Dubai for 3 Days

By Mark Wiens 36 Comments

I forced the cab driver to stop on the side of Sheikh Zayed highway and strained my neck to a 90 degree angle with my back.

I had just landed in Dubai and I was trying to fathom the earth’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa Dubai.

The immensity of cranes dominating the skyline looked like flamingos on Lake Nakuru in Kenya. The tallest building shrimped all competitors and made everything else insignificant momentarily.

construction skyline in Dubai


Neither the Dodge Caravan nor the 100 cc family motorbike of Cambodia, are the family vehicles of choice, but rather the supercharged Range Rover or the Rolls Royce Phantom. 

BMW’s and Benz’s are about as common as blue jeans in America.  I couldn’t count the number of times I had to throw my neck into an anti-chiropractic jerk to check out a custom Lamborghini or an Audi R8.

The bus system works if you are not in any sort of time constraint as it can take a while for the next bus to arrive.

Tip: The bus stops are chilled to 65 degrees if you need a short break from attempting to unwisely walk through Dubai like myself.

My great idea of walking through Dubai proved to be a challenge when the heat soared to 120 degrees and the suns rays offered zero mercy. With the supply of oil, a cab ride will not set you back all that much and is sometimes worth it in Dubai.

Sheikh Zayed Road traffic in Dubai


You can potentially pay anywhere from $50 to $15,000 for a nap in Dubai.  I stayed at one of the cheapest hotel options in Dubai and it cost about $60 for a room split by two.

Being a King

In order to feel of utmost importance or become a guru for a few hours, I would recommend a field trip to the three Dubai hotels of stature, the Burj al Arab, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and my favorite, the Arab designed and decorated Madinat Jumheirah Resort.

The cheapest way to enter the Burj al Arab compound of prestige in order to admire the solid gold interior is to make reservations for afternoon tea and then show up in formal clothes act like you are rich, and pay your $100.

I reserved, I showed up, I acted, but I failed the dress code, and therefore was not permitted inside.  Luckily, the other two stunning hotels nearby blew my mind and fulfilled my craving to act like a king for an afternoon.

Burj al Arab Hotel Dubai


I could not afford a single bite to eat in the upscale Jumeirah area and would never force myself into a Western food chain  I also intended to eat the local-ist of all cuisine available.

There are thousands of construction workers who are not the loaded Ferrari drivers who eat Kobe beef and caviar with routine. Venture towards Bur Dubai, Al Mankhool, or Al Karama areas for incredible skewers of grilled chicken, beef, lamb, naan, pita, and an assortment of other gloriousness.

The eateries are open very late accommodating to people of all different schedules. 

Eat well!!!

Dabai food shawarma kebab

Shopping till Flopping

Loads of shopping can drive me mentally insane, especially after spending a few days visiting Hong Kong and braving the malls from Bangkok to Manila.

That being said, the shopping malls of Dubai have been elevated and are still expanding to an absurd degree. 

If you fancy to snowboard or ski down slopes, head to the Mall of the Emirates.

If you want crazy interior design check out the Ibn Batusta Mall.  For other gobs of consumerist goods visit any of the other shopping mega structures like the world’s largest, The Dubai Mall. ibn battuta mall dubai

Old Historical Town Dubai

Across the creek from most of the hype is old town Dubai.  It is a great area to explore traditional Arab and modern technology colliding.

Gold and spices are abundant as are trinkets and other antique items.  Humans hustle across streets and SUV’s cruise past khaki colored Minarets that sprout all around.   The gold and spice souk’s are well worth exploring.

Sand Safari Cruising

An abundance of tour companies offer desert safari drives through topsy sand dunes.  Our Land Cruiser chauffeur piloted us toward the Omani border.

Before indulging into the dunes, our driver released pressure from our tires and proceeded to floor our vehicle across the seas of sand.  With sliding motions it did actually feel like we were riding a wave.

At sunset, gobs of other sand sliders (tourists), congregated in an Arab tent for a traditional feast and a bit of sweet sheesha. 

The overall trip was highly entertaining and I was impressed by how fun driving across sand dunes was.

sand safari land cruiser dubai

Anthropological Zoo

The Dubai International Airport is a form of anthropological zoo and a paradise for looking at people and a nightmare for trying to take a nap.  Another brilliant idea of spending the last night at the airport and catching my flight to Dar Es Salaam in the morning worked, but wasn’t too relaxing.

In the midst of countless Arabs in keffiyah’s, shoeless Indian Guru’s, Japanese businessmen, lost Europeans, and colorful West Africans, I was able to search out a 6 by 1 foot area to call it a night.

