Dubai is a city enamoured of superlatives, from the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) to the longest driverless metro (Dubai Metro Red Line), and even the world’s longest bar (creatively named Long’s). It’s no surprise, then, that in March the Guinness World Records set up a dedicated Dubai-based office, and to date the city holds 60 world records. In honour of Dubai’s wacky side, we’ve come up with 47 of the most unusual, interesting and refreshing activities to try. There are a few to keep more faint-hearted residents happy, such as weird and wonderful massage treatments, as well as eye-boggling eats and hair-raising sporting activities only the most die-hard adventurers can handle. Measure your comfort level on our wackometer to find the right activities for you, then head out to test your mettle…
1 Russian cabaret at Tchaikovsky
This all-singing, all-dancing Russian venue in Dubai Marina is a must-visit for its doo-wop dancing, disco lighting and traditional Russian dishes.
Byblos Hotel, Dubai Marina (04 448 8222). 4/5
2 Have a drink in icy surroundings
Cool off in the freezing Chillout Bar, which is constructed from ice. You’ll be given a warm coat to wear so you don’t get too chilly in the -6°C temperatures.
Dhs60 per person, including drink. Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.chilloutatdubai.com/home (800 24455 688). 3/5
3 Atlantis’ underwater suite
Where else in the world can you hire an underwater suite? At Atlantis you’ll gaze out at more than 65,000 different marine species in the Ambassador Lagoon.
From Dhs45,000 per night. Atlantis The Palm (04 426 2000). 5/5
4 Sleep at a height of 300 metres
Check into the tallest hotel room on the globe at the new record-breaking JW Marriott Marquis hotel, which has four sumptuous suites on the 69th floor.
From Dhs60,000 per night. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Business Bay (04 414 0000). 3/5
5 Visit a space-age bar Cosy Bur Dubai drinkery
The High Mile Club looks as though it’s modelled on the inside of the Starship Enterprise, yet it serves a range of traditional Indian food to a mainly Arabic clientele.
Surreal. Open daily noon-4pm, 6pm-3am. The Manhattan Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 325 9000). 4/5
6 Spend a night at Cirque du Soir
Party with dwarves, aerial artists, jugglers, fire breathers and people painted in random colours at Dubai’s high-end answer to the Moulin Rouge.
Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (056 115 4507). 5/5
7 Dine inside a classic car
One of the most beguiling of all of ‘old Dubai’s beguiling bars, The Garage takes its name literally, with an interior full of decommissioned vintage cars, with sawn-off roofs and big leather seats in which to relax.
Open daily 9pm-3am. Ramee International Hotel, Deira (04 224 0222). 3/5
8 Tour the world in one evening
Wandering around this huge theme park-like market of 160 kiosks from 65 countries is an entirely unique experience.
Open daily Sun-Thu 4pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 4pm-1am. E111, signposted from Arabian Ranches, www.globalvillage.ae. 5/5
9 See theatre 43 floors up at The Act Dubai
Anything that originated in Vegas is always going to be a little zany. Located over two levels on the 43rd floor, the world’s highest theatre club holds weekly performances.
Open Thu and Sun 9.30pm-3am. Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (056 811 9900). 4/5
10 Sing karaoke tunes at TECOM hole-in-the-wall 1UP
What’s weird about this venue is the artwork on the walls. The karaoke room out the back features giggle-worthy painted interpretations of The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.
Boutique 7 Hotel, TECOM (04 434 5555). 3/5
11 Witness some freaky nightclub entertainment
At nightclub Mansion, check out performances by female duo DJ Sonnikov and DJ Twist: one twiddles a snake around, while the other plays the saxophone (admittedly not that quirky).
Open daily 9pm-3am. Melia Dubai, Bur Dubai (055 551 2786). 4/5
12 Visit the dinosaur-themed ‘6D’ cinema at Oasis Centre’s Thrill Zone
This 436 sq m complex is the first of its kind in the UAE and promises a sensory ride of 3D movie clips, moving seats and wind effects.
From Dhs25 per person, Oasis Centre, www.oasiscentremall.com (04 388 3551). 2/5
13 Eat dinner with strangers in a secret location
Each month, Lime and Tonic hosts a one-off secret supper club, serving a meal created by pop-up renegade chef Tomas Reger in an undisclosed location. Previous events have involved a Venetian carnival at The Courtyard and a cinematic dinner at RAW Coffee roastery.
From Dhs360 per person. www.limeandtonic.com/dubai. 3/5
14 Munch by the metre
Pizza lovers can eat by the metre at the imaginatively named Pizza by the Metre, while the more discerning and sweet toothed can order dessert platters at STAY by Yannick Alléno priced by the metre and half metre.
