Writing a travel story makes me happier than the actual travel. This is because it brings back lovely memories of the time spent, things done during the travel and the fun that I had. Dubai has always been on the top of my list of favorite cities. It could be because it was the first international city I have travelled to, back in 2010. This was my third time in Dubai and it was with a group of 12 ladies in the age group of 10 to 55. It may sound foolish to some or maybe many, but honestly, Dubai mesmerizes me.  

We took a three hours flight to Dubai from Mumbai. When we landed in the city it was hot. Obviously September was not the best month to travel to Dubai but we had opted for this period because it was during Ganesh Festival and hence it was less crowded. 

My daughter and I were the only ones who had been to Dubai before. For the rest of the group it was a new country, a new city and hence there was a lot of excitement. We had a tentative itinerary in place and had done some bookings for the sightseeing for this five day trip. We had kept some free slots to explore beyond what we had initially thought of doing and to give each one some time to do individual things. Most of us have friends and family in Dubai and this time allowed us to catch up with them individually.

Gold Souk, an area that has hundreds of gold shops, big and small completely glitters of gold. It is a must-visit even if you do not want to buy gold.

The first evening after checking in at our hotel in Bur Dubai was reserved for visiting the Gold Souk. Dubai is known for its gold and almost everyone who visits Dubai will want to buy some. To go to the Old Gold Souk from Bur Dubai, the best way is to travel by Abra (water taxi). An Abra is a small boat that is open from the sides and has a small shed on the top. It is also the cheapest way to travel from Bur Dubai to Deira where the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are located. The Abra ride was a pleasant and different experience for the first time travelers. Gold Souk, an area that has hundreds of gold shops, big and small completely glitters of gold. It is a must-visit even if you do not want to buy gold. Dinner was at a small Pakistani restaurant.

dubai
Image Credit: Sonal Satelkar

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Day two was dedicated to a half-day city tour of Dubai following which we were to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa. In the morning at sharp 9.30 am we had Saboor, our tour guide waiting for us at the hotel lobby. We quickly finished our breakfast which was a mix of Indian, Continental, and Arabic cuisine and hopped into the bus to start our city tour. Our first stop was the Dubai Museum which according to me is the best spot for photo sessions and hence all photo lovers should make sure they have cameras with a good flash when they go there. The museum depicts the culture of the UAE. Our next stop was the Jumeriah Beach from where one can see the 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab. We then visited an Art Museum and then drove around the Jumeriah Palm area to reach Atlantis The Palm. While we were not staying at Atlantis, we clicked loads of pictures here with the Atlantis as a backdrop. We went to The Jumeirah Beach Residence and Marina Walk. Next, we got dropped at the Dubai Mall to reach in time to go to the top of Burj Khalifa. The elevator took a minute to reach the 124th Floor of Burj Khalifa.  After clicking pictures to our heart’s content we went to the 125th floor where there were some more photo stops. Later we visited the Dubai Mall and finally got beautiful glimpses of the Dubai fountain. 

dubai
Image Credit: Sonal Satelkar

On Day three, we went to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The main attraction here is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which we visited first thing in the morning. This dazzling white structure demands you to be dressed appropriately as per the prescribed norms. The Mosque is beautiful and its grandeur is worth exploring. It took us around an hour and a half to tour the mosque. After lunch, we drove around the city and visited the dates market. All of us bought loads of dates and dry fruits from there and we then proceeded to the Yas Island where the Ferrari world is located. 

The main attraction in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which we visited first thing in the morning. This dazzling white structure demands you to be dressed appropriately as per the prescribed norms.

dubai desert safari
Image Credit: Sonal Satelkar

For me the major excitement was to go to the Dubai Frame. During my second visit to Dubai in 2017 the Dubai Frame was under construction. Dubai is well connected by the metro and the taxi service is excellent. I enjoyed the Dubai Frame experience more than that of Burj Khalifa. The opaque glass turning transparent as you walk over it and see the ground 150 meters below you is certainly more than just thrilling. 

dubai dessert safari
Image Credit: Sonal Satelkar

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The Desert Safari was the most exciting part of the trip for the rest of the group. We were picked up from the Hotel by two cars, six-seater each. Somewhere close to the dessert we had to take a halt as the air pressure in the car tyres was low. We then experienced the dune bashing for the first time. For about 20 to 25 minutes the vehicle went up and down the sand dunes giving us a bumpy ride and jerks here and there. From there we were taken to the camp which has activities such as the fire show, the belly dance show, etc. After dinner, we left the camp and went to the Dragon Mall which was on the way to our hotel. The girls set on their shopping spree and shopped until it was time for the mall to shut down. Dubai is a shopping paradise and shopper’s delight. 

Dubai dessert safari
Image Credit: Sonal Satelkar

We had by now up ticked the items on the itinerary and it was time to do things of individual interest. I preferred going to the Mall of Emirates, my favorite mall in Dubai. The final evening was planned for a nice dinner and we went to a small but great place called De Fish in Karama.

Every night we all gathered in my room and spend some time to bond and have fun.  That was the time when we sang, danced, chit chatted, shared stories, gossiped and did everything that made us happy. We never slept before 2.30 am. We also had some of the dinners in our room for which we got Biryani packed some day, or made Maggie in the hotel room on another day or bought shawarmas and custard.

My shopping consisted of stuff like spices, saffron, variety of Maggie (at the insistence of my daughter), yogurt, mangoes, onions (the huge ones) all in small quantity of course. This time the add on was fish. 

That is Dubai for me. Will look forward to going again certainly.

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A Human Resource consultant and a Leadership Coach, Sonal Satelkar works mainly with women from different sectors. Her vision is to create Leaders Across Society. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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