Quick! Make the most of Dubai before the summer sets in. We show you how
Sweaty season is almost upon us: four months of planning all your leisure time around the availability of AC and cooling bodies of water. But there are still a couple of months left to make the most of al fresco Dubai. Whether it’s discovering a new beach, choosing which park to picnic in, frolicking in the desert or brunching outdoors, we’ve got it covered. There are 72 fantastic things to do before June: better read fast.
1 Go for a run: Social running club Mirdif Milers take to gravel and sand tracks outside the city at Al Khawaneej on Saturdays, with camels, goats and cows for company. They also run around Mushrif Park on Mondays. email@example.com.
2 Be a good person!: Help teach disabled kids to ride horses before it’s too hot. www.rdad.ae.
3 Ride a bike: Long-standing cycling sorority Dubai Roadsters recommend Nad al Sheba for the perfect pedal. (04 339 4453).
Last chance to… camp it up
4 Liwa: Pitch up in the desert 50km from Hamim village, where idyllic 200m sand dunes serve as a backdrop.
5 Dhaid: Another expanse of tranquil open desert can be accessed from exit nine on Sharjah Airport Road, in the direction of Dhaid. The road is nearby in case of emergencies and you can 4x4 to Fossil Rock from here.
6 Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve: Enjoy the isolation at another sandy spot 60km up the Al Ain Highway, in the direction of Al Ain. Get off at the seventh interchange and, 5km after Village Margham, you can set up camp on either side of the road.
7 Wadi Hatta: This is off the beaten track, but that’s why it remains relatively untouched. Turn off the dirt road that leads to Hatta pools and go through the village that leads to a plateau. Park up and head into the wadi on foot. Bring a mat for comfort as the ground is uneven.
8 Musandam: The area’s secluded beach coves make for some of the most picturesque camping spots in the region, with the dually aesthetically-pleasing elements of mountains and sea.
9 Walk on The Walk!: Saunter along JBR’s cobbled footpath and window-shop while you can.
10 Bastakiya: Take a walking tour of Bastakiya’s narrow lanes as a guide explains the architecture and heritage of Dubai’s historical area. (04 353 6666) Sundays and Thursdays at 10am, Dhs50. 11 Pole walking: We admit it sounds a bit mad to pole-walk around Dubai -– an activity more associated with cooler climes – but we hear it’s good for the joints and works about 90 per cent of your body mass. Keen Fit does it around Safa Park. (050 559 7137/www.keenfitme.com).
12 Dog walking groups: Martina Boor puts dog owners who are looking for new pet-friendly activities in Dubai in touch with each other. www.dubaidogclub.com.
Last chance to… be sporty outdoors
13 Join a sport club: Some crazies like to hold ‘sauna leagues’, but if you prefer to play sport sans the passing out, now’s the time to join a club. There are a few months left to establish yourself as a player and, more importantly, make enough friends to convince you to come back after September. There are loads of cricket, football and rugby teams to join around the city (all sports best played outside), and Duplays organises several different sport leagues.
14 Go ballooning: Ballooning over the desert is an awesome experience, showing you wildlife (such as camels and gazelles) and oases from above. But the opportunity evaporates in the summer, so book a trip fast.
15 Shoot paint: You definitely don’t want to don army fatigues and run around firing paint at your mates when it gets past 40°C. Pretend your friends are foes and get all emulsional. You can play at Pursuit Games Paintball next to Wonderland Park by Garhoud Bridge. (050 651 4583/www.paintballdubai.com).
16 Go go-karting: Similarly, sliding on a pair of sweaty overalls and steaming-up inside a helmet isn’t our idea of fun times. Try Dubai Autodrome or Emirates Kart Centre in Jebel Ali sooner rather than later.
17 Hit the desert: Don’t miss out on hitting the dunes, whether it’s on a quad bike, in a dune buggy, or atop a sandboard.
18 Tackle ‘The Wall’: Take on the very tall (that’d be 15m) outdoor climbing wall built onto the side of Dubai World Trade Centre Club. Dorrell Climbing (050 273 3805).
19 Hail a cab in comfort!: Catching a cab = some of the worst moments of your life from June. Revel in its relative ease now.
What to wear
20 Jeans: Indulge in denim before that nasty sweaty-jean feel sets in. Check out the newest styles at www.timeoutdubai.com/shopping. 21 White shirts: Avoid the old ‘yellow armpit’ curse and wear all your white shirt ensembles now. Try the trendy all-white tees at Boutique 1www.boutique1.com.
