If you follow me on social media or know me personally, then you’ll know that I moved to Abu Dhabi a few years back and settled there for a while. In many ways, I still think of it as home. Perhaps I’m in the minority here but for me personally, I had never before been to a place where I had actively envisioned myself settling down for the foreseeable future. And believe me, I’ve been to a LOT of different parts of the world in my time and, despite falling in love with those little corners of the world, I couldn’t ever picture myself living there. For those of you who didn’t know, Abu Dhabi is only around 1 hour away from Dubai (or 40 minutes if you drive like a maniac, i.e., moi) and as a consequence, I spent a good deal of time frequenting the big city on weekends and evenings.
If you haven’t been to Dubai before, I would highly recommend it! For me personally, its one of those places that you just HAVE to visit at least once in your life. Trust me, you wont regret it.
Where to eat
Dubai is one of those wonderful places where you literally can find ANY type of food at practically any time of the day or night. I’m not kidding, the amount of times me and my friends would return home at 2am after a night of partying and order a 3 course meal of freshly cooked Pakistani food is actually embarrassing. And the best thing? It doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re looking to get your moneys worth in the form of a top-notch buffet then check out Mistral at the Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate. With everything from Mediterranean dishes to Japanese sushi, they’ve got it covered and all for a very reasonable price of AED 159 (£35) for lunch and AED 199 for dinner. With prices like that, its easy to see why it gets booked up very fast so I would highly recommend booking a table in advance, particularly if you are planning to go on a weekend. Ravi restaurant, on Al Dhiyafa road doesn’t look like much from the outside (or on the inside to be honest) but it serves up the most amazing indian and Pakistani food and is super cheap. Wafi gourmet in both the Dubai mall and Wafi mall is home to some incredible Lebanese food and, despite having a bit of a fast-food vibe to it, its actually super fresh and healthy. Try their falafel’s and grilled chicken salads for a taste bud explosion! If you’re looking for something high-end then I cannot recommend enough Kaleidoscope at the Palm, Atlantis. Specializing in Indian, Arabic, Mexican and Italian FOOD, this upmarket international buffet really does have it all! Prices start from AED 225 per person but it is well worth visiting, especially if you’re a buffet lover like me. Just make sure you come with an empty stomach!
Explore the desert
As I mentioned in my post about Abu Dhabi, a desert safari tour is a must do! It really is one of the most fun and adrenaline-inducing things you’ll ever do. Popular to contrary belief, they don’t have to be expensive either. If you can grab yourself a copy of the Entertainer-Dubai’s number voucher book, then you can get up to half price off safari tours as well as restaurants, nights out and shopping. Using the Entertainer, me and 4 friends were able to get a desert safari tour which consisted of hotel pick-up, dune bashing, camel riding, shisha, henna, a HUGE Arabic buffet in the middle of the desert, under the stars and a belly dancing show to finish it all off, all for a VERY reasonable price. If you don’t want to buy a full Entertainer booklet then take a look at Dubizzle, as many locals tend to sell off their vouchers throughout the year, particularly towards the end of the year. Honestly, sitting under the stars in the middle of the desert with a belly full of arabic food is a blissful experience that you won’t forget anytime soon!
I think its pretty much common knowledge to everyone who’s ever thought about going to Dubai that is is arguably one of the THE best places for shopping. Like. Ever.
With hundreds of high street brands as well as plenty of designer stores, you can, quite literally, shop till you drop. Obviously, one of the most popular places to visit is the Dubai mall, which is also one of the easiest places in the world to get lost… it quite literally is, MASSIVE.
But the mall isn’t just for shopping, oh no no no. A long with a gazillions shops, theres also an indoor theme park, an ice rink, an aquarium, and a giant cinema as well as 200+ restaurants and cafes. Oh and theres a water fountain, a huge water fountain. If you’re looking for something with a bit more of an `cultural vibe’ then check out Global village, just off Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. From November to February, there is an international shopping festival, jam-packed with food and clothing from all corners of the earth! Take a look here for more info on opening times and which countries will be participating this year. Handy tip- if you wait until the very last week of the event, you can get discounts of up to 60% on many of the goods! Deira Gold Souk is the place to be for all things gold but is also a great place to pick up local souvenirs too. You’ll find everything from gold jewellery to actual bars of gold- only in Dubai, eh?! Make sure to take a pit-stop here before leaving to grab yourself some gifts.
The most obvious tourist attraction that seems to stand out in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, at 829.8 meters high, it is the world’s tallest standing man-made structure. Whilst the view from its 144th floor observation desk is definitely breathtaking and does make for some incredible skyline New York type photos, it still doesn’t cut it as my favourite attraction in the city. Instead, I absolutely fell in love with the lesser-known gem which is the Dubai miracle garden. This gorgeous spot is home to the worlds largest natural flower garden and has more than 45 million different species of flowers spread about its 72000 sq. meters. It has also featured in popular Bollywood films and cost an arm and a leg to create, an estimated $11 million in fact.
The Bastakia quarter of old Dubai provides a more rustic and traditional feel amongst the busy and rather manic modern city life. Built in the late 19th century for wealthy Persian merchants, its limestone walls have miraculously survived until today, or rather, they have been preserved very well. Im a sucker for all things history so I would recommend visiting the sheikh mohammed centre for cultural understanding and the Dubai museum if you go as its always nice to learn a little something about the county you’re in!
That giant palm tree off the coast of Dubai? Thats the Palm and it also to be THE happens to place to be on weekends. This man-made island is one of the largest artificial islands in the world and is pretty awesome indeed. The palm itself is home to numerous high-end hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants but my favourite has to be the Atlantis. There is literally no end to the things you can do at the Palm, want to scuba dive with sharks? Check. Relax in a 5* spa? Check. Take a helicopter ride? Check. Slide down a GIANT waterslide on a rubber dinghy? Sure, why not? To take a full look at everything the Palm has to offer, click here.