Long before since I was bitten by the travel bug, I traveled to Dubai in 2011. It’s been around a decade and my own memories of the trip are somewhat fuzzy. I tried my best to shake up these memories and write a post on my first overseas visit to every Pakistani’s next residence, DUBAI!
This article will discuss with you exactly what I did during that time, how I handled to travel solo and ideally it will also motivate you to include Dubai to your travel bucket list as well as give you some rich ideas of how to book your trip to Dubai and things to do when you get there.
P.S – First ever vacation to Dubai—Frankly, it was THE Dream…
*However, there I had a horrible accident, BLOOD everywhere… HELP ME Screams… I went through intense pain. Keep reading for full details !!!
Getting The Documents & Ticket Ready
To travel to Dubai for vacations, I first applied for a fresh passport. This is because, I have never traveled overseas, nor I dreamt of living such a luxurious lifestyle – all thanks to the internet for helping me fulfill my dreams. Ok, let’s get back to the documentation process. My passport got ready in a week or so, and I went to the Nadra office to pick it up.
The second main requirement was getting a visa for Dubai. Since I have never had an experience of the visa process and how things work, so I hired the most reputable visa agent in my town to get me a visa for Dubai. It was a “14 Days Tourist Visa”. I was promised that the visa will be handed over to me 72 hours before the departure time, at max.
The third main requirement was booking a flight ticket from Pakistan to Dubai. I had to travel from Multan to Karachi, and then from Karachi to Dubai. Why I didn’t book a direct flight from my home city, Multan? I was eager to travel via Emirates and unfortunately in 2011, Emirates was not operating from Multan International Airport. So I first booked a PIA flight from Multan to Karachi and then booked Emirates flight from Karachi to Dubai. I booked the tickets, two weeks in advance, and my departure date for Dubai was June 29, 2011.
The Visa Left Me In Dire Straits & Here’s Why
- Two weeks before my scheduled trip to Dubai, I was without the visa;
- One week before my scheduled trip to Dubai, I was without the visa;
- Three days before my scheduled trip to Dubai, I was without the visa;
- One day before my scheduled trip to Dubai, I was without the visa!
The visa which was expected to reach me, at least a week before, never arrived. I made several calls to the visa agent, inquiring him when I would get my visa, but he kept assuring me and asked me not to worry as I will get my visa a day or two before the scheduled flight to Dubai.
Even a day before my scheduled trip to Dubai, I was without the visa. Since my flight was already booked from Multan to Karachi, so I had to take it. My mind was rife with the biggest worry of the hour: “what will I do if I don’t get a visa before my flight time?”
I was so nervous before this first solo venture overseas that my anxiety outweighed my excitement. The last time I was assured by my visa agent was that I would get my Dubai visa at Karachi International Airport.
I reached the Karachi airport 4 hours before my scheduled Emirates flight to Dubai. The clock was ticking… hours were passing by … and the visa was the crux of the matter.
I was sitting at the stiff benches of Karachi Airport, with my hair properly combed, luggage packed, fully-suited booted… but the visa was such a big tension that I never developed the excitement-thought of my dream vacations to Dubai. I was literally grasping at straws!
Finally, an hour before the flight, I got my Dubai E- Visa at Karachi Airport. Ahh! I felt so relaxed and chilled out after the last crucial hours on pins and needles.
Happy as Larry, I boarded the Emirates plane like a Boss and was now en route to Dubai.
Sultan Of Multan Reaches Dubai
Hot As Hell. That is how it felt after I stepped out from the airport along with my bag tote. I found my private chauffeur waiting to take me into my hotel. The chauffeur guided me into a top of the line Toyota Camry with luxury back seats, juices, charger for my cell phone, wifi, chocolate-coated dates and sparkling and still water. I was fairly tired from the trip and loved the special treatment therapy.
Reaching My Hotel Of Stay
After a 10 minutes trip from the airport, I arrived at my hotel, the Hotel ibis Deira City Centre. The moment the chauffeur parked the car in front of the hotel’s driveway, a staff member opened the car’s door, welcomed me to the Hotel ibis and took my luggage. He led me into the concierge for check-in.
Because I was already expected at the hotel (previously booked my room via Booking.com), the check-in was a breeze. A couple of minutes tops and I was on my way to the room. My suite was facing the park, the pool and offered magnificent views of the beautiful Dubai Creek.