22 Make-up: Before it runs down your face in a manner that opposes the desired effect of putting it on. Our favourite brand? It’s got to be MAC. Visit The Dubai Mall branch or check out any Paris Gallery.
23 Boots: Enjoy rocking your favourites before compulsory open-toe season. Check out Kurt Geiger in all good malls
24 A beard: No-one likes a matted face rug. Fact.
25 Power-buggy!: Power-buggyers exercise around Umm Suqeim and Safa parks with their babes in tow – or rather, out in front. (050 544 1062/www.powerbuggies.net).
26 You gotta Roll with it: We’re told the best place to roller-blade in Dubai is around the pothole-free paths of Al Mamzar Park. Go on, get your skates on.
27 Drum under the stars!: Dubai Drums holds regular community drumming circles at Barasti beach on Fridays at 5.30pm. There are also mass drumming sessions at desert camps around Dubai. Best of all, anyone is welcome, whether you know the way of the drum or not. (050 659 2874/www.dubaidrums.com).
28 Gawk at Dubai Fountain!: Watching the world’s biggest fountain dance to music won’t be so fun when the humidity kicks in.
Last chance to… hit the beach
29 Ghantoot: The Emirates Marine Environmental Group’s (EMEG) reserve at Ghantoot is a spotless – indeed person-less – stretch of pristine sand from which you can see miles of azure ocean, unspoilt by the usual ubiquitous construction on the periphery. If you ask nicely the reserve’s owner, Major Ali, will let you come for the day. Or sign up for a free conservation activity day with EMEG and you can camp the night. Call EMEG on 04 363 0582. www.emeg.ae.
30 Kite Beach: Watch the kitesurfers race each other above the waves at this beach between the fishing village and the sailing club in Umm Suqeim.
32 Jebel Ali Open Beach: Directly next door to the Golf Resort & Spa, this spacious spot attracts a mixed crowd of Jet Ski enthusiasts and sunbathers. Make sure you take food and water as there are no outlets nearby.
33 Khorfakkan: About 25km from Fujairah’s town centre, a quiet spread of sand receives few visitors, save a handful of local men playing chess. Bear local decency laws in mind as it’s an enclave of Sharjah.
34 Do an ollie: Deira is where Dubai’s skate-boarding set gathers. Check out the area around Union Square metro station for fellow skaters, or go to watch. There’s also the outdoor Rage Skatepark at Festival City – entry is Dhs25 and an hour’s lesson is Dhs50. Don’t forget to rent a helmet for Dhs10. (04 375 0117).
35 Chill at Peanut: BUTTER JAM! Listen to local bands at this open-air venue on Wafi Rooftop. Ends in May. Fridays 7pm-late.
36 Scoff a cultural breakfast!: Sample Emirati food and learn all about local life in a sunny courtyard. (04 353 6666) Dhs50, Mondays at 10am.
Party at the beach
37 Barasti: Every Friday there’s a day-long party at Barasti beach. Chilled house in the afternoon progresses to up-tempo tunes as the night draws in. Barasti at Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, 3pm-3am.
38 Nasimi: For a less raucous affair, Saturdays at Nasimi beach offer up funk, soul and disco with a barbecue in the daytime, and deep soul at night. Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah, noon-midnight
42 Uptown Mirdif: This largely outdoor shopping centre really loses its buzz in summer. www.uptownmirdiff.ae.
Last chance to… brunch outdoors
43 Traiteur: Looking out over Dubai Creek, this outdoor jazz brunch – recently named Dubai’s Best Brunch at the Time Out Eating Out awards – is the most sophisticated and foodie-satisfying glutton’s paradise in Dubai. The French fare is top-notch, served buffet-style from a live kitchen.
44 Al Qasr: This brunch’s unending popularity is all about location. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the Madinat’s canals, the Burj Al Arab cuts a majestic figure beyond. The buffet is spread across three restaurants, with a formidable number of beverage stations to boot. But be warned: it’s pricey at Dhs495.
45 Thai Kitchen: In the secluded surrounds of the very pleasant Park Hyatt, with a small terrace overlooking some fancy yachts, Thai Kitchen serves up endless tiny Thai treats. They bring out a bit of everything. Yum.
46 The Westin: Dubai’s newest brunch turns the entire hotel into a massive buffet, as every restaurant offers live cooking stations and elegant balcony seating.
47 The Cellar: While The Cellar may not be an all you can drink affair (one glass of wine is included), the excellent unlimited à la carte menu is no small compensation. Sit in the outdoor area to feel the sun on your face and enjoy a nice view of the duck pond. Fridays, noon-3.30pm, Dhs135 (04 282 9333).
