Destination Specialist Update on Dubai: 10 Questions with Leyan Saleh
Leyan Saleh, one of our Destination Specialists, visited Dubai earlier in the year. We caught up with Leyan to get some of her updates on Dubai and to learn some of the best tips for selling Dubai vacations to travellers.
1. Where did you travel?
I went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
2. What is the number one thing agents should know about Dubai?
People should know how safe Dubai is. I never realized that it was this safe. I stayed back alone for an extra couple days and usually when travelling alone I would plan to be back at my hotel at a specific time to make sure I am not out late as a single woman. However, in Dubai, you feel so safe being out and about late at night, or going places alone. I was told by a local that crime rates are some of the lowest in the world. If you were to leave your phone on a table in the middle of a food court, it’s unlikely it would get stolen. Dubai is very safe and accepting of people from all walks of life.
3. What is the biggest misconception about Dubai?
That it is very strict and everything is prohibited and there is a strict dress code. When in reality that does not exist. The dress code is only while visiting the mosque. I am not saying that you can walk around the city streets in nothing but a bikini. However, it is not as strict as people might think it is. Number one reason is due to all the expats that live in Dubai and make it so international and diverse.
4. What was your favourite hotel?
The Paramount Midtown Business Bay! This is a new Paramount property built earlier in 2022. They have a beautiful rooftop panoramic pool with amazing views of the skyline and the friendliest and most welcoming staff. Also, the bedroom was huge, the bathtub was beautiful, and to top it all off, each room had a Nespresso coffee machine in it. For a coffee addict like me, I was shocked. Not to mention, the location of the hotel is perfect. It’s on Business Bay, meaning it’s only six minutes away from Dubai Mall.
5. What new things did you learn about Dubai?
For one, I learned how easy it is to get around and how accessible everything is. As well, I learned how easy it is to communicate with everyone. Usually travelling to a Middle Eastern country means there might be some struggles with talking to locals. However, in Dubai everyone is so welcoming, everyone is so helpful, and everyone wants to talk to you and make sure you are loving your time in Dubai. I also learned how Dubai is probably the nicest city I have ever visited, especially compared to back home in Toronto. I think I would rather live there!
6. What was your favourite local experience?
I loved taking the Abra to the souks in Old Dubai. It was such a nice experience riding the water taxi and seeing the old city of Dubai as you ride. I also loved the cultural lunch we had at the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cultural Centre. Not only did we have a chance to experience authentic Emirati cuisine, but we also ate it in a cultural way, which means while sitting on the ground. While having lunch we had the chance to learn all about the Emirati Culture and we had the chance to ask any questions we wanted about the country and its people. I love how they go by “Open Doors Open Minds,” which shows how rich of a culture it is and that they are open to teach it to the world with no filters.
7. What was your favourite individual landmark?
I loved the Museum of the Future. It makes sense why it is the most beautiful building in the world. I have never seen a building like it. I spent an hour just standing outside mesmerized by the calligraphy on the building. It really is a step into the future. I would suggest booking your tickets early in advance, as it seems like tickets sell out quickly.
8. What were your favourite local dishes or drinks?
My favorite local drink was Arabic coffee. Every time we went somewhere we would be offered coffee and dates. It was so interesting to see how everyone made the coffee differently. Either by adding more water, more coffee, or more cardamom. Each cup was a different experience and spoke a different language to me.
9. What would be the perfect complement as an extension to this trip?
I think a visit to Türkiye would be the perfect extension to this trip! It’s less than a five-hour flight away. The same way Dubai feels like you are visiting the entire world in one city, Istanbul gives you a similar feeling. It is a city of languages and cuisines and just a little less luxurious than Dubai. Türkye is full of love, history, nature, and probably the best kabob in the world. Romantic Türkiye is a great vacation option.
10. What are your top three tips for agents who want to sell Dubai?
One: Dubai is a city with lots to see. Prepare your guests for long days ahead or have them spend a longer time in Dubai in order to see and experience everything.
Two: Dubai is for everyone! No matter your age or whether it is a family trip with little ones, a honeymoon or even a group of friends, there is something for everyone!
Three: Honestly, Dubai sells itself. It has the world’s largest mosque, the world’s most beautiful building, the world’s largest mall, the world’s largest aquarium, and the world’s tallest building. It is a city that loves to break world records and if that doesn’t sell Dubai, then I am not sure what does.