Bedouin lore speaks of a rich golden oasis tucked away in the desert. Dubai is a gem of ultimate hospitality rising out of the sand. The magnificence of this wondrous place will dazzle and amaze any visitor. From the charms of the coast to the ancient desert, Dubai is as cosmopolitan as it is rich in cultural heritage. Naima Islam explores…

The sprawling pearly white sands of the Persian Gulf can be an exciting change to your typical European beach resort. Dubai has long been, and still is, an ever-popular winter sun destination.

From spectacular water parks and indoor skiing to camel trekking in the magical desert and exploring the nostalgic old town, Dubai has a huge amount to offer tourists – young and old alike.

The cuisine in Dubai reflects its eclectic culture and mix of people. It’s no wonder that you will be served up a variety of distinct foods ranging from fine Lebanese to contemporary Indian. Dubai is the second largest city of the Emirates and with the abundance of tourists, most, if not all, restaurants cater to both European and American tastes.

Come dine with me…

Al Mahara

Dining at Al Mahara is a once in a lifetime experience. Gold and aquamarine dominate the decor, and tables surround a gigantic fish tank – making dining here is an event in itself. Be sure to visit with plenty of spare time so that you can properly soak up the unique surroundings and atmosphere. The service is impeccable, and the food is tasty and good-quality. (Burj Al Arab, Umm Suqeim, 4 301 7600)

Zuma Restaurant

Over the past decade, Dubai has become a hot spot for high-end dining. Zuma offers a selection of sumptuous and fresh dishes. The fish dishes are just incredible – a real feast for your taste buds, which is fitting as fish lies at the heart of Emirati cuisine. The ambience is friendly and relaxed, too.
(425 5660;

Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire

Intend to splash out on a memorable meal in Dubai? Make it a tasting menu at this splendid fine-restaurant ran by French Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire – you won’t regret it. (00 971 4 701 1111,

Lay your head…

Grosvenor House

Grosvenor House has a colossal lobby, plush rooms and plenty of fine dining restaurants to please the foodies. Indeed, this sophisticated hotel boasts super glamorous restaurants and bars. You are spoilt for choice between famous celebrity chefs, with the Gary Rhodes’ Mezzanine and Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia’s Indian restaurant Indego. For aperitifs, enjoy a glass of bubbly at Bar 44, famed for its 44 different types of champagne and impressive views, and for a nightcap, head to trendy Buddha Bar and knock back an unusual cocktail (or few).

Burj Al Arab

Once the tallest tower in the world, The Burj Al Arab is a real statement of ostentatious luxury. This stunning hotel is a symbol of modern Dubai and sits on its own man-made island off the coast, separated from the shore by a bridge usually populated with the hotel’s own collection of Rolls Royces. The Burj’s Sky view Bar offers some spectacular views and is a unique spot for a cocktail or, if you fancy something a bit more sedate, try the much-loved afternoon tea. For lunch, Junsui serves an excellent weekend buffet brunch of East Asian delights. (Jumeriah Beach Road, 971 4 301 7777)

One & Only Royal Mirage

Located on the attractive Jumeirah Beach, One & Only Royal Mirage is Dubai’s most romantic hotel. Imagine a modern Arabian palace, which evokes a sense of majesty and style composed of three distinctive environments: The Palace, Arabian Court, and Residence & Spa. It’s located on a 65-acre seaside garden landscaped with huge palm trees and infinity pools. The reflecting waters, oriental hammams and cooling fountains emphasise the refined sense of luxury and serenity of this outstandingly opulent resort. (Al Sufouh Rd, 971 4 399 9999).

Go on an adventure…

The marvellous Jumeirah Beach is sat within a decent distance of many Dubai hotspots – the Mall of the Emirates is just a five-minute drive away, while Wild Wadi Water Park is even closer, not forgetting other exciting activities ­­– from the indoor ski slope to the water park at The Palm’s Atlantis. For a fun, unforgettable experience for all the family, be sure to head to Dubai Mall’s spectacular Aquarium.

If you are feeling extravagant take a stroll through the dazzling gold souk. For history and art the Bastakia quarter is a mini maze of wind-towered buildings situated between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district. Kick off with a tour at the XVA gallery, which specialises in contemporary art from across the Gulf region.

From cosy city corners to sunset lounges the bars and clubs of Dubai are an ideal backdrop for romance. The Terrace bar at the Park Hyatt is one of Dubai’s prettiest venues and provides a stylish outdoor spot for drinks for two. If you want to step up the romance by adding a pianist in to the mix then head down to The Piano Bar.

Let the sun shine…

An especially good time to go to Dubai is during the UK winter months between December-March. With daily highs ranging from 26 degrees to lows of 17 degrees, Dubai’s winter season the perfect time to ditch the UK for sunnier climes. Although this is technically Dubai’s rainy season – you can expect a few drops here and there – showers are light and short-lived. It is best to avoid the sun at around 2pm – the heat is almost unbearable at this time of the day. Always pack sun cream.

Also, wear lightweight cotton and linen clothing to stay cool. Out of respect for the local culture, men should always carry a light jacket and women a scarf. To ensure you’re dressing modestly while out and about, women should wear clothing to the knees; to the elbows and avoid low-cut tops, while men should wear long trousers. The temperature can drop at night, so keep this in mind and take something not only to cover up, but to keep warm, too.



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