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Dubai crowned most overrated destination for ‘materialistic hell’

by Staff
Dubai was voted one of the most overrated travel destinations (picture: Getty Images)

Dubai has topped the list of the most overrated travel destinations in the world and we can’t say we’re surprised.

Endorsed by influencers as the ultimate getaway, Instagram is peppered with shots of ex-reality stars lounging in bikinis at over-priced beach clubs and shopping malls.

And it seems Reddit isn’t overly pleased. When one anonymous user named Dubai as an overrated destination, 10,000 people were quick to agree.

One user wrote: ‘Dubai has always sounded like a holiday in materialistic hell.’

Another said: ‘Dubai. It sucks so bad, there is nothing to do, and no culture. Unless you like gaudy designer bullshit or laying by the pool.’

Others branded it the destination of ‘nightmares’ saying they’d return ‘broke and stressed’ while some who had been to Dubai said ‘there was no joy. Nobody was having fun.’

This doesn’t mean it’s still not a popular destination though, with 13.9 million tourist visiting Dubai from January to October 2023.

TikTok even branded Dubai the most popular city of 2023 with a massive 76.8 billion global views.

If the TikTok algorithm so much as sniffs travel in your search history it will conjure up images of Dubai – with its Palm Jumeirahshopping centres and influencers beach clubs galore.

So why exactly did the city earn the title of the most overrated destination in the world?

Aerial view of Palm Jumeirah Islands. man made palm tree shaped islands in Dubai
Palm Jumeirah islands are the world’s first man made islands shaped like a palm tree with luxury residences, hotels and waterparks (picture: Getty Images)

The most disappointing attractions

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and is an attraction not to be missed if you head to Dubai, but it’ll set you back £44 minimum just to stand in excessive queues for the lifts up to the 163rd floor.

On TripAdvisor, Joe, from Bath, was underwhelmed when he visited, saying: ‘Don’t bother! Despite booking well in advance they sell way too many tickets each day so we were in queues for hours to get up and down. The view is ok, but given the choice I’d rather look at Google street view.’

Another TripAdvisor comment from Ivon, from Singapore, was equally disappointed, saying: ‘Be prepared to spend at least 2 hours in the queue just for the lift to go up and come down, unless you are getting the sky pass.

‘The viewing deck is really small, and there are always people sitting at each of the viewing window bay, taking their own sweet time to take pictures. Or perhaps they think they are having a picnic there. Honestly, nothing to shout about for the view. The view at the palm is way better.’

Cityscape with Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure in the World at 828 meters (picture: Getty Images)

The Dubai Mall is another major attraction but with luxury stores like Cartier and Harry Winston, you aren’t going to get much shopping done unless you’re very wealthy.

Jordan, from Lancashire, said: ‘The sheer vastness of this mall is simply breathtaking but also comes with many negatives. It’s so vast it’s impossible to see everything, the crowds are overwhelming and you wait ages for the lifts to go to different floors as there’s always too many people waiting for them. I personally hate shopping at the best of times so this was not a pleasant experience for me.’

The Dubai Mall with people waiting for the fountain to play its show
The Dubai Mall with people waiting for the fountain to play its show (picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Others described it as ‘overrated’, ‘overpriced’ and ‘pretentious’ – so it’s not sounding great to us.

Another tourist attraction that is slated by visitors is the Burj Al Arab. The iconic building is one of the tallest hotels in the world and you’ll likely be familiar with it’s appearance on Jumeirah Beach.

But it doesn’t live up to the hype for some. Those who stayed in the hotel said they were frustrated about the constant tours going past them of the hotel while those who were doing the tours weren’t that impressed either.

Visitor Igor said: ‘I don‘t recommend a visit. Too expensive. The most impressive part of the visit lasts less than a minute. It is [a] hotel lobby. It looks really fantastic, but you are not allowed to take a picture.

The Burj Al Arab is one of the tallest hotels in the world but visitors weren't impressed
The Burj Al Arab is one of the tallest hotels in the world but visitors weren’t impressed (picture: Getty Images)

‘So you pay 70-80 Euro (£68) for the whole visit and spend one minute crossing the lobby on the way to the elevator. You can stay and enjoy lounge bar, but be aware, it is not on the top, it has no panoramic view. It is the one on the ground floor.’

Praveen, who also visited, wasn’t impressed, saying: ‘Not so amazing as hyped. The inside tour is also average.’

The Lost Chambers Aquarium was also deemed to be a bit of a let down according to visitors, and with admission starting at £33 per person that’s not what you want to hear.

Yes there are sharks, eels, seahorses and piranhas (sounds impressive if you ask us) but that didn’t satisfy everyone.

Sally wrote on TripAdvisor: ‘Save your money. We’re visiting from the UK and the Sealife Centre in Birmingham is bigger! Dubai Lost Chambers sold as taking two plus hours. It’s one small area – 45 mins max. Only one large tank with one shark. Poor value for money

Another said: ‘Its very, very small and you need about half an hour to one hours maximum if you really go slow. Not worth the money. Nothing spectacular.’

Influencer culture

After the trend of de-influencing took off on social media in 2023, many of us have become more sceptical and maybe even annoyed by what we see flooding our Instagram and TikTok feeds.

One of the huge trends among influencers is holidaying in Dubai, with the Guardian dubbing the UAE city the influencer capital of the world.

In fact, the infamous Tarte influencer trip to Dubai in January last year meant our favourite social media personalities took some heat for their time in the UAE.

Tarte invited 33 influencers and their plus-ones to Dubai’s deserts to promote its Maracuja Juicy Glow Foundation. This included Alix Earle, Meredith Duxbury, Money McMichael and others – meaning about 28 million followers combined were being influenced to travel to Dubai, as well as buy a new product.

The influencers were slammed for being tone deaf and the sheer opulence of the trip was also frowned upon, adding to the idea that Dubai is materialistic and shallow.

Other overrated destinations

It wasn’t just Dubai that took the heat on the Reddit thread though – plenty of other adored destinations did too.

Niagara Falls, the eighth wonder of the world, also made the list with 3,000 people agreeing it was a bit of ‘a dump’.

Another highly popular destination was Disney World. The Redditor wrote: ‘Disney World. I had to wait in line just to type this.’

Niagara Falls was branded a dump by Redditors
Niagara Falls was branded a dump by Redditors (picture: Getty Images)

Nearly 5,500 people agreed with others saying ‘you turn into a human cash dispenser the moment you step foot in those parks’.

The Maldives was branded only good for ‘eating and f**king’ while Miami, LA, Mykonos, Jamacia and Egypt also all made the list, so no destination is off limits.


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