Many visitors find themselves killing time in Dubai en-route elsewhere. Often it's a serendipitous stopover, the unexpected start of a middle-eastern love affair. Its location, roughly equidistance between Europe and many of the South East Asian holiday hotspots, make Dubai a wonderful place to break up a long-haul journey.
Dubai's sleek International Airport is an fitting introduction to one of the world's most modern cities and with a little luck you'll be whisked through customs and experiencing her exotic charms in no time. If you're not being met by a hotel bus, taxis are plentiful, cheap and air-conditioned and the preferable mode of transport in Dubai, especially if time is of the essence on a short stopover stay.
Dubai's glut of high-end accommodation often makes it easier than you may think to snare a slice of luxury at an affordable price and really re-charge those batteries before your onward flight. A 72 hour stay in Dubai, gives you a great opportunity to sample some of the highlights of one of the world's most dynamic cities.
To get a taste of the Dubai of yesteryear head towards Dubai Creek. Lined by a dhows crammed with spices from the Indian sub-continent or electronic goods before making the return journey and buzzing with water taxis criss-crossing chaotically between the opposing banks, the shores of the Dubai Creek around the Old Dubai Souk Marine Station are a great place to grab a bag of pistachios and sit and people watch, especially on dusk.
For a little taste of local history visit the Dubai Museum at nearby, Al Fahidi Fort. Exhibition galleries carefully reconstruct scenes from Dubai Creek, local mosques and souks, as well as the local desert and marine life.
Wander the tiny lanes adjacent to the creek and try and snare a souvenir at the Bur Dubai Souk but be prepared for a bombardment of small-talk from the well-versed vendors. Bartering is expected but be prepared to work for your bargains.
To really take the heat out of the midday Arabian sun, visit a Dubai water park. The Wild Wadi Water Park, situated in Jumeirah, next to the Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, features a load of water-based excitement for the whole family. Relax on the lazy river of Juha's Journey or up the adrenaline stakes at Tantrum Alley or on the Wipeout Flowrider, which fires out more than seven tons of water per second in a thin sheet across a moulded foam structure, producing a life-like wave effect and making it ideal for body-boarding and knee-boarding.
Renowned for its world-class shopping and loathe to do things by halves, Dubai rather predictably features the world's largest mall, the Dubai Mall. But mall is such a mundane word. On top of 1,200 specialty stores, including some international favourites—France's Galeries Lafayette, UKs Hamley's Toys and the first Bloomingdale's to be opened outside of the United States—the Dubai Mall also features the Dubai ice rink, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and the Emirates A380 experience, a super realistic simulator where you take the Captain's seat to land an Airbus A380.
Take a south western exit from Dubai Mall and you'll be on the shores of the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake, where four times a day, the Dubai Fountain dazzles crowds with a show put together by the team behind the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. Aim for the 6pm showing and if you booked a dated and timed general admission ticket for the Burj Khalifa—Dubai's premier attraction and still the world's tallest building—the fountain's close proximity will save you a second taxi fare.
When Dubai's dust and smog are on-side, the view from the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa as the sun dips over the Persian Gulf and the lights come on over the city, is truly one to savour.