To start with – the room was beautiful, neat and tidy. The bed was amazingly comfortable and, of course, within the ibis guarantee, I had access to a pillow menu. I order the Japanese Igusa pillows. Order yours once you stay in the Hotel ibis, and you’ll have the sweetest dreams. It’s so comfy.
The room booking @ Hotel ibis cost me $40 per night.
Staying At Hotel ibis Deira City Centre
Located at a 7-10 minute drive from Dubai Airport, Hotel ibis Dubai Deira City Centre welcomes you at Dubai’s commercial center and business area. You will enjoy an unparalleled shopping experience at one of the biggest malls in Dubai – City Centre Deira Mall, opposite the resort.
The comfy 3-star ibis Dubai Deira City Centre hotel is only at a two-minute walk from Deira City Centre Metro Station. Boasting modern guest rooms, restaurants, and an alfresco dining room, and free shuttle service to the Al Mamzar Beach, the hotel perfectly catered to all my needs throughout the stay.
Each of their rooms was equipped with free WiFi access, which has been really helpful since I’m a digital marketer and also will need to remain in touch with the online world.
Places to see in & around included the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, the atmospheric Gold & Spice Souk, Dubai Creek to get photographic close-ups of dozens of brightly colored shows & views of the world’s tallest construction Burj Khalifa from the 6th hotel floor.
My room had a huge window that provided incredible views of Dubai. It was magnificent, dreamy and out of this world, especially at night when I could see the beautiful Dubai all lit up. The bathroom was also very big with large closets, a whirlpool bathtub along with a luxurious bath directly next to another window.
Sultan of Multan’s Dubai Tour
My Dubai vacation was packed with awesomeness but mainly revolved around food. This trip was about comfort, treating myself and possess a genuine luxury experience. Dubai is the Las Vegas of the Middle East, a place with breathtaking skyscrapers, recreation centers, quality meals, and amazing sights. I mean, have you ever seen their magnificent buildings? These Arabs know how to build and how to live like royals!
Skipping the hotter hours, and attempting to put it into simple words, I had a whale of a time in Dubai. Seriously fun occasions that took me into several city explorations. Here are my most cherished moments out of this excursion. Those I would repeat right down now. And the very same ones I’d recommend you had a peek into if a Dubai vacation is on your list.
THE BREATH-TAKING SKYSCRAPERS LEFT ME STAND ROOTED TO THE SPOT
As a first-time visitor, I was surprised to discover the rows of skyscrapers and tall buildings. The-tallest-of-them-all, the mighty Burj Khalifa and it’s ultra-high architecture shimmering like a mirage literally made me see the iconic landmark with double, triple, quadruple, and quintuple takes.
DUBAI WAS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING AT NIGHT
Walking around and exploring Dubai at night, was something so exceptional that it can’t be put into words. It was worth-seeing the towering skyscrapers and wide highways all lit up at night.
This town never sleeps, I thought to myself while exploring Dubai at nighttime. The roads and highways were lit up and bustling with visitors. Lights bounced off the exteriors of those sky-high buildings spread everywhere around me. Dubai’s nights have a life of their own and take a personality so different from Dubai’s days it feels like a different city altogether.
SEEING BURJ KHALIFA WAS A JOY TO BEHOLD
Soaring above the whole city like an enormous needle-shaped spacecraft, the Burj Khalifa is huge and the views it provided were magnificent. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of tickets, I could make up to the highest deck, which is 829 m high. Rather, I was able to get tickets for the observation deck at 555m high, called the top Burj Khalifa SKY. I went up before sunset and invested enough time to have a stunning view of Dubai at night as well. Then, I watched the big fountain show at the base of the Burj Khalifa and went for some shopping at the largest mall in the entire world.
HAD A WHALE OF TIME AT THE DUBAI MALL
It was enormous, with something for everybody inside. Eating and shopping were almost a side attraction. Having a 22-screen theatre; an indoor theme park, known as Sega World; a universe for kids, known as Kidzania; a giant Aquarium having an underwater zoo; along with a full-sized ice rink, I explored everything.
The topping with this deal was that the Dubai Fountain show, which ironically had the show minutes before I was to leave the mall. I liked the fountain show so much, that I got a table out from one of those restaurants bordering the fountain in the mall. From this vantage point, I enjoyed the fountains dancing with loud music in the background.
EXPERIENCED SKIING FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ski Dubai provided a great skiing experience, together with the longest run at approximately 1,300 ft. I rented the ski equipment and slide the slopes down. The squeals of delight stay with me to the day!