49 Dance outside!: Cut some rug on Chi’s big outdoor dancefloor before it closes mid-May.
Take a hike
All of the below hikes can be arranged with Absolute Adventure, from Dhs350. Call 04 345 9900 to book.
50 Wadi Wurrayah, Fujairah: Expect lots of clambering opportunities and rock pools for swimming.
51 Jebel Qihwi, Musandam: A tough full day trek up one of Musandam’s highest mountains.
52 Aqaba-Lima, Musandam: Explore an ancient village and marvel at spectacular coastal scenery. Only accessible by boat, with permission from villagers.
53 Hanging Gardens, Buraimi: An energetic trek on Jebel Qatara, with views of red desert and shallow mountains, all to the sweet sound of silence.
54 Secret Village trek, Ras Al Khaimah: Explore scenic mountain villages and terraced fields.
55 Pierchic: It would be a waste to dine inside at this seafood restaurant that sits amid the Gulf, at the end of its own purpose-built pier. Particularly a must-do for couples. Al Qasr (04 366 6730).
56 Pars Iranian Kitchen: The Al Dhiyafah Street branch next to Rydges Plaza has a lovely green courtyard with elevated platforms, upon which you recline on cushions, eat fantastic kebabs and listen to the trickling fountains. Not so good if it’s the sound of trickling sweat you’re hearing. (04 398 4000).
57 Belgian Beer Cafe: The new Barsha branch’s outdoor terrace really sets this place apart. Spacious and elegant, it feels worlds away from the crowded rooms below. Grand Millennium Hotel (04 429 9999).
58 Irish Village: While indoors is smoky and dingy, the IV’s al fresco area is a delight – with fairy lights. Add good pub grub and you’ve got yourself a must-do before summer. Aviation Club (04 282 4750).
60 Watch Movies Under the Stars!: No more free al-fresco films at Wafi Rooftop from June.
61 Watch camels race!: The season is over but you can still catch races at the stables in Al Asaili (on Al Ain Road, just after the Sevens Stadium). 6am-8am or after 4pm.
62 Picnic at the Polo!: Park up by the pitch at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Fridays from 3pm. www.poloclubdubai.com.
Last chance for… park life
63 Creekside Park: Set along the shore of Dubai Creek, this park is home to the city’s only cable cars. Take a ride before they become dangling ovens. Entrance fee Dhs5. Open daily 8am-11pm.
64 Safa Park: A green haven with a great view of the sparkling Burj Khalifa, we like taking to the lake in the amusingly slow motor-powered boats and riding the ferris wheel. Entrance fee Dhs5. Open daily 8am-11pm.
65 Mushrif Park: This crumbling but quirky park set in the remnants of a natural ghaf forest is particularly good for kids. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy riding the camel carousel, too. Find it just east of Mirdif on Airport Road. Entrance fee Dhs3 (making it Dubai’s cheapest park). Open Sat-Wed 8.30am-10.30pm; Thu-Fri 8.30am-11pm.
66 Jumeirah Beach Park: JBP isn’t just about hitting the beach. The grassy areas are perfect for a barbecue or a picnic while the weather is fine, set to the sound of crashing waves. Entrance fee Dhs5. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10.30pm; Thu-Fri 8am-11pm.
67 Za’abeel Park: Dubai’s most modern park is also its most spacious, with loads of shady spots for an isolated afternoon snooze, a giant cricket pitch and more barbecue areas than you can shake a steak at. Entrance fee Dhs5. Open Sat-Thu 9am-11pm; Fri 9am-11.30pm. Find maps for all of these parks online at www.timeoutdubai.com. Just type what you’re looking for into the search box.
68 Court-yard at the Arabian Court: This fairy light-strewn open-air courtyard at The One & Only Royal Mirage is an atmospheric spot to puff on the pipe, with live Arabic tunes, too. (04 399 9999).
69 BarZar: Sink into bean bags by the Madinat’s canals as the Burj Al Arab looms above. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
70 Ewaan: It would seem a mixologist has been at the pipes in Ewaan, where you can try ‘Baileys & Cappuccino’ shisha by the pool while another Burj looms – this time it’s the Khalifa. The Palace, Old Town (04 428 7888).
71 Kan Zaman: This spot by the creek is a lovely place to watch the passing dhows and maybe even sneak in a shawarama. Pipes are cheap at around Dhs20-25. Shindagha Heritage Village (04 393 9913).
72 Desert Palm: We realise it’s somewhat out of the way, but this is the place for a contemplative smoke in the incomparable peace of a resort plonked amid polo fields. Find the shisha corner opposite Epicure. (04 323 8888).