A friend from MBA days is soon to visit the Land of Sheikhs . I will be meeting him after 5 whole years and looking forward to catch up after such a long time. He requested that I put up a quick guide on what to do when one lands in Dubai.
The ideal time to visit this place is Nov-Mar. The weather is beautiful and gets even more wonderful in Dec and Jan. It’s also the time when the festivities begin – the Dubai Shopping Festival in Jan, Food Festival and Dubai International Film Festival. Hopefully the current debt crisis will not drive the tourists away! Here goes a quick guide:
Dubai Desert Safari – The sand dune bashing followed by Arabian camp with sheesha, camel ride, kebabs and biryani, arabic coffee, photo sessions in local dress , henna and finally belly dancing! This is a must on every Dubai tourist’s to-do list. The weather is perfect. My experience 4 years ago here
The Dubai Creek Cruise – For the more reasonable option take the Dhow cruises which serve Arabic meals while for the more lavish one the Bateaux Dubai is a must. The cruise takes you along the Dubai creek for about 2 hours at night and you get to see the city by night – it’s beautiful.
Dubai Museum: It is not a match for museums around the world but when one visits a new place one must visit a museum to learn about the place. The museum features a nice video on the growth of Dubai from a mere oyster trading place to the vast cement jungle that it is today.
Jumeirah Road Drive – Drive along the Jumeirah road at night and enjoy the most up-market area in Dubai – the villas, the cafes, the restaurants, the beach park, the lovely mosques & Burj Al Arab.
Brunch/Lunch at Burj-Al-Arab – The world’s only 7-star restaurant built in the sea. It is Dubai’s pride and the most famous landmark. If you are ready to dent your pocket, you must try the brunch/lunch at the 27th floor Al Muntaha Restaurant. The view and the menu is one hell of an experience.
Madinat Souq : Visit this traditional Souq at the Madinat Jumeirah right beside Burj Al Arab. You may pick up a few souvenirs from the Al Jaber Gallery. The rest of shops are too expensive. The place though has kept its old traditional look and is a famous tourist site.
Dolphinarium at Dubai Creek: The Friday morning shows come real cheap at AED 30/-. The dolphins and seals are a delight to watch and is total paisa vasool.
Discovery Centre and Aquarium@ Dubai Mall: Various species of the water world have been kept in the best possible environment. You will be amazed at seeing the size of some crabs and fishes there!
Lake Fountain at Dubai Mall: Fountains that rise up to 150 mts with the 170+ storied Burj Dubai on one side and the palatial The Address on the other. The musical show is free and lasts for about 10 minutes replayed every 20 mins once the sun sets. It’s not to be missed.
My favourite malls – worth shopping and different from the rest – Dubai Festival City (Take a walk along the waterfront and a free ride in the small Abra there) and Ibn Batuta ( The different displays of different countries are very well done)
Night walks at Dubai Marina and The Walk @ JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) – Lots of restaurants/cafes around both places and excellent places to take a night stroll after dinner or head for a dessert. The Walk at JBR also has an adjoining beach.
The Haridwar of Dubai. This is a place in Dubai Green Community, very far away from the city but if you have friends here, great place to go for a quiet dinner and walk by the lakeside. An amphitheatre in between which ends in a lake, and on the opposite is the Courtyard hotel from Marriott. Restaurant shut at 10.00 p.m. so grab an early dinner here!
Abra – the open one and the AC one. The open one is cheap and looks scary. It’s Dubai’s waterbus that ferries people across the Dubai creek from Dubai to Deira and back for as cheap as AED 1/-. It’s fun experience. The AC one costs AED 4/- and is more sophisticated. Try both:-)
Dubai Metro: Though only ten stations operational this is a must ride for all. Those who come in from Mumbai will appreciate it a lot more. The stations are suave, the trains tiny and the ride is pleasant. It runs parallel to Dubai’s best highway – The Sheikh Zayed Road and offers a great view. There are stations at the 3 famous malls of Dubai – Deira City Centre, Mall of Emirates and Burjuman. So hop in and shop and enjoy this joy ride.
Must Try The Arabic Specialities:
Shawarma ( This is a chicken sandwich) @Roadside cafeterias
Arabic – Hamoos, khaboos, Fatoosh & Falafel @ any Arabic joint
Lebanese Food (Karam or Arz Lebanon Joints)
Fish Basket @ Sharjah ( King Faisal Road)
Must Eat @:
Non-Veg ( Decent for veg also)
1) The Kebab Factory – Burj Old Town
2) Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana – Near American Hospital ( Oud Mehta)
3) Eric’s – In Karama, a small restaurant for excellent Goan food.
4) Gazebo – Mankhool, Sharjah, DIC
5) Ceasars – Mankhool, (Multiple cuisines: Indian, Chinese, Continental)
6) Al Quaser – Small restaurant for excellent Kebabs at Al Diyafah Street (Khau Galli – Food Street of Dubai) in Satwa
7) BBQ Delights – Afghani/Pakistani Cuisine at JBR/OudMehta
8) Manwar – Rajasthani Food. Also serves some excellent Pithla–Bhakar(Staple Maharashtrian Diet)
1) Thai Food: Pad Thai@ Al Qasr & Thai Chi@ Wafi City
2) TGIF and Chilli’s (The molten lava is a must)
3) Portuguese: Nando’s Chicken @ Sheikh Zayed Rd/Greens
4) Chinese: Chinese Village (Sea View Hotel), Nanking & Wok Inn @ Karama
5) Sea Food Market @ Le Meridian near the airport
6) NINA’s @ One and Only One Royal Mirage for a mix of Indian and Arabic cuisines
7) California’s COCO’s @ Sheikh Zayed Road/JBR/Deira City Centre
8) Italian Brunch and Spanish Omelette @ PQ-JBR
9) Dome at DIFC/Burjuman
10) Noodle House – Thai and Chinese
11) Japengo – Japanese Cuisine
Pure Vegetarian Joints
1) Sukhsagar @ Karama/JBR
2) Govinda’s @ Karama
3) SaiDham @ Oud Mehta near Lamcy Plaza
4) South Indian Restaurants – Sangeetha/Sarvana Bhavan/Venus
5) Rajdhani @ Bur Dubai
6) Kamat’s @ Mankhool
And Finally Must Shop
Stolls/Shawls/Pashminas @ the textile market near Bur Dubai Creek. You can get some awesome bargains with some coming in as cheap as AED 8-10.
Gold @ Meena Bazaar or Deira Gold Souq
Spices @ Iranian shops near the Deira Spice Market
Antiques and Dubai souvenirs @ Al Jaber Gallery in Madinat Jumeirah/Mall of Emirates
Candle Stands/Tea light holders @ IKEA, Lifestyle stores and Home Centre
Electronic items at the hypermarkets like Carrefour/ Hyper Panda/ Sharaf DG which give some good offers and are way too cheap compared to India.
If you plan to stay longer or love outdoors go for some long drives to the nearby emirates.
1) Korfakkan Beach via Dibba
2) Al Ain Zoo and Jebel Hafeet
3) Hatta – Explore the off-roads in the wadis. Ensure you have a SUV/4WD
4) RAK hot springs
5) Umm-Al-Quwain – Barracuda Beach
7) Bab-Al-Shams Resort on the outskirts of Dubai
Phew! Quite an exhaustive list and if you need more details you know whom to contact;-) So enjoy your trip to Dubai and do visit this Sheikh land once – it’s not a bad place and I’m pretty amazed with all that has been developed from what was once a barren desert!