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Be Our Guest: Tips From Concierges at Dubai’s Luxury Hotels

Dubai is rich in ancient culture, yet decidedly modern at the same time. It is the epicenter of opulence, wowing visitors with its many ultra-luxurious attractions set against a backdrop of stunning desert beauty. With so much to see and do, the only difficulty is deciding what to take in first—and who would know better than the concierges at the most renowned hotels?

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Shop Like Royalty

For luxury shopping, they recommend The Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the world. “The Dubai Mall has everything—1,200 shops and even an underwater zoo,” says Kenneth Kiragu, concierge at the Palace Downtown Dubai. The mall is conveniently close to other popular sights, notes Mohammed Zerouali, concierge at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. “It is directly across from the Dubai Fountains and Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Both are sights that I recommend to our guests.” As mentioned above, in addition to its 1,200 shops, The Dubai Mall is home to Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which houses a 2.6-million-gallon aquarium tank—one of the largest in the world—that is home to some 70 marine species. Visitors can walk through a tunnel for 270-degree views of the watery environment, take a glass-bottom boat tour or even take a dip in the tank as part of a cage-snorkeling experience.

Another fun option: The 76,000-square-foot SEGA Republic, where you can choose from more than 170 video games—including simulators—and a full-size indoor roller coaster.

They also note, no trip to Dubai would be complete without visiting the souks, or traditional trading markets, which provide a glimpse into Dubai’s centuries-old culture. “The gold and spice souks are the most popular,” Kiragu says. Other souks, including those that specialize in perfume and textiles, are also worth a day’s visit. And then there’s the Naif Souk, where you can find just about anything.

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Eat Your Heart Out

There’s no shortage of eateries, whether you’re craving a bite with European flair or something a bit more traditional. For an authentic Middle Eastern snack, local cafes serve must-try delicacies like Arabic coffee and camel milk candy. For a meal—and a view that will leave you in awe—Reny Rodriguez, concierge of the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, suggests a meal at At.mosphere, on the 122nd floor of Burj Khalifa. “I love to book a window seat for our guests,” he says. “They can watch the sun set on Dubai as they enjoy their dinner.”

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Must-See Sights

“You can’t leave without seeing the desert! It doesn’t make any sense!” exclaims Zerouali, who recommends taking a tour and, yes, getting your photo taken with a smiling camel. Whatever you decide, Kiragu says, just do it in lavish Dubai style. “The best way to see Dubai is from the air or by sea!” he insists, suggesting a helicopter ride, which will give you a bird’s-eye view of the city in just 22 minutes, or a longer five-hour boat tour.

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TASTE

A Splendid Table: The Decadent Brunches of Dubai

It may come as no surprise that in Dubai—a place well known for grandeur—brunch has been elevated from a laid-back weekend tradition to a lavish meal. Typically presented on Fridays, the city’s local brunch offerings can be true feasts (some featuring multiple food stations) that easily make for several relaxing hours. Here are four of our favorite spots.

Courtesy of The Westin Dubai
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BubbaliciousThe Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort

This sprawling, interactive brunch isn’t just one of the most well known in Dubai, it’s also one of the most family-friendly. With more than 15 live cooking stations located in three of the resort’s exquisite eateries (Blue Orange, Hunters and Spice Emporium), Bubbalicious offers guests the freedom to move at their own pace through each. While the waterfront views are spectacular, children will likely be more impressed by the host of activities designed to keep them entertained, including a video game area, bouncy castle, and more. Offered each Friday, alcohol-included and alcohol-free packages are available.

Courtesy of Atlantis The Palm
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SaffronAtlantis The Palm

Some 200 dishes are served each Friday at the sumptuous Saffron. Set against a stunning beachfront, the restaurant presents 20 cooking stations that serve up Chinese, Thai, Indian and European fare. The high-energy atmosphere makes this brunch feel like a midday party: DJs spin music, and a host of other entertainers add to the excitement.

Courtesy of Jumeirah Group
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Jumeirah Al Qasr

Each Friday, the ground floor of Jumeirah Al Qasr is overtaken by an award-winning spread of delicacies from Jumeirah restaurants, including Al Hambra and Arboretum. This is a meal fit for royalty. Which is appropriate, since the hotel’s name, Al Qasr, means “the palace,” and the atmosphere draws inspiration from the Sheik’s summer residence. Enjoy your dishes as a two-piece band provides the soundtrack, then cap off the experience in the Chocolate Room, with its chocolate fountains, handmade chocolates and sticky baklava.

Courtesy of Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa
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MoanaSofitel Dubai The Palm

If you’re looking for a romantic brunch setting, book a table at Moana. The restaurant boasts striking sea views from patio tables, which are shaded by thatched roofs. The setting at this popular spot—where brunch is made up of gorgeous plates of both hot and cold seafood—is much calmer than those of most Friday brunch venues in Dubai. Need a break between courses? Take a romantic stroll along the beach—access is included with the price of your meal.

