We all know Sheikh Zayed Road, that 55km artery that carves through the heart of Dubai and down to the border of Abu Dhabi. From skyscrapers and landmarks to warehouses and ‘challenging’ traffic, the road is the hub of Dubai’s activity.
Yet while most of us happily turn off the SZR to take refuge in the many malls that line the route, it’s harder to discover new and exciting gems, all easily missed while jockeying for position in the middle lane behind yet another suicidal taxi. So this week we decided to venture out and explore the nooks and crannies on the east side of the epic road – handily, this is the side on which the metro runs. Here are our top four finds.
USP: High-end jewels for half the price.
Why go? Cara has become a Dubai institution – the power of word of mouth means it’s the only spot in the whole Gold and Diamond Park that’s ever buzzing. Sharon Stone has bought jewels here, Gary Lineker bagged his second wife’s engagement ring here and thousands of expat men consider it their port of call for picking up the bling that will hopefully convince someone to become their wife. The store is very sales-driven, but is known for its after-service (there may be a couple of negative stories floating around the web, but aren’t there always?). The main selling point is the in-house workshop, where you can watch your chosen jewels being crafted in front of your very eyes (the perfect way to ensure it’s real bling, rather than well-polished zirconia).
(04 347 8089)
Objekts of Design
USP: High design at reasonable prices.
Location: Al Kuthban Building, near exit 43 and Al Nabooda VW showroom.
Why go? This fantastic find sells copies of designer furniture, which will cut the bill in half or more. However, it’s still of refreshingly good quality and crafted from the original. The store stocks almost every iconic high design piece, as well as traditional African furniture – we love the stuff from the Senufu tribe of the Ivory Coast.
www.od.ae (04 328 4300)
Dubai Garden Centre
USP: There’s something for everyone (it’s not just plants and fertiliser).
Location: Along the slip road near interchange four, just after the Gold and Diamond Park when driving north.
Why go? One of the most common misconceptions is that the Dubai Garden Centre is all about gardening. Sure, this store sells more bush than you could shake a stick at, but it also offers Dubai’s best coffee at RAW (as voted by, ahem, us), a fishing store run by a knowledgeable lad who loves to shoot the breeze on rods and the like, and a range of homewares and cookware, including high-end Gaggia coffee machines and ice cream makers.
www.dubaigardencentre.com (04 340 0006)
Emirta Horse Requirements Centre
USP: The one-stop shop for equine enthusiasts.
Location: Behind the Kawakeb building, about 200m from the Dusit Thani hotel towards Trade Centre.
Why go? This caters for every single horse-related need anyone could ever have. But, even if you’re not horsey, there are some great finds for the home and for your feet – we love wearing brown leather riding boots over jeans, and we think polo sticks make a cool, quirky decoration in any living room.
www.emirtahorse.com (04 343 8664)