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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Things to do in Dubai’

Dubai works up a sweat over a marathon distance

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As if it wasn’t hot enough, Dubai will see thousands of fit and lively people run themselves into oblivion at its annual marathon early next year, which is fast becoming a highlight on the world distance running calendar.

Of course, the January 16th timing of the race means the conditions are about as comfortable as they could be and the many professional and amateur runners who are set to take part will be hoping to use this to their advantage.

The course will send competitors clockwise around the city, taking in such famous sights as the World Trade Centre.

Big news for the forthcoming event is that world marathon record holder and reigning event champion Haile Gebrselassie will be competing again in 2009.

Gebrselassie recently became the first man to run under two hours four minutes at the Berling Marathon and will no doubt draw a huge crowd of visitors on Dubai tours, interested to see if he can better his remarkable achievement.

Why not book the Overnight Safari (Incl Dinner & B/Fast) in advance?
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Dubai celebrates its independence

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Dubai is a place now more readily associated with the building of ever higher skyscrapers, even bigger shopping malls and hotels more grand and exclusive than the last.

But for the yearly National Day festival, or Al-Eid Al Watani in Arabic, all of the construction work is pushed down the agenda as the emirates celebrates their independence from Britain.

The buzz and excitement which characterises this destination is added to by the daily firework displays and colourful street parades during the festival.

The day is a national holiday, in which local families often dine out and enjoy the festivities together.

December 2nd is the day which official marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). On this day in 1971 Britain left the Persian Gulf and Dubai, Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, so called because of their particular dynastic style of government, formed the country as it is today.

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Dubai plays host to the Rugby Sevens

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Sevens rugby has grown in profile in recent years, thanks in no small part to events like the iRB World Sevens Series, which kicks off in Dubai this November at the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club.

Featuring sixteen national sides, the event showcases some of the best up-and-coming talent in world rugby, alongside some veteran players who have made the reduced version of the game their own.

For those uninitiated in the way the game is played, the tournament takes place over a weekend and the matches are timed at seven minutes per half. Groups of teams compete to win a place in one of three finals, at which point the length of the halves is extended to ten minutes.

The Sevens tournament began life in 1975 as the brainchild of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, but did not initially gain any credence with the sport”s governing body and was a club competition until it was upgraded to an international event.

Its appearance at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 further raised the sport”s stature, and it continues to grow in popularity and participation numbers today.

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New mega-hotel nears completion in Dubai

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One of the world”s most costly hotels opened on the Palm Jumeriah in Dubai this month.

With a construction bill of $1.5 billion (£800 million), Atlantis covers some 114 acres and includes over 1,500 rooms.

Its setting is a newly created island just off the coast of Dubai city, which has been conceived specifically for the hotel.

While its name might recall the numerous themed hotels some 8,000 miles away in Las Vegas, the resort”s first priority is luxury.

Double rooms start at a relatively affordable £230 a night, but the finest suite will set you back £15,000. It does boast a gold leaf-lined dining table, however.

As with any good resort, the in-house attractions are just as impressive as the accommodation. The aquapark includes a 1.5 mile lazy river, with another seven rides and numerous swimming pools and other facilities.

Seventeen restaurants will cater to any taste of palette and their list reads like the contents page from the annual Michelin guide: there are 11 of its famous stars accompanying the names of the respected chefs with locations in the complex.

World-famous hotels are no rarity in this part of the world, but the emergence of the Atlantis has raised the bar for the rest.

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Weller to headline Desert Rhythm Festival

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Paul Weller will be making his way to Dubai at the end of this year”s UK tour for a headline performance on the opening night of the Desert Rhythm Festival.

Taking place between October 31st and November 1st, this year”s line up also features the Caribbean group Kassav.

The Desert Rhythm Festival will be family-orientated, with a special Halloween fancy dress theme to mark the occasion.

A competition will also be held to decide the best costume.

The festival hopes to unite international audiences with exposure to a wide range of different musical styles.

However, the remaining line up has yet to be announced for the festival.

Meanwhile, Dubai”s tourism authorities recently announced that they will be focusing on making the emirate the region”s main destination for Eid celebrations.

Laila Suhail, chief executive of the Dubai Shopping Festival told the Gulf Times: "We will be highlighting some of the true traditions of celebrating Eid in addition to presenting a comprehensive festivities programme to attract celebrating families locally and regionally."

