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5 Reasons Why Dubai is More than Just a Business Destination

“Dubai is a city of world records. It has the largest man-made island, the largest indoor amusement park, the largest building in the world, 163 stories to the top. Now it’s aiming for its most audacious ambition: The booming desert city that a decade ago had the world’s largest environmental footprint wants to become, by the year 2050, the most sustainable city on Earth.”
– Daniel Stone, National Geographic
It is no secret that Dubai has become one of the top meeting destinations for the world’s leading businesses. However, Dubai has become much more than a choice location for professional meetings, trade shows, and expos. In 2017, nearly 16 million people visited Dubai, a figure which includes business professionals and leisure travelers alike. This record-breaking tourism has positioned the city as one of the top travel destinations in the world for all types of travelers. Below are five reasons why Dubai has become so much more than a business destination for vacationers and travel aficionados.

1) Enjoy a view from the world’s tallest building

Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. People travel from all corners of the map to enjoy a breathtaking view from the Burj Khalifa. With over 160 floors, the building has two main observation decks, which are located on the 125th and 148th floors. You can purchase your tickets upon arrival or save money and time by booking them online in advance. During your visit, you can have refreshments at the SKY Lounge and participate in a variety of interactive activities available to guests. Following your visit to the top of the Burj, you can relax and watch a captivating water performance held at the Dubai Fountain. Shows are free of charge for onlookers, who often gather outdoors to have dinner and watch the show from a table at one of the many fountain-side restaurants at the Dubai Mall.

2) Snow ski in the desert

Located within the confines of Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is one of the only desert-based ski resorts in the world. With an indoor ski area totaling 22,500 square meters, Ski Dubai boasts a 25-story high mountain with five slopes of varying difficulty. The resort opened in 2005 and featured the world’s first indoor black diamond run. Skis, jackets, and equipment are provided with your ticket, or you can bring your equipment if you wish. If you grow chilly or are ready to switch gears, you can simply exit the resort and spend the remainder of your day shopping in the Mall of the Emirates. With over 700 stores and services, the Mall of the Emirates is among the largest malls in the world.

3) Ride a Camel!

Dubai is famous for its camel racing and even has a television station devoted exclusively to camels and racing. The camel plays such a key role in Dubai’s rich heritage that Dubai is now home to the largest, most impressive camel hospital in the world – the $40 million AED Dubai Camel Hospital in Marmoun. While taking part in an official camel race might be tricky, you can enjoy a leisurely ride on a camel on one of Dubai’s beautiful beaches or even arrange a full day desert safari that features a camel ride and professionally guided tour of Dubai’s desert terrain. Safaris typically begin during the middle of the day and end with a dinner that features local cuisine and entertainment. If you do not have several hours available for a safari, you can enjoy a short camel ride on Jumeirah Beach.

4) Book a room at the famous Burj Al Arab

“Shaped like the sail of an Arabian dhow ship and built for $1 billion, the hotel is full of extravagances like a Rolls-Royce chauffeur, a 14-piece set of Hermès toiletries, personal butlers — Burj says the staff-to-guest ratio is 6:1—and 24-karat gold everything.”
– Harrison Jacobs, Business Insider
Shaped like a beautiful sailboat, the Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. The hotel was built in 1998 to accommodate the world’s most discerning guests. From marble staircases to 24-karat gold furnishings to private butlers, Burj Al Arab offers an unforgettable experience to guests. If you cannot afford to part with $1,500 for a night’s accommodations, you can make reservations to dine at the hotel’s famous Al Mahara restaurant. With its underwater theme, the restaurant features spectacular sights and seafood dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. The wall to ceiling aquarium in the restaurant provides a fascinating environment to enjoy a five-star dining experience.

5) Check out Dubai’s Most Famous Souks

Dubai is internationally known for its awe-inspiring souks. Commonly known in America as marketplaces or bazaars, souks are often located in outdoor areas and are often the heartbeat of the neighborhoods where they are located. Among Dubai’s most impressive souks are the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk, and the Textile Souk. Each of these souks is located in a different region of Dubai, enabling visitors to become familiar with some of Dubai’s local neighborhoods. If you plan to visit one or more of Dubai’s souks, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as it is easy for visitors to spend the better part of a day at one souk alone. Also, be prepared to negotiate with vendors, many of whom welcome the opportunity to engage with prospective overseas buyers. Finally, plan to bring a spacious bag, as you will likely run across many local treasures and souvenirs that are hand-crafted by the area’s most talented artists, craftsmen, and chefs.
Dubai is more than just a convenient meeting location for the world’s top leaders and executives. Dubai is an award-winning destination for business professionals and leisure travelers alike. From breathtaking views to innovative fairs to stellar shopping, it is no surprise that more people are traveling to Dubai than ever. And with a first-class international airport, Dubai is easily accessible for prospective visitors in virtually every region of the world.

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4 Fantastic Festivals to See in India

India is a deeply spiritual country, and festivals are at the heart of people’s lives. The many, varied celebrations offer a unique insight into this fascinating and colorful culture.

