Dubai in my Dreams
Do you ever dream of a shining sky city? Of a snow globe flaked with sunshine? Do you ever dream of Dubai? I do. It took a hold and I can’t shake it off. Come and share my vision of a summer week in this epic, visionary city, as mesmerising as the incredible Arabian desert that lies beyond, and packed full of family things to do…
My Dream of Dubai Poem
In my dream the United Arab Emirates State of Dubai shakes me awake and reminds me I’m alive. In my dream, our feather white Toyota rental zips down Sheikh Zayed Road, lined with dozens of skyscrapers; more per block than Manhattan. Neon and luminous. An alternative vision of night.
Out of the night our wide eyes rise,
scaling silver beams and invisible seams.
Unnatural angles, metallic tangles.
Vast glass giants stabbing the stars,
eternally needling sleeping angels.
Night guardians, soldiers of the sand.
Ring road of steel in a golden land.
The spice of the souk
Dubai is a city that should only exist in the minds of engineers. A century ago it was a desert. Half a century ago there were a handful of huts. Now it’s a multicultural metropolis that seems to defy reality. In my dream I invite you to head with me to the Creek. At Bur Dubai station we jump onto a little Abra water taxi for just 1 dirham and cross the river while the moon is coming up. We feel the ripple of the water carrying workers home safely, as cargo boats unload and the sun prepares for bed after a day of dedicated beating. We jump off and head to the souks, where we coat our fingers in the spices and breathe in the yellow of the saffron. The vendors sell us camels. Covered in bling and stuffed with foam. And we laugh and banter with them. And buy their camels. Even in dreams, it’s impossible to resist a bargain in this city that has turned commerce into a fine art.
The call of the mall
The mall calls, can you hear it across the river? They’re not like the malls at home. They are like our towns, with ice skating rinks and indoor flight tubes and aquariums. We take a little taxi round one and set out on foot for an adventure in the others. We stop to admire a purple dinosaur (not Barney, that’s the stuff of nightmares!) but then we must press on. I want to take you to something that costs nothing- the cinema under the stars. We watch our favourite films till we have had our fill, with the gentle breeze tickling our ears, relaxing on a bean bag on the floor.
Drive deep into an underground place.
Park up in bays packed with silver and white
and emerge blinking into the light.
Into a diamond ring. A snowy globe,
a rolling paradise with penguins, ice.
Shake up the mall and catch the falling gold.
A wifi world of fun and temptation;
more than a summer holiday vacation
a crystal ball with everything for sale.
And in just moments we are sold.
The void of the desert
And then, we go further into the night and discover all the stars on earth. We lie in the Arabian desert. In the nothingness. In the void. We stay awake and count the stars as they flare and burn out. We light a fire and chat about your dreams. On this desert safari we match our breathing to the rise and fall of the dunes that the wind shifted and shaped all day. Only the camels keep us company, with their shuffling and grunting. And in the morning we stand on a tall, creased dune and watch the sun rise together, and note the tiny shoots reaching for the light, and the shadows on the grains that rarely see rain. And then we bash the dunes, and the seven lane highways, rocking and rolling in the driver and passenger seat, air conditioning blocking out the heat of the day.
The palm tree in the Gulf
It’s time for a cool down. We take a gleaming train to the exclusive Atlantis The Palm resort, the magnet for luxury travellers that rises out of the water on man made islands. At Aquaventure Waterpark we blast down the Tower of Neptune, deliciously terrified, and raft down the world’s largest waterslide tube. And I hold your hand at those moments when you are scared.
Spin, flow and ride in slow-mo
on lazy river bend, dare each other
into capsules, out stare sharks
in deep pools. In this desert dream,
our water not a mirage but a mirror
of the sky. And in the corner of our eye
the great Burj Khalifa.
The power of the tower
There is one thing we still have to do. At the Burj Khalifa we shoot upwards. On the observation deck the skyscrapers become toys and we see the world disappear beneath our feet. And then, we reach out with tingling fingers and touch the moon. Finally we strap parachutes to our backs and skydive into the final moments of our dream. It’s your choice where and how we fly. Winged suit men have flown fast from here and made it into the Guinness Book of Records, but you choose to surf the desert winds, and ride high above the creek. And as we free fall we see in a birds eye view all the things we have done. 24 hours in Dubai, fast forwarded into the space of a dream.
And you wake in the morning, eyes dusty with sleep, and wonder if it was all just a dream. And I whisper “Shall we go?”
Flying like falcons from
the wizened hands of bedhouins,
in winged suits they shoot
past deluxe suites, sheets
of fire trailing amber smoke.
Meanwhile we spread our arms,
reach out, let go and soar.
over Dubai. A city so light
it can outshine a star,
so fast, and so fun
it can outrun the sun.
All of the above activities and more are outlined in our 25 family friendly reasons to visit Dubai post.
You can watch the Cinema under the stars at several places in Dubai. The Beach Mall has a huge area with giant screen. The Pyramids at WAFI offer the original rooftop experience on Friday and Saturday evenings. Entry is free.
Expedia run Desert Safaris as part of their activities. Check their website for details. You can do an evening or an overnight adventure which includes Dune Bashing, sand surfing, camel riding and dinner.
Tickets for the At the Top experience at the Burj Khalifa are available at the ticket desk of the attraction. You can rock up and buy one but be warned, many slots sell out in the evenings and at peak times. You can book online by following this link.
Skydive Dubai offer tandem skydives over Atlantis the Palm. They also offer gyrocopter experiences. Or if you want to have a go but don’t want to do it in the open air try i-Fly Dubai, an indoor wind experience in Dubai Mall.