Dubai is the city of extravagance—bigger, better, faster, stronger. With the help of local blogger/influencer Dragana Radosavljevic, we give you five things that should be on your radar for your next Dubai trip, through the influential eyes of a local.
Radosavljevic, who goes by @dubaiblogger on her Instagram page and Dragana on her lifestyle blog, is a Serbian former journalist that has lived in Dubai since 2010. With 88,000 Instagram followers, she works as a social media influencer, public relations specialist, and political scientist. She loves the United Arab Emirates’ biggest and most glamorous city for its endless opportunities for exploration for both locals and tourists seeking a Dubai vacation: “Anything you can think of, you can do in Dubai,” she says. Here are her top picks for the city.
Explore the Architecture
A recent study by Sony Mobile and OnePoll listed the world’s 30 most photographed landmarks. While Paris’ Eiffel Tower topped the list, with London’s Big Ben in second place, two Dubai skyscrapers were also ranked highly: Burj Khalifa (5th most photographed), and Burj Al Arab (18th most photographed). “Dubai always wants to have the biggest, the best, the most expensive, and the most amazing,” Dragana says. Burj Khalifa has been the world’s tallest building since 2008. It was built to be the centerpiece of Downtown Dubai and with the intention of making the city a more attractive tourist destination. Head up the highest elevator in the world and get off on the 148th-floor observation deck for an incredible panoramic view of Dubai. For another typically showy Dubai building, check out the luxury hotel Burj Al Arab, the third-largest hotel in the world. Its outline resembles the sail of a ship, and it sits on an artificial island, only accessible by bridge. Finally, the Ain Dubai is a massive Ferris wheel that, once completed in 2018, will carry 1,400 passengers, offer undisturbed views of the skyline, and will be fully air-conditioned. In typical Dubai fashion, the Ain was built specifically to stake claim as the world’s largest Ferris wheel, overtaking the London Eye—it was originally called Dubai Eye—and the current leader, High Roller in Las Vegas.
After your visit to the Burj Khalifa, head across the street to one of Dubai’s top attractions, The Dubai Mall. Stop us if you’ve heard something like this in the last few paragraphs, but The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest mall (did we mention Dubai likes things big?). Along with 1,200 shops—including the world’s largest sweet shop—the mall is home to an ice rink, and children’s amusement center, and an aquarium. As far as actual shopping is concerned, you’re in good hands here. Looking for high-end brands? Radosavljevic explains, “Anything you can find in Milan, New York, or Paris, you can find at The Dubai Mall.” Street fashion brands popular in American like H&M and Guess are also found easily, and sales happen frequently. The mother of all shopping events is Dubai Shopping Festival. The annual month-long event spans December and January and chops prices as much as 90%, so shoppers, plan your vacation to Dubai accordingly.
Dubai might not be immediately synonymous with nightlife, but for those in the know, the party scene is legendary. Thursday and Friday nights (Dubai’s weekend is Friday and Saturday) are vibrant at many of the city’s bars and nightclubs, often located in hotels (to get around the strict alcohol laws), and Tuesday is a popular ladies’ night. Dragana says of Dubai’s nightlife: “It’s incredible that you can go to one place and meet people from so many different nations. Everyone brings something special from their country and culture, so the mix can be quite amazing. But it’s not necessarily about one particular nightclub; it’s about the people—both locals and tourists.” It’s also about the high-profile North American names that frequently pop up at Dubai’s extravagant nightclubs. If you show up on the right night, you could easily encounter performers like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and Chris Brown, or DJs like David Guetta and Martin Garrix. While the UAE has a pretty strict dress code, Dubai is relatively liberal, and when it comes to the swankiest of nightclubs, typical clubbing attire like short skirts are commonplace. Don’t plan a Dubai vacation without thinking about its energetic nightlife, but be sensible about where and when you drink and make sure you respect local laws and customs.
One of the best ways to get a taste of Arabic culture while in UAE is by taking part in a desert safari. Start with dune bashing—where a skilled driver takes you on a thrilling 4×4 ride across wide open sand dunes. Then try your hand at some sandboarding, which is a desert take on snowboarding. Other stops along the way could include visiting a camel farm for a desert ride or stopping for traditional henna tattoos. Your tour typically ends with a live show—belly dance, tanoura dance, or fire show—and dinner.
Pro Tip: Couples should try the romantic VIP midnight safari for two which includes a dinner of traditional Arabian cuisine under the stars. “If you only have one day to spend in Dubai, you should try the desert safari,” Radosavljevic says.
The Palm Jumeirah
Many of Luxury Retreats’ new high-end villa offerings in Dubai can be found at the Palm Jumeirah. The artificial, tree-shaped island is one of Dubai’s top attractions, but for those lucky enough to afford it, the Palm can be more than just a passing diversion; it can be home. The largest man-made island in the world (last time, we promise), has a “trunk” that’s more than a mile long and 16 “fronds” (the tree’s leaves) each lined with luxury beachfront villas. Stay on the crescent for views of the Arabian Gulf, or on the fronds for serene beachfront privacy. The surrounding crescent features a waterpark, a nightclub, and luxury hotels. The best way to see the Palm is by hopping on the 2,400-passenger monorail that tours the development end to end in about 10 minutes. Celebrities that have reportedly owned homes on Palm Jumeirah include soccer star David Beckham, Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, and former basketball star Michael Jordan, so you’ll be in good company.
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