While nine months of the year in Dubai are classified as “not summer”, we suppose we’re probably in spring at the moment, based on the thaw that’s currently going on across the Northern Hemisphere.
And thus, in the remaining three months left before the dash towards air-con begins, Dubai will become awash with tourists – also known as your visitors – bumbling around the city’s major malls, attractions, restaurants and bars.
With loads of new stuff in Dubai to check out, here’s your guide to entertaining your sofa-surfers this season.
SIGHTS, SHOWS AND ATTRACTIONS
Chill on the beach and eat at La Mer Along the Jumeirah coast, opposite Jumeirah Mosque, you’ll come across La Mer, a beachfront destination that brings together dozens of shops, cafés, restaurants and more, all together in one of the city’s coolest and busiest areas. Developer Meraas has also brought over an air-filled trampoline park concept from Japan, Hawa Hawa, and you can also spend all day on the beach, rent a shack, do some watersports and more. Stick around for sundowners and see this desert island-themed resort transform into a visual feast. Jumeirah 1, opposite Jumeirah Mosque (800 637 227).
Hit the slopes at Ski Dubai Yes, yes, we know. Dubai has got an indoor ski slope, and isn’t it ironic that a city built in the desert has one of those… Seriously, though, if your guests miss the good weather window by a couple of weeks and end up coming to the Middle East in the middle of summer, this place is a treat. Head to Mall of the Emirates and hang out with the penguins or don your salopettes and hit the slopes for a day chilling out in what is effectively a giant freezer. Nothing quite so welcome during the winter months. Grab a drink at the Alps-themed chalet bar Après, well, after to complete your experience. Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu 10am-midnight, Fri 9am-midnight, Sat 9am-11pm. Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (800 386).
Marvel at the spectacle that is La Perle Whether or not you’re into your theatre, you absolutely have to – HAVE TO – check out this dramatic, spectacular, jaw-dropping and frankly ludicrously ambitious production from the creative mind Franco Dragone. La Perle is hosted in its very own, purpose-built theatre in Al Habtoor City, making it Dubai’s first permanent theatrical production. And it has brought in more than 60 different acrobats, dancers and performers from around the world to defy death and leave you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes. More than 2.5 million litres of water are used in every performance – it may well be the first time you’ve seen it rain and flood inside, and it’s a sight you need to see. From Dhs420. Dates vary. The Atrium, Al Habtoor City (04 437 0001).
Peek through the Dubai Frame This is one of the city’s newest and most anticipated attractions to arrive. It is, as the name suggests, an enormous picture frame, which opened at the start of this year. It provides a snapshot of Dubai’s past and its present/future. It does so through strategic positioning and a 150-metre-high viewing deck that gives you stunning vistas across Bur Dubai on one side and Downtown Dubai (Burj Khalifa and all) on the other. And at Dhs50 entry, it needs to be at the top of your list. Dhs50 (adults), Dhs20 (kids), free for kids under three. Zabeel Park, www.thedubaiframe.com.
Shop the souks of Old Dubai Culture vultures will love seeing this side of Dubai. Decades ago in Deira, the old town’s souks used to be the city centre, with pearls, textiles, spices, fish and more all traded at the major ports along Dubai Creek. Today, three major souks define the area, and you need to go and pay a visit to the winding alleys and goods on offer at the Gold Souk, Textile Souk and Spice Souk. You’ll find a bargain (if you haggle), and it’s a pleasure spending hours getting lost in this part of town, which is steeped in history. Gold and Spice Souks: near Deira Old Souk Water Taxi Station. Textile Souk: near Bur Dubai Abra Station.
