Dubai is almost an extension of Pakistan for most of us. From Lahore or Islamabad, it’s almost like flying to Karachi. Home away from home! Well, that’s for most of us who’ve been there umpteen times, but a vast majority of people only yearn to visit the city of lights in the desert on the other side of the Gulf. Dubai has developed into this vast metropolis in the desert with gleaming towers and highways snaking through them in the last 20 odd years. I recall flying over Dubai in the early ‘80s from Karachi to Frankfurt en route to Los Angeles, the Pan Am pilot announced, on our left you can see the lights of Sharjah below. Dubai almost didn’t exist worth mentioning. Today, it is a global aviation hub having just surpassed Heathrow recently as the world’s busiest international airport. That’s just the first of many superlatives coming at you in this travelogue. In addition to landing at the busiest airport, if you are on Emirates, you will disembark at the $4.5 b terminal, the largest building in the world. Efficiency, design and ergonomics at its best. The more I travel the more I appreciate Dubai Terminal 3. Customs and immigration is a breeze and once you have collected your bags, I would suggest you take the escalator up to the Dubai Metro Station and purchase a NOL card for use in almost all public transportation in Dubai, from the extremely efficient metro system to the rapid transit bus system to the water taxis. If you are there for a week, charge it for about a 100 dirhams and you are set to go. I have had my NOL card for the last several years; you can use it again on your subsequent trips. I like using the metro because it’s extremely clean, efficient, always on time and I love their metro stations, which look like some futuristic space vehicle. With your NOL card you are truly independent around Dubai, from the airport all the way to Jebel Ali. I don’t need to call cousins and friends to pick or drop me off anywhere anymore. Let’s start at Ibne Battuta Mall in Jebel Ali at the other end of Dubai. Just having gone through a renovation, the mall now has a new elevated access to the metro station, making it more comfortable to get there in an air-conditioned walkway with travelators Let’s start at Ibne Battuta Mall in Jebel Ali at the other end of Dubai. Just having gone through a renovation and a new-elevated access from the mall to the metro station makes getting there more comfortable in an air-conditioned walkway with travelators. As with all malls in Dubai, all the major brands are represented but the real beauty is the theme of the mall which features all the famous places Ibne Battuta travelled to Persia, India, China etc. Hop on the metro and head on down to the Mall of the Emirates, acclaimed as the most profitable mall in the world. It has some of the chicest boutiques, restaurants, shisha bars, clubs, two five star hotels and an indoor year-round ski resort! Yes, you read that right, an indoor ski resort. I would highly recommend taking a go at the slopes. Skis and gear are available on rent and is probably the only time in your life you are going to ski down a slope, albeit a manmade, temperature controlled one. Have a great meal at the food court or numerous restaurants dotted around the mall and see the fashionably well-heeled world go by. Next down the road, literally, is the gargantuan Dubai Mall. Now, here are mouthfuls of superlatives for you. The world’s largest mall with the largest indoor aquarium next to the world’s largest manmade lake, with the largest fountain in the world, next to the tallest building in the world, with the highest restaurant in the world. I am sure I have missed some a few. Standing on the steps outside the Souk Al Bahar at dusk with the Burj Khalifa twinkling as the fountains dance in synchronicity to Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Time to say Goodbye’ is just incredible. That is one awe-inspiring experience. No trip to Dubai is complete without a desert safari. I would choose one from a five star hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, you will get a better group of tourists than if you get picked up from some of the other parts of the metropolis. I love my fellow Pakistanis but when I am abroad, I want to feel I am abroad and be surrounded as such! Get the point? If you are a beach person, Dubai has some of the most pristine beaches anywhere. Surfers trek all the way from Australia to come here to surf. The powder sand and crystal clear warm waters are perfect for a family barbeque at the beach in designated areas. Lifeguards are on duty during the daytime. The Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic structures in the world. It is a bit pricey but I would recommend a Friday brunch, just so you can say I have been there. Brunch at the Al Muntaha Restaurant that seems suspended atop the sail shaped hotel is AED 675 but worth every penny. The Palm Jumeirah, another manmade wonder set off the coast of Dubai is a must see. Take the tram from the trunk of the palm to the world famous Atlantis Hotel at the central tip of the outer circle of the palm. A brunch would be great but if you are on a budget, just have a mint lemonade on the terrace, take pictures and head back having tick marked the icon as been there, done that! If you are interested in the history of the emirate then head to the historical neighbourhood of Shindagha where you can see coral clad buildings beautifully preserved and the then Ruler of Dubai’s original homes preserved as a museum. From there take a traditional abra or water taxi across the famous Dubai Creek for only 1 AED or stroll the souk for souvenirs. Food is safe to have almost anywhere in the emirate, roadside shawarma and falafel stalls serve up the most delicious food on the go. These are just a few of the adventures to be enjoyed in this remarkable city. If you fancy extreme sports there is Skydive Dubai at the Palm Jumeirah. It costs AED 1,999 for a jump from 13,000ft with a professional instructor in a tandem jump. Acclaimed as the most scenic spot in the world for skydiving with the spectacularly beautiful Palm set in the turquoise waters of the Gulf below. If you are a shisha fan, there are thousands of shisha bars all over the city, but my favourite is ikandy at the Shangrila Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. City walk and Boxpark are new entrants to this city that never fails to amaze. Art galleries to chic cafes and boutiques are set in a unique outdoor setting, great for those pleasant winter afternoons when it’s best to visit Dubai, though I find it a year round destination. The newest addition is Dubai Opera in Downtown across from the Dubai Fountain. There is always something exciting happening there, check out their website for the latest shows and times. Dubai is a city that is constantly evolving. Every trip is filled with new discoveries. New malls, new restaurants, new neighbourhoods and new hotels! The writer is Quality Editor at Daily Times and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog is paichooblogs@instagram Published in Daily Times, September 9th 2017.