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Stopping over in Dubai

by Huw Owen

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Sitting almost halfway between Europe and Asia, Dubai is the perfect stopover destination. It is serviced by some of the best airlines in the world, is almost certain to be sunny and warm, and offers visitors a wonderful contrast to their final destination - wherever that may be. We have put together a few ideas for 24 hours in this unique city so you can make the most out of any stay.

Start your day with an alfresco breakfast at Paul's at the Jumeirah Beach Residence, a Parisian style patisserie that offers a fantastic breakfast menu and a warm terrace on which to enjoy your coffee and croissant. You can eat overlooking the beach and watch the lazy morning crowds stroll by. (http://www.paul-ae.com/)

Following this, take in the Dubai museum located at Al Fahidi Fort. The fort is one of the few old buildings in Dubai and the museum, most of which is indoors and cooled, tells the story of the phenomenal development of this city in the sand. The exhibits include models of traditional bedouin life, videos charting Dubai's construction boom, and information about native flora and fauna.

If you have the time and the inclination, Jumeirah Beach Park is the best public beach in town. For a nominal entrance fee, enjoy manicured gardens, refreshment kiosks, changing facilities, palm groves, picnic areas and a great big beach with shelving sands and warm, clean water.

As the heat of the day starts to wane, stroll around the Dubai Mall, the world's largest. It offers a huge variety of shops as well as impressive aquarium, ice rink and cinema complex. Two large food halls and numerous cafes and restaurants ensure you are never more than a few meters away from refreshment. The mall is as much part of Dubai's culture as the old fort.

To escape the bright lights and bling head north to Dubai Creek, and catch an abra across the water to the old souks. Take a stroll along the Dhow wharfage and witness these low tech wooden boats loading up with an unbelievable range of goods, from sacks of whole spices to washing machines and even cars. A fascinating hive of activity along the creek. This part of Dubai sits in almost complete contrast to the the modern districts and feels much more Middle Eastern. The spice souk is always a wonderful experience and you will be offered everything from amber to cardamon to rose petals but the best buys are vanilla and saffron. The gold souk has more dazzle than the rest of the city combined.

As the sun goes down we recommend a drink at one of the many bars overlooking the Burj al Arab at the Madinat Jumeirah. Finish your night back at the Dubai Mall with an alfresco Lebanese meal at Wafi Gourmet. You can enjoy a wide range of delicious Lebanese dishes. Grab a table with a view of the lake at dusk onwards to take in the impressive light-sound-water show at the foot of the neck-achingly high Burj al Khalifa (world’s tallest building) which will light up in synchrony.

Emirates flies to many TravelLocal destinations - Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, several cities in India, Vietnam, Burma, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia . All flights go via Dubai. Check out Definitely Dubai (http://www.definitelydubai.com/) for ideas on where to stay. To talk to someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 342 7898.

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