhabi. You can see the Burj Khalifa all lit up in the background.
It was great to have the opportunity to explore a small part of Dubai – I hope to be able to go back again to see more of this amazing city. And I look forward to showing you the wedding photos – with colourful ceremonies in the desert and at the Park Hyatt Hotel – stay tuned!