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Up Your Game: The Best Golf Clinics in Dubai

Dubai offers a bevy of world-class golf clinics that boast all types of training tools, from high-tech swing labs to video analysis, and are staffed with PGA professionals who can help you learn the game or fine-tune your skills.

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The Dubai Golf AcademyEmirates Golf Club

British golf coach Peter Cowen, groomer of many a modern European Tour champion, lends his expertise to this prestigious clinic staffed by PGA professionals that offers a range of classes and programs for all skill levels, including individual and group lessons. For adventurous beginners, the Academy also offers a weeklong crash course. Students of the clinic receive unlimited use of the Academy’s driving range during their programs and can try out their new skills on a friendly par 3 course. For those more advanced players looking to lower their handicap, the clinic is also equipped with high-tech video analysis and ball-tracking software that can help improve ball speed, launch angle, spin rate and overall shot technique.

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The Academy by Troon GolfThe Address Montgomerie

If you’re serious about improving your game, this three-day intensive program may be the perfect reason to visit Dubai. The clinic packs in nine hours of personal coaching by PGA-qualified instructors on long game, short game and hole playing. You’ll also get unlimited practice and a round of 18 holes on the championship course. Spend your days swinging, pitching, chipping and driving on the famous Montgomerie green, and analyze your technique using the top-rated video coaching systems. Then spend your nights soaking up the luxurious amenities offered at the five-star Address Montgomerie Hotel—like the extensive selection of fine cigars at the Monty Cristo lounge.

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The European Tour Performance InstituteJumeirah Golf Estates

The Professional Golfing Association’s European Tour established one of its institutes at Jumeriah, which hosts the DP World Championship each November. The seasoned PGA coaches on staff focus on the ETPI’s hallmark six-step program that begins with evaluating your game—looking at everything from posture and balance to foot analysis—and ends with elevating it to a new level out on the green. You’ll have access to onsite swing studios, a putting lab and a gym, as well as specialized practice greens. They offer various levels of instruction, and you can book individual lessons or group classes.

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Butch Harmon School of GolfThe Els Club, Dubai Sports City

This 5,000-square-foot golf academy within the legendary Troon Golf’s sprawling Dubai Sports City complex offers instruction based on the coaching style of Butch Harmon, who famously coached Tiger Woods to stardom—and that involves getting down to the very physics of your technique. Former pro-golfer Justin Parsons leads the school’s team of PGA-qualified instructors who provide analysis and instruction based on 3-D motion-capture data gathered in the school’s swing and putting labs. Lessons are offered for individuals, groups and golfing teams.

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A Guide to the Best Golf in Dubai

Wherever you are in Dubai, you’re never far from some links. The Emirate’s famed fairways dot the cityscape, providing a real treat for experienced golfers and beginners alike with challenging courses, clubhouse amenities and prestigious golf academies. Here’s a look at what’s par for the course in Dubai.

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COURSE:MajlisEmirates Golf Club, Emirates Hills

PAR:72

Length:7,301 yards

Majlis is the Middle East’s first all-grass golf course, built in 1988. Rich with desert flora, the 18 holes weave in and around dunes not far from Dubai’s northern coastline. The challenging course, whose Arabic name means “meeting place,” plays host to the annual Omega Dubai Desert Classic tournament. Get out your biggest driver when you reach the 8th hole—the par 4 hole has a tricky dogleg that makes it arguably the toughest part of the course.

Majlis is the signature course at the Emirates Golf Club, which boasts two other courses, a Golf Academy run by renowned coach Peter Cowen, a temperature-controlled pool, the high-end Le Classique restaurant, a full-service gym, a tennis academy and a spa.

Courtesy of Emirates Golf Club
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COURSE:The Address Montgomerie Dubai
Championship CourseThe Address Hotel, Emirates Hills

PAR:72

Length:7,461 yards

Paired with the luxurious five-star Address Hotel, this championship course designed by Scottish golf champion Colin Montgomerie features unique landscaping and a variety of beautifully sculpted hazards, including 14 lakes, undulating links and the famous hand-shaped bunker at hole 17. Among the course’s unique attributes is its par 3 13th hole that is shaped like the UAE and challenges golfers with a remarkable 360-degree teeing area.

The golf club offers a range of amenities including course discounts for hotel guests, floodlit night golfing and world-class instruction from coaches at the Troon Golf Academy.

Courtesy of The Address Montgomerie Dubai
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COURSE:Dubai Creek & Yacht ClubDubai Creek, Opposite City Centre Deira, Near Park Hyatt

PAR:71

Length:6,967 yards

This picturesque course at the Dubai Creek & Yacht Club, one of the oldest in Dubai, hugs the city’s historic creek. And while the luxurious palm-tree lined championship course draws golfers of all abilities worldwide—the Dubai Desert Classic has been held here twice—it is the clubhouse that really steals the show as you advance along the fairways. Its unique architecture is reminiscent of traditional Arabian dhows, the distinctive crescent-shaped sailboats that can be seen dotting the coastlines of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Dine inside at Legends restaurant, which features floor-to-ceiling windows and a soothing reflection pool with a floating VIP table that can seat up to eight guests.

