In a nutshell, Glenn and I were less than impressed with Dubai.
We found everything overpriced. Nothing was local or authentic to the local culture, in fact, we couldn’t even tell you what the local culture was. We also found that as white, western, foreigners we were only directed towards the very expensive and the very high end, which we did not want.
The one thing we really wanted to see in Dubai was the Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building.
Because we were so busy with the wedding and then packing for the trip and getting our affairs in order, I did not do quite as much research as I usually do before visiting a city, so I did not realize that we should book this in advance, but when we got there every entrance time was sold our for the full 3 days we were in Dubai except for the 10:45 pm time slot (and at that time there is really no point because not much is lit up at night so you cant see anything from the observation deck).
Then we were told that we could purchase a ‘fast pass’ ticket and enter the tower at anytime – the catch – 1 fast pass ticket costs nearly $100!!!!
We thought for a while but ultimately decided to just do it since we really wanted to see the tower and we definitely were not coming back to Dubai.
Let me just tell you, it was NOT worth it.
The view from the tower is just ok. It is cool for about 10 minutes but certainly not worth $100 pp. You can’t see the islands like the Palm or the World from the tower, plus the air is thick with either smog or humidity or dust so visibility is not great.
Here are some photos of the view so you can avoid paying to see it if you go to Dubai.
Then once we came down from the top, we realized that there was a restaurant near the top of the tower (with the same views we just paid for) and that the dinner was about $120 pp. That would have been nice to know before we paid almost the same amount just to look out some high windows.
Along with that, we found no one in Dubai that was actually friendly or genuinely helpful. It seemed like you were really on your own when it came to tourist information and no one was there to help.
We did take the time to watch the fountain show at the base of the Burg Khalifa but we both agreed that the show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas was much better.
Actually, we ended up concluding that Dubai was a lot like a not fun Las Vegas. The similarities are that both cities are very much a facade, full of overpriced things, chain restaurants, and nothing authentic. However, where Las Vegas has fun in the form of gambling, drinking and partying – Dubai only has rules on top of rules on top of more rules.
In the end we concluded one thing. Dubai is probably a great destination if you want a 5* hotel, if you want to buy designer brands that you can get at home but would rather buy abroad, and if you are NOT interested in local culture.
However, if you want an vacation with a sensible, realistic budget and if you would like to actually experience the place you are visiting – do not go to Dubai, go somewhere else.