Slipping into the clear water, I swim towards the waterfall and lie back, looking up towards the bluest of skies. The waterfall and the rocks from which it is tumbling may be manmade but it is nevertheless a cooling sound in the heat of the day. I slowly float beneath the fronds of a palm tree (a real one) as the Dubai skyscrapers come into view; the juxtaposition of beachside resort and gleaming city towers mesmerises me.
While I knew I would love the old town’s souks and activities such as the fabulous food tour with Frying Pan Adventures, what I didn’t see coming, on my first visit to Dubai, was just how much I would utterly adore the cityscape of bright, shiny, modern, gigantic and simply stunning Dubai skyscrapers.
Dubai is a city that has always fascinated me. It’s not my usual style city break that’s for sure – think shabby chic in Paris or exploring the ancient sites in Rome – yet for many years now I have yearned to visit Dubai, known as the City of Gold thanks to the vast amounts that change hands every day in the famous gold souks.
While no manmade structures could ever surpass Mother Natures’ handy work, the city is never-the-less a magnificent sight, rising out of the vast desert sands that surround it.
You might also enjoy: What to wear in Dubai, the only Dubai packing list you’ll ever need.
The Burj Khalifa
There is no denying that the Dubai skyscrapers collectively are impressive, yet one lone, astonishingly tall tower rises high above them all; standing sentinel, quietly watching the vibrant city at its feet.
If you have ever read my tale about overcoming my fear of heights in Bologna, you may well have questioned my sanity had you borne witness to my excitement at the prospect of ascending the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. (I think skipping was involved but let’s keep that just between us if that’s OK.)
And what a sight it is, glistening in the morning sunshine before a backdrop of deep blue sky with only a smattering of white, wispy clouds floating by. It took six years to build, finishing in 2010. Its potential successor, Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, on the banks of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, will be a staggering kilometre in height and was started last year. But for now, at least, the Burj Khalifa still reigns supreme as the tallest building in the world.
On the day of our visit, I stand at its feet and gaze up in awe of the 830 meters of smooth, shining glass that rises up before me. We’re joining the ‘At the Top’ experience, and I’m eager to start. Luckily the weather is on our side that day. Our tickets are already booked, as they do sell out, and leaving it to the last minute to check on the weather is risky (and more expensive than booking in advance online).
We are shown into a dedicated lift and start the ascent. The floor counter whizzes past numbers at an alarming rate, and before we know it, we reach our final destination, floor 125. Stepping out onto the viewing terrace I look up at the tower which still seems to carry on forever, up and up into the sky. There are another 37 floors above us. Looking down the 456 meters to the ground, the neighbouring skyscrapers take on a diminutive appearance as the city stretches out before me. The views are staggering; a not-to-be-missed experience for any first-time visitor. While I may get giddy if I look down an escalator or a steep flight of stairs, there is no such feeling here, just pure wonderment.
How to visit the tallest of the Dubai skyscrapers and the tallest building in the world?
The ‘At the Top’ experience is on the 125th floor of the Burj Khalifa. An even higher experience on floor 148 is also available. You’ll find all you need to know on their website where you can book tickets online here, Burj Khalifa. I would advise booking in advance, especially at popular times such as sunset as it does get fully booked.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai
This urban jungle made a spectacular setting for our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of the Dubai Marina District by a pristine sandy beach, lapped by the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Each time I entered the lovely garden and walked out into the warm, fragrant air, the Dubai skyscrapers greeted me and filled me with delight. Add to this the seven superb restaurants and bars, offering a fabulous range of cuisines including Italian, Asian and Emirati, five lovely swimming pools, a sumptuous spa and outstanding service; this elegant hotel made an excellent base from which to explore the truly memorable and fascinating city of Dubai.
I do have to give a quick shout out for the staff at the Ritz Carlton – every single person that I met and chatted to working in the hotel, seriously impressed me. I imagine each one of them, whether in housekeeping, management, the kitchens or the spa, had been hand-picked. Their dedication to ensuring the best possible experience for their guests was exemplary. No fussing or fake smiles, simply a warm and welcoming, first class service, with that little extra something that is hard to define.
The only thing I could say that I didn’t like was the offer of a free drink on a Wednesday evening in one of the bars, for every inch of heel a lady wore. But hey, that’s just me. And this is Dubai.
For more photographs from the Ritz Carlton, their fabulous restaurants and more of the city,
please visit my Dubai albums on Flickr. More coming soon.
You can read my review of the Ritz Carlton on Jumeirah Beach, Dubai on Boutique Travel Blog.
