Three, two, one. The platform disappeared from under my feet. My heart dropped and seeped out of my toes. Catapulted into a black vertical tunnel, I was spat out of the darkness and into a cylinder of water.
The Jumeriah Sceirah ride at Wild Wadi Water Park had locked me in a pod at the top of an Arabian themed tower and sent me through a dark tunnel of water. Wild Wadi was our first must do attraction in Dubai with its flow rider wave pool, exhilarating slides and beautiful location under the Burj Al Arab.
From the Aladdin-like tower the contrasting skyline of Dubai can be viewed. Rounded mosques and clay blocks spread across the flat land with flashy skyscrapers emerging from within the city. Dubai is a beautiful mixture of traditional Arabia and the future of architecture.
We had stopped over in the cosmopolitan city of Dubai en route to Nairobi to rest our tired bodies after the 19 hour flight from Auckland. This is no relaxing city- it is a fast paced, adrenaline-filled, glamorous metropolis with lots to see and do.
After spending our first day being thrown around the hydro slides of Wild Wadi, we indulged in a few tapas and cocktails at the Dubai Marina. Dubai has a lively nightlife. You can go out for drinks and a game of pool while listening to live music or sit in a garden on the water’s edge with a shisha pipe and a cup of tea under gleaming fairy lights. It is breath-taking drinking daiquiris with the stars sparkling on the silk black blanket of the ocean underneath towering skyscrapers.
Dubai is predominately Muslim; alcohol can only be consumed in hotels and bars with licences. There are many eateries on the Marina to choose from with local and western food.
Awakening the next day of our Dubai holidays to a 40 degree heat we headed to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Standing at the bottom looking up you almost get vertigo as it points high to the Earth’s atmosphere. If you are a high roller you can pay to head to the top to see across the diverse city. Make sure to book beforehand to guarantee your 60 second ride up. The elevator ascends at 10 metres per second.
It was time to see the true Middle East in all its purity. There is no other way to experience it than to head to the desert. The sand became vibrant with warm golden hues the further out we drove from the city. We spun off the road and onto the bronze ocean of sand. Small swirls of sand rebelled against the hills, dancing above the red earth in the breeze.
This is the true Middle East, a land full of hallucinations and heat. A man in flawless white traditional dress stood on a dune with a falcon. We drove across the desert in 4x4’s, our driver sliding down steep dunes.
We arrived at a camp with camels, henna tattooing, shisha pipes and hot coals cooking lamb. The sun slowly slid below the savannah. Lavender and crimson blanketed the sky as I rode a calm camel called Champagne, who cruised the landscape with ease.
This is a side of the United Arab Emirates that should be explored by all travellers. Being in the desert is hypnotising; I felt like a small marking on a sandy canvas. We ended the night dozing on carpet under a thatched hut listening to the jingling of a belly dancer entertaining visitors.
Looking for more information on Dubai holidays? Contact a Flight Centre travel expert – 130 stores nationwide. Phone 0800 24 35 44.