Dolphinarium, Dubai

The Dolphinarium provides a great show for all the family. We paid extra for premium seats, but once we were inside we realised that this wasn’t necessary: everyone there got a great view.

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Once you’ve paid your money, the only other thing that’s there is a fastfood-type restaurant. Across the expanse of grass is a children’s museum which looked impressive, but happened to be closed when we visited the Dolphinarium.

Before the show started…

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There was a wire act first…

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Then the seals…

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Another wire act…

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Then the dolphins!!…

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We had a blast!

Burj Khalifa / Khalifa Tower, Dubai

The Khalifa Tower, the tallest building in the world, was renamed the Burj Khalifa before it opened.

You’ll need to book your trip up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world at least 48 hours before you plan to go. If you just turn up on the day, you may not get a free slot until 9pm at night or later.

We booked for a Friday at 11.30am, having left Al Ain at 9.15am to ensure we got there on time.

We handed over our tickets at 11.20 which gave us time to look at the very impressive interactive displays before we went the security queue to enter the Burj Khalifa itself.

We came out again at 12.45pm – nearly an hour and a half later. You may take a little less time than this.

Here is a video which is spread over 3 large screens you’ll see as you queue for the lift to ascend to the 130th floor – which takes all of 60 seconds. I swallowed hard about 10 times to ease the pressure on my ears as we flew up at somewhere approaching the speed of sound. Okay, maybe not quite that fast.

The video lasts about 3 minutes, so this film I captured shows about half of it to give you a flavour. I thought it was beautifully put together…

This is a movie of the digital telescopes you can use at the top: they are free to play with, though it says on a ground floor sign that you have to pay…

Here are some photos.

An inspiring message on the wall as you wait to enter the Burj Khalifa…

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The 4 video screens as you queue for the elevator…

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The digital telescopes you can use for free…

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The Dubai Mall from above…

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The amazing Dubai Fountain…

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Looking south east (I think!)…

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We pointed out to the boys that slightly to the right of centre in this next photo is where we love to go swimming when we come to Dubai, on the public beach at Jumeirah…

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This one shows 2 of the most famous hotels in Dubai: the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab Hotel. The Atlantis Hotel is behind these, but hidden by the haze…

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As you enter the building you and your family will be photographed against a green screen. At the top, you’ll be asked if you want photos taken of you with the landscape behind. At the end of the tour you’ll be offered these photos for a price higher than we were willing to pay! You can also get the images on a memory stick too (ideal if you want to email them to friends and family back home). I sneaked a snap of the framed ‘green screen’ shot with evening panorama added behind, in a leather-effect frame/folder. The image is a bit distorted as I took it at a slight angle…

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What I didn’t photograph are some of the excellent mulitmedia displays, miniature models used for the wind tunnels, and the short but excellent video interviews with people who worked on this once-in-a-lifetime project for the architects and builders.

All in all, a fab trip, worth the money.

Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Mall

This is a quick post I’ll add to one day!…

In the Dubai Mall, not only is there the enormous aquarium, but you can go behind it to see sea creatures and penguins, and have some great close encounters!

Your children will probably be as amazed by these archer fish as we were… 

And we could pick up the horse shoe crabs and feel their wiggly ‘feet’!

This is a very short video of the garden eels in one tank…

Where to buy English books

There are two main bookshops for English speakers in Al Ain:

  • Magrudy’s in Bawadi Mall
  • Books Plus in the Al Jimi Mall

Magrudy’s is the biggest bookshop with an excellent selection. You will be offered a loyalty card which will enable you at times to get up to 25% discount off books and other goods. The very helpful staff there can do you any book from the UK or US at a price not much higher than you would buy back home. You will just have to wait three weeks to get the book, and they will text message you when the book arrives.

Books Plus has a much smaller selection, but it still has some excellent choices.

The biggest bookshop in Dubai is called Kinokuniya in the Dubai Mall which has 500,000 titles. You can e-mail them a list of any books you are looking for and they will e-mail you back to tell you which ones they have in stock and at what price. Posting four books to you costs just 24 dirhams which is less than £5. They cannot take credit card numbers over the phone, so you have to do a bank transfer and e-mailed them a scan of the bank transfer docket. Then your books will be sent to you by Federal Express. 

FedEx won’t deliver to a PO Box: they’ll deliver to your home: the deliveryman will ring you to get directions if he can’t find your address on a map.