During my trip to Dubai, I stayed on Jumeirah Palm Island. Most people are shocked when I tell them that Dubai has islands. Their surprise is warranted, since, just ten years ago, Dubai’s islands did not exist. Jumeirah Palm is manmade and sits in the Gulf in the shape of a palm leaf, with fronds and a stem that lead toward a crescent that is home to some of Dubai’s most luxurious hotels, including the Atlantis and the Rixos. Jumeirah will be the smallest of three manmade Palm islands, but it is currently the only one complete. (Deira Palm Island, which will be three times the size of Jumeirah and will become the largest manmade island in the world, should be ready by 2020, when Dubai expects to host the World’s Fair.)
If you’ve traveled the eastern Arabian Peninsula, you may have noticed the highest mountain range that sits between Oman and the United Arab Emirates, known as the Hajjar Mountains. But the Hajjar Mountains have diminished. Nearly all of the sand and rock being used to create these artificial islands have been stripped from Hajjar. So much in fact, that you can take all of the construction material used for these islands, build a wall five feet thick, and it would wrap around the planet two and a half times, as per my very informative guide from Desert Adventures.
Funny Stories About the Dubai Islands
As Dubai continues to expand, myriad stories come to fruition and many of them are centered around these manmade islands. One project that is still under way features the Islands of the World. With 300 islands that are in the shape of the countries across our planet, a number of oddities are associated with this archipelago. Firstly, the countries are not drawn to scale, leaving Denmark, somehow, as the biggest of the islands. At the moment, the only two islands that have any sort of structures on it are Greenland–a gift to the Shiekh–and Lebanon–which has been established as the party island. When plans were being proposed and before developers settled on this theme, there was even a proposal that this Dubai island project should resemble Darth Vader’s helmet. (The proposal was thrown out.)
Not So Funny Stories About the Dubai Islands
While building these architectural feats have yielded an impressive increase in Dubai’s shoreline and produced some incredible and luxurious attractions, the construction of these islands created a major environmental disaster. The sea had stopped flowing, leading to the death of many organisms.
Where I Stayed: Rixos The Palm
This new resort at the end of Jumeirah Palm is much smaller than many of the mega resorts in the city. When you enter the beautiful lobby, with its pool filled with flower petals and its staff waiting to serve you sweet dates, Turkish delight, and Arabica coffee, you get a good sense of the first class treatment that awaits. More impressive were the rooms. I stayed in an enormous mid-level suite. While everything was comfortable and elegant and state-of-the-art, the bathrooms were the most impressive feature. And it was the simplest amenity that made the experience so cool. Yet I’ve never seen it anywhere else until Dubai.
Somehow, over the last few decades, when indoor plumbing became a thing, the bathroom has been rendered the room least touched by innovation. But at the Rixos, a simple idea made a huge impact. Instead of having one shower head, my shower had two, which were placed about ten feet from one another. As couples know, the idea of taking a romantic shower together usually results with one partner hogging the shower stream. At the Rixos, both partners get their own shower head and they can still engage in all of the other romantic what-have-you without the chill of neglect and water pressure. In one hotel room, at another resort, where the price tag for one night was $13,000, they also had two shower heads, but nowhere near as impressive as the set up in my Rixos bathroom.
Though my itinerary was quite hectic during my visit, I made sure to wake up early each morning to have a few peaceful moments on Rixos’s beach. It’s a peaceful place, away from the chaotic scenes at some of the other resorts.
While the breakfast buffet at Rixos the Palm offered dozens of dishes, it became a little repetitive over the course of my three-day visit. The dinner buffet at A La Turca, however, was much more sumptuous. Sadly, I had to run to catch my flight and was unable to join my host at the hotel’s British-influenced bar or hear live music at their fine dining Italian restaurant or enjoy smokes at their hookah lounge.
Note: My trip to Dubai was sponsored by the tourist board and my room was included in my stay, but all of the above information is honest.