When thinking about doing a trip to ride roller coasters and visit theme parks, the United States of America is seen as the Walhalla destination. Some will even say Asia, with a booming theme park industry in China and Japan offering some unique theme park experiences. For Americans the European theme parks have an appealing factor. But why not note the United Arab Emirates on your list?! Here are ten goods reasons to consider a trip to this treasure in the Middle-East.
Cool theme parks!
Of course as a theme park fan the theme parks are the most important reason to do such a trip. And the United Arab Emirates have some cool theme parks to offer. Ferrari World is of course the most known theme park, besides the roller coasters they have plenty of other cool stuff to do like a flying theatre or some really fun formula 1 simulators. But there’s more! IMG World of Adventures for example, the largest indoor theme park in the world. It offers a range of different rides, they have some fun roller coasters but amazing dark rides and simulators as well. All of this themed to the figures of Marvel and Cartoon Network.
Dubai has also Motiongate Dubai, where you’ll find rides themed to the Hunger Games, How to train your dragon,… And even Lego land has implemented their known formula in Dubai, ideal if you are going with the whole family. Some people will say to postpone a visit to the Emirates because there are more theme parks planned to open, like Six Flags Dubai for example. That is true but Dubai is a constant wharf where new projects are announced almost every day. You can’t keep waiting and believe us, once you’ve visited the Emirates you surely will want to come back!
Formula Rossa… and other amazing coasters
Let’s be honest, having the world’s fastest roller coaster is a big part of the appeal. If you’re a real roller coaster fanatic riding the fastest roller coaster in the world is something on your bucket list. And to do that you’ll have to go to Abu Dhabi where Ferrari World is located. Formula Rossa is still the fastest roller coaster on our planet, it reaches from zero to 240 km/h (149,1 mph) in just four seconds… But Formula Rossa is more than that amazing launch, it’s also a good roller coaster giving out some decent airtime.
But there are more good roller coasters in the United Arab Emirates. Flying Aces in the same park for example, a really fun Intamin wing coaster. IMG World of Adventures has two fun coasters with Predator, a Gerstlauer Eurofighter, and Velociraptor, a clone of Europa Parks Blue Fire (though I find IMG’s version to be a bit more powerful and therefore better than Blue Fire itself) . Motiongate Dubai has five coasters to offer, including a Mack launch coaster, a Gerstlauer infinity coaster and a bobsled coaster from Gerstlauer. And if you’re a hardcore roller coaster fanatic, there are multiple other coaster credits to score throughout the whole Emirates.
Awesome water parks
It’s always hot in the Middle East climate, so refreshing yourself will be necessary. Why not in a cool water park? The Emirates have three big water parks to offer: Wild Wadi and Aquaventure in Dubai, Yas Water world in Abu Dhabi. From these three, I find Wild Wadi the best. It has the best theming and a great variety of things to do. Their best ride was a kind of lazy river with master blasters mixed in between, a must-do if you’re in Dubai if you ask me! Aquaventure had the best slides. They also have a lazy river and you can enjoy the beach and tike a dip in the Persian Gulf, also pretty neat. Yas Water world has the most slides, all themed well. They also have two lazy rivers and a surf able sheet wave. And for the roller coaster fanatic: they also have a roller coaster, Bandit bomber.
If you’re already convinced to visit the United Arab Emirates, let me say you must plan more than only the theme or water parks. Because the Emirates has way more to offer, it would be a shame to not enjoy the beautiful country. The Emirates are located on the Arabian Peninsula and have a mostly desert landscape. Now you’ve seen the desert on TV or on images, but seeing it yourself in real life… is a complete other thing. You won’t experience the magic and stunning beauty of the desert on a screen, come see the real thing yourself! I also encourage you to hire a rental car and drive out of the touristic area and explore the country yourself. You will be amazed.
It’s probably the first thing you imagine when hearing Dubai… the Dubai skyline. Dubai is a collection of impressive skyscrapers, one more impressive than the one next to it. It seems like every time they build one, they plan a newer and even more impressive one. A friend of mine who has been to New York said the Dubai Skyline crushed the NY skyline with ease. Dubai has some incredible buildings to offer: Burj Al Arab, Cayan Tower, Emirates Tower, … And above all, the Burj Khalifa which is still the highest building in the world. It rises 828m into the sky and has 162 floors. If this doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will… Don’t forget to watch the fountain show right in front of Burj Khalifa!
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Whether you’re religious or not, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-do visit! It’s not the biggest mosque in the world but it surely is a very impressive building. Late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed, gave the order to build it. Construction began in 1996 and only ended in 2007! Sadly, Sheik Zayed passed away before the mosque was finished. He is buried right next to the mosque. The mosque is built with materials like marble, gold, crystals and ceramics. Artisans and materials came from different countries. In the main prayer hall you’ll find the world’s largest carpet, it is about 5.627 m2 (60.570 sq ft) large and it took about 1200 carpet knitters almost two years to complete it! The mosque also features chandeliers that feature millions of Swarovski crystals in them. The biggest chandelier in the mosque is even the third largest chandelier in the world. As you notice, the Emirates don’t look on a penny less or more to make an impression. Besides all this impressive stats it’s also a good way to get know the Islamic faith better, there are free tours and the guides will happily answer all the questions you have.
As if creating one artificial island wasn’t impressive enough, Dubai has three artificial islands! Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali are the three artificial ‘palm’ islands planned, only Palm Jumeirah is finished. Creating an artificial island isn’t a daily routine job, there were many risks during construction and many engineers had to come up with new solutions to protect the islands from waves, storms and other possible problems. Palm Jumeirah hosts Aquaventure Water Park and the Atlantis Hotel, a five star hotel. Of course you’ll get the best view on these islands from above in a tower, but how cool is it to visit the Palm Jumeirah knowing it’s all made by humans and once before, there was nothing but just sea…
If you’re into auto racing, a visit to Ferrari World will be one of the highlights of your trip to the Emirates. But there’s also Yas Marina, the harbor which houses the Formula 1 circuit of Abu Dhabi. The circuit is brand new, it opened in 2009 and is the most expensive racing circuit ever built. It has cost about a billion dollar! The circuit is loved by the Formula 1 drivers, champions like Rosberg and Alonso stated that the circuit has unique corners and the circuit is enjoyable because there’s always something to do. You can visit the circuit and even drive yourself! Even if you’re not into auto racing it’s still worth a visit because the whole area is a work of topnotch architecture. Not for nothing Yas Marina is called the Arabian Monaco.
Get to know the Emirati culture
Getting to know another culture is always a plus on any trip, the same goes for a trip to the United Arab Emirates. Some might be scared by clichés and scare stories spread by mostly Western media. But don’t let them fool you! I found the local people very friendly. The same principle for visiting any country goes up for the Emirates: respect the local people and their culture, and they’ll threat you with respect. Enjoy the local food, get to know their culture and their faith… it will enlighten you.
We saved the best for last. Camel racing… Can you imagine a camel race?! Neither did I but they do it in the Emirates. It’s as funny as you imagine it to be. But the locals take their camel racing very seriously, they don’t bet on wins but the owner of the winning camel can win prizes. There’s a camel racing track in Dubai but I recommend you go north and visit the race track near Ras al-Khaimah. You’ll have to get up early, but thrust me… it will be really worth it!