Watch The Dubai Fountain dance And coming in at number one (not officially) on almost every tourist’s Dubai bucket list is a visit to “the dancing fountain” as you may have heard it being referred to. Almost as iconic as the Burj Khalifa or Burj Al Arab, The Dubai Fountain continues to rake in visitors from inside the country’s borders as much as it does those from outside. Catching the regular performances throughout the night is the perfect accompaniment to many a dinner on the terraces of Souk Al Bahar. And now, you can get even closer to it than ever before (just nine metres away in fact) on the floating platform in Burj Lake. Kick back and take in the spectacular show. Free. Daily 1pm, 1.30pm (Fri 1.30pm, 2pm); every half an hour from 6pm-11pm; floating walkway: Dhs20 per person (visitors must be aged four and above). Downtown Dubai, book tickets at www.burjkhalifa.ae.
WATER AND THEME PARKS
Get an adrenaline rush at Dubai Parks And Resorts The region’s largest theme park consists of five major destinations – each with huge roller coasters, simulators, live shows, water rides and more. Go and check out Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park or motiongate Dubai, the theme park from three of the largest picture studios in Hollywood (DreamWorks, Columbia and Lionsgate). There’s also Bollywood Parks, themed on the Indian movie industry, and Riverland Dubai, which blends themed villages from France and America, to name just a couple, and is where you can go to recover from it all with a bite to eat and a beverage. Park tickets from Dhs175. Timings vary per park, resort open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-11pm. Jebel Ali (800 262 9464).
Dubai isn’t just home to one massive waterpark, oh no. As well as Aquaventure, there’s also Wild Wadi Waterpark, where you can lob yourself down a 32-metre-high slide at a whopping 80kph (hello, Jumeirah Sceirah). It has recently re-opened after renovations, and it’s looking super-shiny, clean and ready to host a fun-filled day, all in the shadow of the world-famous Burj Al Arab. Other attractions include Tantrum Alley (featuring three tornado slides), plus the Burj Surj for real thrill-seekers. GoPros are welcome, so go capture making a splash. Dhs370 (adults), Dhs260 (kids under 1.1m). Open Sun-Thu 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 348 4444).
We love this place! It’s literally a giant arcade-meets-fairground where every attraction (and there are more than 20 of them) is purpose-built for virtual reality. From an original creation in the The Walking Dead universe, to a futuristic Dubai where you play a mechanical ape escaping across the rooftops of the city’s landmarks, to a roller coaster ride where you’re in a malfunctioning bucket lift on the edge of the Burj Khalifa, there’s something for everyone here. It’s not just the technology at play here, though. The set design is creative, and no expense has been spared to make this place the coolest new attraction in Dubai. Go, and make sure you do it today – whether you have guests or not. Free entry (games range from Dhs15-45). Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat 10am-1am. The Dubai Mall, www.vrparkdubai.com.
Take your visitors around the world while they’re on holiday. See what we did there? Global Village, out past Arabian Ranches, brings the culture, traditions and attractions of dozens of countries from around the world, together into one giant theme park. You can haggle with a market trader from Russia, buy some Turkish ice cream and get your hands on some gooey, stringy, lovely molten Swiss raclette cheese, and that’s without visiting the fun fair. This season there’s a new bungee slingshot, a 90 metre plunge ride and tonnes of conventional fairground attractions. There’s also a monster truck show and more to keep the kids entertained, too. Dhs15. Open Sat-Wed 4pm-midnight; Thu-Fri 4pm-1am. Until April 7. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 362 4114).
Officially one of the world’s top waterparks, what better way to keep cool throughout the day (and to keep your guests kids entertained) than by heading to Aquaventure at Atlantis The Palm? In fact, you’ll be ticking a few visitor wishes off the list with this one. There’s a gigantic lazy river for those who fancy the more mellow way of life, and the 27.5-metre-high straight drop that is the Leap of Faith for the thrill seekers who fancy getting up close and personal with a shark (safely, of course). Intrigued? You should be, this is one for everyone to love. Dhs260 (above 1.2 metres), Dhs215 (below 1.2 metres), free (kids under two). Open daily 10am-sunset. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000).
