Glitz and glamour of downtown Dubai

Etihad A380


I’M cold, wet, grumpy and desperately in need of a holiday. I need some sunshine and a pick-me-up but it’s the middle of winter and I’m not feeling very inspired.

Etihad A380Instead I’ll hit the shops and buy myself ‘something pretty’. While looking for that perfect item I spot the Holiday shop instead, this could answer my prayers. After booking my 28 degree holiday to the United Arab Emirates panic hits, I need summer clothes and a tan! Personal shopper booked, spray tan booked – finally I’m prepped and ready to go.

After a very relaxing flight in first class and feeling nice and refreshed after the six-hour journey, we arrived at Dubaiairport to be met by a warm welcome from the staff at the local tourism office. They led us to our car to take us to our destination – or at least that’s what I thought they were doing…

As a surprise we were being whisked off to our Hilton Resort Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah – about an hour’s drive from Dubai – in a sea plane! This was an amazing way to see the sheer scale and development of the city. The flight was about an hour long, and we looped and glided over the skyscrapers, fancy hotels, including the Atlantis and Burj Al Arab (the one that looks like a sail) and the man-made islands – The World and The Palm. It really showed off the beauty of downtown Dubai.

Once we had seen the sights it was time to head to Ras Al Khaimah. We landed in the sea and motored up to the beach for our wonderful, almost celebrity-esque arrival at the hotel. Helped along by a glass of champagne, it was certainly the most stylish way I’ve ever turned up anywhere!

Once we were checked in we went up to explore our rooms. A large selection of fresh fruit was laid out for us and each room had a balcony and wonderful sea views. The resort is all-inclusive and everything you need is available to you.

Now the aim of any holiday, generally, is to relax, unwind and relieve all the stresses. After a spot of lunch at The Maarid Restaurant we booked in at the resort spa for a massage. I headed off to a wonderful smelling room with its soothing music, lay down and enjoyed a fabulous deep tissue massage.

A good night’s sleep was needed as we’d be up early in the morning to head next door into neighbouring Oman. We were picked up from our hotel for the hour and half journey to the border from Ras Al Khaimah to make our way for a day’s trip through the Musandam Fjords on a traditional Omani dhow.

This is fantastic way to spend a day. Snacks and drinks are provided, as is lunch consisting of a barbeque of freshly caught fish, various salads, meat and rice. Snorkelling equipment and towels are also available.

The beginning of the trip is spent dolphin spotting. It was a first for me and I found it quite exciting and so beautiful and calming to see them in their natural environment. From then on you continue travelling through the fjords, passing local villages consisting of just a handful of houses. Each village is explained to you and the number of people who live there. Some are so small and remote it’s hard to imagine life even exists. We anchored up and had the chance to snorkel amongst the brightly coloured fish before enjoying the freshly prepared lunch on board. Once everyone had dined, it was then further up into the fjords for more snorkelling and to just enjoy the pure beauty of the landscape around you. The journey back to base involves some more dolphin spotting and soaking up the calmness and tranquillity of the landscape and peaceful environment. It really is a wonderful trip and well worth the passport control wait!

After a full day relaxing on the dhow and swimming with the fishes it’s back to the resort for dinner and a lot of food. The main restaurant on the beach offers a wonderful meal of nine courses, each featuring a different cut and flavour of meat. Each diner has a little block placed in front with red and green bits on it. If you keep it green the meat courses keep coming, if you want a break – which you may need, turn it to red.

We had a very relaxing couple of days at the resort and now it was time to hit the glitz and glamour of downtown Dubai. Having had a taster of Dubai in the seawings plane on our first arrival, it was time to have a proper look and see what it has to offer. We transferred from the Hilton resort hotel to the Hilton Dubai Creek in the old part of Dubai (I say old but none of it really is). With great views of the cityscape including of course the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – it was time the see if Dubai really stood up to what you imagine it to be. And it did. Everything is bigger and better here, not with arrogance but a rather standout confident way of saying ‘yes, here I am’. It has the biggest mall in the world, it has the tallest building in the world, even the fountains are the biggest in the world, beating it’s now smaller sister outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It really does have a lot to shout to about and it’s a lot of fun to explore.

Dubai and the UAE is without question impressive, in all honesty the Middle East offered a lot more than I ever thought it would. The beaches, the accommodation, the food, so much to see and do and just simply the pure splendour of it all.

Honestly, one of my best trips ever – is it too soon to go back yet?