Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Burj Khalifa in Dubai

If you don’t have Dubai on your travel list yet, you should add it today!  Dubai has so much to offer to tourists including unique and breathtaking architecture, fine dining, cool attractions, various types of shopping, lovely beaches, outdoor activities….. and the list goes on and on!

Burj Khalifa in Dubi

One of the attractions that you should visit in Dubai is the tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa stands tall over the city.  At night it sparkles like a huge diamond and at 160 stories tall you can see it throughout the city.  As you travel in the elevator up 14 stories, your ears pop and you feel a bit light-headed.   Did I mention that the elevators go 600 meters per minute?  According to our guide,  the elevators are thought to be the fastest in the world.  It took us just a little over a minute to reach the 124th floor…..that’s fast!  It feels like you’re in the movie, Star Trek. The views from the top are breathtaking.

As you scan the horizon from 2,722 ft. above ground, you can appreciate the vision of Sheikh Mohammad.  It’s a big-picture achievement and truly larger than life.  The Burj project was designed to move the city from its emphasis on oil to that of tourism.  Glass, steel, aluminum and concrete are everywhere to see.  It looks just like a movie set, but it’s not…..it’s an ultra sleek and modern city. According to Wikipedia, the building’s cost was $1.5 billion to build in US dollars.  Construction in 2004 and was finished in 2009.

Bubbly Horse visits Burj Khalifa in Dubai

There is a connection between the Burj Khalifa and the US.  The architect that designed the Burj, happens to be from Chicago.   His name is Adrian Smith and he studied at the University of Illinois and also Texas A & M University.  He’s designed many buildings in the US, including the Trump Tower in Chicago.  Obviously, he’s a specialist in designing tall buildings.

We had a great time at the Burj and we couldn’t resist being super touristy.  They have a giant green screen that you pose in front of for fun commemorative photos.  Some people were confused and thought that I was really walking on the beam over the top of the building when they saw it on Facebook.  Now that’s a great optical illusion!

Bubbly Horse having fun at the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is part of a mixed-use development in the middle of downtown Dubai.  According to Wikipedia, “the development includes 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 7.4 acres of parkland, 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 30-acre artificial Burj Khalifa Lake.  Dubai borrowed at least $80 billion for construction projects.”

Bubbly Horse visits Burj Khalifa

As I mentioned, the development includes the Dubai Mall.  Even if you aren’t a mall shopper, the malls in Dubai offer so much more than just shopping.  You really have to see it to believe it!  We discussed the souks of Dubai in a previous post, which are a totally different shopping experience.  But no trip to Dubai is complete without visiting the shopping malls.  Even if you’re not a shopper, you can find something to interest you at the mall.

At 3.77 million sq. ft.,  the Dubai Mall is the 2nd largest in the world.  There are over 1,200 stores!  The mall attracts over 54 million visitors a year.  According to Wikipedia, “the Dubai Mall was the most visited building on the planet in 2011.”  The Dubai Mall is definitely a tourist destination and you should plan on visiting it when you are in Dubai.

One of the first things you notice when you walk into the mall is the giant Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo.  The tank is 10-million litre (2641720.52 US liquid gallons) and is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world.  The aquarium has more that 300 species of marine animals, which also includes a variety of sharks and stingrays.  My photos don’t do it justice!  You could watch all the fish swim for hours.  It was so cool.

The aquarium includes a walk-thru tunnel where you can get a first-hand view of the tank, as well as glass-bottom boat rides.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can snorkel in the tank or do a shark dive.  Talk about an up close adventure!

The next section of  the mall is called Fashion Avenue.  This branch of the mall is home to brands such as Bulgari, Valentino, Brioni, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Cartier….. and the list goes on and on.  There’s an entire wing devoted to high-end shopping.  Even if you aren’t into couture fashion, the window shopping is great fun.

Bubbly Horse goes shopping in Dubai

As you keep walking, you see more and more things to do, that don’t include shopping!

The mall has a giant ice skating rink.  It’s as large as an Olympic-sized rink!  It is massive, and starts on the ground floor and extends to the second level of the mall.