Just a few kilometers from the Dubai International Airport and the city center, it is one of the most accessible courses in town.

Courtesy of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
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COURSE:Al Badia Golf Club by InterContinentalInterContinental Dubai Festival City

PAR:72

Length:7,388 yards

A few kilometers to the south along the creek, golfers will find the Al Badia course. Designed by renowned course-designer Robert Trent Jones II, it’s the confluence of a desert oasis and modernism, with a twisting lake and a futuristic clubhouse that’s highly popular for business meetings, social gatherings and outdoor concerts. Golfers can access a full-service golf academy on premises featuring a high-tech performance lab, as well as four restaurants and the popular Spa InterContinental for après-golf relaxation.

Courtesy of InterContinental Dubai Festival City
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COURSE:The Els ClubDubai Sports City, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road

PAR:72

Length:7,538 yards

This legendary course comes from the creative mind of the champion South African golfer Ernie Els (a.k.a. “The Big Easy”), who designed the course drawing inspiration from his favorite holes around the world. Avid golfers may recognize some features at the Els course from the likes of the Royal Melbourne and Pinehurst No. 2. The course is also remarkable for its intense elevations.

It’s all enveloped by Troon Golf’s massive Dubai Sports City complex, which offers golf training through the Butch Harmon School of Golf, as well as operating facilities for other sports like football (a.k.a. American soccer), cricket, swimming, rugby, tennis and basketball.

Courtesy of The Els Club

Good Afternoon

The city is alive with countless indoor and outdoor activities for shoppers, adventure seekers and culture lovers, alike.

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Bliss Out at Dubai’s Most Opulent Beaches & Spas

In a city where business is booming, so too is pleasure. For a day of relaxation, soaking up the sun while listening to the waves on Dubai’s Persian Gulf is the ultimate in luxury—as is pampering yourself at one of the city’s sumptuous spas, health clubs and salons. Dubai’s coastline is packed with public, private and hotel-accessible beaches—many of the shoreline hotels allow you to pay for a waterfront spot if you’re not a guest, and there are plenty of beautiful public haunts like the expansive Al Mamzar Beach Park (comprised of five beaches in coves along the coast) or JBR Beach (the place to people-watch). Here are some of the most lavish locales and treatments Dubai has to offer.

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Rent Your Own Island at the Island Beach ClubLebanon Island, The World Islands

You can see the world from this tiny island off the coast of Dubai—literally: It’s part of a man-made archipelago shaped like the world. The entirety of the Royal Island Beach Club property, with its beaches, pool, restaurant, bar, loungers and private chalets, can be yours for a day. You can access it via a private boat that departs from the Jumeirah Fishing Harbour 1, and you can party with your posh posse until the sun goes down (day access runs from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.).

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Soak in a Beachside Jacuzzi at the EDEN Beach ClubRixos The Palm

This beach club drips with Mediterranean-style luxury—the space is a contrast of white fixtures and clear blue water lined with sunbeds, private cabanas and larger beachfront bungalows equipped with private Jacuzzis. It’s a place to see and be seen, whether on the beach, by the pool or sipping hand-crafted cocktails at the beach bar. In the evening, the venue transforms into a nightclub beneath a sprawling geometric arch, with beats by A-list DJs and musical acts. The club’s name, EDEN, is an acronym for “every day, every night,” and it’s a business venture of South African cricket champ Kevin Pietersen.

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Get a Beach Butler at Burj Al Arab JumeirahBurj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel

The only way to access the world’s third tallest hotel, which occupies its own private island, is by booking a room or making a reservation at one of its restaurants—but once you’re in, you’ll be blown away by the gold-, fountain-, jewel- and luxe fabric-embellished decor at every turn. Famous for its glamorous amenities, the Burj Al Arab includes arrival by helicopter, a fleet of chauffeured Rolls-Royces, and gold-plated iPads offered to each guest upon check-in. The hotel’s 202 two-floor duplex suites boast 17 types of pillows to choose from, designer toiletries and welcome plates of gold-leaf-covered chocolates. That level of luxury extends to its private beach club—take your golden tablet to read on the sand and call on a personal butler for anything you need, be it a spritz of lavender-scented face spray and a cocktail or a sunscreen massage and sunglasses cleaning. The resort is a favorite among celebrities, so keep an eye out—you may just notice a famous face lounging beside the crystal-clear water.

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Chill Out in the Snow Room at Talise Ottoman SpaJumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, Palm Jumeirah

After a day on the golf course or riding camels in the desert, let this spa give you the cold shoulder—literally. Behind the carved turquoise doors, stone columns and colorful tiles of the palatial Turkish-style spa lie 42 individual treatment rooms—but the award-winning snow room is where you’ll be experiencing one of the “coolest” new spa trends. The dimly lit metal-walled room features a frozen fountain in the center and icicle-laden shelves and ceiling fixtures, with a dusting of fluffy snow on the floor. The idea is to walk in fresh from the sauna, with nothing but your bathing suit and towel to protect you from the man-made elements. Bare those feet if you dare—and as you endure the inevitable shivers, remember that the treatment is said to improve the immune system and circulation. Afterward, you can soak up the opulence of the Ottoman Empire with some time in the hammams—Turkish baths—or immerse yourself in a goat’s milk Jacuzzi, or lounge in the spa’s marble-walled pools, lounges and hydrotherapy rooms.

