48 Hours in Dubai!
Anyone else love to see the world's biggest/first/oldest/craziest things? Go to Dubai. It's like the creators of this city sat down and said, "Hmm... how absolutely over-the-top, outrageous, and extravagant can we make a city?" And they pretty much did just that. What was once quite literally an empty desert became a city on crack in only a handful of decades. And I had 48 hours to explore it!
Chillin' with the ridiculously fancy boats that belong to wealthy sheikhs in the UAE
I landed in Dubai after a delightful surprise upgrade to business class with Fly Dubai. It turns out, sometimes you really do just have to ask nicely to be upgraded, and it happens! I dined on some fancy fish and champagne for dinner on the plane, mentally preparing myself to land in the famously luxurious megacity.
I partly came to Dubai to check out the impressive world records that it holds. First, I set off to visit the world's biggest mall, the Dubai Mall, and promptly got lost for literally 5 hours inside of it. This mall has TAXIS, that's right, taxis, to transit people to and fro. It's incomprehensibly massive, and there's no use trying to see it all. It was a great way to avoid the 120 degree heat in the dead of summer (seriously, why did I choose July to visit the Middle East?!), but it was exhausting and a waste of time if you're trying to hit other sights of interest.
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure in the entire world, is located right next to the Dubai Mall. It is huge, don't know how else to put it. It kind of symbolizes Dubai for me, sensational and dramatic, if a bit flashy and show off-y. I actually chose not to go up to the top floor because it cost around $50 (that's a week's worth of food while backpacking, no thanks) but slightly regret it now. Either way, it was quite the spectacle to see from down below. Little tip: they have daily light + fountain shows at 6pm in front of the Burj Khalifa!
A couple other must-dos while in Dubai: visit the Burj al Arab, the 'world's most luxurious hotel' (there goes Dubai again getting carried away) and a picturesque part of any trip here. Check out the Dubai Marina at night time to see one hell of a skyline, and the Palm Jumeirah, the artificial archipelago with glitzy hotels and restaurants. If you're feeling adventurous, tour groups offer trips (both day trips and overnight) to the nearby Arabian desert. I didn't have enough time to do this, but wish I had.
Traveling solo as a woman to Dubai? From my experiences, you will have exactly zero issues. I had heard somewhat bad things about other women's experiences in Dubai, like harassment and such, but I felt safer and more secure here than anywhere else I've ever traveled, truly. Not a single person bothered me in any way, shape, or form. I tried to dress conservatively in long maxi dresses and a sweater to cover my shoulders, but the heat made that unbearable. Even when I showed a bit more skin, I never had a single problem. I'm not saying this because I myself thought Dubai was going to be problematic, but because others before me tried warning me from going alone. Honestly, I think it's a load of bull. They have women only metro cars, that's how conscious there are of women's safety. Go and see for yourself!