Where to splash in Dubai

2012-09-04 16:21
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Underwater hotel planned for Dubai

Being able to boast the tallest building in the world doesn't seem to thrill Dubai anymore, as plans are in place to take on a new frontier: the ocean depths.

I find the Middle East's deep regard for water fascinating. Okay, it may sound like a generalization, but three different encounters over the past few months have informed this observation.

Most recently, the film adaptation of best-selling novel, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' where a visionary, angling-crazy sheikh pursues his dream of establishing a fully-fledged salmon run in the middle of the Yemen desert to the shock and amusement of the rest of the Arab-Anglo world. Although it seems like a selfish endeavour at first, the sheikh soon reveals his plan to use the new-found river as a source of irrigation to kickstart agriculture in the area, and so doing feed his people.

Secondly, while reading a novel called ‘Crescent' by Diana Abu-Jaber whose one character, a leathery Bedouin who guards a well, repeats the old Arab saying: "In the desert water is worth more than gold."

However, this observation first and most tangibly started forming during a trip to the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, which consists mostly of a city at the edge of a large expanse of desert.

I was struck by the way much of the Emirate's entertainment centered around water-based activities or at least had a view of some rippling liquid mass - whether it was the city's famous creek, the Arabian gulf or the dancing fountain at the Dubai Mall.

I couldn't help but wonder if this frivolity was not perhaps the ultimate way in which Dubai has put its innovation and wealth on display, even more so than the forest of sky scrapers and the sprawling shopping complexes? And like the fictional sheikh in ‘Salmon fishing,' could this be Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's playful way of showing he cares about the wellbeing of the people under his wing?

Check out this list of places to splash in Dubai and decide for yourself!

Wild Wadi

Located just a stone's throw away from Jumeirah beach and Dubai's most recognizable building, the sail-like Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi amusement park has no trouble attracting fun-loving tourists. During our visit, the place was positively swarming with Eastern Europeans, as well as what I assume to be a few fellow UGC nationals.

The park has an Aladdin/Ali-Baba/Sin Bad type theme with a set of cute characters giving names and faces to each ride. Wild Wadi has thirty rides of which the Tantrum Alley is the most extreme and the Lazy River the most fun. On Thursdays, they have a special Ladies Night where cameras and boys/men over the age of 8 are not welcome.

Atlantis, the Palm

One of Dubai's many claims to fame is the man-made peninsula/island called the Palm Jumeirah, an incredible sight from the air, as fronds fan out in a realistic adaptation of the real deal its named after. At the top-most edge of the final frond, you will find Atlantis, the Palm, a mind-boggling combination of hotel, beach, water park and aquarium.

As the name suggests, the lost underwater city is the main theme that binds it all together. Activities range from crazy rides like the 27,5 meter drop through a submerged tunnel into shark infested waters called the Leap of Faith, to feeding rays, to encounters with dolphins and an exploration of the Lost Chambers Aquarium.

The dancing fountain

Set on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake, the fountain shoots water jets as high as 500 ft (150 metres), equivalent to that of a 50-storey building. The fountain is 900 ft (275 metres) long and has five circles of varying sizes and two central arcs.

The fountain is animated with performances set to light and music. It is visible from every point on the lake promenade and from many neighboring structures. Performances take place at 1:00 pm and at 1:30 pm as well as every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 10 pm on weekdays, and from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekends. It has a wide repertoire of songs including Thriller by Michael Jackson, The Magnificent Seven theme song, and I will always love you by Whitney Houston.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

This aquarium is a saving grace for moms who are in desperate need of some retail therapy and don't know what to do with dad and the kids...

The 10-million litre Dubai Aquarium tank, located on the Ground Level of The Dubai Mall, is the largest suspended aquarium in the world.

It houses over 33,000 aquatic animals, comprising over 140 species. Over 400 Sharks and Rays live in this tank, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks in the world.

Ski Dubai

Okay, not EXACTLY water, but still pretty close. Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates and provides a selection of two slopes for skiing/snowboarding, tobogganing tracks, ski lifts and even encounters with real-life penguins. In the middle of the desert! Can you believe?

Dubai creek

In many ways Dubai Creek is the very lifeblood of the city, and most probably the feature that put it on the map in the first place. It's a saltwater creek, carrying water from the Arabian Gulf through the city and on as far inland as Al Ain, some suggest. It divides the city into two sections - the new (Deira) and the old (Burj Dubai) and was once a rich source of pearling oysters and a prominent stop for traders from India, Africa and the rest of the Middle East.

These days trade still takes place to some degree, but the creek is a hot spot for tourist activities such as sunset and supper dhow cruises. Many popular restaurants and hotels are also located along the banks, providing stunning views while you sip a cocktail or take some time out.

Madinat Jumeirah marina

Madinat Jumeirah is the largest luxury resort in Dubai, boasting two 5-star hotels, a selection of more than 40 restaurants and bars, and even its own souk. What makes it even more unique is the fact that the easiest way to navigate the different sections of the resort is to hop onto one of the fancy water taxis and hit the marina waterways.

Floating past stunning intricately designed buildings, palm trees, and underneath picturesque bridges, you will feel like true Arabian royalty. These waterways are also home to an endangered turtle sanctuary - so it's not all glamour and glits!

Read more on:    travel international


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