Profoundly traditional and amazingly futuristic at the same time, Dubai is a city wrapped up in desert splendour— extravagantly flashy opulence coupled with deeply rooted Islamic tradition gives you the best of both worlds. As a student in Dubai, you can be assured of a lifestyle experience unlike any other….particularly if you are driven toward travel and sightseeing!
You will find that within the city itself, there is no dearth of things to do. Well established as the shopping haven of the world, Dubai dishes up a variety of traditional souks to new-age urban malls for daytime soul-searching. There is plenty of night time action for those seeking adventure, ranging from glitzy party hopping scenes to starlit concerts under the night sky. With an environment that is always abuzz with activity, and a host of art, design, music, and cultural events to attend, you will find plenty to occupy your mind and spirit during your free time.
If you are upto exploring the surrounds of Dubai, the other emirates also offer environments that connect you with exciting experiences. As a student, you will find plenty of long weekends or free days where you can soak in the local culture, and perhaps even make short trips to smaller cities to get a glimpse of the Emirati heritage.
Interested? Here are some day or weekend trips we recommend you mark on your list! The best time to visit is between September and April, when the weather is pleasant and you can spend time outdoors.
A short 90minute drive from downtown Dubai by taxi, Abu Dhabi, UAE’s capital, is a vitally alive city where nothing is deemed impossible. First time visitors have plenty to keep them enthralled, but the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the most spectacular sights in the city. This iconic mosque with its pearly white marble domes is impressive indeed. One of the largest mosques in the world, this architectural marvel can host a mindboggling 40,000 worshippers. Enchantingly beautiful, one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes, is suspended above the main prayer hall.
Open to non-Muslims (except during prayer times), the mosque represents the final resting place of the first President of the UAE, and is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Women are required to wear long and loose fitting trousers or skirts, long sleeves and a head scarf. A changing room at security provides appropriate outerwear that can be borrowed at no cost.
Just two hours away by taxi, the natural coastline of Fujairah allows you to relax and restore yourself in its beautiful, unexplored beaches, where you can snorkel to your heart’s content. With quaint castles set in the mountainside, ancient mosques, and magnificent forts right by the sea, Fujairah has much to offer those who are looking for a timeless experience. You can get transported in time back to the 16th century at the mystic Fujairah Fort which offers splendid views from its towers and ramparts.
Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is just a 45-minute flight away but is a whole world apart from the bustling city life in Dubai. Strict building policies ensure that the city is skyscraper free, and all the buildings reflect the traditional architectural styles that were in practice since the 16th century. An oasis of calm in an otherwise frenetic world, Muscat is a place you should visit to get in touch with your past.
Muscat’s National Museum is a must-see, and showcases the heritage of Oman in a contemporary building with skilfully orchestrated displays where space and lighting is used to enhance the visual effect.
Al-Ain, just over an hour’s drive from Dubai, is reminiscent of how Dubai used to look in a bygone era. The slow pace of life here appeals to many who are tired of city stress. Narrow streets, and villa houses surrounded by date palms are throwbacks to the authenticity and cultural heritage of the city. The Al-Ain Camel Market is quaint and the camel herders are very friendly, and you will fall in love with the long lashed newborn camels that nuzzle you with a wet snout.
The 19th-century Al Jahili Fort is a photographer’s delight, and a time-tested example of mud-brick architecture. Originally built as a defensive structure for the oasis and plantations around the residence of the governor, the fort in its present-day status is the striking venue of many cultural events and exhibitions.
Dubai is certainly the most well-known of all the cities in the country, but to get the true taste of the olden world charm, you must travel around the city! Do plan your time off and explore the ancient forts, mosques, palaces, museums, charming little villages, and sparkling oases to truly soak in the flavour of this enchanting country.