Arabian Summer Days: Dubai

The moment your plane begins to descend into the coastal area of Dubai, it beckons you into a world of contrasts. From the glitzy glamour of city lights to the endless sea of desert sand, to sultry outdoor temperatures to chilly indoors, to Old Dubai and new, this City of Gold is a place of warm hospitality, modern life, and luxurious experiences making it the perfect honeymoon getaway or extended layover for couples looking for an exotic journey together.

For those who have never traveled to this part of the world before, it's the quintessential gateway to the Middle East as this destination is named the second safest city, globally. Progressive government (that even has an actual Minister of Happiness!) and a large community of expats shape the local culture into a diverse country full of economy, religion, and larger-than-life innovation.

While always looking to the future, heritage is also importantly preserved in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through museums, historical sites, souks, and luxury tours, particularly those that give you a glimpse into nomadic Bedouin life before cars and supermarkets ever existed. These early inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula share timeless traditions such as camel riding, music, dances, and knowledge of desert wildlife -- all must-dos while in town.

During the hot summer months, temperatures can reach upwards to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, so being strategic about what to wear and pack is a must! Uniquely Dubai, the culture is rather liberal compared to other more conservative Middle Eastern cities meaning that men and women are very diverse in their wardrobe choices. From a traditional abaya (the long robe-like gown that covers the entire body for women) or a keffiyeh (the long white robe worn by men) to trendy jeans and jackets, Dubai is a very stylish city if it weren't already made apparent by the international high-end fashion designer boutiques (like Tory Burch and Cartier) located all throughout the downtown area. However, out of respect for this part of the world though, it's still always a good idea to pack conservative options that covers shoulders and knees though. Some historic and religious sites require it, and it's also considered a sign of being a considerate traveler.

What about the resorts? Well, this does all change when you partake in your hotel's property! Most anything is accepted while you're relaxing on the private beach or by the pool. Shorts, swimwear, and other less conservative attire tend to be the norm. Check out your hotel's Instagram account and hashtag to see what fellow guests have worn if you have any hesitations; it's a great way to research what people really wear.

Editor's Tip: If you have a problem staying hydrated like I do when traveling, be sure to pack a lot of individual powdered drink mix packets with electrolytes. Thankfully most everywhere you go, there is water to drink, so don't forget to replenish and keep your energy up. Gatorade is always in my carry-on!

Set on a natural beach overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach blends traditional Arabic design with contemporary style befitting of the most discerning couples' travel savvy tastes. The architecture, landscaping, and interior design alone will make anyone with artistic sensibility swoon! It's no wonder why so many destination weddings happen here; every spot on property is picture perfect.

With the heat of summer days, your comfort is at the forefront of the Four Seasons staff. From the moment you step out of your taxi and are greeted with a cold welcome pomegranate juice to the adjustable air conditioning and fresh fruit in the guest rooms to informative concierge service for local transportation, there is no question that this is a 5-star resort just for its warm hospitality alone. Scenic city or beach views from the room balconies, exquisitely curated details in the restaurants and spa, and friendly and prompt service make this a must-stay for visitors to Dubai. Guests will want for nothing and will learn quickly that they won't have to worry about a thing as they cozy up in decadent bathrobes and enjoy the Four Seasons' amenities.

Local public transportation is incredibly traveler-friendly and very safe. From subways to abra rides to taxis, finding your way around this city is as easy as going to a friend's house at home. Dubai is deceptively larger than how maps might appear, so "walking down the street" might mean a 30-minute walk, so plan to take public transportation of some sort while in town.

Looking for a total Dubai experience? Take an abra (water taxi) across Dubai Creek near the textile and gold souks. For only one (1) UAE dirham, it is one of the most peaceful rides, especially if it's at the time of listening to the muezzin (a person appointed to calling Muslims to prayer from the mosque) chanting the adhan (call to prayer) while gliding across the water. It's something that you won't easily forget.

