The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is probably the only country in the world that can boast of so many world records that can be accessed and experienced by the people, is a short span of time. Comprising of seven cities (or Emirates as they are called), the UAE has developed into a thriving commercial and tourist destination at an astonishingly fast pace, seeing numerous high-rise buildings, excellent infrastructure, a multinational and multi-cultural population, all pop-up within a span of 50 years!
Although a federal monarchy, the ambition and progressive vision of its ruling family are what led to this country's impressive development. It is not uncommon to hear of new world records being created every day here, and a trip to the UAE would be incomplete without visiting at least a few of the most impressive record holding attractions and sites.
Here's a quick guide to how you can experience 15 world records, in less than 96 hours!
#1 World's largest gold ring at the Gold Souq
Located in the old part of Dubai (Deira), Gold Souk is near the creek, across from Bastakiya, a place which stands in stark contrast to the high-rise modern buildings of the spectacularly stylish skyline of this world-famous tourist destination. This part of the city is fascinating not only because of the small and winding streets that take you into a completely different world altogether but also because of the numerous historical structures and 'souqs' here. Of particular interest is the Gold Souq, which has hundreds of shops located on both sides of the walking path, displaying glittery gold jewelry. As you enter the souq, you will see Kanz Jewellers to your right, displaying the largest gold ring in the world, weighing 64 kgs! This piece of jewelry is absolutely mesmerizing due to its huge size and many smaller replicas are available at the shop to be bought. Don't be surprised by the crowds flocking the shop's glass window display - this is one the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai!
How to get there: Take the metro (green line) to Al Ghubaiba Metro Station and walk for 5-minutes towards the Bur Dubai Abra Station. You can take an abra for Dh. 1 across the creek to the Spice and Gold Souqs. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Red Route) which includes a trip to this area.
In the area: If you plan to visit this area, there are many other things you can explore here. One of the most interesting places is Al Bastakiya, a historic district which has lanes of charming wind-towered buildings, art galleries, cafes and the Dubai Museum. You can also visit the Old and Spice Souqs, street markets where you can buy trinkets and souvenirs as well as aromatic spices.
#2 Tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa)
Located hardly 15 minutes away from Deira or Old Dubai, Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa form a part of the area known as Dubai Downtown - one of the liveliest places in the city which also has numerous hotels, restaurants and cafes, the famous musical fountains, Dubai Opera and so much more! Burj Khalifa is incredibly beautiful during the day as well as the night when it lights up and bursts into a sparkling display every 30 minutes. Recently, the skyscraper was installed with millions of small LED screens which come alive with jaw-dropping displays on special occasions.
How to get there: Take the metro to Burj Khalifa / The Dubai Mall Metro station and walk on the metro link bridge (approx 700m) which connects the station to the mall. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Red Route) which includes a trip to this area.
In the area: There is a lot to do in this area! From the Dubai Fountain to the Ice Skating Rink, Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, an indoor edutainment park for children (KidZania), cafes on the Emaar Boulevard, Dubai Opera, boutique shops in the Dubai Mall, the list is endless. Click here for more information on things to do.
#3 Highest observation deck in the world (Burj Khalifa)
If you're visiting Burj Khalifa, you must visit one of the two observation decks located at the 124th floor and 148th floor respectively. 'At the Top' on the 124th floor is a more economical option and also has an open deck with large glass walls, providing unobstructed views of the city. 'At the Top SKY' on the 148th floor of the building is a more premium experience with a lounge serving snacks and couches to sit on while you view the city through a closed deck. A fascinating experience is the 1-minute elevator ride, which bolts you to the 124th floor at lightning speed while giving you a snippet of how this architectural wonder was conceptualized and built.
How to get there: The entrance to At the Top observation deck is located inside The Dubai Mall, right next to Burj Khalifa. It is recommended that you purchase the tickets in advance as the last minute prices are very high. Click here for reservations and more information on the tickets.
In the area: Enjoy shopping in the mall, which is home to brands from all over the globe or grab a coffee at one of the cafes overlooking the Dubai Fountains. My recommendation is to enjoy a light meal at IHOP's terrace, which has stunning views of both Burj Khalifa and the fountains.
#4 Largest mall in the world (Dubai Mall)
After a journey to the top of the highest observation deck, you can easily spend a few hours strolling in the largest mall in the world, a retail heaven that has set very high standards for malls across the globe. It might physically be impossible to explore the entire mall and its 1.1 million sq m area in one day. I would suggest you pick your interest before you begin to explore and wear comfortable shoes. Some attractions located inside the mall are the Ice Rink, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo ( the perfect place for nippers and adults to interact with a variety of sea animals, dive into an aquarium filled with sharks, sting rays, and other fish), Fashion Avenue (home to over 80 most coveted luxury brands in the world), KidZania (an interactive edutainment park for children) or the Emirates 380 experience. Do not miss the water fountain inside the mall with figures of men sliding down the streams; for a wild and exciting dining experience, Rainforest Cafe is a must try!
