Over-the-Top Features of Glitzy Dubai... Plus a Surprising Population Nuance That Makes Travelers Feel at Home

Over-the-Top Features of Glitzy Dubai... Plus a Surprising Population Nuance That Makes Travelers Feel at Home

PART 19: One Mile at a Time blogger Ben Schlappig explains what it's like to visit the place with the world’s biggest mall and an indoor ski resort.

Hello again from blogger Ben Schlappig, the full-time traveler behind One Mile at a Time, and the guy who introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle all made possible by using miles and points. In our series with Jet Set, we're going around the world in 21 days... all in five-star luxury, and booked at the very last minute.


In my last post, I was demonstrating all the reasons you really want to get access to your hotel's club-level lounge.

Now I want to share some additional thoughts on Dubai, a place I've been a couple of dozen times, and always enjoy returning. Typically I visit Dubai for just a couple of days, as part a stopover at Dubai or Abu Dhabi Airport. (Since Abu Dhabi is just a short drive from Dubai, you can access either city quite easily from either airport). Given that many airlines let you do “free” stopovers on mileage tickets, this is a great opportunity to visit a city you love while en route to a new destination.

Dubai by night

When I take friends or family to Dubai for the first time, I get mixed responses. Some people love it, while others hate it. Personally I love Dubai, though I understand why others don’t. I remember when I took Ford to Dubai for the first time, and was excited for him to fall in love with one of my favorite cities. Well, as it turns out, he didn’t.

Dubai is an electric city with a unique vibe that turns a lot of people off. Personally I love it, and find that the city has an electric vibe unlike any other. It’s not the most physically beautiful city, and it actually lacks a “local” culture, at least compared to other world cities. That’s to say that you’ll very rarely actually interact with Emiratis while in the UAE, but rather are much more likely to interact with the millions of foreign workers there.

Scraping the sky in Dubai

As someone who is sort of voluntarily homeless and is constantly traveling, I like that vibe, because it makes me feel like I belong, rather than like an outsider. When I get in a taxi in Dubai, the question isn’t where I’m from, but rather whether I live in Dubai. There aren’t many places you can go abroad where people don’t immediately assume you’re an “outsider.”

As far as activities in Dubai, there’s an endless amount of stuff see and do. Dubai is all about having the biggest and best of everything, and a lot of the tourist attractions reflect that. Dubai has the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall, the world’s largest indoor ski slope, et cetera.

Scenes from a mall...

Yes, that’s right — there’s an indoor ski slope. There’s nothing quite like skiing when it’s 120 degrees outside!
Dubai is the first and last place I’ve ever tried to ski. Instead, I just like to visit the indoor ski slope for their Frozen singalongs.


Indoor skiing... while outside swelters

Dubai also has some of the most indulgent activities imaginable. For example, the Burj Al Arab, the world’s self-proclaimed seven-star hotel, has an incredible seven-course afternoon tea. It’s the most ridiculously over-the-top experience you’ll ever have — though it’s oh-so-Dubai.

Furthermore, the Burj Al Arab doesn’t allow you to visit the hotel unless you’re actually staying there or dining at one of their restaurants, so having afternoon tea there is a relatively cheap way to visit the hotel, which has a jaw-dropping design; they claim the construction cost was so expensive that they don’t actually know how much it cost.

There’s also great food in Dubai that isn’t expensive. While you can have some of the most expensive meals of your life in Dubai, there’s also lots of great, reasonably priced food from all over the world, especially Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine.

As I’ve hinted at previously, the UAE also has great nature, especially beautiful beaches and deserts. So when you’re in Dubai you’re just a short drive from the beach, or from some great dune bashing in the desert.

Really what I love most about Dubai is the vibe. I have friends who live in Dubai from all over the world, so I love how culturally diverse it is. It’s a place where people from all over can live in (relative) peace, and where you’ll frequently have lunch with four friends from four different countries.

Sure, cities like New York and London are international, but Dubai is next level in that regard. I get why many people view the city as being soulless, but I think there’s a certain beauty in its culture. As a global traveler, that’s what I love most about Dubai. It’s not the glitz or glam, but rather just how international it is, to a higher degree than what I’ve found in any other city.


Here's why hotels club-level lounges are no-brainers for travelers (especially if you work on the road).

This is among the most amazing hotel suite upgrades I ever got... and that's saying a lot!

Here's what makes a Middle East vacation so unique.

Is this the most incredible all-inclusive hotel in the Middle East?

Tour one of the world's best first-class airport lounges.

This is what it's like to fly inside one of the fanciest cabins in commercial air travel: an apartment in the sky.

Come with me on my flight filled with caviar, designer pajamas, and luxury gifts.

I support my boyfriend's first-class travel life (and in return he lets me pull stunts like this).

See how I booked a $12,000 flight for nearly free.

See Bali's littler-known party side — including a hangover brunch (with a DJ) to end them all!

Glimpse the five-star life I love (and buy with miles!) in Bali.

Here's why I call Bali the ultimate place to recharge.

Check out my epic layover in the world's best airport on the way to Bali.

Read up on my Hello Kitty-themed flight to get this far...

And the Hello Kitty airport experience to match!

And here's where it all began at LAX.

Here's why I call Dubai the world's ideal stopover location:

Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!

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