Boogie at Barasti This is one of Dubai’s oldest establishments, and repeatedly wins awards for being among the city’s best beach clubs. Known for its epic parties, lazy days on the beach and sprawling, multi-levelled layout, Barasti added a fourth dimension to its armoury in late 2017, when it re-opened a swimming pool on the lower deck area. Head here early in the day for a proper bronzing sesh (it’s free entry, by the way), or late at night for a full-on party – there’s often some sort of festival or bash going on. Open Sat-Wed 11am-1.30am; Thu-Fri 11am-3am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (04 318 1313).
Head all the way around to the end of the East Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah to one of the coolest beach bars in the city. This Ibiza import arrived in Dubai last year, and in keeping with both its spiritual home and its new one, it’s a great day-to-night club that livens up when the sun goes down. A great venue for a chilled bite to eat, tropical beach vibes and a lively little soirée in the evening. Open daily 9am-midnight. Rixos The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (054 449 6464).
What can we say about Zero Gravity? Well, lots, actually. Because it’s brilliant. If you’re after a pool day, get up nice and early, pack your fanciest swimmers and head down to this super-swanky, effortlessly cool hangout. Then laze on a bed or cabana next to the enormous, glass-fronted pool (and accompanying Jacuzzi). Get there a little bit later (on the weekend, anyway) and you’ll have to “make do” with a chilled spot on the beach. At night, this place kicks off (as, too, do its weekend party brunches), and often has a superstar DJ on the decks – Fatboy Slim and Chase & Status are in town next month. Open Sun-Mon 9am-3am, Tue 10am-3.30am, Wed 9am-3am, Thu 10am-3.30am, Fri-Sat 10am-3am. Near Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 0009).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Chill at Kite Beach Head along to the Jumeirah coast where you can chill out on one of Dubai’s most popular public beaches, and it won’t even cost you a single dirham – if you don’t want it to. Stop in at the perennially popular SALT burger van (a royal favourite, no less) for some of the best burgers the city has to offer, and watch endless kite surfers catching some air, all with some chilling beats to keep you company. A great spot, and a must-try. Free. Open daily 24 hours. Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim (04 317 3999).Jump out of a plane with Skydive Dubai
If you’re really looking to seek some thrills, there are none that match the rush of chucking yourself out of a plane. Skydive Dubai is known the world over, thanks largely to the unmatched views of one of the world’s most awesome feats of engineering – the Palm Jumeirah. See it from an entirely different angle, make your landing over Dubai Marina, then calm your shredded nerves at the neighbouring Zero Gravity afterwards. Dhs2,200 per person. Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai Marina (04 377 8888).
Don your zaniest football/golf attire and head to one of the best footgolf courses inthe city, whereby you can take the meandering benefits of golf while pretending to be Cristiano Ronaldo for the day. It’s novel, it’s a day out at a sublime golf course, and you can scoff at the swathes of golfers who probably aren’t having anywhere near as much fun as you. From Dhs50. Daily 6am to 10pm. Address Montgomerie, Emirates Hills (04 363 1209).
Another zip line entry, and while it’s not in Dubai, it’s well worth the jaunt up to the country’s northern-most emirate. Ras Al Khaimah is now the host of the world’s longest zip line, the Jebel Jais Flight measuring in at a staggering 2.8km. Taking off from the country’s highest point on Jebel Jais, you’ll reach speeds of up to 150kph in this two-legged journey that promises you the most naturally stunning environment you’re likely to see for some time. It’s an exhilarating ride, and a real thrill for anyone who braves the journey, and the altitude. Do it. From Dhs650 per person. Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah, toroverdeuae.com/jebeljais.
When this opened, the XLine in Dubai Marina was one of the coolest new attractions to hit the city in yonks. Dubaians responded in kind, and if you were to spend any time around the Marina area during the day you’re bound to spot cheering zip-liners making their descent. See the city from a unique perspective and whizz down this 1km line at speeds reaching 80kph. It’s a real one-off, and it’s so worth the visit. Dhs650 per person (Dhs1,200 for two). Dubai Marina Mall (04 457 3212).
