Dubai is not only a world-record-breaking city in the desert with huge shopping malls and extravagant nightlife. Dubai is also a great place to enter a parallel, luxurious universe where ancient traditions meet with ambitious and revolutionary vision.
Personally, I wouldn’t see myself living there, but I’ll surely go back to explore more one day.
Here is your guide, as always divided in five sections:
Dream, Coffe, Explore, Eat and Read.
Enjoy and feel free to add suggestions by leaving your comment below.
Book your room at The Address, right at the center of downtown Dubai, where Burj Khalifa, The Mall and anything else you might need or want to do, is.
With its 196 rooms and suites, 7 restaurants, SPA, a magnificent view over the Burj Khalifa and its fountains shows, you can’t possibly find a better location in Dubai.
BUT FIRST, COFFEE
Dubai doesn’t have a big coffee culture or maybe my research didn’t do so well there. I tried a couple of places I had found on the internet, one in Media City and the other in Internet City and both of them where shut, god knows since when (google mentioned them as both open). But I did find a little cute coffee shop very close to my accommodation.
Another very special place was at the Dubai Mall instead.
Start your visit in Dubai on the old side
of the city, here, you will understand and see how Dubai was before becoming the world-known capital of finance and investments. Here it is the “simple”, no-frills Dubai, the one made of artisans and jewellers.
Make sure to get the boat to cross the river for the true”old Dubai experience” .
As you know I’m a minimalist (or a I’m trying to become one…) so I really wasn’t keen to go to the biggest “entertainment” place in Dubai. But when you are there, even if you -like me- have no intention to spend a penny, you must visit this spectacular and fascinating architectural artwork. Not only the building itself, which breaths of genius creativity, but also each and every alley or souk has its own regional and unique style.
Dubai was born in the desert. To be exact, it is not a super young city as most people think, in fact the first people to live there where back in 3000BC, when the area was inhabited by nomadic cattle herders. Yes, modern Dubai is young and striving to the future, but its history goes back a few centuries.
So, the desert, which surrounds the skyscrapers and the various malls is a must-see. Hire a jeep for a fun afternoon on the dunes, but I personally think you can easily skip the touristy evening at one of those fake and staged desert camps purposely created for us, western tourists.
Better if you ask your driver to stay on the dunes a little longer and to show you different perspective of the desert instead.
I normally don’t include the top landmarks in my mini-guides as they can easily be found in any #lonelyplanet or #roughguide, but I will make an exception this time as this is not only the tallest building in the world, but also a spectacular work of architecture, both from the outside – visible to everyone, anywhere in Dubai – and from the inside for the ones who go to the top.
Most people travel by taxi in Dubai, it is so hot there that walking from A to B is (almost) unberable, but while you are there, make sure to buy a daily travel card to taste the Dubai metro experience. Get a first class ticket so that you can stay on the front or last carriage and enjoy the spectacular view among the skyscrapers. Bring your camera!
This fantastic venue, nestled in the heart of Al Barari and immersed in beautiful lakes and gardens, is a unique restaurant that focuses on healthy food and original recipes from all over Asia. Make sure to take a walk around the gardens after your meal to take in the magnificent settings.
I didn’t find any relevant bookstore or library in Dubai – except the ones in the malls, but if you do know of any university or historic library there, please leave a comment below so I can add it to this guide. Thank you!