Courtesy of Jumeirah Group
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Get a 24-Carat Gold Facial at Raffles SpaRaffles Dubai

The Egyptian flair of this pyramid-shaped hotel extends to its skincare-centric spa, where you can indulge in a rare beauty treatment that’s fit for a pharaoh. (Cleopatra was rumored to sleep with gold on her face to keep it glowing.) The 90-minute treatment at Raffles combines sheets of 24-carat gold with the latest skincare technology (including super-hydrating compound Gamma PGA carried by an ultra-fine Ultrasonic Nano Mist that penetrates deeply into the skin) for a facial rejuvenation experience that will leave you feeling—and, thanks to its purported wrinkle-reducing and firming properties, looking—like a goddess.

Courtesy of Raffles Dubai
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Beautify Before a Night Out at Yas Beauty SpaSouk Al Bahar, Old Town

Are you expecting a marriage proposal beside the Dubai Fountain this evening? Or are you zipping over to the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) to rub elbows with A-list celebs doing dinner at Clé? Get glamorous first at this speedy yet luxurious full-service spa-salon located within the stone corridors of the city’s historic downtown “market of the sailor.” It offers individualized hair, nail, facial and massage treatments for both men and women, as well as the use of two hammams. The services are varied, ranging from a simple shave for men to lavish caviar hair treatments for women.

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Art in Dubai: A Gallery Tour

Weaving your way through Dubai’s most popular and historic neighborhoods is akin to wandering through an endless gallery of modern and contemporary art. What started more than a decade ago as a few galleries popping up in the warehouses of the dusty Al Quoz district back in 2005 has become an Emirate-wide trend, which in turn has spurred the advent of such world-renown art gatherings as Art Dubai, the Global Art Forum and the SIKKA Art Fair. But before you delve into the colors and textures of the Dubai art world, here is a primer in the form of a brief gallery tour, exploring three of the city’s most art-filled neighborhoods.

Courtesy of The Jam Jar
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To the West – Al Quoz

The primarily industrial neighborhood in Dubai’s west side is attractive to artists and gallery owners because of the ample space afforded by its many warehouses. The art scene has grown so much in this urban neighborhood that its Alserkal Avenue has come to be considered a significant hub of contemporary art worldwide, with 250,000 square feet of art space and more than 20 creative organizations. A few hot spots include the ultramodern Carbon 12 Dubai and Art Sawa galleries, as well as the Courtyard Gallery, a more bohemian gallery and arts community center, and thejamjar, which offers a unique, public DIY painting studio. In the fall, the neighborhood is also home to the annual Quoz Arts Festival, the first-ever art fair celebrating local artists in the UAE.

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City Center – DIFC

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a chic district that plays host to some of the biggest business dealings in the world. DIFC Gate Village—so called because of the distinctive Gate Building that marks the residential district—is also a budding center of blue-chip art collections. Spots not to miss include the Opera Gallery, Ayyam Gallery, the Farjam Collection, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery and The Empty Quarter, a gallery dedicated entirely to fine art photography.

Courtesy of XVA Gallery
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To the East – Bastakiya

You’ll get a taste of the city’s past as a remote fishing village in this historic neighborhood packed with traditional open-air markets called souks, set apart from the modernity of the DIFC and the industrial Al Quoz. The art scene here is no less thriving, however—the neighborhood is home to several galleries and museums, including the Dubai Museum, dedicated to the Emirate’s history and located inside the oldest building in Dubai (the Al Fahidi Fort), the contemporary XVA Gallery, and one of the city’s oldest art galleries, the Majlis Gallery.

You can simplify the challenge of seeing as much art as possible in Dubai with resources compiled by ArtintheCity, a regional project dedicated to curating the art and cultural offerings of the UAE. It offers a comprehensive cultural guide called ArtMap, and the ArtBus, which provides guided tours of galleries, studios and art centers region-wide.

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Buyer’s Market: A Guide to Dubai’s Souks

Sprawling, vibrant and buzzing with an electric energy, the souks of Dubai are traditional marketplaces that offer a uniquely Middle Eastern experience to tradesmen and visitors alike. If you’re planning to shop, it helps to know the tricks of the trade.

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The Gold Standard: The Gold Souk

Gleaming gold, shining silver and sparkling gemstones dazzle shoppers as they roam the covered walkways of this spectacular souk, easily the area’s most popular market. Since Dubai is known for its inexpensive gold, it would be a shame to go home without any. Haggling is expected here, so negotiate wisely. Check the daily market price for gold before you arrive: That will serve as your starting point. Be bold, and be willing to walk away—if the trader is serious about selling, he won’t let you go.

