This week Aurélie from the Wimdu Content Team takes us to the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates…join us!
“Dubai is a city full of expats – finding a true native to give you a guided tour is no mean feat. However, having lived there for over 3 years, I feel I’m know my way round well enough to show you some hidden secrets of the city. I’ll take you to my favorite places and hangout spots – let me warn you right now – we’ll have lots to do!”
“Given the chance to spend a day back in Dubai, the first thing I would do is take drive in the desert. Sinking knee-deep in the warm sand is pure bliss. The best way to enjoy it is to take several 4×4s, look for open gates on the roads that run along the desert, and then go ride the dunes. Three cars is the minimum needed if you want to venture a little further because it’s not rare for 2 vehicles to get stuck while trying to get the first one out of the sand. I like to embark on this adventure with a group of people, water, a GPS system, maps of the desert and, of course, the necessary equipment to take a car out of the sand (ropes and shovels). We often used to come across some camels on the dunes which make for some beautiful photos!”
“Another solution if you want to try driving on the sand but don’t have the right vehicle, or friends who are experts in dune bashing, is to rent a 4×4 and go to busy areas such as the Big Red dune. It’s not risky there if you get stuck, and there will always be people to help you out. Of course, there are also organised tours which offer dune surfing accompanied by an expert. It’s quite expensive but a nice experience.”
“After an outing in the desert, I’m usually a little shaken up and very hungry. One of the places I like to go for lunch is Shakespeare & Co. It’s part of a chain, as is the case for many restaurants here in Dubai, and there are several outlets dotted across the city. My favorite is the one in the Village Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road. I would describe the decor as romantic/eccentric, combining impressive wooden tables, mismatched chairs in pastel colors and floral fabrics. You feel a bit as if you were joining Alice at the Mad Hatter’s table. The restaurant serves very hearty salads, international cuisine and pastries at a reasonable price.”
“I’d more than likely make my way to one of a number of beaches after lunch that are within easy reach of the city centre. I always struggle between two options: Jumeirah Beach Park (an entry fee of 5 Dirhams per person (€1) is required) and the beach along The Walk in the Marina district, where I once lived. Jumeirah always used to come out on top, mainly due to its the stunning palm trees which line the seafront and amazing views of Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arad hotel. You can hire a lounger, use the changing rooms or just take in the surroundings and watch kite surfers do impressive somersaults on the waves.”
“After the beach, I would more than likely go for a ride to the district of Al Quoz’s which is home to many art galleries. Although Dubai is not known for its culture, the Emirates is home to many art lovers and galleries – you just need to know where to find them. My favorite place is Al Serkal Avenue which is lost in Al Quoz 1. Actually, it’s not an avenue, but a big square place in which several galleries are located. It’s usually not crowded, so it’s always nice to look at the different exhibitions (all of which are free to enter) and sometimes chat with passionate gallery managers.”
“The Courtyard Gallery is located just behind Al Serkal Avenue – a short walk away. It is a beautiful courtyard full of vegetation, and lined with small furniture shops. Visiting these galleries is the perfect excuse to go for a coffee at the Lime Tree Cafe, which is located next to the Courtyard Gallery. This Australian coffee shop serves delicious pastries, juices, coffees and teas. They also offer great salads, quiches and sandwiches in a setting that has both a fresh and natural feel. A coffee and a slice of carrot cake, and you are ready to set off again!”
“If I go back to Dubai for a day, I would no doubt make a trip to a Daiso store. It’s a Japanese brand, and they have several stores throughout the city, including stores at the Lamcy Plaza and Oasis Center Malls. There you can find a lot of knick-knacks, decorative objects, toys, boxes, ribbons, stationery, tableware, and a thousand other trinkets impossible to list. The way it works is that some objects are labeled, and all unlabeled objects are 7 Dirhams (about €1.40). It’s a real treasure trove, especially when you like crafts. Of course, by filling your basket with items that cost almost nothing, you end up spending a lot of money. Nevertheless, it is such a pleasure to browse through this shop!
There is no shortage of food options in Dubai and you can find hundreds of international restaurants at all price ranges.
“If I’m going back for just one day, I will more than likely go to Al Khaima for an evening meal. It is located in the Royal Méridien Hotel at the end of Jumeirah Beach Residence. This is a fairly expensive restaurant, but it serves delicious Middle East cuisine including hot and cold mezzeh, Fattoush salad and lentil soup. Food is served in cute tents that are perched upon low sofas. I usually stretch out my time here and relax with some mint shisha or enjoy some of the oriental pastries and date ice cream on offer.”
“It’s often difficult to move after a meal at Al Khaima, but there’s plenty of nightlife to experience. I would head to Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world located at Bur Dubai. We’re not going there for shopping but to admire the Dubai Fountain which is just in front of the highest skyscraper in the world: Burj Khalifa. Every half hour from 6 PM till 11 PM, these fountains offer a breathtaking (not to mention free) show. Jets of water projected up to 150 metres into the air dance to a variety of music – it’s something you never get tired of.”
“Stay in Bur Dubai’s district and go to Rock Bottom, a cosy place far from the posh atmosphere of most trendy clubs in the city. It is a pub with a restaurant area, a billiards room and a dance floor with a small stage which really comes to life around midnight. A good evening with a relaxed atmosphere, great beer and live music is sure to be had here.”
This is the end of a very good and busy day. I hope it made you want to discover the different aspects of this unique city!
Going to Dubai? Book on Wimdu!
Take a look at our Wimdu holiday rentals and stay in the most popular neighborhoods in Dubai.
Beautiful Apartment on the Marina
This beautiful apartment for 6 is situated in the heart of the Marina district. Enjoy the refreshing swimming pool and stunning sea views!
Apartment with a Pool on the Palm
Benefit from spectacular views of the city while staying in this beautiful apartment located in the heart of the Palm Jumeirah. You will have access to a wonderful swimming pool but can just as easily go to the beach from here. You will also be very close to the Atlantis hotel and its water park.