Walk jog ride Dubai
Ditch the motor and discover the beauty of the city 3 Comments
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Remember how shocked you were when you arrived in Dubai and discovered it was considered normal to hop in a cab simply to cross a road? It may be Sheikh Zayed and a six-lane motorway, but still… And do you remember how quickly you got used to driving everywhere, not even considering whether it was possible to walk from A to B? Well, now that November’s balmy 25°C temperatures have arrived, we’re here to help you unlearn those petrol-fuelled bad habits, with 10 fantastic city walks to strut through and explore.
Yet physical and mental health and curiosity are not the only reasons you should get your walking shoes on – do it for the good of your city, too. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently revealed that time wasted in traffic jams costs the emirate roughly Dhs5.9 million a year, while the traffic growth rate here hits 13 per cent a year, compared with 2 to 3 per cent in European cities. To counter these scary stats, the RTA is planning more cycling and walking-only zones and initiatives ‘to further improve environmental standards’, as well as climate-controlled pedestrian walkways (‘pedways’ if you will – although we’re not sure how environmentally friendly they are).
Nasser Abu Shehab, the RTA’s director of strategic planning, hopes these actions will allow the city to hit its latest target: to increase the number of walking trips taken by Dubai’s population by at least 20 per cent by 2013. Want to help make it happen? Pound the pavements tonight!
Bur Dubai Cultural creek walk
Time: A leisurely one to two hours.
Good for: Walking, with the option of a water-taxi ride at the end.
Best for: Visitors and culture vultures.
Start at Khalid Bin Al Waleed metro station and walk towards the creek (away from BurJuman); turn left when you reach the water and head along the promenade, where you’ll see dhows offering tours and night cruises. About 15 minutes along the creek, the buildings ahead will morph into a sandy colour with traditional wind towers. When you reach the Government of Dubai building, walk towards it (beside the Bedouin camp). Ahead you’ll find the Bastakiya Quarter, originally built at the end of the 1800s; it was reconstructed in 1944 from sea stones and gypsum. Follow the narrow paths and you’ll come across a coin museum and the Heritage House. Follow the path out of the complex and turn right towards Dubai Museum (you can go inside for Dhs3). Walk to the right alongside the Grand Mosque; take the path on the right after the mosque and you’ll reach the souk. Head left and you’ll come to the water taxi station – enjoy a cruise across the river for Dhs1.
Mushrif Park lido
Approximate time: 40 minutes on foot
Good for: Walking or jogging. It’s also popular with rollerbladers too.
Best for: Nature and a change from the treadmill.
Mushrif Park is a natural ghaf forest behind Mirdif that was set aside as a desert recreation zone back in the 1980s. At its core is a complex of rolling lawns and playgrounds, including a small-gauge railway, an aviary, swimming pools and an equestrian centre. But most of the park is given over to sandy trails that wind through the old trees. Pay at the park gates (Dhs3 on foot, Dhs10 in a car) and turn right onto the cycle path, which you’ll cross about 100 yards into the park. Head anticlockwise as the path meanders through the trees, climbing gradually to a point where the skyline of both Dubai and Sharjah appears. This 4.5km circuit makes an excellent hilly workout on foot, bike or blades. On your left, trails weave between picnic pagodas and playgrounds; on your right, sandy tracks lead off into the forest. This is Dubai’s biggest park and it’s often blissfully quiet, chattering birds aside (the park attracts plenty of avian life, as well as rare species such as the Arabian hare). Round off your walk with a swim in the quiet, shady lido.
Approximate time: As long as you like, but no less than half an hour
Good for: Walking, but slowly – you don’t want to rush this. There are far too many things to see, buy, taste and haggle over.
Best for: Those who want to get to know the city better and pick up a couple of bargains along the way.
Start off directly opposite the fish market by Shindagha tunnel. There’s a red corner shop selling all manner of Indian snacks, including some super-cheap samosas, but it’s the pomegranate juice you want (ignore the fact they squeeze it into a bucket and slurp up the sweet – and supposedly very healthy – liquid, before pouring it into a plastic cup). From there, stroll past the shops filled with spices, nuts, nougat and bizarre sweets, turning left into the Gold Souk – if you do this at night, it’s much more impressive and far more lively, and there will always be someone cheerfully trying to sell you a ‘Hugo Boos’ watch. After you’ve made your way through the souk, we recommend following your nose/ears and seeing where you end up (there are cabs everywhere if you lose your nerve).What better way to get to know your city than to get lost in it?
The secret DIFC walk
Approximate time: One hour.
Good for: Walking, jogging or cycling.
Best for: City workers who want to end their day with leafy green tranquility.
Even though this walk is smack bang in the middle of the city, you’ll probably only pass two or three people en route. Start at DIFC and walk from the main financial roundabout onto Road 312 (the road on which the exhibition centre is located). Cross the road so that Emirates Towers is across the street from you, and head down the palm-tree-lined footpath towards Trade Centre. After 10 minutes you’ll get to a small road turning right (there’s a car park in front; the exhibition centre to your left); follow the road through the streets of Za’abeel. You may even see horses racing around the little-known track on the right. After another 10 minutes or so you’ll come across a junction. Go right – there’s a spongy 800m jogging track. Why not jog it? Retrace your steps to return; you can carry on through Za’abeel, but it’s not a grid system neighbourhood so it might take longer than expected. The walk is quite isolated, so take a friend at night.
The Umm Suqeim Stroll
Approximate time: 40 minutes.
Good for: Walking, but jogging is possible.
Best for: Laid-back beach lovers.
Start outside Jumeirah Beach Hotel, preferably about 20 minutes before sunset, and head north down Beach Road (towards Satwa). Turn left after the mosque and you’ll pass Umm Suqeim Park – stop there if you like, although it’s ladies and children only during the week. Keep going to the end of this road and you’re at the closest thing Dubai has to a beachfront promenade. Too quickly you’ll find yourself at the end of the beach. Turn right down 43a Street, and then left down 4e Street, admiring the mammoth villas before turning left, and you’re back by the ocean on 21b Street. Look behind you at this point and drink in the view of the Burj Al Arab at dusk. After a few minutes, look to your right and you’ll see boat builders working away on beautiful wooden boats. If it’s after 7pm, stop for fish and prawns at eatery/shack Bu Qtair; if it’s too early, keep walking to Kitesurfing Beach. At the end, turn around and retrace your steps, or turn onto 35a Street (just before Bu Qtair) and you’ll end up on Beach Road. Head down the main drag to get back to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, admiring the alarming golden Pegasus statues in Lora Bergiy Design, then stop at roadside diner Chalet for the delectable flattened chicken.
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