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10 mind-blowing things you’ll only see in the United Arab Emirates

Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are known for pushing the limits of “normal” when it comes to luxury and innovation. Everything in this once-sleepy fishing village and desert nation seems to be breaking records for one reason or another — which makes it a delightful place to travel.

You'll find everything you could possibly ask for in a modern metropolis: world-class shopping, architectural triumphs and luxurious ways to dine and relax. The city is hosting the 2020 World Expo, so there’s never been a better time to visit! Here are 10 crazy, cool and quirky things you’ll only see in the UAE (and a few of the things you probably won’t!):

Bonus: save 35% when you book a 7-night Royal Caribbean sailing to Dubai and the Emirates with Sure Travel and Cruises International.

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Only in Dubai

1. The world’s largest man-made islands

Visible from space, Dubai has increased its coastline and real estate market by dredging up sand from the sea floor and forming them into creative shapes such as a palm tree and a map of the world’s continents. While these islands face the threat of erosion and storms, it doesn’t stop the ultra rich from buying luxury villas along the waters’ edge.

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2. Swanky police cars

Don’t think you’ll be able to outrun the police in Dubai. The force has invested in a multi-million dollar assortment of Ferraris, Bentleys, McLarens, Bugattis and Lamborghinis. After all, this is the town where McDelivery drops off your burger and fries in a Ferrari… so how else could police issue a speeding ticket if they couldn’t keep up?

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3. Gold-dispensing ATMs

About 40% of the world’s global gold trade passes through Dubai, so it makes sense this would be the place you can get gold jewellery, bars and coins straight from an ATM. Called “Gold to Go”, these gold-plated machines contain a computer that tracks the market price of gold in realtime. According to Atlas Obscura, failsafes are built-in to prevent money laundering, including a maximum of three purchases in a single day, and a required ID scan accompanying all purchases exceeding 1000 Euro.

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4. Underwater hotel suites

Lull yourself to sleep as sharks, rays and fish swim by in the ultra-exclusive Atlantis The Palm Hotel. While this isn’t the only five-star hotel with underwater suites in the world, it is a unique accommodation option! Floor-to-ceiling windows give you a glimpse into what goes on below the waves, as some of the 65,000 inhabitants of the resort aquarium’s Ambassador Lagoon swim past. But be prepared to splurge for the experience — underwater suites cost in the range of R82,000 per night.

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5. Indoor ski resort

We’re not talking an indoor bunny hill…Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates is home to Ski Dubai, a full-fledged 2,044 square-metre ski resort, complete with chair lifts, multiple runs, sled hills, ice caves and real-live penguins (we’re not kidding). The perfect way to escape the heat!

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6. Air-conditioned bus stops

Another great way to escape Dubai’s stifling summer temperatures is to wait for the bus. No really. Transit stops are air-conditioned; welcome respite in May to October when temperatures can reach upwards of 45 degrees Celsius. 

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7. High-rise tennis courts

Regular tennis doesn’t hold quite the thrill of a match more than 210m up in the air! Prior to the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open, tennis legends Andre Agassi and Roger Federer were invited to play a friendly match at the world’s only “seven-star” hotel, the Burj al Arab, which had temporarily converted its helicopter pad into a green tennis court. A prime example of the daringness of Dubai — and incentive to keep the ball in court! 

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8. Big cats as pets (well, not anymore)

Don’t have a heart attack if you pull up to a traffic robot and see a car with a cheetah, lion or tiger looking lazily out the window. These exotic animals were a status symbol in Dubai for the wealthy, but have thankfully been banned since 2017. Now, owners can face up to $136,000 (USD) in fines or jail time, according to CNN, and have been asked to hand the animals over to authorities. One small step in combatting the illegal wildlife trade! 

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9. Lavish teenage birthday parties

Most rich kids are lucky if their parents buy them a car for their Sweet 16. And that’s plenty common in Dubai’s affluent families. But how about a yacht — or a R60 million private concert with Kanye West and Jay-Z? It’s been done!

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10. The world’s largest natural flower garden

Dubai’s Miracle Garden is home to some 50 million blooming flowers and 250 million plants, making it a colourful and tranquil place to spend an afternoon. Budget at least three hours if you want to see the 6,689 square-metre park in all its splendour — and stop for the odd selfie here or there.

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And a few things you won’t see (often)? 

Kissing or dancing: holding hands is fine but any other forms of “PDA” in public are considered either indecent or illegal and couples caught in the act can face deportation or jail time;

Pork: UAE is a Muslim country, as such, you won’t find this meat except in designated areas of supermarkets and airports;

Women: they’re only 30% of the population;

Rain: Dubai only gets an average of 9.42cm per year, yet residents have the highest levels of daily water use in the world (we read it’s something like 550L per day per person, on average!);

Alcohol: it’s only allowed in hotel restaurants and you even need a liquor license to drink in the privacy of your own home;

Postal addresses: Dubai has no fixed street system, so addresses are more descriptive — ie. the second house with the blue door to the east of the mosque, for instance. Travel with a printed map to show your taxi driver (since new building’s are popping up all the time), unless you’re staying at an established hotel that’s been around for several years.

Locals: the only local you might meet is the border patrol or customs agent who stamps your passport at the airport. That’s because there are more outsiders, expats and tourists in Dubai than local Emirati — at least 87% of the population is foreign (the majority of whom are labourers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). And that number won’t be increasing any time soon… it takes a minimum of 20 years to become a citizen. 

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‘Sea’ Dubai like never before with Sure Travel

Cruise to Dubai and stroll along the Dubai Marina waterfront past the many large yachts and futuristic high-rises. Relax on the sandy beach at Kite Beach or Sunset Beach, overlooking the iconic sail-shaped hotel Burj Al Arab — or take in views of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 828m. 

Plus: save 35% when you book a 7-night Royal Caribbean cruise on Jewel of the Seas with Sure Travel and Cruises International! Prices include: accommodation, all meals, selected beverages, activities and entertainment, gratuities, port charges, and all taxes and fees.

Ask your friendly Sure Travel agent for a quote by calling +27 (0)861 47 48 49 or visiting our website at www.suretravel.co.za

 
Departure dates 

16 December 2019  |  R12,720 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Muscat (Oman)

23 December 2019  |  R16,020 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar), Bahrain (Bahrain), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE)

30 December 2019  |  R15,435 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Muscat (Oman)

6 January 2020  |  R12,870 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar), Bahrain (Bahrain), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE)

13 January 2020  |  R12,720 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Muscat (Oman)

20 January 2020  |  R14,025 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar), Bahrain (Bahrain), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE)

27 January 2020  |  R13,395 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Khasab (Oman), Muscat (Oman), Abu Dhabi (UAE)

10 February 2020  |  R13,095 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE); Khasab (Oman); Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Muscat (Oman)

9 March 2020  |  R13,875 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Muscat (Oman)

16 March 2020  |  R14,265 per person sharing*

Roundtrip from Dubai; 7 nights on board the Jewel of the Seas
Highlights: Dubai (UAE), Bahrain (Bahrain), Doha (Qatar), Sir Bani Yas (UAE), Abu Dhabi (UAE)

 
*Terms, conditions and restrictions apply. Advertised fees are per person, based on lead in categories, capacity controlled and subject to availability. Fares are further subject to exchange rate fluctuations and include compulsory charges unless otherwise stated. Fares are based on an average exchange rate of R15 and correct at time of print. Fares include applicable cruise line savings and offer subject to additional terms, conditions and restrictions. Contact your preferred Sure Travel agency for more information.

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Dubai
from R15,550 p/p sharing
Be at the heart of the action at Rove At The Park in Dubai Parks.
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