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Scent & Sensibilities: The Perfume Souk

Strolling down Sikkat Al Khail Road, you’ll encounter the aroma of the Perfume Souk, the name given to the collection of perfume shops that line the street. Explore the rich and exotic scents until you find the one that calls to you. Can’t pick a favorite? Local experts will help you create your own signature scent. Our suggestion: Include oud, one of the Middle East’s most esteemed and expensive scent notes; sensual and musky, the raw materials are derived from dark and resinous agarwood. Once you’ve made your choice, ask a shopkeeper for one of their ornate, collectible jars in which to display your scent proudly on your dressing table at home.

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Spice of Life: The Spice Souk

Just steps from the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk is an experience that appeals to all the senses: Bright, colorful baskets and sacks of herbs, florals and spices—including cinnamon, cloves, rose petals, turmeric and more—fill the narrow passageways and are transported daily from India, Pakistan, Iran and other countries. The air is heavy with aromatic delights, creating an opulent and heady experience. As in the other souks, bargaining is the norm here. Don’t be bashful about negotiating with sellers—it can be as simple as asking for “the best price.”

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Adventures in Eating: Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Surely all of that shopping has helped you work up an appetite, and luckily Souk Madinat Jumeirah is just a short taxi ride from downtown. Explore the winding streets of this bustling bazaar to find more than 40 dining options to tempt the palate. A faithful re-creation of an ancient marketplace, this striking space is rich in stunning details, including the elaborate Arabic architectural design that allows bursts of sunlight to peek through intricate carvings in wooden archways. After lunch, take in the performance of one of the many street artists, or shop the boutiques, jewelry shops and souvenir stalls on site.

Still looking to shop? There are more markets to experience, including the Naif Souk, the Fish Souk and the Fruit and Vegetable Souk, each offering its own traditional take on trading.

Courtesy of Jumeirah Group
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Indoor Escapes: The Best Spots to Beat the Heat

Dubai is a shining example of humankind’s ingenuity—it is home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa and the Arabian Peninsula’s only urban train network. But to really get a sense of the city’s innovative spirit, a visit to one of the massive indoor playgrounds built for all ages and interests is in order: The city takes an endeavor that elsewhere might simply offer respite from the summer sun and elevates it to an experience extraordinary enough to wow even the most seasoned world traveler. In other cities, a mall would simply be a place to shop for the latest fashions; in Dubai, a mall means not just retail shops but also a host of extreme experiences, all under one roof.

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Ski Dubai at The Mall of the Emirates

The most talked-about indoor spot has got to be Ski Dubai—it’s the largest attraction at Mall of the Emirates and another amazing example of how this desert town defies expectations. Complete with chairlifts, multiple slopes, a ski school and a 492-foot zip line extended above it all, you’ll feel like you’re in a snowy mountain wonderland. And be sure to visit the king and gentoo penguins in their habitat—you can watch the birds walk through the snow park, free of charge, and you can also buy a Peng-Friend encounter for a more up-close experience.

Courtesy of Atlantis The Palm
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Ossiano in the Atlantis, The Palm Hotel

Want your wildlife viewing to include some wine? Book a table at Ossiano in the Atlantis, The Palm hotel, which is essentially a restaurant within an aquarium. More than 65,000 marine animals provide the colorful, constantly changing backdrop to the Mediterranean menu.

Courtesy of One&Only Royal Mirage
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Oriental Hammam at Jumeirah One&Only Royal Mirage and The Spa at the Palace Downtown Dubai

If you want your day inside to include some real relaxation, there are dozens of spas around town, but a couple stand out. At the One&Only Royal Mirage spa, book a signature experience that includes hot stones and essential oils. (You can also choose the Traditional Oriental Hammam at the hotel.) The Spa at the Palace Downtown Dubai offers views of Burj Lake and fusion massages that blend Japanese, Chinese and Thai techniques. If you book there later in the day, you can watch one of Dubai’s miraculous creations right outside the hotel’s windows: the Dubai Fountain, which shoots up out of Burj Lake. During the timed spectacle, some 22,000 gallons of water spray into the air, illuminated by more than 6,600 lights. It’s quite a way to end an indoor day.

Good Night

The sun may be setting but the night is young.
Eat, drink and dance until dawn.

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A Guide to Dubai’s Best Sunsets

Whether it’s witnessing the Arabian Sea glowing red from a beach, riding a camel across sparkling pink sand dunes, or taking in an eagle’s view from atop the world’s tallest building, Dubai offers incredible options for making the most of a sunset.

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The Waterfront Promenade at The Dubai Mall

Located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, the Waterfront Promenade winds around the 24-acre man-made Burj Lake. From there you can people watch, listen to live entertainment, and partake in the seemingly endless choices for high-end shopping and eating. Every evening beginning at 6 pm, the famous Dubai Fountains put on a breathtaking water show. As the twilight sky glows orange, water explodes more than 400 feet into the air (the equivalent to a 45-story building) while a dazzling array of light effects and synchronized music add to the spectacle. The lights are visible from 20 miles away, but seeing it up close is truly a bucket-list experience.