A WALK AT THE JUMEIRAH BEACH BLEW AWAY THE COBWEBS
The largest single-phase residential building on the planet is that the Jumeirah Beach Walk locally called JBR. On the front of the JBR was a beautiful, broad promenade flanked on one side by stores, restaurants, and cafes and the other by a single-lane street. This was the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing meal and absorb the breathtaking views of Dubai.
PALM JUMEIRAH OFFERED ADULT PLEASURE BUT I CHOSE SOMETHING ELSE !!!
I witness the Palm Jumeirah island and also the Atlantis hotel, which sits in the very top of this Palm and made for a stunning landmark as I drove down the “stem”. The Atlantis is a five-star resort hosting numerous restaurants and a night bar for mature pleasure (look, I did not have adult pleasure :p)
There was also a world-class water park, known as Aquaventure, where I attempted the”Leap of Faith” slide to get a thrilling experience. I met dolphins up close and personal and relaxed at the man-made beach.
JUMPED OUT OF MY SKIN SEEING SO MANY TONNES OF PURE GOLD IN BIG TRAYS – READY TO TOUCH & PLAY WITH – SUCH ARE THE JOYS OF A CRIME-FREE CITY!
Walking around the Gold Souk, I watched dazzling displays of gold onto a scale seldom seen anywhere in the world. I was even more surprised when I was left alone to browse a big tray full of gold bracelets and necklaces.
EXPLORING BURJ AL ARAB WAS A JOY TO BEHOLD
The world’s only seven-star hotel, Burj Al Arab was so amazing to explore. From the aquariums that flanked the escalator to the underwater fish restaurant, it was eye candy for a brand new visitor like me. I stopped in for cocktails at the Skyview Bar and also got wet at Wild Wadi waterpark, which was only a minute’s walk from the resort.
There were amazing photo opportunities outside Burj Al Arab or at the nearby Madinat restaurant and shopping complex next door, constructed in the style of a classic Arabian souk that could provide an enjoyable day of exploration.
DUBAI DESERT SAFARI… HAD MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF MONKEYS *TOP EXCITEMENT*
Desert Safari was among the most exclusive actions in Dubai. Exploring the endless Arabian deserts on a 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser, quad bike, and camel – was an adventure that will stay with me forever as a treasured memory.
This excursion departed in the afternoon across the desert, through an exciting dune bashing drive. We then ceased to see the gorgeous sunset before reaching the superbly Arabic-style decorated campsite in which I liked the camelback ride, sand boarding and attempted out Arabic costume. BBQ dinner and Belly dancing show followed by the monitoring of desert skies full of sparkling stars, further afield up the safari experience!
HAD AN ADRENALINE RUSH WITH DUBAI SPEEDBOAT TOUR
I did a speedboat tour and enjoyed the breeze and Dubai from an entirely different perspective. Although the boat rode extremely fast, it stopped at several tourist attractions, which gave me a good time for snapping images. For some extra thrill, I changed my seat position and sat in the front department of the ship… after all, a Sultan must be courageous and brave :p!
ENJOYED SPECTACULAR VIEWS SOARING 4,000 FEET ABOVE THE DESERT GROUND
I soared over the stunning Dubai desert from all of the glamour and glitz of town and took a calm and relaxing ride in a hot air balloon and marveled at the attractions of the Dubai deserts. I gazed in amazement at spectacular desert vistas while appreciating an hour in the air. There were 20 other people with me in the hot air balloon basket, and still, space was enough for all of us to sightsee smoothly.
A CRUISE AT THE DUBAI CREEK WAS THE HEART & SOUL OF THE TOUR
Dubai Creek offered enchanting views, beautiful dining rooms, and luxury lodging. Driving across Dubai Creek, the lifeline and heart of this city, with a delicious dinner, made my tour extra special.
I enjoyed the magnificent views, discovered the genuine heritage of this city, feast on the dishes in the buffet, appreciated the city lights, and even danced on the beats of Arabian style music with some young boys as our dhow slid across the waterway on this magnificent Dubai Creek.
SKYDIVING ABOVE THE GULF SET MY PULSE RACING!
Though Dubai was a remarkable sight from the ground, flying high over it took things to new heights of excitement. Skydiving was in my bucket list since Skydive Dubai premiered. I was now finally pleased to tick off it in my listing after a long time of preparation and waiting patiently for the perfect moment.
