An up-date on Dubai Activities
As currently a lot of things are going on in Dubai I think it is time for some up-date here. The past month saw the opening of new projects, attractions, restaurants and bars - while many projects are still in the pipeline others are taking shape and are expected to launch over the coming month -I will keep you posted. So what is in this time:
Has been already there now since some time, but it is growing further and further. It is nice to have a walk around the district and visit the local art galleries and see stunning architecture and artwork around. It is also a nice place for a breakfast or lunch with a variety of restaurants on offer. Have a look on www.dubaidesigndistrict.com for a full listing and description and also watch out for events taking place in that area as the Dubai Design Week or the Wasla Alternative Music Festival. Dubai Design District is also the place of one of Dubai's hottest new open air night clubs BASE (www.basedubai.com).
Long time Dubai residents and tourists missed the first section of the Jumeirah Public Beach during the construction time of this project. But it was worth the wait as that newly built beach district is a welcomed addition to the already popular JBR beach. This Meraas project picks up again the urban industrial container style that is already a hit with their Box Park project. Stretching out over two bay areas called La Mer North and La Mer South you can find a vast selection of restaurants, cafes, foodtrucks, pop-up stalls, shops and much more. On the beach side itself you can rent sunbeds, umbrellas and can get yourself active with various watersport activities. A water park and a cinema are also to be opened soon in the core center called La Mer Central.
Al Fahidi District
Not a new area, actually Al Fahidi or Al Bastakiya how it was called before is the place of the oldest settlement in Dubai. Nowadays all the buildings are renovated, but are still presenting the traditional Arabic architecture and features like the ancient wind towers, the former AC of the houses. This district is now a main tourism hub and has many things to explore like galleries (XVA Gallery, Majlis Gallery or Alserkal Culltural Foundation), museums (Coffee Museum, Coin Museum, Traditional Architecture Museum), small coffeeshops (Arabian Tea House - very recommended for breakfast or lunch and Local House where you can try a camel meat burger) and you can also find two B&B Guesthouses over here (Orient Guest House and XVA Gallery)- for a very authentic overnight experience.
Also a very interesting place for tourists and expats alike is the Sheik Mohammed Center of Cultural Understanding (www.cultures.ae) - here a local host will give you an introduction to the Emirati life followed by a home-made Emirati breakfast or lunch - a very unique experience and in the Q & A session afterwards you can get all your questions out that you had long time in your mind regarding the past and present life in UAE. Their presenters are all very good speakers and fun to listen to - also check out for their Ramadan features, where you can take part in a traditional Iftar.
The district is also host to various events throughout the year as the Sikka Art Fair (www.artweek.ae) - for which all galleries join together with special displays and you can find food stations plus a stage for live entertainment around.
Another stunning Meraas project along the Dubai Creek - for those of you who are already longer time around in Dubai will remember this location as the parking place of all the dinner cruise Dhows, which are all gone now and have made place for an exciting new leisure destination. The first part of the walk is in the well-known steel structure that Meraas used in other projects - however in the second part you will find yourself travelling back in time to the ancient Arabic structure of the city with traditional houses, fishing nets and other 1001 nights treasures. Ok, I have to admit it feels a bit like Disneyland - but the restaurants facing the Creek with waterside terraces are really a great feel of relaxation in the middle of the city. From the F&B side you can find restaurants for any liking here and even a Lebanese bar and nightlife place 961LB (www.961-lb.com). Moreover the Jumeirah Hotel brand has ventured out to new shores here and has built a 3* Boutique styled hotel, Zabeel House, for younger travelers or all people that like a modern urban style for affordable prices (www.zabeelhouse.com).
Another urban neighborhood destination from Meraas is The Yard in the residential Al Khawaneej area. This new leisure spot encompasses Last Exit D89 - the already well-known foodtruck project that you can find in other places in the city. Further you have a recreation area with a lake that will grow further over the next planning face, a rustic courtyard, an organic market and various restaurants. Main attraction here is the footbridge that spans over the lake and which became known for its lovers and friendship lockers. As in other cities around the world residents of Dubai have now their own place to put a locker with a loved one.
Dubai Safari Park
When the park announced free entry in its first two weeks of the park opening in December it faced crowds that it couldn't cope with anymore. Dubai saw one of its worst traffic chaos around and parking was impossible. Now that first wave has passed, but the park still attracts a huge interest and I would therefore recommend to avoid a visit on weekends. The park is divided into different theme/continent sections and you can basically choose between an experience that will allow you to walk around the different areas by yourself like in a common zoo or you can take the additional ticket for the very popular car safari - which will bring you to another part of the zoo, where the animals are rooming around freely and you can see them from very close. If you like to have the car experience as well, then an early arrival at the zoo is recommended to secure a ticket for that. The park is huge and it will take you quite some time to walk around. Whereas in the old Dubai Zoo the animals had no space at all to even turn around, they have now plenty of space - so much that you might not see the animal itself anymore :-) Therefore the zoo is nice, but feels a bit empty at some points. The drive experience is unique and the highlight of this new attraction.