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Splendido at the Ritz-Carlton

At the Dubai Marina, the five-star Ritz-Carlton property is an enigma in this city renown for skyscrapers. Rising a mere 16 floors, the property stretches along the water’s edge, with manicured gardens and the rustic feel of Tuscany. The restaurant’s al fresco tables face west for gorgeous sunset views, paired with the indulgence of classic Italian fare, from seasonal pastas to seafood and an outstanding wine list.

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Dubai
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The Rooftop Terrace & Sport Lounge at The One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel

There’s an iconic, visual romance to the Middle East, from the beautiful arches and tile work in the architecture to the colorful rugs, thick draperies and blown-glass lanterns. You’ll find one of the city’s most carefully curated examples of this stylish charm at this hotel’s rooftop oasis. The embroidered couches are built for lingering. The candlelight keeps the atmosphere soft and ambient, and the views give way to a juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers in the distance. What makes it ideal for a sunset? There are no walls to block the view. It’s just birds, blue water, stars and open sky.

Courtesy of One&Only Royal Mirage
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Sunset on a Desert Safari

If you want speed, take an SUV. If you prefer a leisurely pace, opt for a camel. Whatever you do, don’t leave Dubai without enjoying the expanse of Mother Nature’s surrounding desert. And don’t forget your camera. As the sun sets, the sand turns various shades of brown and pink, orange and yellow, evolving into stark shadows that are an intense black against the deepening purple of the soft night sky. There are myriad companies that will whisk you away from Dubai for a single dinner in the desert or several days if you opt for more adventure. Many include sunset photography as part of the agenda, as well as belly dancing performances and BBQ dinners.

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At The Top, Burj Khalifa SKY Lounge

Dubai is a city that prides itself on offering activities you won’t find—or are simply not possible—anywhere else on planet Earth. And perhaps the most remarkable of these experiences is taking in a sunset from the Burj Khalifa—twice. It’s the tallest building in the world, and thanks to its mighty stature and superfast, 60-second elevators, you can watch the last moments of beautiful daylight from the base before being whisked to the top to catch it once more. Ticketed guests are welcome to enjoy the views on three floors—Levels 124, 125 and 148 daily.

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Taste

A Mixologist’s Guide to Dubai’s Top Cocktails

Dubai bars have always been known for views, light shows, top-tier DJs and crazy parties, but now the men and women behind the bars are pushing this town into the global spotlight for craft cocktails, too.

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Mixologist:James EstesUAE brand ambassador/consultant at Hakkasan Dubai at Emirates Towers

DRINK:Tijuana

James Estes moved to Dubai in 2013 to open Suga, Dubai’s first speakeasy bar. He then helped open an intimate jazz cocktail lounge called Blasé, located inside the famed Cavalli Club. Currently, he’s working as a United Arab Emirates brand ambassador for Tequila Ocho and as a bar consultant, but Estes can regularly be found working guest shifts in cocktail bars around Dubai. Have a sip of his artistry anytime you want at Hakkasan Dubai, located inside Emirates Towers. His Tijuana tipple is a tequila-based, Manhattan-style cocktail, featuring Tequila Ocho Anejo, cherry brandy and a moment of decadence in a splash of chocolate bitters.

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Mixologist:Ahmet BakarBar Manager of No.5 Lounge & Bar at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai

DRINK:The Cachara #10

The vibe here is so beautifully polished, from the warm toffee tones indoors to the black-and-white-themed terrace furnishings, you might be tempted to order a classic Martini. Think twice: Barman Ahmet Bakar’s skills are a superior choice and an opportunity to try something more contemporary. “I created [this drink] thinking of Central America, and the fragrant, exotic, spicy smells,” Bakar says. “It is a perfect long drink at all hours of the day. This is my personal tribute to Cuba, and to one of its most famous cocktails, the Canchanchara.” His Cachara comes with Matusalem Classico rum, The Bitter Truth Golden Falernum liqueur, fresh lime juice, ginger ale and two dashes of Creole bitters.

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Mixologist:Dejan PavicicHead Mixologist/Bar Manager of Junoon at the Shangri-La Hotel

DRINK:The Amrut In Fashion

Mixologist Dejan Pavicic loves to experiment, and it’s never so evident as in his Amrut In Fashion, served over a hand-carved ice sphere with a garnish of baked and dried orange chips soaked in liquid nitrogen. The drink itself is single malt whisky-based, with bitters, sugar, soda water and a fresh orange spritz on top. Junoon as a setting is no less exotic and exciting, thanks to plush purple high-backed chairs, a gleaming marble bar and plenty of bright indoor greenery.

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Mixologist:Bronson DcunhaRestaurant Manager of Bar 44 at The Grosvenor House Tower One

DRINK:The Island ARC

Head to this 44th-floor cocktail den to watch one of Dubai’s spectacular sunsets and opt for a refresher built for that specific moment. Dcunha has seven years of experience behind this bar, and his best cocktail starts with fresh blueberries. Those are combined with a violet liqueur and charged with Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne. It’s an ideal aperitif to enjoy while admiring the view of the Palm Jumeirah (one of the UAE’s famous artificial archipelagos). The elegant circular bar at Bar 44 dispenses a dizzying range of single malt Scotches, a premier wine list and a long offering of fine Champagnes.

