15 ways to get that al fresco feeling indoors in Dubai
There’s some debate about where the term ‘cabin fever’ first originated. Some historians say it emerged with the first US settlers, who suffered long, cold winters in log cabins; others say it came from a time where oceanic crossings were frequent, and people were confined to their cabins to prevent the spread of disease. Whatever its origins, the verdict on what it means is unanimous: a state of restlessness, depression and irritability brought on by an extended stay in a confined indoor space.
Right now, that confined space is probably your (mercifully not log) living room, thanks to both the prohibitive Dubai heat and the decrease in activities that are running during summer. To help you remember that pyjamas are not appropriate mall-wear (as one Time Outer forgot) and that you shouldn’t devour entire blocks of cheese in a fit of boredom (as another managed to), we’ve come up with some summer-savvy ideas to get you out of the house and to remind you what fresh air feels like. Ready? Let’s go…
1 Hang out in a really cold room The new Adventure HQ store on Sheikh Zayed Road (which, as its name suggests, offers a wide range of outdoorsy clothes and accessories) has a special refrigerated room where you can test ski and mountaineering jackets in temperatures as low as -25°C. Grab a jacket, step inside, close your eyes and imagine you’re taking a short stroll in the Alaskan wilderness. You might even be tempted to buy something. Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.adventurehq.ae (04 346 6824).
2 Savour a sunset picnic iftar at Umm Suqeim open beach Wait until the sun begins to set (you’ll still have 45 minutes of daylight if you finish work at 6pm until the end of this week) and take an iftar picnic to that stretch of open sand on Al Sufouh Road on the right of the Burj Al Arab. Throw down a rug, take the kids for a paddle (or evening bath, more like it), lie back and embrace the serenity – chances are you’ll have the beach to yourself. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water (to keep you hydrated post-iftar) and your rod: the area is revered as a fishing hotspot, particularly for sherri, so you might have some unexpected guests turn up for dinner.
3 Catch an outdoor movie from the pool Cine-Splash! at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club screens two outdoor movies every Thursday and Friday during Ramadan, which you can watch from the cool comfort of the pool. Grab some popcorn, take a seat on the sun lounger or enjoy a splash in the water – the pool is chilled, so we don’t think you’ll need much persuasion. This Thursday, we’re looking forward to watching dark stop-motion-animation Coraline at 7pm. Free for members, Dhs35 for non-members, Dhs20 for kids aged four and above, free for kids under four. Every Thu and Fri from 7pm. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, Arabian Ranches (04 361 8111).
4 Lounge on an air-conditioned terrace During summer, swanky DIFC eatery and bar Caramel is a great place to go to enjoy the air-conditioned outdoors. Its bamboo-lined terrace is covered, though the transparent sides of the marquee make it feel as though you really could be outdoors, allowing you to gaze out over DIFC. We recommend ordering the crunchy tuna rolls (Dhs90) and a cool bottle of hops to complete the experience. Open 6pm ’til late during Ramadan; alcohol served from 7pm. Building 3, DIFC (04 425 6677).
5 Get creative in an airy warehouse Let your creativity run riot this month by taking advantage of thejamjar’s cool, spacious warehouse and lower summer rates. Until August 31, canvases are priced from Dhs35 for a 17cm x 17cm size (normally only available as part of a larger package) to Dhs195 for the largest, 90cm x 120cm (rather than Dhs220), which includes the painting materials you’ll use. Consumption of food and drinks is permitted within the gallery during Ramadan, though out of courtesy to Muslim staff and guests they request that you’re discreet. Open Mon-Thu 10am-8pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm. thejamjar, behind Dubai Garden Centre, street 17a, Al Quoz (04 341 7303).
6 Burn your pent-up energy with laser tag Running around commando-style in a medieval castle wielding a laser gun may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but after being cooped up at home you’ll realise it’s a great way to use energy (burning about the same number of calories as swimming or jogging, depending on how much you exert yourself), not to mention giving you a chance to take a shot at your mates. Complete with video game-style decor and UV lighting, the indoor 400 sq m Laserdrome brings a new edge to team sport. Dhs80 per person for 15 minutes. Open 3pm-9pm during Ramadan. Dubai Autodrome, Motor City (04 367 8700).