How to get there: Burj Khalifa is located right next to The Dubai Mall.
In the area: Right across the mall, through a walkway that goes over the Burj Lake, is an Arabesque shopping and dining destination called Souk Al Bahar. Alleyways filled with carts selling souvenirs, handicrafts, perfumes; lounges and restaurants located alongside the waterfront promenade and the traditional yet cozy ambiance offered by the cute cafes as well as bakeries in this place are the reason you must pay a visit here!
#5 Largest choreographed fountain, Dubai Fountain
This is one of the world records in Dubai that I just cannot get enough of! It is such a pleasure to watch these humongous jets of water sprayed high into the air with Burj Khalifa sparkling in the backdrop and a melodious tune playing in rhythm to the fountains, almost seeming like the water jets are dancing to its tunes. You'll be in awe of the height that these fountains can reach!
How to get there: Once again, the fountains are located right in between The Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar, right in front of the towering Burj Khalifa.
#6 Tallest hotel in the world (JW Marriott Marquis)
Hardly a 10-minute drive from The Dubai Mall, on the Sheikh Zayed Road, you'll see the iconic twin towers of JW Marriott Marquis, the tallest hotel in the world, with 76 floors. You can simply drive past the hotel and capture some amazing pictures, especially during the night or if you wish to visit, why not enjoy a drink at Vault, a world-class bar and lounge located on the 72nd floor of the building, offering stunning vistas of Dubai's skyline.
How to get there: Take a taxi across Sheikh Zayed Road or the metro towards South Dubai, which crosses the hotel. If you wish to visit, alight at Business Bay Metro station on the red line and walk about 500m. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Green Route) which does not include a trip to the hotel but crosses it via the Sheikh Zayed Road.
In the area: If you wish to explore the area around JW Marriott Marquis, there are a number of cafes, restaurants, and lounges around Sheikh Zayed Road. I would recommend taking a walk around the Dubai Canal for superb views of the hotel with Burj Khalifa in the backdrop.
Read my post on 15 amazing things you can do for FREE in Dubai.
#7 Largest natural flower garden (Miracle Garden)
Open only during the winter months (November - April), Dubai Miracle Garden is a spectacular place to visit. With elaborate displays of flowers in different shapes, forms, and colours, this garden is located a bit far from the chaotic city and showcases over 45 million varieties of flowers. It has been known to hold several world records over the last few years, including the largest floral installation and the longest wall of flowers.
Click here for information on timings and tickets.
How to get there: Unfortunately, this place is not connected by the Dubai Metro and has to be reached by the road. Taxis, however, are easily available to Dubai Land.
In the area: If it interests you, you may also visit the Butterfly Garden, located right next to the flower garden. This butterfly museum is inside 9 custom built domes and houses thousands of colourful butterflies from all over the world.
#8 World's largest indoor theme park (IMG Worlds of Adventure)
The best thing about this theme park is that it is open and accessible throughout the year, unlike many other attractions in Dubai which either shut down or are nearly impossible to enjoy during the sweltering summer months. The entire theme park is located indoors in an air-conditioned sprawling area, with numerous retail outlets, rides, and eateries to keep you busy for several hours.
Click here for more information on the parks, opening time and tickets.
How to get there: The park is located another 15 minutes ahead of Dubai Miracle Garden and can be easily reached by taxi. Many hotels also provide shuttle buses (check with your hotel).
In the area: If you have time and fancy a visit to a multi-cultural exhibition of handicrafts, accessories, souvenirs, foods and entertainment shows, you must visit Global Village, located right next to IMG Worlds of Adventure. However, Global Village is open only during the winter months (November - April) and during evenings (after 4 pm).
#9 Largest artificial island (The Palm Jumeirah)
Another iconic place in Dubai that features in Guinness Book of World Records is The Palm Jumeirah. There are several ways you can enjoy this artificial island - you may choose to stay in one of the luxurious hotels located on the crescent of the palm-tree shaped island, visit one of the magnificent fine-dining restaurants or beach clubs in these hotels or simply walk on the seaside promenade which has recently developed into a popular path with food trucks, offering stunning views of the deep blue sea on one side and the iconic Atlantis hotel on the other.
How to get there: The monorail experience is a very interesting one for those looking to visit the Palm Island. At an elevated platform, the rail starts from the beginning of the 'trunk' of the palm-tree shape to Atlantis Hotel which is at the other end of the trunk, at the crescent. It provides a great vantage point to see the Palm and its attractions. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Green Route) which includes a trip to this area.
In the area: If it interests you, you may consider visiting Aquaventure Waterpark located in Atlantis the Palm. Personally, it is my favourite waterpark in the UAE and has some of the best water slides you'll ever experience.