In between two airport support pillars, I curled into a slumber.  An hour later I awoke to a sleeping Oriental at my head, an Egyptian at my side, and an assortment of others surrounding me.

Somethings in Dubai are jaw dropping and other things are simply ridiculous.  Money departs with ease, and many don’t seem to mind.  With the overall world hype and buzz, Dubai is a place that those who haven’t gone are curious, and those that have gone might not need to go again. I can say that the shear feats of engineering and architecture are incredible to check out. 

36 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Discover

    9 months ago

    I always love to watch your video and read blog. You’ve sharing an amazing Dubai food guide with us. Really love your content.

  • Sneha

    3 years ago

    Worthier to read this beautiful update, truly interesting.

  • vishal kaushik

    3 years ago

    Fantastic!!! Keep up writing.

  • Dubai Cargo

    3 years ago

    Really missed you in Dubai and we are happy to see you in Dubai again. Hey Mark Weins.. if you need any kind of travel support for sending your cargo to anywhere from Dubai, we do support you in the most comprehensive manner.

  • Drake

    6 years ago

    Excellent article. I managed to visit Dubai last year. This city left me only positive emotions. But it is very important to comply with government laws! Therefore, before the trip, it is worth reading them. I would like to add a few interesting tips for a vacation in Dubai. 1. In the Dubai metro, the first cars of the train are of the “golden class”: they do not have a driver’s cab, and you can admire the city through the windshield. But they will have to pay more for transportation. 2. You need to buy Nol Card – a card that allows you to pay for travel in any type of transport in Dubai (buses, metro, trams and water buses), as well as parking. 3. In Dubai, there are two mobile operators – Du and Etisalat. For the guests of the city, the most profitable option is to buy a prepaid sim card (Wasel). Also, I would recommend buying various souvenirs and things via the Internet. E-commerce in Dubai is very well developed!

  • Shaleel Maseef

    7 years ago

    Hello , my name is Shaleel and I and my family of eleven members will be coming to Dubai in the month of January . I found this article very nice and informative . Thank you very much!!????????

    • Shaleel Maseef

      7 years ago

      If anyone in Dubai really knows about Dubai and its culture and the food and the site seeing and tourism places ,please contact me–+918088876689

  • Deb at Headout

    8 years ago

    I have visited Dubai a few times. It is a ridiculously wealthy place. Everything awes me there. I always get the local treatment as I have a few friends who work there. I love eating in Dubai, and Burj Khalifa always takes my breath away. The Emirates Mall is over-the-tops. I went on the Sand Safari too once; I enjoyed my times I Dubai. Hope to visit again, I love the Souks.

  • Osiris Tours

    8 years ago

    WOW! what an inspiring and informative article! Traveling to Dubai is in the top of everyone’s bucket list!
    Using your tips above will definitely lead to a unique travel experience to this small beautiful country!
    Great job Mark, keep up the good work

  • Latasha

    10 years ago

    Amazing things here. I’m very satisfied to see your post.

    Thanks a lot and I am taking a look ahead to contact you.
    Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  • ylfriends

    11 years ago

    Oh by the way did you stop by en route to Africa?

  • ylfriends

    11 years ago

    Why are you afraid of western food chains? Do you mean like fast food places? Are you afraid because they don’t use good ingredients? I think I would eat a lot more local food in Dubai because my preferred diet is Mediterranean/middle eastern. It sucks they kicked you out at Burj Al Arab hotel. I think at times like this it’s more convenient to be a girl. I was wearing one of the prohibited garments (jumpsuit) but I wrapped it around with my sarong so nobody could see. I was also wearing Crocs but it was more feminine looking so nobody could notice. Afternoon Teas are one of my favorite things to do while traveling in fancy cities. After reading your posting I wanna go shopping and have an afternoon tea..

  • Trevor Schrock

    11 years ago

    Hey Mark,
    Feel free to look me up the next time you’re in transit or visiting Dubai…we’ll eat our way around the town…awesome stuff to be discovered, and cheaply I might add!

    Big fan of the site, keep up the good work, dude.

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey Trevor, cool, thanks so much for the invitation. Would love to come back to visit Dubai again, it’s been years and years!

    • Yetty

      11 years ago

      I enjoy reading your travel experiences, Mark. I moved to Dubai 6 months ago. I think you need to come back since the city has changed a lot. More buildings , more restaurants and more cool places to explore. Feel free to contact me if you are in town, I would be happy to share my experience of places I have visited. Keep travelling and writing!

