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The 'Pearl of the Arabian Gulf'
Dubai is a place of fascinating contrasts, with a mix of traditional architecture and glittering modern buildings, that can best be described as the 'Middle East meets Hong Kong with a little Las Vegas thrown in for style'.
The world’s tallest building could be considered Dubai’s most famous landmark, and is certainly a must visit place, even for people like me with no head for heights! It provides stunning views and dramatic vistas of the city. We went up to Floor 125 but you can also go to Floor 148 for a premium. The building has 163 floors and is 820m high. (We were told that another building is under construction that will be 1000m tall.)The queues are very long so it’s best to buy tickets in advance and arrive ahead of time.
Aquarium and Zoo
Located within the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are one of the largest aquariums in the world. The highlight of the aquarium is the 10 million-litre suspended tank which is home to more than 33,000 aquatic animals. The tank measuring 51 metres long, 20 metres wide and 11 metres high houses thousands of aquatic animals, comprising over 140 species. Over 300 sharks and rays live in this tank, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger sharks in the world. The fish in the base of the tank can be seen by shoppers in the Mall. The underwater zoo has some interesting inhabitants too.
It was an amazing sight to see the 72,000 sqm garden in full bloom with its 150 million flowers arranged in colourful arches and patterns, and the myriad shapes they form. The 18 metre sculpture feature is Disney’s first character floral display in the Middle East and is made from almost 100,000 plants and flowers, and weighs almost 35tons. The full size A380 airbus is the centre of attraction.Dubai Miracle Garden’s breathtaking landscaping has earned two Guinness World Records for the largest vertical garden in 2013 and world’s largest floral sculpture forming the shape of an Airbus A380 in 2016. It received the accolade for the Tallest Topiary Sculpture on 25 Feb 2018.
Down the road from the Miracle Gardens is the Dubai Butterfly Garden, an indoor garden which has ten domes. It is the world’s largest covered butterfly garden featuring 15,000 butterflies of around 50 varieties.We saw the very rare Orange Oakleaf butterfly. With wings closed, it closely resembles a dry leaf with dark veins and is a spectacular and commonly cited example of camouflage. The tops of the wings are orange and brown.There is much information on how butterflies evolve through each stage and so is a good learning opportunity for everyone.
The Dubai Fountain is more than 900ft in length and shoots water into the air to a range of different songs, from classical music to contemporary Arabia tracks and classic pop songs. It’s a spectacular show.
During our Dubai City tour we visited the Dubai Museum, Al Fahidi fort, the Bastakia, the wind towers and then on to Dubai creek to see both ancient and modern Dubai. We stopped outside the Palace of the ruler of Dubai and then through the Souk al kabeer to take a ferry ride across the creek to visit the Spice and gold souk. We saw the world’s heaviest gold ring, the Star of Taiba, which is mounted with 5.17kg of precious stones and set on a 58.686 kg 21 carat gold ring. We also saw a gold shoe and cricket ball.The tour continued on with stops at the Sheikh Sayed road to view the mini Manhattan, the Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa, the Jumeirah Mosque and Jumeirah beach of the Arabian sea. We drove the through the Madinat and Palm Jumeirah Islands to stop and see the Atlantis the Palm.