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Mixologist:Raven RudolphBar Supervisor at Karma Kafé at Souk Al Bahar

DRINK:The Sake Mai Thai

“It’s an Asian twist on the classic, rum-based cocktail, the Mai Tai,” says Rudolph. “Sake replaces the rum, and I use kaffir lime leaves in the shake. Luxardo Maraschino is present for a little cherry hint, and the similar orange liquor and almond flavors are present.” He serves it in a glass full of crushed ice and garnishes it with kaffir lime leaves, cherries and fresh fruit. The setting of Karma Kafé definitely adds to the overall experience of the drink. It’s a beautiful room, replete with deep red and gold accents, and it’s a prime option to enjoy the glory of the towering Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall’s spectacular fountain show.

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Mixologist:Mohamed Falil din JayahSkyview Bar at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

DRINK:Mrs. Big

This twist on America’s super-popular Cosmopolitan cocktail has a floral, citrus-forward flavor. It’s the presentation that justifies the $50USD price tag, however. The Mrs. Big is served in femme-glam style, with a custom-made handbag-shaped teapot as the glass. It’s garnished with an edible lipstick and nail polish on the side. Don’t sip before you photograph it.

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Some photographs in this content are used for illustrative purposes only.
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Taste

The Buzziest Supper Spots in Dubai

Dubai’s best supper spots offer unforgettable experiences in all ways, from the service to the dining and, of course, the incredible views both inside and out. Put these six on your must-eat-at list.

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restaurant:Marina SocialInterContinental Dubai Marina

FARE:British-Mediterranean

Jason Atherton, the lauded culinary mind behind London hotspots Maze and Pollen Street Social and Hong Kong’s 22 Ships, bills his Dubai restaurant as “a pocket of London right in the heart of Dubai.” With stunning views of the marina and an open kitchen, diners revel in a relaxed atmosphere—Atherton calls it “deformalized dining”—and a tapas-style menu that includes offerings of duck leg agnolotti, seared yellowfin tuna, smoked lobster, and goat cheese churros with truffled honey. An extensive wine and whisky list appeals to the casual drinker and connoisseur alike. For dessert, the cinnamon doughnuts filled with apple and vanilla crème anglaise are a favorite. Guests can also opt for a bespoke menu at the restaurant’s exclusive social table.

Courtesy of InterContinental Dubai Marina
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restaurant:Rhodes W1 DubaiGrosvenor House Dubai

FARE:British

Everything about this restaurant is quintessentially British, from the shepherd’s pie to the Wedgewood bone china that is in service at its popular afternoon teas. Celebrated chef, TV host and cookbook author Gary Rhodes envisioned a relaxing dining experience that could transport guests to the butterfly-dappled English countryside. The restaurant has a charming terrace as well as a brightly colored interior designed to evoke the sensation of sitting in a British garden on a warm spring day. Pop by for afternoon tea served every Friday and Saturday, or dine in style in the evenings from a menu that offers more substantial plates like braised lamb shank, char-grilled ‘1855’ beef fillet and carrot risotto, as well as smaller plates like citrus-cured scallops and warm buttered prawns.

Courtesy of Grosvenor House Dubai
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restaurant:Reflets par Pierre GagnaireInterContinental Dubai Festival City

FARE:French

Three-Michelin-star chef Pierre Gagnaire is world-renowned for his bold, French-inspired gastronomic creations, which are in abundance at his Dubai restaurant. From complex dishes like homard bleu with ris de veau (blue lobster with veal sweetbreads) and la cannette des dombes (a dish of orange-infused duck with cherry bigarade glaze) to chocolate soufflé for dessert, the unique dining experience combines flavors that will challenge the senses. Add to this a romantic waterfront atmosphere—plush damask chairs, glass chandeliers and walls lined with mother-of-pearl—and you’ve got an evening to remember.

Courtesy of InterContinental Dubai Festival City
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restaurant:ThiptaraThe Palace Downtown Dubai

FARE:Royal Thai

Two of Dubai’s most recognizable landmarks—the Burj Khalifa (also known as the world’s tallest building) and the spectacular Dubai Fountain—frame the view from Thiptara, which sits along the edge of Burj Khalifa Lake in downtown Dubai. The al fresco restaurant’s name literally means “magic at the water,” and it offers such a stunning view that Thiptara regularly offers special packages for diners interested in proposing marriage—a frequent occurrence, especially when the fountain is putting on one of its famous choreographed shows. The menu is fresh with modern takes on authentic Bangkok-style Thai seafood dishes like goong mung korn phad grapao (stir-fried lobster), as well as turf dishes like gaeng kiew wan gai (chicken in green curry) and ped sam rod (barbeque duck breast).