It’s our current Restaurant of the Year for a reason. This unpretentious, classic Italian restaurant just ticks all the boxes, and is located at one of the city’s coolest new hotels, Jumeirah Al Naseem. You’re guaranteed an excellent experience, whether you’re sitting inside the relaxed dining room or on the simply gorgeous outdoor terrace. Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am. Jumeirah Al Naseem, Umm Suqeim (04 275 2555).
In a city that prides itself on putting together a top-class steak dinner, this is the best steakhouse in town. Set in the scenery of The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City, you can expect exceptional service, and even better food. With relaxed lounge jazz and a classy décor, the whole night won’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for an outstanding meal to wow your guests on their final night, make this your go-to spot. Open daily 6.30pm-midnight. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City (04 435 5577).
Quality contemporary Turkish food in a sublime setting. If you’re yet to get try pide, you have to give this a shot. A freshly baked bread base topped with two cheeses and an egg is a delightful treat, and somehow even tastier than it sounds. Recline in some low-slung seating at this relaxed and stylish hangout, paired with some incredible views of Dubai Marina out from the terrace. And it’s the winner of our Best MENA restaurant award Open Sat-Wed 6pm-1am; Thu-Fri 6pm-2am. Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina (04 399 9123).
If you’re after some good Thai flavours, Thiptara is THE place to go. This serene Thai restaurant won two awards with us this year – Best Thai and Best Romantic restaurant – thanks to its incredible service, palate-pleasing dishes and simply stunning views out over The Dubai Fountain, all set in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa. It’s slightly on the pricey side, but we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s worth the outlay for a memorable dinner. Open daily 6pm-11.30pm. Palace Downtown, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard (04 888 3444).
This restaurant is, quite frankly, one of the best restaurants this city has ever produced. It won Best Japanese as well as Best Brunch at this year’s Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards for good reason. And it’s in the effortlessly stylish DIFC, so it’s surrounded by cool bars to head to afterwards. But this multi-award-winning hotspot has everything you need for your night out, from aperitifs to dinner, through to your digestive. The sushi, robata and tempura are simply incredible, and while there are plenty of other options in the neighbourhood, you really don’t need to go anywhere else. Open Sun-Thu noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight; Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-1am; Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-midnight. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
Al Qasr One of the city’s most extravagant brunches can be found on the waterways of the Madinat Jumeirah, at the five-star hotel that is Jumeirah Al Qasr. Here you’ll find three top restaurants dishing up pretty much anything you could be after. The Hide serves up some proper juicy American steaks, Al Hambra serves a range of Mediterranean and Arabic treats, while all-day dining restaurant Arboretum dishes up a bit of everything at this open buffet brunch. Dhs520 (soft drinks), Dhs625 (sparkling grape and house beverages), Dhs730 (bubbly, sparkling grape, house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Jumeirah Al Qasr, Umm Suqeim (04 432 3232). Brasserie 2.0 Appropriately named Brunch 2.0, this brunch at one of the finest hotels in JBR offers some pretty mega views of the resort’s enormous lawn, pool, beach and the Arabian Gulf. A classic Dubai brunch, where you can simply fill your boots for three hours. There’s a live band, more than ten live cooking stations and a post-brunch party happy hour from 5pm until 8pm at Le Deck. Dhs425 (soft drinks). Dhs575 (sparkling grape and house beverages), Dhs750 (bubbly and house beverages). Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa, JBR (04 316 5550). COYA If you’re after some exquisite flavours, book in for this Latin American fiesta. It’s a true delight, worthy of its fame and popularity in Dubai and around the world. It’s winner of our Highly Commended awards for Best Latin American and Best Brunch at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards this year, and once you tuck into its top spread of ceviche, grills and more, you’ll know why. Dhs333 (soft drinks), Dhs555 (house beverages), Dhs666 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2 (04 316 9600).
