New Year's Eve in Dubai

Visit the City of Gold Wonder and Mystique

Want to experience the most fantastic New Year’s Eve ever? Check out all there is to do in Dubai, one of seven Emirates that make up the UAE. In December and January, the weather is practically perfect for tourists. Average temperatures are in the high 70s to low 80s, and nonstop flights from Los Angeles will have you there in about 16 hours—the same amount of time as flying to Sydney in Australia. You may, of course, choose to stop en route to break up the flying time.

Many of us have probably thought about Dubai at some point when thinking of new and exciting places to visit, but it doesn’t quite make the top of the list. I was one of those people. That is, until my brother and his family moved there and I had the chance to visit and explore with a local. We had five days to explore this magnificent city that rose out of the desert and is now home to some of the world’s most unique architectural masterpieces, Michelin star restaurants, beaches, deserts, spice souks and gold! Dubai is also home to a vast expatriate population—at almost 90%. You will hear lots of English spoken, and the signs are also in English. On the Metro, they will announce the stops in English as well.

Our visit started in The Marina area, where we took a nice evening walk along the beach. Other than the heat, we could have been in Newport Beach, California. There were lots of familiar shops and restaurants, people were running along the beach in shorts, and families were enjoying the water. Giant bean bags lined the beach providing ideal seating to watch movies projected onto the beachfront buildings. 


Suggested eats for Dubai Marina are Pier 7 (seven bars and restaurants on seven floors), Sky Lounge and Hilton the Walk. From the Observatory Bar and Grill, located on the 52nd floor of the Marriott, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the Dubai Marina and the Palm Jumeriah.

Other great dining options include the Arabian Tea House located in the old part of the city and Nobu restaurant at the Atlantis Hotel. Finally, PierChic is among the most romantic restaurants you’ll see anywhere. It’s located at the end of the pier in Qasr al Madinat Hotel.

Are food trucks more your style? Order from the comfort of your air-conditioned car and have your food delivered to you.


Not hungry? Just want a fabulous view while you sit and have a drink at a bar? Try any hotel rooftop bar; you will not be disappointed. You may have to make reservations for some of the more popular ones like The Sky Bar at Burj Al Arab.

Activities and Shopping

The next day, surrounded by architectural masterpieces, we made our way to the old town of Dubai. Catching a ride across the Dubai Creek on an Abra (a traditional wooden ferry boat, not for the nervous), you keep a good hold onto your seat (and your kids). A calmer ride would be around the fountains at the base of Burj Khalifa. This is actually more enjoyable. Our destination was the Gold Souk and Spice Souk. Expect to pick up bargains here and be sure to negotiate the price. A multitude of smells will surround you as you enter, and you will be mesmerized at the many items for sale including silk scarves and beautifully painted pots. 

The rest of the day, we managed to fit in a visit to Dubai Mall. It's the world’s largest, of course. We also visited the Burj Khalifa Lake Fountains. Inside the mall, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are home to the world’s most mysterious marine life. The list of activities is endless—play a game of life-size Monopoly, soar to exhilarating heights at The Top Burj Khalifa, visit KidZania (where kids learn to be adults), go ice skating or see a movie. The entertainment offering is endless, and that’s before you start shopping.

Endless discoveries filled our day with more and more wondrous sites like Dubai Garden Glow, Miracle Garden (world record held here), Dubai Frame—great views from the top of old and new Dubai (glass floor at the top for those of you who dare to walk on it). Be sure to experience the coffee houses, a visit out to the desert for a safari and watch Sky Dive Dubai (or for those adventurers, participate in it). 

Finally, if you have the time, why not cross off one other Emirate and visit Abu Dhabi, home to the most incredible Grand Mosque? It is a sight to behold and welcomes all visitors. This masterpiece is home to the world’s biggest chandelier and carpet, beautiful white marble with inlaid pink flowers and hand-blown Italian glass fixtures.


The Atlantis Hotel would be an excellent choice for families. The JW Marriott Marquis (world’s tallest hotel) is renowned for its romantic sunset views from the rooftop restaurant. And if looking for a more authentic Arabic hospitality, try the 5-Star Address Dubai Mall. You’ll be surprised by how affordable luxury is here. You can also stay at the restored British ship, Queen Elizabeth 2.  It's now a hotel and museum in Port Rashid.

World Records 

Dubai loves breaking world records! Here are just a few.

+ Tallest Building: Burj Khalifa

+ Highest fireworks on a building: More than 1.6 tons were released on Burj Khalifa New Year’s Eve, and it is still the most spectacular show on the earth.

+ Highest base jump from a building

+ World’s tallest chocolate sculpture

+ World’s largest shopping center

Finally, a gallon of gas in Dubai is $0.60. So, if you want to rent a car and drive, it’s very affordable. To make the most of your day, however, you may want to hire a private guide. A local guide can show you hidden Dubai and take you on a journey from the past to the present.

Jane Shobe is the franchise partner at the newly opened Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Laguna Niguel. To discover more about Dubai and other exotic destinations, be sure to speak with Jane and her team or email at JShobe@CruiseShipCenters.com.

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