Holi, country-wide

Holi is one of India’s most colorful festivals and lasts two days in late march. One the first day, people build bonfires to remember and show respect for the sacrifice of Holika. This Hindu demoness was burnt to death with the help of the god Vishnu, according to Vedic scriptures. The day is spent in gathering fuel for the bonfire with enthusiastic assistance from children. Once the fire is lit, people chant hymns, make offerings, and dance around the fire until it is mere embers.
The next day, the merriment begins with a day-long tossing of colored water on friends and strangers alike to celebrate joy and happiness. As the day goes on, clothing grows more colorful as few miss being doused or sprinkled by colorful dyes. Many people have a “Holi shirt” that they wear each year to spare their good clothes from being splattered. People are good-humored no matter how “colorful” they become. Packets of dyes go on sale weeks before Holi so folks can prepare for this eagerly anticipated day.

People throwing color for the Holi Festival
People throwing color for the Holi Festival

In Jaipur, Holi includes an elephant parade with gloriously draped elephants parading along the streets, being judged in beauty contests, and competing in tugs of war. In Bengal, the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed on swings and paraded with devotees jostling for a chance to swing them — and spectators throwing colored water at the idols and everyone else.
The traditional drink of Holi is thandai, a milk-based drink with bhang as the primary ingredient. Bhang is an intoxicant made with cannabis. While cannabis is illegal in India, authorities turn a blind eye on Holi as it is part of a religious rite. And, many officials are rushing home for their Holi celebration and do not want to be delayed by minor infractions of the law. Visitors are advised to leave the bhang to the natives.
Instead, enjoy traditional Holi dishes such as dahi wada (dumplings covered with sweet, salty, sour yogurt topped with tangy tamarind chutney) and malpua (deep-fried patties with a strong cardamom flavor and topped with a sweet sauce.

Diwali, countrywide

Diwali is from the Sanskrit word deepavali, which means series of lighted lamps. This five-day Hindu festival of lights is celebrated in November by people of every religion, state, and caste. The festival marks the day Lord Ram returned to his kingdom after 14 years of exile. People decorate their homes with brass and clay lamps, candles, electronic lights, and rangolis, which are colorful patterns created on the floor or on walkways with colored sand, bits of glass, and flower petals. Public buildings are decorated as well, and Hindu temples often have the most elaborate displays.

Woman holding oil lamp made from clay with a cotton wick dipped in ghee

This is the holiday people wear new clothes, paint henna designs on their hands, light candles, and participate in family prayers. This is followed by an elaborate feast of delicious food and Indian sweets. Popular Diwali desserts include ladoo, jalebi, gulab jamun, and barfi, that is sphere-shaped sweets, pretzel-shaped deep-fried sweets, spongy milk balls soaked in rose-flavored syrup, and a dense milk-based confectionery studded with dried fruits.
Diwali is the biggest shopping period in India. People shop mainly for new clothing, gifts, and gold jewelry. The festival also celebrates Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, so spending is considered auspicious. The weeks before Diwali are the best times to shop in India as merchants present their finest wares.
Diwali Candles

Jaipur is the best place to experience the lights as all markets and most buildings are festooned with glowing lamps and twinkling lights. In Goa, the focus of Diwali celebrations is the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Competitions are held in every village for the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon. They are burned at dawn on the day before the main day of Diwali.
Wherever you go in India during Diwali, fireworks illuminate the night skies and firecrackers are tossed with little care for public safety. People are festive and food stalls are abundant.

Durga Puja, countrywide

Durga Puja is one of India’s largest festivals, and it celebrates the victory of the Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. In mid-October, the Goddess Kali is worshipped every morning and foods are given to statues of the gods in the evening. Various cultural events and dance programs are held every day and night of the festival. It is a joyful, social time. Streets fill with people, especially in the evenings, who come to admire the statues of Goddess Durga, eat, and celebrate with family, friends, and strangers.

Abstract Market Place during Durga Puja

At the beginning of the festival, elaborately crafted statues of Durga are installed in homes and beautifully decorated podiums all over cities and villages. When the festival ends, these statues are paraded through the streets accompanied by music and dancing. At the end of the parade, the statues are immersed in the nearest body of water.
A modern trend during Durga Puja is eating food items like vrat ki chat (crispy potato slices with herbs and spices drizzled with lemon juice) and vrat ki namkeen (potato strips with peanuts and butter—usually served with coffee.) These festival foods are served by food vendors in Mumbai and other large Indian cities.

Pushkar Camel Fair, Pushkar

In November, thousands of camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, for the Pushkar Camel Fair. The camels are dressed up, paraded, shaved, judged for beauty prizes, raced, and traded.

Camel trader in Pushkar, India for the Camel Fair

This colorful spectacle is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness one of the last great traditional melas, which brings together livestock, farmers, traders, and villagers from all over Rajasthan.
During the event, makeshift stalls are set up selling items ranging from saddle straps, saddles, and beads to strings of cowries. The fair is also attended by a great many women, so the fair offers a huge array of traditional silver ornaments, printed textiles, patchwork clothing, and traditional footwear. Popular Indian food is in abundance from street hawkers and stalls.
Despite India’s poverty, people love their celebrations and are delighted when visitors join in the fun. If you go to India, try to make time for a festival so you can experience the culture’s joyful nature.