Dubai, a city built up from the sand grains of the Gulf desert is iconic for a reason. There are few places in the world where you can rub shoulders with sheikhs (true story)! In this photo essay, we explore Dubai from aboard a Seawings Cessna (seaplane). What we saw replaced the end of a famous colloquial saying of “What glitters…(in Dubai) must certainly be gold!”
Prior to our Seawings experience, we had only ever typically seen a city skyline from 30,000 feet during airport take-offs and landings. With the Seawings Cessna flying at approximately 1,500 feet, we were afforded a closer, more intimate look at the city skyline.
A light dust haze filtered the sun’s rays which, combined with the reflection from over one thousand glass buildings, cast a soft golden hue over the city creating a magical and almost mysterious effect.
From the air, Dubai looks like one massive urban art project, combining colour and form with dazzling effect. Green grass from the city’s parks contrast with the golden aridity of the surrounding desert while blues tones from artificial lakes contrast with endless black asphalt and shiny high rise towers. This unique view makes you appreciate Dubai’s journey from desert to paradise.
The World Islands
With a quick turn over the gigantic Meydan Racecourse, the city skyline soon disappeared in the dust haze as we flew out towards the Persian Gulf and soon over The World Islands. It felt surreal to see this engineering wonder from such close proximity.
We could almost make out the distinct shape of each island and with some imagination, the continents they represented. Apart from two inhabited islands, their stark emptiness made them look like a deserted planet from a science fiction movie. With Dubai’s ambition, we could only imagine what the same view would look like in five years.
The Burj Khalifa
Our tour began with a circular flight path around the ever visible Burj Khalifa, a building which has broken several world records, more recently being the host for the highest BASE Jump ever recorded. Although our seaplane didn’t get too close, for a brief moment, we felt special simply because we were momentarily higher than world’s tallest building!
The Burj Al Arab
The Cessna flew back towards land, banked right and flew parallel to the coastline for a few minutes, allowing us to take in the undulating form of the Burj Al Arab. Only the day before, we had enjoyed a session of sunset yoga on Al Qasr beach at the Madinat Jumeirah but could only admire the building from afar.
Now, from a bird’s eye view, we could fully appreciate the unique design of the hotel. Built to portray a dhow with its sail full of wind, the Burj Al Arab gives a respectful nod to the UAE’s maritime past.
We soon broke from the straight flight path to head back out to sea again. Below us, the Dubai glitterati enjoyed their early evening water sports as we flew overhead. Speedboats created white streaks on the blue Gulf waters while dhows seemed like tiny white dots from our height.
However, the temporary distraction they provided was soon forgotten as we approached the next and probably the most spectacular sight of the tour.
The Palm Jumeirah
Circling the Palm Jumeirah from above is an experience that leaves the viewer spellbound by the Emiratis achievements. With the sun on our west, the Palm Jumeirah was bathed in glorious natural light.
Like a mythical hydra-headed sea creature, its palms reached out in all directions with the Atlantis Hotel forming a jewel in its ringed crown.
Leaving The Palm behind, the Cessna flew over the perfect rings of the Jumeirah Islands, over the impressive interchange on Sheikh Zayed Road and then towards the ongoing Jebel Ali port extension construction project.
Although the port was deserted, we could clearly see that Dubai was already looking to break another construction record.
Our dream-like state was brought to an end with the bump of the Cessna against the waters of Jebel Ali where the tour ended. Our total flight time was 40 minutes.
At ground level, you can appreciate the scale of Dubai’s ambition. However, through a Seawings Dubai experience, that appreciation is multiplied several times over, not only leaving you in awe but leaving you wanting more.
We left this majestic city much like children experiencing the excitement of Disneyland for the first time, wowed by our experience. And remember those sheikhs we mentioned at the beginning of the article?
Well, we happened to ‘bump’ into Sheikh Ahmed (President of Dubai’s Civil Aviation Authority). Less a bump, and more of a surprise witnessing of his presence actually. We were gathering our belongings after passing through airport security, and suddenly everything stopped and all of the airport security personnel stood up straight. We turned around and noticed in true Dubai fashion, an elaborate delegation dressed in all white briskly walking by. We figured it was someone important when everyone began murmuring “His Highness” very softly.
From seaplane to airport, everything in Dubai is designed to create an impression. We certainly departed admiring the sheer scale of Dubai’s ambition.
Tips for booking a Seawings Dubai Seaplane Tour
- We booked the Dubai Creek to Jebel Ali Golf Resort tour. However, if you wish to avoid travelling back from Jebel Ali, we recommend you do the tour which starts and ends at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.
- By law, you will need to present your passport for the flight.
- While it was not compulsory to purchase souvenirs, we felt strongly that we needed something which physically captured our experience. The beautiful captain’s log therefore seemed like a worthy keepsake.
- We sat in the VIP premier seats in the back of the plane, which provide extra leg room, and are the only conjoined, sofa-style seats on the aircraft.
- Bookings can be made directly with Seawings through their website.
Disclaimer: We were guests of Seawings, on behalf of House of Coco magazine. However, all views and opinions remain ours.
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