Why Dubai is perfect for a 24 hour stopover

Why visit Dubai for 24 hours?  Good question,  especially for someone like me, who is both fascinated and appalled by the idea of a city with so many "world's largest" attractions, including the "Ski Dubai" indoor ski resort, with its 22,500 square meters of indoor ski area and similarly world record greenhouse gas emissions. 

Yes, it's "Vegas on steroids"  and, like too many cities, this fishing village-turned -megalopolis has been built on the sweat and tears of an exploited underclass of foreign labourers. 

But if you're a weary economy-class traveller who doesn't want to arrive in Europe feeling like a zombie, a Dubai stopover is an ideal solution.

One alternative, if you have less than 24 hours, is the airport "transit" area's Dubai International Terminal Hotel, with its pool, spa and gym. 

But the best way to unwind, especially between November and March, when temperatures remain below 30 Celsius, is to head for the beach.

If I were rich, I'd  try Jumeirah Beach's famous sailing-boat shaped Burj al Arab Hotel, the world's only seven-star hotel (if only to discover what the last two stars are for). And I'd eat the world's most expensive afternoon tea– a 620 dirham ($A214) seven -course affair served in the hotel's 27th floor Skyview Bar.

Instead, I stayed in the city centre of Deira,  near " Old" Deira, site of the spice, gold and perfume souks, and of  Heritage House, an 1890  former pearl merchant's house that is the city's best museum  and  a tourist's only chance to get a sense of early 20th-century  Dubai.

Taking my hotel shuttle to Al Mamzar Beach, I paid a five dirham entrance fee, and walked past a park where women in black abayas were picnicking with their families. On the sand, only about one in five bathers were female but there were plenty of bikinis in sight. Hiring a beach umbrella and lounge (10 dirham) I spent a luxurious afternoon  alternately reading and  swimming in the warm aquamarine waters of the Arabian Gulf.

 That night a better tourist than me would have visited one of the 150 restaurants in the Dubai Mall,  and walked  on its promenade, which overlooks both the world's tallest tower, the  Burj Khalifa, as well as the Burj Khalifa Lake.  Instead, I had a bath and room service. But I  arrived in Istanbul feeling fresh and rested .

Fly: Qantas and Emirates fly to Dubai 14 times a day with onward connections to Europe. Prices to Europe from $1600 return depending on time of year .Specials for stopovers are at emirates.com 

Stay: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek; Novotel Deira City Centre.

Eat: Almaz by Momo ( Mall of the Emirates) Arabian Tea House (Al-Fahidi Street, Bastakiya)