Dhs270 per metre. STAY by Yannick Alléno, One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1010). From Dhs116. Pizza by the Metre, Barsha (04 447 0707). 1/5
15 Make your own Quebecois sweet treat at ‘dupper’
At the ‘dinner-supper’ concept, try your hand at making maple taffy, a Canadian delicacy created with shredded ice. Molecular creation ‘fruit caviar’ is also available. Dhs250 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (house beverages). Thu 8pm-11pm. Spectrum on One, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316). 1/5
16 Watch a tuna carving performance, then tuck in
Head to Hanabi to see the chef skilfully carve a monstrous 60kg yellowfin tuna, then dine on an extravagant tuna-themed set-menu.
Dhs179 (house beverages). Wed 7.30pm-11pm. Hanabi, Asiana Hotel, Deira (04 238 7777). 2/5
17 Eat one meal in multiple venues
At the Park Hyatt’s Dine Around promotion, dinner is served in restaurants across the property, including Traiteur and Thai Kitchen, with one course served in each.
Dhs395. Advance booking required. Sun-Fri 7pm-midnight. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222). 3/5
18 Eat a pizza with three bases
South African pizza chain Debonair’s serves the ultimate feast: a triple-decker pie. Try the Chicken Triple-Decker (three cheeses, chicken, sweet chilli sauce and more).
Dhs69 each. The Dubai Mall (04 339 8452), Dubai Marina (04 442 4367), Garhoud (04 282 2025). 4/5
19 Be insulted by the menu at Smiling BKK
This tiny, quirky Thai restaurant has a vast menu, with the names of the dishes ranging from tongue-in-cheek double entendres to comical insults. A second outlet at Al Wasl Square opens soon.
Al Wasl Plaza, behind Emarat Petrol Station, Al Wasl Road (04 349 6677). 3/5
20 Taste sea squirts at Asiana Hotel
Head down to Korean restaurant Sonamu to chow down on these weird-looking creatures, served fresh from the aquarium and cut into small chunks.
Dhs90. Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira (04 238 7777). 4/5
21 Watch traditional North Korean performances as you dine
The staff at Pyongyang Okryugwan restaurant all hail from North Korea: on Friday nights there’s a live talent show with singing, dancing and guitar-playing.
Al Maktoum Road, Deira (04 298 1589). 4/5
22 Join the Alphabet Dining Club
Work your way through cuisines named after all 26 letters of the alphabet. The concept is easy: F= French, L = Lebanese, T= Tapas, M= meeting new people over dinner and a quirky way to try new cuisines.
www.meetup.com/The-Alphabet-Dining-Club-Global- food-for-the-palate/. 1/5
23 Try to eat a disappearing dessert
Karma Kafé’s white chocolate and matcha surprise appears at the table as a fine white sphere, until it begins to disappear beneath the warm sauce poured on top to reveal a secret sorbet centre.
Dhs70. Karma Kafé, Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0909). 2/5
Body & Mind
24 Lose weight by freezing your fat cells
If exercising fails, try this wacky non-invasive way to lose weight. A vacuum uses cryogenic technology to freeze your fat cells, which are then eliminated from the body via metabolism. Weird or what?
Dhs3,000 per area; 60 minutes per session. Biolite Aesthetic Clinic, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2122). 2/5
25 Try past life regression
Find out what you did in a past life: the aim is to address recurring problems in the present.
Dhs300 per group session, courses run throughout the year. Mirdif (050 585 0677). 4/5
26 Be massaged with lava shells
Inspired by the more traditional hot stone massage, the shells used for this treatment are said to be able to retain heat up to 12 times longer and help relieve the deepest aches, pains and stresses.
Dhs60 supplement. Sisters Beauty Lounge, Jumeirah, www.sistersbeautylounge.com (04 344 2183). 1/5
27 Slather your face in 24-carat gold
Gold-leaf sheets are applied over your face, then left to work their magic for half an hour for an expensive treat.
Dhs2,000, Biolite Aesthetic Clinic, Dubai Healthcare City (04 346 6641). 2/5
28 Chuckle with strangers at a laughter workshop
Laugh the pain away, they say, so why not step outside your comfort zone and give your funny bone a workout? Laughing with strangers apparently reduces blood pressure and helps feelgood endorphins rush around the body.
From Dhs600 per person. Illuminations Centre, JLT (04 362 5480). 2/5
29 Find out what your face would look like after plastic surgery
Ever wondered what you’d look like with a nose job, or how much lift a bit of Botox might really give you? The new software used by Dubai-based plastic surgeon Dr Luiz Toledo will show you the results in all their shocking glory, and without a single scalpel going anywhere near your face.
From Dhs500. Mercato Family Clinic, Jumeirah (04 344 8844). 3/5
30 Experience an (almost) edible spa treatment
Instead of using more conventional sand or salts, scrub away dead skin with a Peruvian chocolate body treatment. You’ll depart silky smooth and smelling like an Easter egg.