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall Ice Rink

Art is very prominent throughout Dubai.  There are public art installations in most areas of  the city.  I believe public art really makes a city stand out and makes it much more interesting.  The mall has a “human” waterfall with beautiful sculptures.  You can see how large it is from my photograph.  The wall goes from the top to the bottom of the mall and can be viewed from each floor.  It’s quite unique and amazing!

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall water wall

Gelato stores and candy stores were peppered all around the mall.  You couldn’t walk very far without seeing one.  The largest candy store in the world is located in the Dubai Mall.   Candylicious is over 10,000 sq. ft.  That’s a lot of candy!  The people of Dubai definitely have a sweet tooth.  The store windows have the boxes of candy nicely wrapped like beautiful little presents. Presentation is everything in Dubai.  From the buildings to the candy, Dubai is top-notch!

One unusual candy that is actually made in Dubai is camel’s milk chocolate.  According to an article that I read in Reuters.com,  “The company Al Nassma was established in Dubai and plans to produce 100 tons of premium camel’s milk chocolate a year.  They have 3,000 camels on the Dubai farm and the farm is controlled by the Dubai government. Our aim is to be the Godiva of the Middle East, according to the company.”

Bubbly Horse visits the desert in Dubai

The Reuters article goes on to say, ” All chocolates are produced without preservatives or chemical additives with a range of locally popular spices, nuts and honey, according to the company. Camel milk contains five times more vitamin C than cow milk, less fat, less lactose and more insulin, making it a good option for diabetics and the lactose intolerant.”

I tasted the chocolate and I really liked it.  It is not as sweet as the milk chocolate that we are accustomed to here in the US, but it was really good.  The fact that it may be a little healthier than most chocolate you find made it even tastier!

Bubbly Horse visits the Dubai Mall Camel's Milk Candy

When you travel to Dubai, make sure you bring your tennis shoes.  You’ll need them for walking around and experiencing the mall and other beautiful destinations in Dubai.

Thanks for reading BubblyHorse.com. xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Souks of Dubai

Souks of Dubai

Bubbly Horse visits the gold souk in Dubai

You may be asking, what exactly is a souk? Well, the answer is that a souk is the name for a bazaar, stall or marketplace, primarily found in the middle east. In Dubai you can find souks nearly everywhere. It reminds me of a giant flea market with really interesting items and people.

There are certain parts of Dubai that have souks for textiles, perfumes, spices, or even electronics. According to Wikipedia, ” Evidence for the existence of souqs dates to the 6th century BCE. Initially souqs were located outside city walls, but as cities became more populated, souqs were moved to the city centre and became covered walkways.”

Bubbly Horse visits the Souks of Dubai

 

When you are planning a trip to Dubai you certainly want to visit the various souks that the city has to offer. It’s a form of shopping that isn’t much different than shopping at a small boutique, or a flea market here in the US, except for the haggling and bargaining.

Now, I know what you are thinking. A lot of people don’t like to bargain or haggle over items and prices. Here in the US, that’s viewed as tacky or distasteful. The price of the item is as marked. Sometimes items are on sale, sometimes items are the full price.

In Dubai, haggling is an accepted and encouraged form of doing business. Now, you can’t go to restaurants and haggle over the price of your meal, or try to wheel and deal with your hotel bill, but it is a traditional practice in the souks.

The best time to shop the souks is the first thing in the morning. Our guide told me that  it is thought to be bad luck for the shop if the souk cannot make a deal on the first potential sale of the day. I experienced this one day while shopping, the shopkeeper was desperate to sell me a belt! After you get used to haggling, it’s sort of fun! You get the hang of it.  In fact, while I was haggling for a purse, another shopper asked me if I would help him negotiate for a watch.  I guess he noticed I was an experienced shopper!

In Dubai, there are a variety of souks to choose from. There’s the gold souk (which is unbelievable!), the Khan Murjan souk (it sells mainly arts, crafts and textiles), the spice souk, the Meena Bazaar (sells men’s and women’s clothing), and the perfume souk.

