My experience of Dubai for a short stopover!

So I landed in Dubai on a Thursday night, around 20:30. The great news, I suddenly found out, Thursday is like Europe’s Friday. It’s time to relax for the weekend!

So, I have 16 hours till my next flight. What do I want to do in such a short period of time? Simple really. See as much as possible and get a few hours sleep.

Sightseeing in Dubai for a short stopover

Dubai on a short stopover: Burj Khalifa At Night As I said before, I want to see as much as possible, anywhere I go, no matter how long I have whilst I’m there. I took to the Digital Nomad Entrepreneurs group on Facebook and asked for any suggestions.

For a short stopover in Dubai, I was recommended Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest skyscraper. Yes, it’s taller than you or I can imagine. Without being there, looking up at it, you can’t really understand just how TALL it really is.

From there I walked in to the Dubai Mall. I can only describe this as Sloane Square crossbred with Monaco, to create a real pedigree shopping experience.

This place is BIG and CLASSY!

Dubai on a short stopover: Dubai Mall Water Feature

I hate shopping and shopping centres, but this was gobsmacking. Half way through I came across a water feature.

WTF Dubai? That’s crazy in a mall!

Time to find somewhere to crash!

Dubai on a short stopover: Tamani Hotel With nowhere booked to sleep, this is usual for me (I believe in Hotel Tonight and last minute everything when it comes to planning/travelling), I got online to find somewhere to spend the night.

The cheapest hotel was EXPENSIVE!

So for one night, the most “affordable” hotel I could find was around £90. This wasn’t for something awesome, nor luxurious, this was the cheapest that Dubai had to offer near the marina.

The other hotels I could find were luxurious, and at nearly 21:00, were over £200 for the night.

So that settled that then. The cheap place it was!

The Tamani Marina Hotel & Apartments. A single room, with a single bed on the 3rd floor, of what I imagine is a 30+ story building.

No view for that price!

As soon as you arrive in Dubai you realise that smoking seems to be the national past time.

They’re cheap to buy and everywhere you go people seem to be smoking. I’m not sure what the rules are for vapes like me, but I decided to keep it discrete and not “vape my tits off” as I usually do.

So remember, Dubai is in fact a DRY country

That said, there seems to be an enormous culture around drinking. It’s just you need to find the right place to be able to actually do it.

Asking the friendly concierge at my fantastic hotel resulted in nothing more than pointing accross the road to the Meridien Hotel. Not somewhere I really want to start spending money (my budget is tight enough as it is)!

So what is a guy who wants a beer to do?

Well if you stay near Jumeirah (Palm Island), you can do what I did! Find the closest nightlife spot on Trip Advisor. Have to love a bit of Trip Advisor when it comes down to it.

Welcome to Barasti!

Dubai on a short stopover: Barasti If you like good nightlife, love a drink and want an awesome party atmosphere, pop in on a Thursday night.

You’ll find an excellent mix of ExPats from all over the world and locals who all want to do the same thing. Let down their hair and have a great night out!

The place is made up of 3 levels.

When you first arrive, it’s a live music bar area. You can see down to the other levels and over the beach and across to Palm Island.

On that level you have a couple of spots to eat and then you can venture down to the middle level. There you’ll find a couple of bars and a MASSIVE TV screen showing sport.

Dubai on a short stopover: Skyline From Barasti The last level, now you’re at the beach. Not only have you got a couple of bars, you also have a waterfront Corona Bar and a DJ stage overlooking the beach dance floor.

Now that’s how you spend an evening in Dubai on a short stopover!

Only 1 slight issue. Dubai is a dry country, so alcohol is more expensive than back home. In fact it’s more expensive than most places. It’s on par with the Monaco GP weekend. And that’s EXPENSIVE.

A beer costs about 50 Dirhams (about £10) but the good news, a Gin and Tonic only costs 38 Dirhams (£7.50). Go figure!

Next morning, pre flight!

Dubai on a short stopover: Dubai Marina Skyline

I woke up early, only a few hours sleep, but again, wanted to make the most of my short time stopover in Dubai. I headed out to find that the metro doesn’t work on Fridays till later in the day.

Great news! I can’t get back to the airport affordably on the metro.

Bring up Google Maps, find out that within walking distance is the Dubai Marina. Time to get out there and see what it’s like.

08:30 –  Walking around the marina is stunning! I mean really stunning.

This is all man made and it’s been done to precision, it’s beautiful, it’s clean and it’s BIG!

4.3km walk and didn’t make it half way.

Dubai on a short stopover: Dubai Marina Things To Do That’s insane right? I walked for a good hour and a half, just on one side of the marina.

That morning, I came across a Dragon Boat event, loads of teams prepping to get out on the canals for a race.

I kept walking and just kept looking up. The skyline is mental in Dubai. Burj Khalifa might be huge, but everything else isn’t exactly 2 up – 2down.

The marina area is sheltered from sunrise due to the buildings that tower over it.

If people call New York a concrete jungle, then Dubai is the concrete rainforest!

What is going on with the skyline?!?!

Seriously, it feels like every building around you is over 50 floors high. Maybe they are, I didn’t stand around counting.

But no matter where you stand in the marina, every which direction you look, all you can see is huge towers, everywhere!

Sea, Sand, Desert, Luxury, WOW!

Dubai on a short stopover: Burj Khalifa From Taxi Personally I really like what I saw in Dubai. I will be back! Not any time soon as I need to save the equivalent of a small house in the north of England to be able to have a good time without worrying about my bank balance.

There is so much to do, so much to see and so much to experience. Whether it be desert excursions, top end restaurants, the resorts or aqua parks, it would take a while to get bored in my opinion.

I think the best way I can describe it:

It’s like the love child of a twisted threesome between Disneyland, Vegas and a Billionaire!

The only thing to bear in mind before your visit is money!

Ultimately it depends on your budget!

To show you just how crazy it is, here’s a short video from the airport, riding in the lift, over a water feature!

Chris Bruno
Chris Bruno

I’m Chris Bruno, Founder and CEO of Social INK, a community-driven, social-first, digital marketing agency. I'm also the host of the All About Digital Marketing podcast. I'm passionate about marketing, travel, food and continual development.

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