7 Refresh yourself with panoramic views of Dubai A downtown Bur Dubai newcomer on the 19th floor of the Park Regis hotel, what Kris Restaurant lacks in customers (when we dined we were the only souls there) it certainly makes up for in location, with 360-degree views looking out over the city at night. The modern Asian menu is small but varied, the service is personable and the drinks list affordable. We’d recommended the steamed diver scallops with vermicelli (Dhs46 and enough to feed a village). Open iftar-1am. Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, near BurJuman, Bur Dubai (04 377 1111).
8 Take an aerial tour of Dubai Fly over landmarks including the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, the World Islands, Dubai Creek and the Burj Khalifa. If you’ve few commitments this summer (work or otherwise), register online for the last-minute rate, whereby you get the flight for half price, though you’ll need to be able to confirm your availability immediately when contacted by the Seawings reservation team 24 hours before flying. Fill out the ‘Contact Us’ form on the website for more info. Usually Dhs1,225 per flight (Dhs612 at the last-minute rate). Leaves daily from Jebel Ali Resort & Spa, www.seawings.ae (04 807 0708).
9 Swap your front room for the region’s largest hammam Ditch your bathroom bottle of body scrub and treat yourself to a proper rub-down at Talise Ottoman Spa – it houses the largest Turkish hammam in the Middle East, which feels airy and cool. The superb traditional treatment will get rid of dead skin and leave you feeling smooth. If you’re not fasting, we recommend sampling the Turkish delight, which is available in the enclosed areas where you can eat and drink. Dhs300 for 40 minutes. Open daily 9am-midnight. Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah (04 453 0000).
10 Zip over to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi If you’ve lived in the UAE for any amount of time, you probably already know that Ferrari World exists, but you may not know that the whole theme park is indoors (except for two rides, which involve being outdoors for a bearable minute – and the wind will most certainly be flying through your hair). The vast building feels airy and light, with lots of foliage to boost that outdoorsy feeling. General admission Dhs225 per person. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com (02 496 8001).
11 Hang out on a cool shisha terrace The ever-popular Courtyard in Al Manzil Hotel seems to stay surprisingly cool even during the heat of summer, thanks to an air-conditioning system that mimics a traditional Arabian wind tower. Sure, you can’t escape the humidity, but if you’re willing to sweat a little, this is the most refreshing spot in town for lemon and mint shisha. Hint: sit near the doors, which allow a refreshing draft of A/C-cooled air to escape every time they open. Open daily iftar-2am. Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 428 5888).
12 Feast outdoors at an al-fresco iftar The Park Hyatt’s elegant iftar takes place on the hotel’s leafy, Mediterranean-inspired terrace (under cover and air-conditioned) and features a live oud player and shisha. A couple of good bets that are almost outside are the Sheraton Jumeirah Beach’s Ramadan tent, which is set up on the beach and features camel rides and a shisha tent, as well as the huge Ramadan tent at Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, which boasts two storeys of floor-to-ceiling windows and great views of the Arabian Gulf – refreshing. Park Hyatt iftar Dhs160 (04 602 1804). Sheraton Jumeriah Beach iftar Dhs175 on weekdays; Dhs180 at weekends (04 315 3861). Le Méridien Mina Seyahi iftar Dhs140 (04 318 1398).
13 Have lunch in an indoor jungle The Grand Hyatt’s foyer is a huge indoor garden, with hanging boats, streams, bridges and palms – making a stroll through the venue a surreal ‘al-fresco-esque’ experience. This Ramadan, excellent Vietnamese eatery Wox is open for lunch and dinner. Head there during the day and the small room will be busy, but thanks to a skylight in the ceiling, it feels less than claustrophobic. Try the juicy tamarind prawns (Dhs50). Open daily noon ’til late. Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 317 1234).
14 Watch the sun rise There’s nothing more peaceful than an early morning in Dubai, particularly during the quiet summer months when traffic is at a minimum. We say head out to Ras Al Khor and park near the wildlife sanctuary (it won’t be open at that early hour, but it’s a good vantage point, and you can see the flamingos) and watch the sun rise over the city’s skyline. It’s hot, yes, but you can easily go home and shower before you need to go about your day – sunrise is at about 5.50am at the moment. See the website below for more information. Oud Metha Road,
15 Try afternoon tea with a garden view Eating out during Ramadan seems to revolve around iftars. However, Raffles is running its new afternoon tea, so you can spend your day doing something a little different, and in a space that looks over a lush botanical garden. The afternoon tea is ‘fashion-themed’, meaning savouries and sweets on offer all have a distinctive look and flavour according to the current season’s trends (pastel and block colours, in case you were wondering). Dhs199 (for two). Served daily 2pm-7pm. Crossroads, Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).