Adventure Vacations United Arab Emirates

Dubai in my Dreams

Written by Kirstie

Dubai in my Dreams

Kirstie Profile SmallDo 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…

Sand Dunes on Dubai Hatta Road

Dreams of gold and green on Dubai Hatta Road

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.

Dubai Jumeirah Beach and Marina District at Night

Dubai Jumeirah Beach and Marina District at Night

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.

Dubai mosque from open top bus tour

Dreamy spires of Dubai, flashes of golden domes

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.

Bloomingdales in Dubai Mall

The impossible polished floors of Bloomingdales draw me in a dream to to Gucci in Dubai Mall

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.

Girl and her brother explore the dunes of Dubai

Exploring the dreamy dunes of Dubai

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.

Cleaning the aquarium in Atlantis the Palm, Dubai

Cleaning the aquarium in Atlantis the Palm, Dubai

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.

Burj Khalifa Dubai

The Burj Khalifa, Dubai. The world’s tallest building seems to touch the moon

Practical information

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.

Writing in the desert sky. Is this for real?

Writing in the desert sky. Is this for real?

About the author

Kirstie

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

18 Comments

  • Dubai is like a dream come true for families and it has something for everyone! It doesn’t even take that long to get there and there’s plenty to do for free. Good luck 🙂

  • You make a visit to Dubai sound like a dream, and think you are right. In a place so different to where I am from I feel there is a distinct possibility I would spend the whole time having to pinch myself!
    If I am ever fortunate enough to visit with my family, there are some activities that I would have to experience.
    The amazing Dubai Fountains with their magical dance to music.
    An evening safari to the desert to visit a traditional Bedouin camp, feast on a BBQ and watch belly dancer under a starry sky.
    The choice of water parks astounds me, but I would love my children to experience a dolphin encounter, and maybe the aquarium and underwater zoo. No such thing exists here, I think they would be astounded.
    In Dubai you would never be bored. Always a new sight, sound or smell would tickle my senses. I love the mix of new and old. Culture and diversity.
    Dubai has it all. It is world class, and I would love to experience it, even just for a short time!

  • Wow the Dubai fountain looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go to Dubai just to see that yet there is so much more all in one place – it is almost too hard to imagine so I will have to go there to find out for myself ? The beautiful beach beckons me, incredible concerts and entertainment, retail heaven and then relax and unwind by trying out traditional spa therapies at the hammam! The food in Dubai looks divine and I bet it is delicious. My husband would love the adventure sports, golf courses and falconry. There is something here for everyone. Dubai is my dream destination.

  • I would love to take my grandsons on a Dream Trip to Dubai – a clean, safe, family-friendly holiday destination, with plenty of activities to choose from for any age range. As well as relaxing on the beautiful golden sand of JBR Beach with its warm, calm and shallow waters we would all enjoy a dune-bashing safari followed by a camel ride and BBQ dinner in a Bedouin desert camp.

    We would visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort to learn about life from a bygone era as a contrast to the amazing architecture of the modern city which we could view from the front or rear carriages of the driverless Dubai Metro system and then take it all in from the At The Top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

    The free and impressive Dubai Fountain water, light and music show can be watched from one of many waterfront cafes just outside the Dubai Mall. The malls in Dubai have many family attractions to choose from. The boys could try ice-skating, helped by the ‘penguin pals’, visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and also see the giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton (DubaiDino), all in the Dubai Mall.

    The boys love theme parks and this summer Dubai will open the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure with four themed zones inside including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard. This will be completely enclosed and temperature-controlled with 1.5 million square feet of entertainment space!

    Our only problem will be going home with so much more left for us to see and do in beautiful Dubai

  • Amazing! Lovely words for a lovely place. I fell in love with Dubai a long time ago and I so want my children to as well. There is something for all of us in Dubai.

    Good luck with your entry x

  • When we decided to go to Dubai I think I read all your posts to get a background on it! We have so much more we need to do in Dubai!
    I really would like to take the boys out to the desert to see the sand dunes, have a go at sandboarding and then a camel safari. We tried to pack in as much as we could when we went but couldn’t do it all. I would also love to go to the souks and get a sense of the real Dubai away from the flash hotels,

  • What a creative blogpost. The foodie side of things would really appeal to us in Dubai…Al Mahara restaurant would be a must for us as a foodie family who has had so many foodie adventures including Noma and meeting Mary Berry, this would be the ultimate icing on the cake. Dubai seems to have the perfect recipe for a family holiday…A good spoonful of food, culture and history, a big scoop of fun, family and adventure, a drizzle of adrenalin, a large cup of architecture and a sprinkling of magic to make the perfect family holiday!

  • A brilliant blog. I love the way Kirstie weaves her poems throughout the piece. They sparkle – make this a blog like no other. Loved all the sensual details, too. All in all this piece and the vivid photographs gave me a vivid sense of the place, and the experiences on offer.

  • What an interesting read with I’ve just learnt alot about Dubai after reading this post, so thanks!

    My eldest daughter Alesha who is 6 will be learning all about Dubai in school after next term, I will be showing her this post so she has a good understanding of Dubai before they start on the topic in school.

    I’ve heard about Dubai and the man made islands, it’s been a place I’ve longed to visit but since having a family it’s been somewhere I couldn’t afford.

    P.s I found this post via Twitter

  • Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more!

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to

    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry! X

  • This is a fantastic entry, I can really imagine myself on the adventure you so wonderfully described. It sounds like it would be a stunning experience. We’ve never been to Dubai and I am literally amazed at how much there is for families to see and do. I’m so impressed. We’d love to do a lot of the things you’ve mentioned in your post especially a visit to the souks (the writer in me is dying to get in there and absorb the atmosphere and the Instagrammer in me can just imagine the vibrancy of the colours) as well as a visit to the turtle rehabilitation centre for my daughter who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. But really, the list could just go on and on couldn’t it? I’m fairly confident that if we were lucky enough to go we’d fall head over heels and probably never want to leave again! It just sounds like such a magical, once in a lifetime, kind of holiday for any family.

  • I love the idea of the Cinema under the stars! That is definitely something I would love to do in Dubai. My biggest dream would be to swim with Dolphins in Dubai. I would love my little one to experience this too and my partner since neither have done it before and it would just be one of those amazing experiences you have to do in your life. I would definitely have to go to Atlantis too, it is one of those places I have always dreamt of visiting. I am a big kid so I know I would have fun at the marine and water park. A day out on the beach would also be just as amazing with the beautiful clear blue sea and the golden sand. Sun, sea, sandcastles….and cocktails.

  • Staring up into the stars, sand as far as the eye can see, that great void of nothingness – visiting the desert is like travelling to another planet. Then we would return to the sparkling lights of the city, the frenetic energy and adrenalin fuelled adentures. Dubai is where worlds collide and we would love to experience them all in a place like no other.

  • Oh Kirsty you make it sound so magical, those polished floors are incredible and just think how many feet have walked over them yet they still shine like diamonds. And the fact that 100 years ago it was a desert blows your mind, wouldn’t be incredible to have that 100 years on motion capture to see the changes of time and what a lot of change for the people of Dubai, I wonder if they feel its all good? I would love to ride up in the elevator of the Burj Khalifa and take in the glorious sight from the top. Although I must admit it gives be butterflies thinking of being so very high up.

  • You write with such passion I feel like I’m right there, listening to the sounds of the souk, watching the twinkling stars. A beautifully written post, so full of information for anyone who is thinking of going and I’m sure a post that if they were tempted to book this would make them click that confirm button! You’ve shown how much Dubai has to offer and more. It would be such a pleasure to read about your holiday. Good luck! Xx

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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