12 Hours in Dubai

12 Hours in Dubai


THAT’S RIGHT! WE DID IT! WE FINALLY AND OFFICIALLY WENT TO DUBAI (and this time we actually LEFT the airport!) (Whoop!).

We didn’t really plan this one but while booking flights to Sri Lanka we had the option of choosing a 12-hour layover (who seriously builds full-day layovers?!) in Dubai. Of course, at first I was like WHO THE HECK TAKES a 12-HOUR LAYOVER?! Then, after considering it for a moment, I decided that I am the type who does. Haha #whoops


It worked out well for us because we would arrive in Dubai at about 11 am then leave for Sri Lanka at 11 pm. A full perfect day to explore the city (more specifically the Burj Kalifa) we had learned so much about in college. Zach being in construction and me being in some random architecture class (#freshmanbasics) we went through a phase of complete awe of the structure. The awe simmered through college then became enflamed when we moved here. We knew our far off fantasy could actually become our reality and I am happy to tell you that last week, we lived the dream. I remember the first time seeing the Burj Kalifa from an airplane and literally getting chills because of the eeriness (is that a word?) of the spike jetting out of the city and into the clouds.

This time we unfortunately did not fly our beloved Emirates, we flew FlyDubai. Quite honestly, for a flight that is anything less than 5 hours, I would actually recommend FlyDubai over Emirates. The planes are much smaller (less people crammed in) and although you aren’t treated like royalty, you can basically buy all of the entertainment and snacks and still spend less than the price of an Emirates ticket. Plus, the plane is clean, comfortable and super new (seeming). Just expect delays, I am convinced that FlyDubai yields to Emirates and carries the burden of all Dubai delays letting Emirates take their flight times when necessary.



So when we got there, (a whopping 45 min flight) we grabbed our bags, flew through immigration (Americans have no visa fee (WHOOP!)) and were in the first taxi to the Dubai Mall (connected to the Burj Kalifa of course).

We booked our Burj tickets for later in the afternoon so that no matter the delay, rain, snow or sleet (I hope that you catch my sarcasm, we are in the desert after all), we would be able to make it to the top. This gave us a perfect bubble of time to explore the 20th biggest mall in the world…and have a nice lunch.

The mall looks pretty basic on the outside but when you go in, you realize immediately how special of a place it is.


We walked through the “Souk” area.DSC_0025

The “Village” or blue jean district.


We had to ask around a bit, as I thought it must have just been a rumor, but were assured that down one hall we would find A REAL DINOSAUR SKELETON. WHAT. Now they are just showing off. Lol


Beyond that we saw the entrance to the aquarium and the SPECTACULAR floor to ceiling waterfall adorned with beautifully sculpted divers.



After being completely overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place, we were excited to check out the food court and see how Dubai would knock our socks off next.

It did NOT disappoint.

This one was hilarious; do you recognize the logo? Yeah I guess in Muslim countries “Churches” Chicken doesn’t fly so well. Ha



The only disappointing thing here was that I didn’t find GARRET’S POPCORN (YES, THE STUFF OF GODS MADE IN CHICAGO) until AFTER I was stuffed full.


I have actually considered going back just to grab a bag.

But that would be the ultimate fatty move. I digress.

FINALLY, it was time to see the WORLD’S TALLEST TOWER.

Anxious in the final minutes before, we broke outside and got our first glimpse.



It is funny because you walk outside and everyone just looks strange, they are all stunned staring up into the sky. It is not the kind of thing that you see and move on, it really catches you. As we stared (and got our perfect #mydubai selfie) all of a sudden and to our complete surprise, speakers from all around us began booming with African style music (Yes, African music in the desert that is Dubai). We turned to look and all at once streams of water burst from the fountain before us. The music was booming and the water rhythmically danced to the sound of African drums. It was BEAUTIFUL.


I had honestly never cared much to see the fountain (world’s largest choreographed fountain and all) but once it started, I instantly GOT what all of the hype was about.

It is something about feeling the music in your bones as it pumps through the speakers and the strength of the water as it bursts into the sky. Videos and words cannot do it justice. It is an absolute MUST SEE. It turned out to be one of my very favorite parts of our entire day.

Once we had caught our breath, we scurried inside, picked up our tickets and prepared ourselves for the moment we had been waiting for. (Did I mention that I have literally dreamt (literal nighttime dreams) of this moment for years leading up to it?).



Go-Pro strapped tightly to Zach’s head we headed in. (Video coming soon!)

I didn’t take many photos as I knew Zach was capturing the moment, plus we both wanted to be fully present.

We walked through an elaborate display of building specifications and design details. We watched animations of the building coming together during its six years of construction and clips of the tower being featured in Mission Impossible. We were then guided onto the elevator (world’s fastest (go figure)) which goes a whopping 22 miles per hour and puts on a show as it does. When you step on, the lights go out all across the mirrored walls then once you begin traveling up (to the 124th floor) lights begin flashing, videos begin running all across the walls and let me tell you, your blood starts pumping! Then, after approximately two ear pops, you have made it!


Walking out onto the deck was UNREAL. They leave the top open so that you feel the wind as you look through the glass panes out onto the city. You have to remind yourself that it is real life because it so quickly feels fictional. It is like pausing that perfect moment on the plane when you depart and are low enough to see the cars and buildings but high enough for it all to look like ant-world. Frozen in the sky you can look down and see everything.



Oooor look up and strain your eyes to the the spire at the top! 🙂

When we finally exited the deck, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the entire 124th floor is open for viewing. You can see out across the city from every side of the tower. There are even neat binoculars that show what the sight looks like at night, on a clear perfect day and even what it looked like 10 years ago! I’ll give you a hint, the city was FLAT.


Coming down was just as smooth and beautiful, every detail and square inch inside the tower has clearly been intricately designed. Just exquisite.

For dinner we sought any restaurant offering one last glimmering view of our conquered tower. The view we attained was perfected by a periodic display from the fountain and the sun setting just behind.


One last look and we were back on a plane.DSC_0255




2 thoughts on “12 Hours in Dubai

  1. Great post Bailey. The first time we came to Dubai was a 23 hour layover! Have visited again many times and now live in Abu Dhabi. thebhardwajlife.com

    1. Holy cow!! 23 hours?!! And I thought mine was long!
      Did you spend your time there the same way as us or have any tips to add?

      How cool that you live in Abu Dhabi now (that layover must have given you a great impression of the UAE ha)! I will definitely be checking out your blog, thanks for listing it. 🙂

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