Read my post on 10 things you must know before traveling to the UAE.
#10 Fastest roller-coaster (Formula Rossa, Abu Dhabi)
Located in Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Formula Rossa is not for the faint hearted! The roller-coaster holds the world record for the fastest in the world and gains a speed of 240 kms/hr within a span of 6 seconds. From the beginning until the end, the ride hardly lasts about 40 seconds but the excitement level shoots up at the very beginning and doesn't die down even a notch until the roller-coaster comes to a complete stop.
For the not-so-brave, there are several other experiential 4 & 5D rides, exhibitions, and easier roller-costers, in this Ferrari-themed park. Click here to know more about the rides, opening hours and tickets.
How to get there: The most economical option is to take the 190 Bus Route to Yas Island from Dubai' Al Ghubaiba Bus Station.
In the area: Another interesting attraction to visit on the Yas Island is the Yas Marina Circuit, the place where the yearly Grand Prix is held. Click here to read more on the experiences on offer.
#11 Largest Chandelier (at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque)
You must visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi not for the world record that it holds for the largest chandelier but for the architectural marvel that it is, as a whole. Not only are the interiors awe-inspiring but the exterior facade, pure white in colour and flawless in its magnificence, is sure to fascinate you. It is one of the few mosques in the UAE that is open to tourists but make sure you're dressed conservatively lest you may not be able to enter the mosque.
How to get there: Unfortunately, there is no direct bus to this mosque. It is, however, covered as part of Abu Dhabi City Tour (offered by many companies in the UAE) or can be reached by taxi from Abu Dhabi central bus station (where you can reach by bus from Dubai's Al Ghubaiba bus stop).
In the area: A popular South-east Asian restaurant located in Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal called Li Jiang is located not too far from the mosque and has a sumptuous food menu with an open kitchen and al fresco seating offering spectacular views of the Grand Mosque.
#12 Tallest residential building (Princess Tower in Dubai Marina)
Dubai Marina is one of my favourite places in Dubai not just because it is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers, one of which is Princess Tower, the tallest residential building in the world, but also because of the lively vibe, the cafes and restaurants on the waterfront promenade and the plethora of dining options available. Stroll on the marina walkway while you enjoy the spectacular site, cruise on a yacht or wooden dhow amidst these towering architectural wonders or simply step into one of the many bars and lounges with terraces offering breathtaking vistas.
How to get there: Dubai Metro red line will take you to the Dubai Marina metro station which is hardly a 5-minute walk from the waterfront promenade. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Blue Route) which includes a trip to this area.
In the area: Another interesting locale to explore near Dubai Marina is Jumeirah Beach Residences, Dubai's own version of South Beach Miami.
#13 World’s largest indoor ski slope (Ski Dubai)
Located in Mall of Emirates, Ski Dubai is the indoor snow park that offers more than just skiing; with activities ranging from zorbing to penguin encounters, snow bullet rides, and tubing, this is the ideal place for the nippers as well as adults to get away from the soaring temperatures and enjoy some adventure in a frosty atmosphere.
How to get there: Mall of Emirates metro station is located on the red line. The metro station is connected directly to the mall through a pedestrian walkway. Alternatively, you can also take the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour (Green Route) which includes a trip to this area.
In the area: Shop for some unique products at Virgin Megastore, located near the entrance of Ski Dubai or sip on a hot chocolate with marshmallows and M&Ms at Avalanche cafe, overlooking Ski Dubai. Fancy a drink? Head to Après, a bar offering spectacular views of Ski Dubai.
#14 Largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel (iFly Dubai)
Although many adventure seekers prefer Skydiving over the Palm Islands in Dubai, those who're looking for an exciting yet lesser scary alternative can head to Mirdiff City Centre for an indoor skydive experience in a wind tunnel, at iFly Dubai.
How to get there: Take the red line on the Dubai Metro to Rashidiya Metro station, which is a 5-minute walk from Mirdiff City Centre. There is also a bus service available from the metro station to the mall, free of charge.
In the area: Mirdiff City Centre is a mall that is popular for many family activities that it offers including bowling, a climbing wall, a soccer circus and an arcade with game simulators and rides.
#15 Largest water screen projection (Dubai Festival City)
Yet another massive mall offering hundreds of retail outlets, cafes and eateries as well as entertainment options, Dubai Festival City is best known for its newest attraction which has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records- the laser show that takes place at the promenade which is the largest water screen projection, called Imagine. A unique sensory experience based on light, water, fire, Aqua screens, and fountains, beware of being sprayed with the salty sea water if you stand too close to the water!
How to get there: From Mirdiff City Centre, the best way to travel to Festival City is by taxi as there is no other metro station close to the area.
In the area: Although there are several eateries, bars and retail outlets in the mall, my favorite is Hard Rock Cafe. Also, you might want to shop at Ikea while you're here as this is the only Ikea in Dubai.