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Dubai - Racing on the desert

Photo by Wael Hneini on Unsplash

As the good sportswoman I am, even though an amateur, I try to couple vacation trips with a race in the cities I visit. Marathons are usually held in the Fall, as no one wants to run 42 km in the heat or in a very cold temperature.

I got a week off from work, but it was in January. Luckily, a friend told me about the Dubai Marathon. I thought: "No way! I'm going to die while running due to the heat". Despite that first thought, I started to research and found out that I was totally wrong, and that I actually didn't know anything about Dubai. That made me completely interested.

Jacket, yes!

I signed up for the marathon. I left for Dubai on January 22nd, 2020. I had know idea about what was to come in 2020. Terrible year. Anyway, as I arrived in Dubai, full winter was on, but it is not really what we expect from winter. It was a great time to enjoy the city, and also to practice my favourite sport: on the day of the race, it was 13 degrees celsius and it even rained a little, which is rare. The rain and the cold helped athletes a lot. At the end, we even enjoyed putting on a cardigan.

How to get there

Emirates flies from Brazil and numerous other cities in North America and Europe to Dubai. Needless to say, the flight was wonderful, the company's reputation is one of the best in the world, and lived up to it. I can say that I am a privileged person, as I traveled in business class. I had many perks on account of that flight. The service was perfect, delicious food, in fact, the best morning pancakes of my life. Not to mention the bar in the back. I couldn't really enjoy the bar because of the marathon. It wouldn't be wise to drink two days before running 42 km. But I made up for it on my way back and I enjoyed it. Better, loved it!

Where to stay

As expected, the hotel options in Dubai are huge, the city offers accommodation for all budgets, as well as hotels closer to tourist activities and others further away. I stayed at the V Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton, super modern, with psychedelic corridors. Upon entering the room, a surprise: totally different from anything I had seen before, with a bathtub in the middle of the room. Not to mention the welcome electronic music, paired with delicious chocolates and macaroons.

But, as I said, there are hotels of all prices, ​​and for all tastes. Do your research, and pick one that fits your needs.

Do not stop

Dubai is an expensive city, especially if you are coming from a region (currency) where the exchange rate to the dollar/euro combo is bad. So, my suggestion is to make the most of your time there, and get to see and experience as much as you can.

There are a lot of beautiful things to see, and a lot of interesting stuff to do. As tempting as it is to take an extra nap, don't. Hit the street! Ah ...spending is in dirhams.

I hired a guide who speaks my native language (Brazilian Portuguese) and, with her, I went to the old downtown, hearing a lot about the place's history and culture, while taking a tour that lasted the whole day. It was worth every penny to have a private tour in my own language, and it gave me the opportunity to ask many questions, and learn about the local culture, and especially about the lives of local women.

I also did other sport-related tours, as I love outdoor activities. The first of these was an hour-long Jet Ski ride, which stopped in front of the Burj Al Arab (one of the tallest and most luxurious hotels in the world). I used a company named Nemo WaterSports for that. I also went on a desert safari.

In addition to doing these tours that are close to my own interests, I visited places that no tourist should miss: the gigantic Burj Khalifa, the Dubai fountains, the wonderful Aquarium and La Mer, among others.

Arab delicacies

If there's one thing I love about the trips I take, it's eating - tasting the local specialties. On my first day, I went to the Arabian Tea House, a wonderful typical restaurant. There was a line to get in, but the wait was worth it! As a lover of good coffee, whenever I could, I stopped to enjoy one accompanied by a sweet, as I am flesh and blood.


If there is a city in the world that does not lack shopping areas, it is Dubai. In fact, it has one of the largest shopping malls in the world, the Dubai Mall. To get an idea of ​​the place's size, it has 1,200 stores, more than 20 movie theatres, a hotel and a skating rink. Ah, the Aquarium, which I mentioned above, is also inside the Dubai mall, and it houses 33,000 marine animals.

If you are not in the mood to spend your time in the city visiting a mall, go to one of the traditional souks (street markets) in the city, where you will find lots of gold, fabrics and spices. Do I need to say bargain? Well, do it, it's part of their culture and prices can go down a lot.


The city is beautiful, touristic and surprisingly organised, everything works. In addition, it is one of the safest cities in the world and you can easily walk around. Getting around by public transportation was very easy, I used it all the time, in all corners.

You see people from all around the world there, but the predominance is Chinese and Indians, given the geographic proximity to these countries.

Dubai Marathon

I cannot fail to mention my experience at the Dubai marathon, which also has other races, in addition to the 42 km. The overall competition is very well organised. The 42 km were totally flat, on very wide avenues.

If you don't run, you are probably asking yourself: "go to Dubai to run?" - I will tell you, it is a great way to get to know the city from a different perspective, with different eyes. It was my sixth marathon and one of the best I've ever done.

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