The rain falls, the nights draw in and you dig out last year’s winter coat from the back of the wardrobe. How about jetting off to somewhere dry, sunny and bursting with cool stuff to do that’s surprisingly affordable? We present… Dubai.
Dubai may conjure up images of six-star hotels, Premiership stars by the pool and shopping malls the size of a small country. But this emirate is no longer the exclusive domain of Platinum Amex WAGs, for in recent years Dubai has been one of the UK’s fastest-growing mid-haul holiday destinations. With increased demand, it’s no surprise then that ticket prices are coming down. For example, Pegasus Airlines now offers very affordable flights to Dubai from the UK.
With year-round sunshine, you could easily spend your holiday in Dubai lounging by the pool with 50 Shades, pondering which of your new purchases you’re going to wear to dinner - and there’s nothing wrong with that! But if you fancy a slightly more energetic escape to the sun this winter, or an amazing active autumn half-term getaway with the kids, then there’s so much more to see and do in Dubai than sunbathing and shopping. Here are our five Dubai must-dos:
1. Hit the beach
The famous sail-shaped, helipad-topped Burj Al Arab Hotel (maybe one day!) provides a stunning backdrop for Jumeirah Beach - a 3km-long strip of sand with warm, shallow water which is absolutely ideal for families. Take a trip out to Palm Island, where the sand is artificial, but the beaches look even better than the real thing. And you might be lucky enough to bump into Posh and Becks, who’ve got a place here.
2. Hit the piste
Dubai boasts year-round sunshine, with the climate at its best from November to May. In fact, it hardly ever rains, let alone snows. But winter sports enthusiasts can combine winter sun with winter snow thanks to Ski Dubai, a Christmas card world of the white stuff, in a shopping mall. When it’s a lovely 30 degrees outside, you can tackle the world’s only indoor black run, explore a giant ice cave and have a snowball fight.
3. Go on safari
If you’ve always wanted to experience the desert, without getting too serious, you can enjoy a bite-size taste of the wilderness with a desert safari. Visit a camel farm, go sand skiing or ‘dune bashing’, see a spectacular sunset over endless sand dunes, feast at a barbecue with belly dancers for dessert, and spend the night under the stars.
4. Go bargain hunting
You don’t need to be a WAG or an heiress to flex your purchasing muscles in Dubai. Explore curious Karama, an enticing, exciting area of old Dubai that’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave for bargain hunters. Pick up ‘genuine fakes’ of the highest quality at low prices from Prada to Louis Vuitton. No-one back home will know! Dubai residents go there for furniture at rock-bottom prices, but you might struggle to get a sofa on the plane home with you.
5. Go wild
No, we don’t mean maxing out that Amex on evening wear without your other half knowing. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle, the glitz and the glamour, head to Ral Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, a wetland reserve home to a variety of exotic birds. Admire up to 500 pretty in pink greater flamingos, along with beautiful blue-cheeked bee-eaters, stunning purple sunbirds and many more.