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Dubai, UAE is all about opulence and extravagance. Almost everything you’ll encounter here is bigger — and blingier. It’s home to the world’s largest indoor shopping mall, the biggest aquarium, the largest automated water fountain and the biggest indoor ski park. Dubai holds over 100 Guinness World Records — did you know the city is has the world’s longest handmade gold chain and the world’s tallest chocolate sculpture? Dubai is growing so quickly that 20% of the world’s cranes can be found in this rapidly expanding city. Now’s a great time to book yourself a trip to see what all the hype is about.

 

What To Do

Dubai, UAE is home to the world’s tallest building — the Burj Khalifa — which comes in at a formidable 2,717 feet. No visit to Dubai is complete without visiting this epic man-made structure that has over 160 floors. With hotels, shops and restaurants, you could live your whole life within the building and never leave! Check out the observation deck on the 148th floor for the best views, or plan to have tea at Atmosphere, which TPG himself did on a recent trip with his parents. If you plan to visit the higher floors around sunset, just know that you can see the sun a full two to three minutes longer than those on the ground!

Those in search of adventure will love Dubai. Both certified and non-certified divers can dive with sharks at the The Dubai Underwater Aquarium and Zoo. Sky diving is also a popular activity — seeing the man-made Palm Jumeirah from high above is truly impressive. For some activities outside the city, consider zip lining for almost two miles at Jebel Jais Flight. A little further outside of Dubai is the expansive Arabian Desert where you can have all sorts of exciting experiences such as glamping, dune bashing, sandboarding, quad tours, camel rides, falconry and more.

Skydiving over The Palm in Dubai. (Photo via @Prodrone via Twenty20)
Skydiving over The Palm in Dubai. (Photo via @Prodrone via Twenty20)

But not all things are new and shiny in Dubai — there’s real life beyond the dizzying skyscrapers. If you crave a taste of the local culture, check out the Spice Souk, where you can buy traditional spices and herbs, or head to the Gold Souk. Do you research beforehand (like knowing the current market price of gold) to make sure you get a good deal.

The city of Abu Dhabi (the capital of the United Arab Emirates) is only an hour away, and it’s worth heading there to see the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, home to the world’s largest Persian rug. Make sure to arrive fully covered, though you can rent  Abayas (women) or kandouras (men) to wear over your clothes.  It’s best to visit around sunset when the heat is less intense and when you can get the perfect #nofilter shot of the stunning white columns and arches for your Instagram feed.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. (Photo by Azhrjl via Unsplash)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. (Photo by Azhrjl via Unsplash)

Where to Stay

Considering much of the UAE is desert, getting out of the city to stay there can be relaxing and fun. Desert activities can often be combined with a ‘glamping’ style stay at a desert resort. Our pick is Starwood’s luxurious Al Maha. The video below outlines the incredible experience you can have there, complete with desert drives, falconry, camel rides and more.

 

If you prefer to stay in Dubai city, you can splurge on the Armani Hotel in the Burj, or you can try out the TPG recommended (and more affordable) La Ville Hotel & Suites Citywalk.

Getting There

Dubai (DXB) is the main hub for Emirates Airline, though a number of other carriers serve the city. Typically, you can reach Dubai from the US for around $700 round-trip on a variety of airlines. But, the best way to get there in style is Emirates first class. If you don’t have $8,000 to shell out, don’t panic — you can use points!  Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Emirates at a 1:1 ratio, and you can search flights and book awards through the carrier’s website. If you don’t have a stash of those, this informative post will help you figure out how you can use Citi ThankYou points, Chase UR points, Alaska or JAL miles to book Emirates awards in any class.

 

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Roman Logov via Unsplash)
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Roman Logov via Unsplash)

Know before you go.

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