During the course of the year, most people change the activities they pursue in their leisure time to suit the weather conditions. Dubai is no different. Despite the soaring temperatures in the height of summer, it is a city that offers plenty of actives both indoor and outdoor. The winter, more like an ideal summer in some parts of the world, is the perfect time to get outdoors.
A Day at the Beach
Beautiful beaches are a feature of life in Dubai. The Jumeirah Beach Park is a beautifully landscaped strip of beach on Jumeira Beach Road near the Jumeira Beach Hotel. It is possible to drive your car inside for a small fee or it can be left in the parking spaces outside. There is a small charge, approximately AED5 per person to visit the park. Even on a hot day, there is plenty of shade as well as toilet and changing facilities. It is possible to hirer beach umbrellas. There are designated areas for having a BBQ and, of course, there is the calm, azure water of the Arabian Gulf to swim in. At present, Jumeira Beach Park has a women’s only day on Monday, but there is a move afoot to create more women only days in the near future.
Al Mamzar Beach Park is based on the same design approach and is situated at the other end of Dubai right on the border with the emirate of Sharjah.
Other than these two beach parks there is limited freely available beach space that is easily accessible apart from a small strip along Jumeirah Beach Road near the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Another option for a beach experience is to pay the daily rate to use the facilities in the hotel of your choices which will include the pools and the beach as well as the restaurants. The cost of daily access varies depending on how luxurious the hotel. You will not find this information on the hotel website, but you can find out by ringing the hotel concerned. Be prepared to pay at least AED200 per person.
Wild Wadi Water Park
The Wild Wadi Water Park is right next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The water park offers a variety of different rides for the adventurous and the less adventurous, so it appeals to parents and children. The hours vary according to the season but it is generally open from 10am to 6 pm, later in the summer. Approximate charges are AED225 per adult and AED 175 per child. However, there are seasonal and annual passes that make using the park far more affordable.
After a day at a water park, skiing is not usually the next option to turn to, but this is what makes Dubai unique. Ski Dubai is situated in Mall of the Emirates and can be seen as a huge white sloping structure as you drive down Sheikh Zayed Road.
The ski slopes are decked out like a mountain getaway and the temperature certainly makes the experience real. It can be a welcome relief in the hotter months. When you buy you pass to go skiing, snowboarding or just to play about on a toboggan, you are supplied with all the equipment you need. However, for the enthusiast, there is a shop where you can purchase your own gear.
A recent addition to Ski Dubai is a small penguin colony. It is possible to spend time up close and personal with a few extremely cute penguins.
The Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, a tower of steel and glass, offers many attractions. It is possible to ride to the top in an express elevator and look down on Dubai from what is currently the tallest building in the world. The tower is surrounded by water and at certain times, the musical fountains erupt in a dramatic display. The Burj Khalifa is the center of a complex which offers some extraordinary hotels as well as Dubai Mall with all its temptations.
Desert driving, sometimes called dune bashing, is a desert adventure available in Dubai. If you have your own 4X4, you can join a group of enthusiasts and learn how to drive in the desert. It is not hard once you get the confidence to launch off the top of the first big dune and learn a few basics such as the need to reduce the pressure in your tires. These outings often include camping when the weather is at its best in the winter months. As a novice, it is vital to go with others as getting stuck in the desert without friends to help can be deadly.
Dune Buggy driving in the desert is a popular pass time and one that the children can take part in as well. The buggies are equipped with roll cages and helmets are supplied. It is a great way to explore the red desert inland from Dubai.
If you do not fancy taking on the desert yourself, there are plenty of companies offering desert or mountain safaris. These safaris usually include camel riding, sand skiing, henna painting, shisha smoking and a buffet meal. There is often music and belly dancing as well.
The Dubai World Cup is a big event in Dubai marking the end of horse racing season. It takes place at the Meydan Racecourse, off the Al Ain Road, at the end of March each year. An evening at the World Cup is a festival event with people dressing up and competing for best dressed prizes. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, always attends.
For the racing enthusiasts, horses come from all over the world to compete for top prizes. However, it is not possible to bet at the race track. General entry to the Dubai Cup is a very reasonable AED25. However, for access to boxes and champagne packages the costs start at AED350.
The camel racing season begins in October and is usually over by the end of February. The Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack not far from Meydan and is reached by taking exit 37 from the Al Ain Road. Camel racing is a more relaxed and dusty affair than Dubai World Cup. Admission is free and families are welcome. Although camel racing is a traditional sport, it has changed over recent years with the introduction of electronic jockeys to replace the young boys who used to race the camels.
Polo and Horse Riding
The Dubai Polo and Equestrian club is worth a visit if you are a rider, but it is also an interesting place to be a spectator. There is always a lot going on, and the club offers fine dining opportunities as well.
There are numerous equestrian centers and riding schools for both learners and experienced riders.
If you are an enthusiastic golfer, Dubai has a lot to offer. The Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is situated on the Dubai Creek in the heart of Dubai. It is a magnificent facility with an international reputation. The club house has a very distinctive look; it represents the look of the sail on a dhow (traditional sail boat). As its name suggest, this facility extends from the golf course to the creek where an array of tempting yachts are moored.
The Track, Meydan Golf is attached to the Meydan racetrack. Here it is possible to have a top quality golfing experience on a daily-fee paying basis.
As well as these top choices of activities in Dubai there are many other attractions: The Burj Al Arab, the Dubai Zoo, the Dubai Museum, the Dhow Cruises and other boat cruises or game fishing events.
For the night owls, there are plenty of night clubs to choose from. The choice is yours in Dubai.