Courtesy of The Palace Downtown Dubai Hotel
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restaurant:At.mosphereBurj Khalifa

FARE:European

There’s quite literally no restaurant in the world like At.mosphere. It holds the Guinness World Records title for the Highest Restaurant from Ground Level. Your dinner is served at 1,447 feet, where the view of Dubai and the greater Arabian Gulf is incomparable. On the 122nd level of the world’s tallest building, you’ll take the express elevator followed by a short walk up a staircase seemingly suspended in mid-air and enter a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides. Dining is à la carte, with a seven-course, wine-paired dinner menu option designed by Chef Jerome Lagarde. Following dinner, you can retreat to At.mosphere’s lounge to admire the view further as the nighttime lights of Dubai come to life.

Courtesy of Burj Khalifa
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restaurant:TomoRaffles Dubai Hotel

FARE:Japanese

Tomo’s outdoor tatami terrace offers one of the most transportive dining experiences in Dubai, along with views of the towering skyscrapers that define the city’s skyline. Inside, the restaurant’s equally impressive atmosphere feels utterly serene, and the menu features a range of Japanese cuisine, including wagyu beef imported from Japan and a variety of sushi, sashimi, tempura, noodle and rice dishes. Chef Chitoshi Takahashi has made it his mission to offer guests as full a glimpse as possible of the authentic Japanese culture that has developed within the UAE.

Courtesy of Raffles Dubai
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Explore

Hotel-Hopping: A Strategic Guide to Dubai’s Best Nightlife

In Dubai, there’s a constant game of best-topping-the-best in terms of nightlife, and if you blink, it seems a new club has popped up, a new crowd has moved in and the party rages on. The best part? You can lay your head down to sleep in sweet luxury just a few steps from the dance floors, thanks to the city’s best nightclubs all being located within the best hotels.

Courtesy of Atlantis The Palm
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N’DulgeAtlantis The Palm

Atlantis The Palm is famous with Dubai’s youngest visitors thanks to the Aquaventure Waterpark. However, the daytime hours are becoming legendary for adults as well, thanks to Daydream—the Friday afternoon persona of the massive nightclub complex, N’Dulge. The club’s daylight soirees heat up just after brunch, proffering the same enticements that draw plenty of celebrities here at night. There’s a lively dance floor with incredible laser technology, an intimate lounge space for mingling over cocktails, and the most coveted setting—an open-air terrace, enhanced by cool Dubai breezes, sexy views of the city and sashimi prepared by Nobu-trained chefs. On weekend evenings, you might catch a magic show here if you’re lucky.

Courtesy of Cirque le Soir
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Cirque Le SoirFairmont Dubai

The Fairmont features plenty of fun, including two rooftop pools, a spa and multiple restaurants. It also has one of the city’s most eclectic nightlife options—Cirque Le Soir. Inside this whimsical quirky space, a talented contingent of performers demand the spotlight. Join in the merriment, and you might be rubbing elbows with snake charmers and tattooed contortionists. Visit the next night, and fire jugglers, sword swallowers and stilt walkers might entertain you. The design and performance art has a vaudeville-meets-millennial feel, and whenever you choose to attend, Cirque Le Soir always offers cocktails made with sharp skill and DJ sets spun by globally renowned talent.

Courtesy of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
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Cielo Sky LoungeDubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club

To be one of the most photographed pieces of architecture in Dubai is quite an accomplishment; this is a city with more pretty feathers than a peacock. The roof of the clubhouse at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club mimics a traditional Arabic dhow, with undulating lines that look like unfurling, triangular sails. Add the famous architecture to your own Instagram account, and then enjoy one of the city’s best nightclub venues, the adjoining Cielo. The rooftop architecture here also harbors (excuse the pun) the effect of partying beneath the fluttering white sails of an immense ship. While it’s a wonderful choice for after dark, Cielo recently added the Buena Vista Saturday Brunch, featuring Cuban-inspired music and Latin street food.

Courtesy of Jumeirah Group
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Pacha Ibiza DubaiSouk Madinat Jumeirah

No trip to Dubai is complete until you’ve booked a Ziya Dinner Show at the illustrious Pacha Ibiza. Seatings begin at 8 p.m., and you are transported to a mythical Arabian realm as a saga unfolds surrounding the world’s greatest traveler, Ibn Battuta. The sensory-infused dinner experience delights with incredible acrobatics, undulating light elements and, naturally, an exquisite Middle Eastern feast to enjoy. Even if you can’t attend a Ziya, the Pacha Ibiza offers three levels of party space for up to 2,000 guests to until nearly dawn every Tuesday through Saturday.

Courtesy of Jumeirah Group
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360°Jumeirah Beach Hotel

You arrive at a stunning waters-edge hotel constructed from shining aluminum and blue-plated glass, but you are not going inside to drink. Oh no, you’re heading down the hotel’s curved marina jetty to a circular, blue-and-purple-lit, indoor-outdoor club that’s renowned for wild late-night parties. Of the 19 dining and drinking properties on site, this is the one talked about worldwide.

Some photographs in this content are used for illustrative purposes only.