Horse Riding at Al Jiyad stables
So if you want to take your animal experience now to the next level have a drive out to Bab Al Shams and visit the Al Jiyad Horse Riding stables. This place is not new it is only newly discovered from me. You can come here any time to see their beautiful horses, feed them some carrots and children can pet their cute little pony's. If you wanna have a ride you need to call a day ahead for a reservation and they will take you out for a one hour long ride around the area and the new Al Qudra lakes. Their horses are very well looked after and a lot of them even have some racing history - however if you are a beginner and like to take it easy they will also find the right horse for you in order to enjoy some nice scenic ride. A perfect activity to get away from the city and reconnect to nature and these beautiful creatures.
Situated in Zabeel Park you can see this stunning new 160 Mio. AED structure already from far. As the name says the idea here is a picture frame, so if you take a picture from far and place it right you have the towers of Sheik Zayed Road and Burj Khalifa framed in. The frame is 150 m high and 93 m wide. Main attraction is the 100 meter long footbridge on top, which partly has a glass panel in the middle and offers 360 degree views. On the bottom of the tower before you enter the elevators you are taken through a small museum that shows the transformation of Dubai from a small fishing village into the mega metropolis of today.
Situated in the beginning of Jumeirah Beach Road the futuristic building has become a landmark for this area. You can easily find it as it is nestled at the foot of the regions largest flagpole at the historic place of the foundation of the UAE. The museum takes you back in time to the historical and politically roots of the country - you will also learn about UAE's military and you can see some original relicts from the founding fathers. For first time tourists there is for sure other places in the city that will be on top of the must-see list, but for all history freaks and residents in the UAE the museum is worth the visit. It is quite spacious and feels a bit empty at some stage, but the coffee shop on top of the building is a nice place to have a relaxed coffee and is worth the visit alone.
Food and Drink News
Here is a small selection of places that I have recently discovered in the never ending F&B choices of the city.
Little Miss India @ The Fairmont Palm
Nice new addition on the cities curry houses - food is excellent, but comes of course with the 5* hotel price tag. The biggest plus of the restaurant is its innovative decoration and the great ambiance on the terrace. They have parked a full colorful bus right in the middle of it and its back is reaching in the inside transforming into a bar. Funky :-)
Miss Lily's @ Sheraton Grand Sheik Zayed Road
Another Miss - but this time a Jamaican one. Once you passed the entrance door you really feel like in a total different world - the bar and restaurant is cozy and spreads a real Carribean feel. Staff is super friendly and attentive and the food superb - of course you find the Jamaican classic - Jerk chicken on the menu, but don't miss to try also some of their excellent starters. Very yummy and with the Reggae music in the background it feels like a little holiday. Because the space is very limited, reservations are required at the weekend.
Al Ustad Special Kebab in Bur Dubai
This place is by far not a new place as it is managed already by the second generation of an original Iranian family, but it is a hidden Dubai gem and actually has the best kebabs in town. The restaurant itself is totally unspectacular, but the food is so good here that it has lots of Emirati customers and even the Sheik family is sometimes passing by for a nice treat of kebab. The walls are covered with pictures from all the visitors that the restaurant has seen so far - among them celebrities and dignities, so quality is guaranteed here. Try their house special which is a kebab marinated in a very unique yogurt sauce......divine!
Wild & the Moon Al Serkal Avenue
This healthy food spot offers 100% organic salads, sandwiches and juices - cold-pressed, plant-based and gluten-free. I also love their Charcol Cafe Latte, which does not only look very nice, but also is a real taste explosion. After your healthy treat you can take a stroll around to explore the various galleries located in old warehouses. Also check out The Fridge (www.thefridgedubai.com) for concerts and art events from some local talents. A very cool and urban place.
Another spot where you can indulge in delicious organic vegan food. This place is not only a very cute healthy cafe with an amazing outside terrace and garden area, but also a well-being center offering all sort of activities like yoga, meditation, pilates, etc. to work on your fitness and inner zen. They also offer great workshops with various topics and renowned instructors and coaches. This place off Jumeirah road is a hidden urban oasis and the minute you step in you will already feel relaxed and balanced.
Estrellas Rooftop Lounge
And last some nice little watering hole with a great view of the skyline of Sheik Zayed Road. At the Melia Hotel in Bur Dubai you find this relaxed rooftop bar that offers also some good food. But the main affair are the drinks and views here. I really like the design of this hotel, although its location and garagelike entrance is a bit strange. I also discovered a hair saloon at their Spa there - the Highlight Salon which was recommended through a friend and which offers a great hot coconut oil hair treatment. The salon is unimpressive, but the treatment with head massage was great.
There are also further new stars on the Dubai Nightlife Horizon - out at Meydan a new night hot spot is on the rise and beside the all time favorite White (www.whitedubai.com) you can now also find Soho Garden and Beach (www.sohogardendxb.com) and the originally in Las Vegas based Drais Club (www.draisdxb.com). Watch out for further news on that after summer.