We love winter in Dubai

Beaches, birds, parties and more reasons to love the Winter in Dubai Discuss this article

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Winter fever is here! Other continents may call it ‘spring zing’, but they both describe the same thing: freshness, optimism, the birth of new life and better moods all round. It’s a certain energy and post-summer relief that sweeps the city, as more international events start to stop over, more residents settle here, new bars and restaurants open, and business generally picks up all round. Heck, even different species of bird and sea life arrive in Dubai to get in on the action. He (or she) who claims that Dubai has one season – ‘hot’ and then ‘more hot’ – clearly hasn’t been in the city long enough to understand the subtleties of its climate calendar.

In October each year, the temperature finally lowers: we bid farewell to August’s average maximum highs of 41.3°C and September’s 38.9°C, to instead welcome 35.4°C at worst. While we don’t quite escape the suffocating clutches of humidity – it actually increases slightly in October and November – general conditions are far more pleasant. Want to catch winter fever yourself? Read on for our tried-and-tested tips and experiences, while trying not to gloat about what winter means in many other parts of the world… well, not too much.

I love… splashing cash in the sunshine

Nyree Barrett, Shopping & Style editor
Even though I’m Time Out’s Shopping editor, I understand why some hate the art of consuming here: malls can be terrifying places, changing rooms can feel like sweaty torture chambers and a day in artificial light does bad things to all. Move shopping into the outside world, however, and it becomes my favourite thing in the world. Bar none. When I first moved to Dubai four years ago I lamented the lack of non-food-related (and genuine) markets – nowadays I have nothing to complain about. Fancy rifling through other’s trash to find some genuine treasure?

Hit up Safa Park’s monthly flea market (www.dubai-fleamarket.com), with the next taking place on November 6. I was sceptical about the venture at first, but now it’s on my monthly to-do list – I’ve picked up DVD box sets, art, jewellery and more. Alternatively, try Covent Garden Market along JBR The Walk (Wed-Sat, www.coventgardenmarket.ae). This one’s a classy affair full of great gift ideas, such as hand of Fatima and Arabic script gold jewellery. In fact, I’m currently sporting a unique eel-leather wallet from the very place. Finally, the arty part of me draws me to the Majlis Market in Bastakiya every month (www.themajlisgallery.com) – the next is scheduled for November 6. Wandering through the windy lanes of Bastakiya is always a pleasure, heightened by baked goods, RAW coffee and local artisans’ wares.

I love… sea swimming

Jade Bremner, Community, Time In & Travel editor
Half the world won’t agree, but if you hail from cooler climes, dipping your foot into a hot ocean in the middle of summer is unnerving. It feels as though someone’s left the warm tap running or, worse, the old man paddling next to you has just answered the call of nature. Most people are also blissfully unaware that we still sweat in water, meaning hot seas are more likely to create dehydration, heatstroke and sunburn. Nice. And what else comes with summer’s warm water? Nasty little critters including sea snakes (which bite, sometimes leaving teeth in the wound) scorpion fish (with poisonous venom) and, of course, the dangerous kind of sharks. Yes, we’re far happier having a refreshing, safe swim in the cooler winter water, which, in October, averages 29.9°C. We recommend Umm Suqeim bay for a quiet swim (follow the signs from Beach Road; it’s the first right after the library), or Al Ghantoot (02 562 9100) for a host of activities including waterskiing and boating (note – there’s a Dhs100 entry fee).

I love… barbecuing seasonal catch

Oliver Robinson, Eating Out & Sport editor
For me, winter’s cooler climes mean the chance to dine outdoors. This may seems like seem like a pretty obvious winter pastime, but whether you’re having a quick bite for lunch, brunching with friends or feasting on dinner, eating al fresco makes your dining experience that little bit more enjoyable. Obviously there are countless places in Dubai that offer outdoor seating and great views, but why not try something a little bit different? Head down to the barbecue stations at Safa Park (Dhs5 entry; open daily 8am-11pm) or Za’abeel Park (Dhs5 entry; open Sat-Thu 9am-11pm, Fri 9am-11.30pm). While both boast dedicated barbecue stations, Time Out found that the park staff can be a little finicky about where you can barbie. To avoid the bother, pack a picnic and set up camp in the park’s many shady spots.

That’s the venue sorted, but then there’s the small matter of what to pack in your picnic. Luckily for us, winter doesn’t just mean better weather, but also a host of new options in our supermarkets. Galeries Lafayette’s new gourmet deli (04 339 9933) is hot on seasonal food and will be stocking all sorts of autumnal treats. Alternatively, you can catch your lunch on a Marine Concept fishing trip, which will set you back Dhs3,500 for four hours (04 432 9496). Cooler water temperatures in the Arabian Gulf mean more kingfish, long-tail tuna, bonito, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, cobia and barracuda, which in turn means a better chance of catching something. We recommend cooking up your catch on the beach. Disposable barbecues, coolboxes, cups and other picnic accoutrements can be bought at Al Maya (04 432 7191) and Waitrose (04 434 0700).

I love… quad biking

Carly Blair, editorial intern
Quad biking is one of the most fun things to do in the Arabian Peninsula. A sweeping statement, maybe, but the UAE’s wide open spaces and huge sloping sand banks were made for it (probably). Let’s be honest,
a flat tarmac track elsewhere just doesn’t have the same charm. Bouncing up and down over dunes while racing your mates not only adds a much-needed adrenaline rush to any lazy weekend, but enables
you to drive far more recklessly than on public roads – up to a limit (although, having experienced Dubai’s roads, you may beg to differ).

While quad biking is still a viable option in summer, sensible souls wait until winter to save themselves from heatstroke. Heat exhaustion, to state the obvious, is definitely not cool. Many tour operators provide quad biking in Dubai, but the location I usually choose and can recommend is Big Red.

This gargantuan 300ft high dune is only half an hour out of Dubai along Hatta Road, and there are numerous places along the roadside where you can rent a bike – Desert Rangers (04 357 2200) offers quad biking excursions for Dhs325 for 45 minutes, or Dhs425 for an hour. Prices vary, so get your haggling hat on – don’t accept the first price you’re offered without a debate. And remember to either bring plenty of water
or plenty of money to buy drinks from the on-site shop.

By Becky Lucas
Time Out Dubai,

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