Dhs450 for 50 minutes. The Spa, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 399 4000). 2/5
31 Fiddle with your skull to cure all manner of ailments
Cranio-sacral therapy – the practice of manipulating the bones of the skull – claims to be able to relieve back pain, eye problems, depression and more.
Dhs500. Heather Eade, The Dubai Mall (04 449 5111). 2/5
32 Try yoga hanging upside down
Swing yoga is best described as a combination of aerial silks and yoga, with poses designed to address a variety of health concerns – and it’s really quite funny hanging upside-down.
Dhs40 per class: Fitness First members only. Membership from Dhs459 per person per month. MotorCity and Beach Park Plaza (800 348 6377). 3/5
33 Heal yourself with crystals
It’s claimed that by placing crystals or gemstones on the body, over the chakras, they can rebalance energy flows and help resolve emotional or physical problems.
Dhs300 per session. Cosmic Healing Centre, Montana Building, Karama (04 357 6676). 2/5
34 Firm up your skin with caviar
Most caviar facial treatments use a caviar extract, including that at Akaru Spa, which is designed to have an anti-ageing effect.
Dhs975 for 90 minutes. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 230 8565). 2/5
35 Take an aerial silk dance lesson
Make like a Cirque du Soleil performer and learn how to be graceful while suspended from the roof from a long piece of silk.
Dhs100 per class. 6pm-7.30pm. Next class Saturday May 4. Art Sawa, Al Quoz 1 (04 340 8660). 3/5
36 Bathe in a goat’s milk Jacuzzi at Talise Ottoman Spa
Cleopatra was renowned for bathing in milk to apparently improve her complexion, and now relax in 1,000 litres of goat’s milk at a spa near you.
From Dh1,675 per couple, including sauna and massage. Talise Ottoman Spa, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (04 453 0000). 2/5
37 Improve your skin with placenta
Get the collagen production going with a placenta treatment, rumoured to be a favourite of A-listers, such as Jennifer Anniston and Madonna, for its anti-aging properties.
Placenta facial Dhs2,500. Biolite, Dubai Healthcare City (04 375 2122). 5/5
Sport and Outdoor
38 Learn the art of horse whispering
Find out how to communicate with horses and understand what they’re telling you at Speak Horse lessons, run by Dubai’s Hoofbeatz equestrian centre.
From Dhs1,000 for four lessons. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, www.hoofbeatz.com (050 181 0401). 3/5
39 Skim along the shore at speed
Skimboarding was invented to enable lifeguards to travel quickly up and down the shore: it involves jumping onto a flat board that’s dropped onto the wash at the edge of the waves. It’s easy to learn, and boards can be bought at larger sports shops (try Go Sports).
See the Skimboarders of the UAE page on Facebook. 2/5
40 Throw yourself off a crane
Fling yourself off a platform suspended from a crane, 50m from the ground – with only a bungee cord to save you.
Single jump Dhs339, tandem jump Dhs499 for two. The Gravity Zone, Opposite Dubai Bowling Centre, Interchange 2, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.gravityzone.co (056 364 7997). 4/5
41 Get vertigo in a swimming pool
Up on the roof at Cu-Ba, the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel’s infinity pool is uniquely located above the lobby atrium, which means you can swim and look over guests all the way down on the ground floor.
Price on request. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Garhoud (04 283 3370). 3/5
42 Play polo – on a camel
Climb aboard a dromedary, grab a mallet and gallop about the pitch while trying to hit a ball.
Price on request. Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, near Arabian Ranches, camelpolo@gulf ventures.com (04 361 8111). 4/5
43 Smash your head into glass at a mirror maze
Get lost, frustrated and lose your temper completely after walking headlong into a window for the umpteenth time in the UAE’s only mirror maze at Dubai Dolphinarium.
Call for prices. Umm Hurair (04 336 9773). 1/5
44 Speed along the sand on a wind-powered kart
Ride a go-kart powered by a huge sail – a cross between windsurfing and karting, reaching speeds of up to 90kph.
Dhs275 per person per hour. Dreamdays Dubai, www.dreamdays.ae (800 2080). 3/5
45 Don a high-tech helmet for Atlantis’s underwater safari
‘It’s like walking on the moon,’ our reviewer said when he walked along the bottom of the huge tank that hosts Atlantis’s Shark Safari.
From Dhs275 per person for a 20-minute session. Aquaventure, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000). 3/5
46 Go zorbing at Ski Dubai
Roll down a snow-covered hill inside a giant plastic hamster ball (sort of). Your pass will also entitle you to a discovery ski school lesson or a penguin encounter.
Dhs300. Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates (04 409 4090). 2/5
47 Buy rabbits, birds and ducks in Satwa
Makeshift pet store Birds World sells avians, including ducklings, budgies or parrots – but remember a parrot is for life, not just for Eid.
Al Hudaiba Road (Plant Street), next to Lals supermarket (04 349 4415). 3/5