Destination of the Week: Dubai
Dubai is a city speeding towards the future while still holding on strong to traditional roots. One day, you could be riding a camel in the desert, and the next, spending up big at an international shopping festival. With an island shaped like a palm tree, the world’s tallest building and World Expo 2020 gearing up to be a monumental event, Dubai is on everyone’s travel radar.
What to do
Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, has 2 observation decks on the 124th and the 148th floors, a restaurant bar on the 122nd floor and it’s seven times the height of Big Ben! You can zoom to the top to check out the views through high-powered telescopes.
Not to be beaten in the shopping stakes either, Dubai Mall is the largest in the world with over 1000 stores, an ice rink, aquarium and theme parks. For shopping with a cultural twist, head to the Al Fahidi Historic District, where you can also see exhibits, art galleries and a section of the old city wall from 1800. If you simply can’t get enough of spending your dirham, there’s also the souks, most specifically the Gold Souk, famous for cheap jewellery.
Check out 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab, the Dubai Museum and The Grand Jumeriah Mosque, take a helicopter flight to admire the spectacular site of the Palm Islands or go on a desert safari and sand-board down Dubai’s dunes. When you need a break from all the action, relax at JBR Beach, which is especially good for water sports and children’s activities.
Where to stay
Dubai is famously home to luxurious lodgings fit for royalty, with butler service, personal shoppers, spa treatments and anything else you can imagine, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Luckily, there’s also a variety of international hotel brands, bed and breakfasts and boutique establishments to suit any budget.
Raffles Dubai (£££)
A landmark hotel, Raffles Dubai is shaped like a pyramid with a magnificent outdoor swimming pool, luxury spa and 7 restaurants. The rooms boast espresso machines, iPod docks, bathrooms decorated with Egyptian stone and whirlpool tubs, handcrafted ornaments and balconies with skyline views.
Beach Hotel Apartment (££)
The Beach Hotel Apartment is right next door to The Grand Jumeriah Mosque, surrounded by restaurants and cafes. It has a rooftop pool with sea views and the rooms are ideal for self-catering, with fully equipped kitchens and dining areas, as well as flat screen TVs and DVD players.
Centro Barsha (£)
Centro Barsha is in the Al Barsha District, a short walk from all the fabulous shopping at the Mall of Emirates. The hotel has a rooftop pool and a gym, rooms are equipped with LCD TVs, air-conditioning and tea and coffee making facilities, yet it’s friendly on the budget.
Where to eat
“Where to eat?” That’s the question on everyone’s lips in Dubai, because the sheer number of restaurants to choose from is staggering. With a multi-cultural population, internationally renowned chefs and the best of Middle-Eastern cuisine, Dubai is culinary heaven.
Arabesque cuisine in sumptuous surrounds is what Qbara is all about. With soft lighting, chandeliers and plush furnishings, the restaurant serves up Arabic bread selections, succulent seafood and dishes such as baked sea bream with walnut and herb crust and tahini yoghurt. You can find it at the Wafi Fort Complex.
Al Tawasol (££)
Sit on the carpet in a Bedouin-style tent at Al Tawasol near the Ramee Hotel in Deira. The restaurant is famous for chicken mandi; melt in your mouth, buttery chicken and rice dishes.
Al Dhiyafay Road (£)
Al Dhiyafay Road is Dubai’s cheap eats street and you’ll find everything from curry to mixed-grills, salads and fresh seafood for fantastic prices. This is where the locals come, so you can try lamb on the street or visit Pars Iranian Kitchen or Pakistani Kavi Restaurant.
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