Editor's Tip: For female travelers, particularly solo ones, I felt safe everywhere I went, but there's a really wonderful taxi service meant just for ladies, and the cars all have pink roof tops! Because it is a Muslim country, pink taxis were created for women and their children who felt more comfortable being driven by a woman rather than a man. Not necessarily for safety since the city is incredibly safe, but for personal comfort or preference. From the airport, I took a pink taxi because I wanted the experience and to support local women! I loved my driver's bubbliness and overall friendliness -- something I don't ever experience with taxis anywhere else in the world. I also took regular taxis, and every single male driver was respectfully friendly and cheerful. I wish I experienced this more in the States!

Foodies alike will find a smorgasbord of culinary delights in Dubai. From Emirati dishes to creative Asian cuisine to distinctly American meals, travelers will find a bit of everything to suit their tastebuds. Burgers are especially plentiful all over the city with innovative flavors and fun presentations. Meat lovers will also appreciate the local options of camel and lamb, and spice aficionados will particularly love the smell of cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom in the air at certain restaurants or at the spice souk.

While exploring the food, the sights of Dubai are equally fascinating. From the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building) to the magical Dubai Fountains (much like Las Vegas' Bellagio's fountains set to music) to the world's largest shopping mall (that even includes a ski resort inside), Dubai doesn't shy away from the big and bold. No matter your interests, amazement will always be a reaction, and Dubai proudly knows it.

Editor's Tip: If you have food allergies (particularly gluten/wheat and peppers) and don't have proper time to fully research options, it might be best to keep most of your dining experiences at your hotel where they can cater to your specialized needs. At Dubai Mall of 1,200+ stores where I thought surely I'd find some options, there are surprisingly very few restaurants that can cater to Celiacs or other food allergy sufferers, even at the well-known American chains known for being gluten-free friendly in the States (e.g., P.F. Chang's does not offer their standard gluten-free menu in Dubai). But I found a safe haven at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach where I stayed as they above and beyond took care of me and fed me some of the most delicious gluten-free bread I've ever had! So do your research before venturing out!

Away from the glimmering lights of the metropolitan area, there is much more to the beauty of the UAE. The rich history and heritage of this country greatly rests in the desert, an endless landscape of shifting sand that is home to a thriving ecosystem of plants and animals designed for this arid environment.

To educate, entertain, and share the unique Emirati experience is where Platinum Heritage steps in. With a passion for hospitality, eco-conservation, and authenticity, Platinum Heritage romances its guests through various luxury tours starting with a personal pickup at your hotel. For animal lovers and quietly adventurous souls alike looking for the most authentic way to trace the footsteps of Bedouin travelers, the Camel Desert Safari is the perfect introduction to the desert as you explore on a traditional camel convoy. (And if you haven't seen a camel's eyelashes up close, get ready! These majestic creatures are simply beautiful and awe-inspiring as they move across the sand.)

Editor's Tip: On your camel ride, be sure to bring a bag that can easily be open from the top as you will want to store and have easy access to your phone or camera as it hangs from the camel's saddle handle. I brought my Lo & Sons Claremont camera bag for my smaller gear, and I don't know what I would have done without it! I loved it so much that I did a video review on our YouTube channel. Be sure to check it out!

After the camel ride, guests are greeted with traditional Bedouin hospitality of Arabic coffee and dates and then immersed into falconry, music, dance, food, and more at a luxuriously-outfitted Bedouin camp nestled inside of a royal desert retreat. Platinum Heritage guides are there each step of the way for one-on-one education and personal service; this was invaluable when those random questions popped up like "What are the white robes called?", "Is the lentil soup gluten-free?", and "Are there really that many scorpions in the desert?". While honoring Arabian heritage, the camp still had all the modern creature comforts like a giant air-conditioning fan in the dining tents, a beautifully-designed restroom building, and comfortable bespoke wooden seating and furniture. Every detail thought of for a truly memorable Dubai experience.

Between the spices, sounds, and sights, Dubai will weave you a tale of ancient and contemporary beauty that will have you wanting to plan your next odyssey into this imaginative Emirati oasis.

- Chelsea

Disclosure: Accommodations, activities, and some meals were provided so we could better experience the city of Dubai. All love and opinions for what's been mentioned in this feature are our own. Some of the above product links are affiliate-linked and purchasing through these links helps support Tidewater and Tulle and its wonderful partners! You can find our full disclosure policy here.

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