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Thanks a lot Yetty, yes it’s been a long time since I was in Dubai, I’m sure it’s changed tremendously. I would love to visit again, and thanks for the invitation!

  • Jimmy Roberson

    11 years ago

    Mark… Did u not get to see Atlantis hotel??? I been to one in Bahamas… It was nice.

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey Jimmy, I’m not sure if it was there when I went, it was about 6 years ago!

  • Random

    13 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    I went to Dubai a couple of times and I can relate to your article, especially the “in car” bit when you have to break your neck to look at the tall buildings…and the sand safari cruising was also really cool!

    • Mark Wiens

      13 years ago

      Awesome, great to hear that! It’s been a while since I’ve been there, and I know that things just keep getting more and more developed in Dubai! Almost due for another visit!

  • Monica

    14 years ago

    Great post Mark! I’d love to have those skewers for breakfast! Lol I think the best one’s I’ve ever tasted was in a Xinjiang “restaurant.” It wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall kind of joint but it wasn’t exactly a the cleanest place to eat but the skewers were the best I’ve ever had. I was never able to find another place that made it as good.

    And I’m totally with you on eating Western food in foreign countries.

    Safe Travels!

    • Mark Wiens

      14 years ago

      Thanks Monica,
      If I am ever in Xinjiang will definitely get your advice for skewers of meat. If you ever come through Bangkok we will have to do some serious feasting! Safe travels to you too.

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Danae: Thanks Danae! That picture was taken indoors at one of the fancy themed malls with the sky painted on the ceiling. haha, yes, nothing is done outdoors in Dubai due to temperature extremes.

    @Jason: Yah guy, you were the one who tore up the snowboard slopes! You need to get your website going so I can link to you next time. Hope you are doing great.

  • Jason

    14 years ago

    I went on a very similar trip 😉

  • danae

    14 years ago

    hi mark,

    wow great perspective here, one question the photo of the outdoor setting w. starbuck’s sky seems so low is it outdoors or shot inside with ceiling painted to resemble sky because temperatures are so high??

    safe travels,
    danae 🙂

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Carmen: Yah, even though it is difficult, it is possible to do things not too expensively in Dubai.

    @Amy: Haha, yes, I had to be eating the local Arab and Pakistani food. It was delicious. Hope you can visit someday soon!

    @Erik: Alright, thanks Erik, I’m going to check that video out. Are you back in Sweden now? Yah, would love to visit sometime!

  • Erik

    14 years ago

    Hey Mark!

    You should watch this…

    Happy travels my friend! Hope to see you in Sthlm soon!


  • Amy @ The Q Family

    14 years ago

    Thank you for the tips on visiting Dubai. I have always been curious about this city and would love to visit some day. Glad that you were able to find local eats instead of those Western chain restaurants. 🙂

  • Carmen

    14 years ago

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for your take on Dubai. I’ve seen so many photos of the glam that’s there and always wondered if it was even feasible on a tight budget. Sounds like you found a way to have a good time for a couple of days even if you weren’t a millionaire!

  • Mark Wiens

    14 years ago

    @Kat: Yah, Anthony Bourdain seems to find the most incredible food everywhere he goes. I think for sheer observation of all the things you hear about Dubai is worth checking out.

    @Fida: Glad you are also afraid of Western fast food chains! No, wasn’t able to make it to Sharjah but hopefully sometime.

    @Diggy: Yah, when I was there construction was booming too, it’s weird to think of Dubai with slowed construction projects.

    I didn’t actually go snowboarding, but the buddy I was with did. From growing up in jungles, I still have a slight phobia of snow and cold weather, haha.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Diggy

    14 years ago

    Hey Mark!
    I was in Dubai back in 2006 and it was pretty much exactly the same as in your pictures except for the fact that back then it was booming and now I hear a lot of the constructions have been halted and are just standing there uncompleted.

    Hope you went snowboarding inside the Emirates mall 🙂

    There are also fun things to do like paintball in the dessert and quad biking in the dunes (loads of fun!!).

    Cool post!

  • Fida

    14 years ago

    Nice overview and great tips. I had to laugh when I read that you “would never force myself into a Western food chain.” Welcome in the club. Did you visit Sharjah too? Happy travels!

  • Kat

    14 years ago

    I’ve seen Dubai only through the eyes of Anthony Bourdain, so that pretty much is all about food (mostly). I’ve got friends who work there though. They say it’s an interesting place, if a bit strict with some things.