The first souk that I visited was the gold souk. It is unbelievable the amount of gold that you see. Dubai is known for its gold jewelry. You see, most Dubai gold is 18, 21, 22 or 24 carats, not the usual 14 carat like we see here in the US. The government of Dubai tries to be very transparent in the selling of their gold and has many rules and regulations. The difference in the gold is, according to Dubai Online:

• 24k- is pure gold
• 22k- alloy with 22 parts of pure gold and 2 parts of other metals
• 21k- alloy with 21 parts of pure gold and 3 parts of other metals
• 18k- alloy with 18 parts of pure gold and 6 parts of other metals

So, you get the drift, most of Dubai gold is really high quality. The price for gold is set internationally, so you can haggle on the sticker price in the souks, but they don’t have control over the commodity base price. The jewelry pieces that I saw were true works of art. The craftmanship of the pieces of jewelry was amazing. The higher the gold content, the softer the metal so it makes it easier to produce such intricate styles of jewelry.

Bubbly Horse visits of the gold souks from Dubai

A lot of the jewelry is designed in Pakistan, and they are known for their craftmanship. Our guide told us that Indian brides often come to Dubai and purchase their jewelry not only for the bride and groom, but also their wedding party.

There is gold everywhere you can see. There are elaborate pieces of jewelry in the window and on display in the store. You can actually pick up the jewelry and look at it in the store. In the US there would be guards posted everywhere, but not in Dubai. Dubai is a very safe place both to visit and to do business.

The Meena Bazaar was the next stop on our shopping excursion. This souk, as I stated above, is the textile souk. They have men’s and women’s clothing, as well as fabric that’s for purchase. You really have to see the fabrics to believe it. The richness in the fabric in both the color and the workmanship is something to experience. Vibrant colors of pink, yellow, orange, blue and gold are everywhere you look.  The beading on the garments was really elaborate.

Bubbly Horse visits the Meena Bazaar souk in Dubai

 

In Dubai, there is a tremendous Indian population. The Meena Bazaar is comprised of many Indian goods. From traditional Indian jewelry to textiles and furniture, the Indian influence is in many, if not most of the souks. There are two Hindu temples located in the area that are lovely.

Bubbly Horse visits the Meena Bazaar textile souk in Dubai

 

 

The next stop is the spice souk. All I can say is WOW! There were large barrels of saffron, frankincense, cinnamon, turmeric, chili, curry, cloves, and the list goes on and on! The spice souk sells these spices and herbs in bulk. The colors and the smells of the market were truly amazing. It is definitely something to see. Saffron is so expensive here in the US, and in Dubai, there are barrels and barrels of it everywhere!

Photos by Expedia.com

 

Right around the corner is the perfume souk. There’s not really any signs that direct you to these souks, you just run into the different sections. You could walk around for hours looking at all the different merchandise. Trust me I did!

Frankincense is probably the most popular item in the perfume souk. There’s also a huge variety of incense available. Incense in sticks, powder, crystals, as well as numerous other forms are available. You can purchase perfume oils, lovely atomizers and bottles at the souk.  You can experiment and combine different oils to create your own fragrance. The possibilities are endless!

Perfume souk in Dubai

The last stop on our souk shopping tour was the Khan Murjan. We stopped in before we went to high tea at the Burj Al Arab hotel. We were a little early so we stopped in the souk to do a last bit of shopping. The Khan Murjan souk has a variety of souks that carry arts and craft items. From lovely woven carpets and rugs, to mosaic furniture and jewelry, there was so much to see! Each section of the souk was inspired by Egyptian, Moroccan, Syrian and Turkish architecture. It’s so beautiful.

We found some lovely pillowcases with that looked very Turkish with sequins and beading. We got some really nice items to bring back to remind us of the trip.

Bubbly Horse visits the souls in Dubai

Photo by Dubai-online.com

Dubai certainly has many things to do and see when you visit. Visiting the souks is a great way to learn the culture and to meet friendly people. But be sure to practice your haggling before you go! xoxo