My thanks to the sponsors of this trip including Dubai Tourism, The Ritz Carlton, Alpha Tours and The Dubai Food Festival. As always, I will give you my own, honest opinions throughout my posts from Dubai. There are no affiliate links in this post.
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Dubai is a beautiful city, certainly one of the most beautiful places in the world. Come the grace of God still have the opportunity to visit this wonderful place.
Amazing photos of an interesting city and attraction. Dubai has lots of skyscrapers architecture and all are amazing specially Burj Khalifa. It is the most incredible building of Dubai. I Found interesting information about Dubai on this page: http://www.justorbit.com/asia/united-arab-emirates/dubai-102116/
Super piccies and I can’t believe how blue the lake is below the Burj Khalifa. I bet the architect thought no-one would ever build a tower higher than that one, and that he’d be a record breaker forever – oops! I’ve just booked my tickets there and cannot wait for my trip in a couple of weeks.
It really was a stunning view. Have a super time! I’m sure you will.
Dubai looks like quite the city! It’s remarkable what man can build, isn’t it? We just returned from a 6-week Asia trip that took in Kuala Lumpur – the twin PETRONAS Towers are also something to admire.
Did you know that it’s more than 3 times as tall as Eiffel Tower and more than twice as tall as the Empire State Building? That’s quite something but in a few years when it is surpassed by the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah that you mention, that will be almost 200m taller than the Burj Khalifa… incredible!!!
Wow, we must have been in Dubai at almost exactly the same time! The Dubai Food Festival was just opening as we left. I actually didn’t expect to like Dubai that much as it seems all shine and no substance, with little of its own culture. I was proved totally wrong and loved it – loved the contrasts, the audacity of the architecture and the whole dynamic construction miracle. But more than anything I enjoyed lunch at the cultural centre where we learned what life is really like for Emiratis, and it was fascinating and enlightening. Burj Khalifa was fun too, but I felt a little jaded as I have been up so many skyscrapers recently. None as tall, of course, but the views from the Sears Tower still beat those over Dubai 🙂 Amazing engineering though – as is all of the city, especially when you realise how little there was there just 15 years ago
What a stunning day you had for your visit! It is the most incredible building, when we were up it I couldn’t work out what the fountains were! I love the photo of everyone on their phones… terrible – eyes in front! 😉
It was a fabulous experience – loved the views and the Burj Khalifa itself is a stunning building. Fantastic photos Kat
I’m sure we’ll always remember our visit 🙂
What fabulous photos Kat, and I love how the water looks so turquoise below. I’d love to visit Dubai and see how my perception matches reality
Amazing photos of an interesting city. You have been changing my mind about this city. I love the ‘Enjoying the view’ photo. I would be doing the same, definitely.
Thanks Paula. I loved it – so very different to anywhere I’d been before. And there is lots more to come!
I’ve never been to Dubai but am heading to Abu Dhabi later this year so am looking forward to experiencing the contrasts of coast and skyscrapers there. There must have been some serious ear popping going on on the way up to the top of the Burj! Love the ‘admiring the view’ comment on that pic
Abu Dhabi sounds fascinating, I’ll look forward to reading your posts. I would really love to see more of that part of the world.
Amazing photos, Dubai is an Awesome place..
Don´t you think to plan a trip to some South America countries like Brazil?
Thank you and yes, I would dearly love to visit South America. I have never been. While, I can’t afford to travel there at the moment, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day I’ll get a press invite. Who knows!?
I am hopping into your blog after a long time I think – it looks very different. Beautiful! It’s amazing how much Dubai has to offer – from all its angles – premium to budget. Love the Burj Khalifa pictures.
I gave the home page a facelift just last week. Hope you like it. I’ll be writing a post about how I built it soon, first in a new series of (very occasional) blogging tips posts.
And Dubai – I really enjoyed discovering its different faces. Only scratched the service though so would love to go back to explore some more one day.
Would love to know all about it – I am no techie but am always studying to spruce up my blog. Want to make it more interactive. And the navigation easier… it’s really looking nice – reader friendly and airy.
That’s good to know (both your interest in how I built it and that you like it). I like the feel of your blog’s design but agree about the navigation. A subject for future discussion maybe following my next post.
Look forward… and thanks honest feedback:)
Just like you Kathryn, I don’t believe that Dubai would be as much my cup of tea as many other older, more quaint destinations. Therefore your reaction and photos do leave me wondering if I would feel the same way, if I was to go there.
I think I liked it so much because it was so very different from places I’d been to before. Plus the old town, with all the souks, is a wonderful place to explore, which I know you would love. I’ve plenty more to write about yet so keep an open mind and watch this space…