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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Sheikh Saeed House in Dubai

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Dating back to 1896, the house was once the seat of local government, and the centre of political and social movements and organisations of the time.

It was also the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai from 1912 to 1958.

This two-storey building is characterised by vaulted, high beamed ceilings, arched doorways, sculpted windows and exquisite trellis screens, which were fashionable in the late 1800s.

Four elegant wind towers (Barjeel), which were the traditional means of cooling the interior during the summer months, dominate the facade of the house.

Today, the house has on display a rare collection of historic photographs, coins, stamps and documents that record Dubai”s history.

It is open to the public from Saturday to Thursday between 8:00 and 20:30 daily, and on Fridays it is open between 15:00 and 21:30.

Timings during the holy month of Ramadan are 9:00 to 17:00 between Sunday and Thursday, and 14:00 to 17:00 on Friday.

The museum is closed on Saturday.

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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New cultural attraction being built in Dubai

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The museum is being built on the shores of Dubai CreekA museum for Middle Eastern modern art is being built on the shores of the Dubai Creek, the first in the region.

Designed by UN Studio in the Netherlands, the museum”s architecture will bring together elements of the region with Dubai”s tradition of seafaring, Gulf News reports.

Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai”s Culture and Arts Authority, told the newspaper: "The museum will be a celebration of the region”s artists and art."

The museum will be built in Culture Village, which is located in the historic district of Jadaf.

Culture village includes an amphitheatre, an exhibition hall and smaller museums displaying local and international art, as well as a shipyard for traditional dhow builders.

It also has a number of traditional souks, historic wind towers, cobbled streets that contrast sharply with the rest of Dubai, and a number of cafes and restaurants.

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Bastakiya district in Dubai

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The district gives visitors a chance to see old Dubai Dubai may be a bright and shining metropolis today, but the old Bastakiya district with its narrow lanes and tall wind towers gives visitors a tantalising insight into the life of old Dubai.

An old residential area along the famous Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai, Bastakiya District dates back to the early 20th century.

Famous for its wind towers that lined the Creek, the district is a popular historical attraction for tourists.

These wind towers were not purely decorative – they were the only means of cooling the citizens of the desert town.

Today, Bastakiya is a bustling market and cultural centre of Dubai.

The district”s historic buildings are home to museums and galleries featuring the works of local artists, as well as housing restaurants and markets.

Visitors can spend hours at these markets, buying art, crafts and other souvenirs at very cheap prices – but make sure to bargain!

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.

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The Dubai Museum

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The museum describes Dubai as it once wasThe Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1800, is home to the Dubai Museum.

Local antiquities have been collected and stored here, along with artefacts from the many African and Asian countries that have acted as trading partners with the Emirate throughout its long commercial history.

At the museum”s entrance, there is a collection of old maps of the Gulf and the Emirates, together with aerial photographs showing Dubai”s considerable urban expansion between 1960 and 1980.

Inside, a large section is devoted to musical instruments, with displays of drums, flutes, lyres, bagpipes made of goatskin and other locally-made instruments used in performances on festive occasions.

There are also many displays of weapons including curved daggers known as hanjars, swords, spears, bows and arrows, shields made of sharkskin, pistols and axes.

Thought to be Dubai”s oldest building, the Al-Fahidi fort was used to defend the Emirate from warlike neighbouring tribes.

It has also served, at various times, as the seat of government, the ruler”s residence, a store for ammunition and a jail.

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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Ramadan in Dubai

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During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat during the dayFrom September 2nd until October 1st, Dubai, like other Islamic cities and nations, observes the religious tradition of Ramadan.

For one entire lunar month (30 days), all consumption of food and drink is prohibited between dawn and dusk.

Fllowers of Islam eat only during the hours of darkness, and the Iftar meal at dusk is quite a feast, even if you are not fasting.

Visitors to Dubai are advised to observe these restrictions, as the locals consider it highly disrespectful and offensive to break these rules in public.

At the end of the month, when the new moon is spotted, the city sheds its sombre mood and celebrates madly for three days.

The end of Ramadan is dependent not on the astronomical beginning of the new month but on the sighting of the moon, so the dates may vary slightly from estimates, and may be announced with less than 24 hours” notice.

Dubai – A true modern metropolis Dubai boasts a fine range of tourist facilities including the refined Burj al Arab hotel.
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