Natalya DeSena Photography: 24 Hours in Dubai


It feels like Brett and I have been gone from Maine for months, but it’s only been 12 days. As a Maine and New England wedding photographer one of my goals is to travel during my off season because traveling is one of my biggest passions. We’re traveling for 3.5 weeks and for most of that time we’re in Bali, but we decided to make a pit stop in Dubai.

Dubai is a big layover hub so I wanted to write this post for anyone traveling through Dubai with a long layover or for anyone looking to go to Dubai. We extended our 3 hour layover to 24 hours and iIt was the best decision ever. Here is why…

Dubai has a lot of extravagant hotels to choose from and most of them are currently discounted by 50-75%. They’re so cheap because the city is really trying to push tourism. We stayed in a nice hotel that was close to the airport since we only had 24 hours. Carleton Place wasn’t the fanciest of hotels, but it was charming and extremely inexpensive. We booked our king room for $70 for the night.

For the first part of the day we walked through the gold and spice souks (markets) of the city. (These markets are similar to the ones in Marrakech for anyone who has been to Morocco). As Brett and I walked through the side streets we quickly became known as Shakira and Justin Bieber. It was hilarious. I also got called Shakira in Marrakech…. hmmmmmmmmm.

In the afternoon we went on a desert camel safari, which was absolutely incredible. The guide picked us up from our hotel and drove us to the safari location, which was an hour outside of the city. We met our camel convoy and enjoyed a 45 minute camel ride, which was a great way to connect with the desert and understand what transportation was like for the nomadic Bedouins. The ancient art of Falconry is a big deal for the people of the UAE so I was excited that we also got to watch a falconry demonstration.

As the sun set we approached a compound in the middle of the rolling sand dunes that was illuminated by flame torches . Inside the compound we sipped Arabic coffee and enjoyed a 4-course Emirati feast. They demonstrated traditional cooking methods such as slow cooking lamb in a cast iron pot under the ground. They also served camel and I was completely unaware that it was part of their cultural diet. Towards the end of the evening there was traditional music, dancing and shisha smoking. This tour was a great investment and I highly recommend it to anyone going to Dubai. You won’t regret it!

Hope you enjoy the photos 🙂