A SAND tiger shark swishes past, as we gaze into the underwater world below.

The view from our glass bottom boat is stunning, but not as amazing perhaps, as our location. Thousands of fish glide in and out of the coral as if we drift near a tropical island. Yet, bizarrely, we are floating above a ten million litre fish tank, in the middle of a shopping centre.

Set behind 75cm thick acrylic glass, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is home to more than 33,000 fish. The scale of the aquarium is hard to comprehend as you watch mesmerised tourists stop and stare, dwarfed by its presence.

The Dubai Aquarium is part of Dubai Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world, attracting over 65 million visitors in 2012.

Daily Echo: Dubai Aquarium

Towering above the mall stands the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 828 metres high. Standing on the observation deck provides the perfect spot to take in the grandeur of this modern metropolis.

Daily Echo: View from the Burj Khalifa

A wonder of architectural creativity, high tech sculptures of glass and steel rising from the arid desert that stood before them just a few decades ago.

Pristinely clean and futuristic in design, Dubai feels like a city ahead of its time, a testament of what man can achieve with vision, technology and lots of money.

No wonder Dubai has become world renowned as a haven for the super rich.

Constructed with luxury in mind, Dubai delivers experiences beyond expectation, if you can accept the artificial environment in which you find them.

One of Dubai’s best known creations is The Palm Jumeirah, an island in the shape of a palm tree reclaimed from the Persian Gulf.

A great way to view the island is with a motor yacht cruise from Dubai Marina Yacht Club. Leaving the marina, we admired the city’s stunning architecture at a leisurely pace, while champagne and caviar were prepared below by the yacht’s onboard chef. First we spotted the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel, where we had previously enjoyed North Indian delights at the hotel’s Amala restaurant. Passing paddle boarders, pristine beaches and yachts the size of cruise ships, we continued our journey along the Jumeirah Beach to view one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks, the opulent seven star hotel, the Burj Al Arab.

Daily Echo: Giant yachts leaving Dubai Marina

With a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars to chauffeur guests, and round the clock butler service, the Burj Al Arab, maybe beyond the budget of most holidaymakers, but you don’t need to be an oil tycoon to enjoy a luxury break in Dubai, especially in the summer months when there are plenty of deals to be found.

During my stay, I discovered the Hotel Vida, a stunning boutique hotel that provided a service way beyond its four star rating.

Daily Echo: The Swimming pool at Hotel Vida

Modern in design, my room featured an open plan bathroom, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a 42in smart TV. The hotel also has some fantastic restaurants, including Toko, a contemporary Japanese izakaya restaurant, offering succulent sushi, and robata grill. In addition, the hotel has a French style boulangerie and bistro called La Serre, providing everything from fresh bread and patisseries to fine dining at the chef’s table. For an indulgent banquet of culinary delights, visit the hotel’s Urban Picnic on a Friday, and spend the afternoon grazing on seafood, grilled meats, fresh breads and wonderful salads, washed down with fine wines to mark the start of the Arabic weekend.

Daily Echo: One of the rooms at Hotel Vida

Best suited to couples, the Hotel Vida is perfectly located for those looking to explore downtown Dubai, and is in easy reach of Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa.

A great way to see the city is with a segway tour. Whizzing along the pavement creates a gentle breeze to help you keep cool as you take in the sights. However, as the ladies giggling behind their burkas pointed out, there’s a difference between keeping cool and looking cool, as I tried to maintain balance while wearing a lime green crash helmet.

For a taste of historical Dubai, a visit to Bastakiya is a must. Take a ride across the creek in a traditional abra boat, or marvel at the classic architecture with its winding narrow lanes and wind tower houses. Now a heritage site Bastakiya is home to museums, a cultural centre and the contemporary XVA Art gallery and hotel.

With a wonderful vegetarian cafe and 13 individually designed hotel rooms, XVA has to be one of the most unique places to stay in the city.

If you prefer a beach holiday, then the Ritz- Carlton hotel has it all. Luxury accommodation, pristine white sand, a lavishly landscaped garden, and – if the beach gets too hot – they even cool the swimming pool.

Daily Echo: These camels soak up the heat whilst looking towards Dubai

For a fun way to beat the heat, we headed to Aquaventure, an exhilarating water park, situated on the vast Atlantis hotel complex on The Palm. Featuring slides to test your vertigo, and rides that pass through shark tanks, we screamed and splashed our way around the park, sharing the best experience on a six-person raft ride named Zoomerango.

As the sun goes down, an evening at The Address Montgomerie golf course provides an opportunity to play a round of golf in lower temperatures. Alternatively you can master your skills with a lesson from Newcastle lass Nikki Hunter, who joined the club as an instructor earlier this year.

No trip to Dubai would be complete without a trip to see the desert. Joining Galaxia Tours on their Desert Safari, we ventured out for a bracing journey across the golden landscape in luxury 4x4s. Carving our way through the dunes, we made our way to a Bedouin Camp for an evening of Arabian entertainment, including shisha pipes, belly dancers and an impressive barbecue dinner and buffet. Enjoying my first experience of camel riding, I glanced across the desert, and tried to imagine the nomadic lifestyle, travelling across this barren landscape in search of an oasis.

I wonder what those ancient explorers would have made of that giant fish tank.

Daily Echo: The luxury 4x4s carve their way through the dunes

Fact File

For more information about Dubai call Dubai Tourism on 020 7321 6110 or visit www.definitelydubai.com

Virgin Atlantic flies daily to Dubai from London Heathrow. Economy fares start from £555 per person including all applicable taxes. For more information call 0344 2092770 or visit www.virgin-atlantic.com.

Vida have a summer special offer, available until 30 September, £112 per night, including breakfast. www.vida-hotels.com

Friday brunch at Vida’s Urban Picnic, 1-5 pm. 225 AED with non-alcoholic drinks = £35295 AED with house drinks =£47

Galaxia Tours provide desert safari tours included dune bashing, a BBQ dinner with non-alcoholic drinks, shisha, henna painting, camel riding, sand boarding and entertainment for 150 AED = £25 per person. www.galaxia.com

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall: http://www.thedubaiaquarium.com/ Entry to the underwater zoo and glass bottom boat is 110 AED = £18 

At the Top viewing platform, Burj Khalifa Entry is 125 AED = £20

Aquaventure at Atlantis The Palm.

Day tickets are 250 AED = £40 Summer promotion: entry to Aquaventure, as well as entry to the Lost Chambers aquarium and lunch, for usual day ticket price (£40)


Yacht cruise, organised by Dubai Marina Yacht Club


A daytime picnic cruise which includes bubbly, caviar and a private on board chef costs from £100 per person (based on 8 people).

Segway tour of Downtown Dubai


160 AED for a 30 minute tour = £25

Golf lesson at The Address Montgomerie Dubai. http://www.themontgomerie.com/ A 1 hour lesson is 455 AED = £73

Amala at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

Amala serves an à la carte menu where guests are able to order as many North Indian dishes as they like at a set price of 295 AED = £47

Ritz-Carlton Dubai


Like many hotels in Dubai, they offer reduced room rates in the summer period. For example, on selected dates in July room rates start from 850 AED / £136.