As a blogger that lives in the UAE, I get a lot of questions from people who want to visit this country and even questions from those that live here. They usually range from the outlandish, “Do I need to speak Arabic to visit the UAE?” to the more sedate, “What are some fun activities I can do when its hot outside?” And boy is it HOT.
When summertime rolls around in the Middle East, its difficult to remember why I moved to this region. The air is thick with a cloying heat that wraps its hands around your neck and squeezes until you are literally gasping for water. 45 degrees is NO JOKE. Night time is a slight improvement, with the sun not blinding one’s eyes and the temperature dropping to a more manageable 35 degrees (I never knew I would find that temperature ‘manageable’- NEVER). Coupled with the slow pace of Ramdaan, this is a quiet time of year. I decided to use this downtime to explore 2 of Dubai’s attractions so that I could have my answers (and blog post) ready for when people ask me questions about them.
Here is a Panda’s unbiased reviews of 2 well known attractions in Dubai:
Dubai Garden Glow
What is it?
Apparently this is the world’s largest glow in the dark garden (Dubai likes to be able to say “The World’s Largest/Tallest” when speaking about their tourist sites) and the structures are made of 10 million energy saving bulbs and yards of recycled luminous fabric. What is it? The Dubai Garden Glow is a set of artistic installations of lights. The aim of the Dubai Garden Glow project is to educate people about the significance of reducing our carbon footprint and preserving the world through using recyclables for the generations to come.
Who should go?
Everyone really. Its not physically taxing, is wheelchair friendly and will be enjoyed by a wide array of people. It makes for a great place for kids to explore, couples to amble along and friends to take pictures of themselves.
Apparently there are some nights where there’s entertainment and activities’ for kids. I wasn’t lucky enough to witness either. So don’t go expecting more than cool installations, a fiesta of colours and celebration of ideas facilitating for an absolutely amazing display of creativity at The Garden Glow.
There is a dinosaur park on site (which you don’t pay extra for) and if you have kids, it’s a cool place to take them so they can see the different dinosaurs and hear the sounds they make.
Panda’s Rating: 4 out of 5 pandas
Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
What is it?
It’s the world’s second largest aquarium (see what I mean) featuring world’s largest acrylic panel (the glass) which is 75 centimetres thick (30 inches) and it is featured in the Guinness World Record Book (of course it is).
The aquarium itself boasts an Aquarium Tunnel where you can closely watch marine life, for as long as you want. I felt like I was at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by water and colourful fishes and starfishes.
After visiting the Aquarium Tunnel your visit will continue to the Underwater ZOO, which is on another floor. Here you will see a lot of exotic animals, fishes, birds, turtles, spiders, otters, snails and many more creatures.
We also did a behind the scenes tour learning what they feed each animal as well as a glass bottom boat ride (this was completely pointless as I learnt & saw nothing interesting).
Who should go?
If you have NEVER been to an aquarium before then I suppose this one might blow your socks off. The kids I saw were definitely having a great time however I was slightly underwhelmed.
The indoor Dubai Aquarium was just OKAY and it may appear out of this world to only those who haven’t been exposed to any decent aquariums anywhere else around the globe. I know I’ve been spoilt having been to incredible aquariums like the Shedd Aquarium (Chicago), S.E.A. Aquarium (Singapore) and the Two Oceans Aquarium (Cape Town) but even without comparisons, this one falls shorts with too small exhibits, lack of signage and nothing that makes it stand out. Unless you are hell bent on ticking all the boxes in your bucket list (prepared on guidance from some popular websites or travel magazines) I won’t recommend that you spend your hard earned money on this grossly overrated experience.
Panda’s Rating: 2 out of 5 pandas
As you know, none of my outings or trips are sponsored and neither am I rich. Discounted tickets for both attractions were bought on Groupon (check for deals periodically) and might be available on Cobone or on Entertainer.
Have you been to either of these attractions? Let me know in the comments below!