Chartering a yacht in St. Tropez or jumping into a black cab in London might be the best way to see your destination, but here in the UAE, to really appreciate this diverse metropolis, the only way is up. With miles of cosmopolitan beachfront, boundless golden desert, mind-blowing manmade islands and a city skyline like no other, get a head for heights and take to the skies in Dubai.
The helicopter ride
Chartering a helicopter needn’t only be for an impromptu James Bond style thrill ride over the city, but is great for business travel. HeliDubai offers airport transfers and tailor-made flights across the UAE in their fleet of luxury Agusta 109E helicopters, complete with leather interiors and air conditioning. For pleasure seekers they also offer scenic tours: a 12-minute Heritage Tour, which takes in the key historical sights of Dubai (and the Burj Khalifa) and a 22-minute Explorer Tour which continues on to the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and The Palm Jumeirah. www.helidubai.com
Perhaps not the way to make an entrance into a board meeting, but certainly a great off-duty thrill, sky diving offers unparalleled views of the city, that is, if you can stomach jumping out of a plane at 4,000 metres. At Skydive Dubai, whose drop-off zone is right by the sea between The Palm and Dubai Marina, their friendly and experienced team will pretty much hold your hand throughout the whole experience. Those who have never skydived before can give it a go with a tandem jump, harnessed to a professional instructor. And for the more serious and veteran of skydivers, they also offer training programmes. www.skydivedubai.ae
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Hot air ballooning
If serenity and tranquillity is more in line with your idea of a sky-high adventure, then hot air ballooning over the desert is the way up for you. Balloon Adventures Emirates will whisk you away to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where you will take flight for a breath-taking one-hour sunrise balloon ride over the stunning desert dunes and impressive Hajar Mountains. Private charters can be arranged with balloons catering for 1-4 and 5-8 people. www.ballooning.ae
The seaplane adventure
With so many man-made islands rising out of the ocean and cherry topped with remarkable feats of architecture, Dubai’s seascape certainly has a lot to offer and a seaplane tour is one of the best ways to take in such a vast panorama. Seawings offers several tours of Dubai taking in all the highlights, both the old and new, including the Dubai Creek, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and The World as well as a 25-minute tour of Abu Dhabi’s stunning cityscape.
For the ultimate in luxury transport, Seawings seaplanes can also be chartered for business and leisure exploits including unique journeys across the emirates and to the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman and Sir Baniyas Island and Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. www.seawings.ae
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The world’s tallest tower
Step in a glamorous elevator and 60 seconds later you'll find yourself transported 555m up to the world’s highest manmade viewing platform on the world’s tallest building. A trip 148 storeys up to the new viewing lounge of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – ‘At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY’ offers a truly spectacular view over the city and one that not many experience, as only 50 people per hour are given access to this new deluxe viewing lounge and outdoor terrace. www.burjkhalifa.ae
The virtual city tour
If you are bound to your hotel room but still want that bird’s eye view of the city, log on to Dubai360.com – the world’s first online virtual city tour which takes in Dubai’s sights using fully interactive and immersive 360 degree panoramic photo, time-lapse and videos content. Filmed from the top of the Burj Khalifa and from helicopters above the city, the sweeping panoramas are pretty impressive. www.dubai360.com