The magnificent yearlong sunshine in Dubai made me enjoy the gorgeous weather and pristine views. I experienced a stunning free-fall throughout the heavens of Dubai in the iconic Palm Jumeirah.
*Since it was my first time skydiving experience, therefore I was only allowed to perform a Tandem Jump (skydive with an expert instructor).
Dining Experience In Dubai
Since my hotel was located at a stone’s throw to Dubai’s finest eateries, I was lucky enough to try out all the popular eateries. Here’re some of the top best eateries, whose scrumptious dishes tickled my taste buds to the extreme levels!
Gazebo Restaurant – INDIAN DISHES THAT WERE FIT FOR THE GODS!
Gazebo was my ultimate favorite spot for dinners throughout my Dubai vacations. It had been among the most memorable Indian dining experiences I have ever had. Frankly, this experience deserves an entire article by itself. There were well-known iconoclastic chefs at the forefront of this Indian cuisine restaurant.
The dinner was divine. There was a committed sommelier who advised me on drink & food matches made in heaven! The chefs prepared a range of insanely delicious Indian meals, so I was eager to test all of them. Each and every dish was cooked to perfection. The Gazebo Bistro & Bar offers several drinks, therefore I chose to set my dinner with cocktails and juices.
Whenever my friends ask me what I loved most of my Dubai holiday, I do say it was the everyday dining experience at Gazebo!
Coffee & Patisserie at Tim Horton’s
The Candian food chain, Tim Horton’s, gave me the ideal decision to gratify my perceptions in signature patisserie. Being mostly famous for its premium-blend coffee, pastries, and soup, you can envision the mad choices of amazing desserts. The menu was loaded with a number of goodies, finger foods, and beautiful garnitures. I finished lunch with a menu of miniature cakes to try out just a little bit of everything. I was spoiled for choice, together with accompanying cocktails to match every class I enjoyed.
I decided to check out Dubai’s famous Costa Coffee and see their drink menu and canapes. Every day, the menu varies, thus you’re certain to be spoiled for choice. As an extra bonus, I was able to see those amazing views over Dubai at night in the lounge. Exotic, enchanting and overly luxurious for my perceptions to process all of it!
A Tragic Accident That Reduced Sultan Of Multan To Tears
After 3 days of extreme fun in Dubai, I was resting in my hotel room. There were still two days remaining before I land at my next tour destination—Egypt.
I went for a refreshing bath before heading to Gazebo to try my hands on some delicious Indian meals. It was merely a few seconds in the shower. And, as I turned back to catch some shampoo from the dispenser… I SLIPPED & FELL FLAT ON MY FACE !!!
It happened so fast. It was like my whole center of gravity was gone in the flash of an eye and all I felt next was the solid bathroom tile floor against my face. My tongue was swimming around in a pool of blood inside my mouth. Ptuh! Ptuh! I spit and spit, till I observed plenty of blood pouring out of my mouth on the bathroom floor.
And that is when it struck me. Oh my goodness, I screamed. My lip! My lip!
I couldn’t believe it. I simply couldn’t believe i. How could this occur? Why would this happen? The reality of everything — I simply could not accept.
AAMIR IQBAL SCREAMING AAH… RUSHES FOR HELP
I quickly put on the bathrobe and rushed to the hotel lobby for help. Blood was still dripping from my lip and even dozens of tissue papers were unable to stop the blood. The staff members quickly called me an ambulance and I was rushed to the nearby hospital.
The doctor at the hospital asked if I have health insurance or if I have enough money to pay for the expenses. My lip was swollen like a balloon at this time, I was holding one hand full of tissues against my lip, and was unable to speak properly. With hand gestures, I assured them that I am ready to bear the expenses of the surgery.
They took me to the operation center. I got around 3-4 stitches on my lips and was advised some medicines to purchase from the medical store.
The complete hospital treatment cost me 2000 DHS, which at that time converted to PKR 46,000. 2K DHS for such a small operation was literally a daylight robbery!
I took a taxi back to my hotel room and took a maximum rest. After this injury, I went for late night and early morning walks at Deira City Centre, stopped at restaurants, but this time the experience was very strange, as every person gave me an awkward look because of that swollen lip.
It took two days for my busted lip to heal, and fortunately, the stitches started dissolving on their own. I was now all ready to catch my next flight for Egypt vacations!