This top-notch European restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton in the Dubai Marina puts together a lively brunch for you to try. The brunch takes on a modern and popular format, opting against the come-all-ye-welcome buffet stands, instead opting for sharing platters of European bites, an à la carte main with options including short rib beef and tiger prawns, and sharable desserts. All with cracking views of Dubai Marina and a live DJ. Dhs275 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (house beverages), Dhs445 (bubbly). Fri 1pm-4pm. InterContinental Dubai Marina (04 446 6664).
1 OAK This is a brand-new hotspot, arrived in the city at the start of March, and is the seventh global branch of the celebrity-laden hangout originating from New York City. Don’t be surprised if you bump into an A-lister or two on their holibobs at this spot, which sits in the growing heart of Dubai’s nightlife scene in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai in Business Bay. Open Tue, Thu, Fri and Sun. Call for times. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Business Bay, www.1oaknyc.com. BASE Dubai Having opened in April last year, BASE is an open-air, self-proclaimed “super-venue”. Arena-like in its appearance, this amphitheatrical venue welcomes superstars on a regular basis to host massive bashes across the weekend. The club has hosted Rita Ora, Jason Derulo and 50 Cent over the past 12 months, so you’re guaranteed a massive night out if you fancy it. Open Thu-Sat 10pm-4am. Dubai Design District (055 313 4999).
If you’re heading to this fun-loving karaoke bar, give us a call and we’ll meet you there. It’s outrageous, it doesn’t care, and it’s just the perfect place for a night out. Grab a private karaoke booth for a few hours, stick on the jukebox (up to date with thousands of songs), grab your microphone and an inflatable bongo and sing your heart out. If you’re not hoarse at the end of the night, you’ve done it wrong. That reminds us, we really need to book in another night there this weekend. Open daily 4pm-3am. Grand Millennium Hotel, Barsha Heights (800 58259).
Something extraordinary has happened at the world-famous grounds of Meydan Racecourse. It’s gone from the UAE’s racing capital to one of the country’s top party destinations. Soho Garden is the encompassing term for a club of the same name, a Las Vegas day-to-night pool club, Drai’s Dubai, and staggering large club that is Soho Beach, which also houses a 7,000-capacity concert arena. Just epic. Various times. Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba (052 388 8849). WHITE Dubai It’s our 2017 Club of the Year, and WHITE Dubai, another Meydan resident, is the nocturnal home to the city’s party-loving beautiful people. It’s open three nights a week, from Thursday through to Saturday, and it hosts some of the top bashes this city has seen over the past couple of years. Open-air and atop the Meydan Grandstand, you’ll get some cracking views out and some even better vibes. Open Thu-Sat 10pm-4am. Meydan Racecourse Grandstand, Nad Al Sheba (050 443 0933).
PUBS AND BARS WITH TOP VIEWS
360° Nothing quite like says “holidays woo!” than hopping on the back of a golf buggy, making your way round the jetty and out to see where this circular (obviously) bar stands tall and proud, in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab. You’ll spot residents and tourists alike taking a Burj selfie at the entrance to this bar, which frequently puts on some lively bashes. Open Sat-Thu 5pm-3am, Fri 1pm-3am. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Umm Suqeim (04 406 8741).
Of course, of course, visitors want to go and see the Burj Khalifa. We’ve all been there. The world’s tallest tower, among many things, also hosts this magnificent lounge bar. And to say the view out from the 122nd floor is stunning is simultaneously obvious, self-explanatory and a bare necessity. Thankfully, At.mosphere delivers in spades. Chill out for ages just gawking at the view of Dubai in all its majestic beauty. Dress up, you’ll want/need to. Open daily 12.30pm-3pm, 6.30pm-11.30pm. Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3828).
This Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club bar has a pretty mega view out across the Creek, thanks to its expansive terrace on the banks of the river. Great for whiling away a few hours, especially if you’ve just drudged off the idyllic golf course next to which it is located. Open daily 5pm-2am. Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira (04 295 6000).
Ah, Reform, how we love thee. A British gastropub that is perennially popular and located on the fringes of the lake at, well, The Lakes. Top notch for brekkie, lunch, an afternoon pint, the big match, a roast dinner, and a lively night out with friends. So, that’s pretty much everything? We’re fairly sure it’s good for everything. Go check it out. Open daily 8am–midnight. The Lakes, Emirates Living (04 454 2638).The Irish Village It has been with us for more than 20 years, and remains a firm favourite with residents and visitors alike. It plays host to some truly epic gigs, music and hops festivals, and you’re rarely going to find this place having an off night. A huge lawn that overlooks the Creek will also help you let go of your post-work troubles, and truly enjoy your vaycay. Open Sun-Thu 11am-1am; Fri-Sat 11am-2am. Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud (04 239 5000).
This new spot on the Palm is off the charts as far as we’re concerned. It’ll leave you verging on breathless in awe of the Dubai Marina, Ain Dubai and Jumeirah views it’s got going on in its not one, but two bars. Thursday nights can get a bit pricey, but if you’re after sundowners there aren’t many better places about. Saturdays are also pretty fun when famous party brand Candypants gets given the door keys and hosts a killer pool party. We recently called this place “a knockout” and stand by that judgement. City View Lounge open daily 11am-1am, Marina View. Bar Terrace open Sun-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Sat 4pm-3am. FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai, Palm Jumeirah (052 900 4868).
FREE THINGS TO DO
Get up early and head to the market Saturdays in winter are ideal for heading to the Sunrise Market in Business Bay. Hosted by neighbourhood café The Sum Of Us, you’ll be able to get your hands on some lovely, home-made wares and jewellery, plus fresh dishes and hot-from-the-oven baked goodies. We’re trying not to drool at the thought. Sat 8am-11am (fitness classes at 7am). Ongoing. Burj Al Salam, Business Bay (no number).
Head for a camel race
It’s a longstanding tradition, and camel racing in Dubai is something that is a sight to behold. It will leave you with a smile reaching from ear to ear, and it won’t cost you a small fortune. Dubai Camel Racing Club, Al Marmoum Racetrack, Dubai-Al Ain Road (04 832 6526).
Relax at The Beach
Tourists will love it, and Meraas’ The Beach opposite JBR is one of the city’s best spots for kicking back for the day and watching the world go by. Go play some funfair and arcade games, or try out some of the brilliant eateries and ice cream parlours that line the shore. But, it must be said, chilling out on the beach, watching the camel riders head up and down the sandy stretch, and catching some rays is definitely our fave. The Beach, opposite JBR, www.meraas.ae.
Sojourn at the Dubai Marina Promenade
Amid all the lovely walking spots there are available to explore in Dubai, it’s worth taking a load off in the middle of Dubai Marina. The Promenade has a beautiful view out across the Marina waters, yachts aplenty, with tonnes of lovely little coffee shops, delis and restaurants at which you can stop and grab well-earned coffee and a bite to eat. Dubai Marina.
Trek along the boardwalk on Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is one of the most astonishing feats of engineering in the world, purely for the fact we’ve got a palm tree island built into the middle of the Arabian Gulf. The boardwalk is an 11km jaunt stretching from one end of the Palm’s crescent to the other. Spend some time circumnavigating the Palm and take in some of the city’s top views. Palm Jumeirah.
Wander the lakes at JLT
JLT residents can’t help but show off their neighbourhood lakeliness. It’s like a little bit of the city that’s not a bit of the city, and with lakes that stretch into the many kilometres in circumference, plus parks and waterside cafés, you’re bound to find a spot of brekkie to accompany your morning jaunt. Just grand. Jumeirah Lakes Towers.