Dubai's safe if you play by the rules
IT HAS never been clearer than it was the day I touched down in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, that people fear what they do not understand or know.
For years, I have been operating under the misconception that for a young, single, white female, Dubai was not safe.
I don't know who started the rumour that led to such a massive blunder but in all honesty, I felt safer walking around this Arabic city than I do walking around any city in Australia.
There is no doubt in my mind the reason for the almost non-existent crime rate in the city is due to the strict monitoring of liquor licences, work visas and alcohol consumption.
The tour guide who took me around the city actually showed me where the jail used to be.
It was abandoned some time ago because there were not enough prisoners to justify having one.
If only Australia could say the same thing.
These tight rules and regulations can be daunting for any traveller, but at the end of the day you just need to be mindful of the cultural and religious differences and respect them - and don't break the law.
The only change I made was to cover up a little more than usual, and quite frankly in 36 degree-plus heat it was a blessing (I didn't get sunburnt at all).
Most of my time in the sandy city was spent in the air-conditioned comfort of my hotel, the mall, restaurants or on the tour bus.
But on the occasions I did step out into the sun, the heat was bearable.
During the day, it is a dry heat and by night it is humid, but the weather does guarantee you will have beautiful blue skies on your vacation.
My trip had so many highlights but the one that stands out was my visit to the old town.
I took a short boat ride on an abra, a traditional wooden boat, across Dubai Creek.
The body of water which was more a harbour than a creek links the old and new town and made for fantastic photo opportunities.
It is incredible to think that in just over three decades, Dubai has gone from a humble fishing village to a modern bustling metropolis.
The old town was unlike anything I had ever seen before - a bustling market filled with locals and tourists, all out to get the best bargain.
I have to admit I was not a very savvy shopper.
My tour guide said I should barter with the merchants but it all seemed like a bit too much trouble.
The prices were reasonable and I had no intention of ripping off someone who was just trying to feed his family.
So I paid full price but it was cheaper than shopping at home.
I bought herbs and spices, jewellery, pashmina and lots of souvenirs for my friends and family.
I think the only time I felt a little uncomfortable in this city was in the market place.
A few too many eyes were on me, but in no way did I feel unsafe.
Another highlight I had in Dubai was in the new town, and it involved a trip to the 124th level of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.
If you are scared of heights, I suggest you don't go out to the outdoor observation section of the level, but if you are fine with it, then there is no better view in Dubai.
Looking down on the strip of what I now call "low-rises" is amazing, but looking up to the sun is one of the most incredible feelings.
I have never been that close to the sun in a stationary position.
The experience is well worth the cost of admission, and when it comes to souvenirs of this architectural masterpiece you can't go past a Lego model.
Although the model was a little pricey, it was well worth it.
You can tack the Burj Khalifa on to your trip to the Dubai Mall - the entry to the building is located on the ground level.
I have to admit the mall is the most incredible shopping centre I have ever seen.
Not only does it have more than 1200 stores, it also has an indoor aquarium, 160 food outlets and an ice rink.
Other options for shopping are the Ibn Battuta Mall, Deira Gold Souk or The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.
But I didn't have enough time to visit them too.
Actually, it was more the money I was lacking than anything.
And when the money was gone and I was exhausted from gallivanting around the city, I lazed by the pool soaking up the rays and being served delicious drinks.
What a life ...
THINGS TO DO
- Desert Safari
- Shop 'til you drop at one of the malls
- Old and new town tour
- Dine at a traditional Arabic restaurant
- Take a boat ride on Dubai Creek
- Visit Dubai Museum
- Hot air balloon flight
- Laze by the pool
- Hit the ski slope in the Mall of Emirates
- The Observatory at Burj Khalifa
- Afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab
- Helicopter ride or skydiving