On my way to Asia recently, I stopped over in Dubai, which I discovered is actually much more than just its infamous shopping malls. It was my first visit to the city, and I was lucky enough to have a friend living there, who was happy to play tour guide for the day. We met at the Park Hyatt Hotel for some excellent Middle Eastern food at Cafe Arabesque. We sat outside looking over the Dubai Creek and the boats. It was lovely and I could have happily sat there all day, drinking mint iced tea and eating the very tasty hummus.
After lunch, we wandered through the old gold souk, and headed to the edge of the Creek to drink a fresh coconut with a straw in it. We hopped onto a dhow for a ride across the creek. It was entertaining to take this public transport of the past with a couple of tourists and lots of locals. My friend explained that the same route by car would take 20 minutes, while the dhow was less than 5 minutes. All around us, we could see the skyscrapers of Dubai, juxtaposed with the old-fashioned dhows.
We wandered around the old spice market and then walked through the areas of Dubai that most tourists don’t visit – I saw mosques peeking out from behind the rows of Indian jewelers advertising their Diwali specials. As it was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we headed to The Address at the Dubai Marina
, a lovely hotel where we sat on the terrace and enjoyed the view of the manmade lake. I ordered one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had – shaved coconut ice with fresh berries, which was a light & fluffy bowl of refreshing yumminess. My friend introduced me to Bateel
dates, which are the tastiest dates I’ve ever had. I managed to pick up a few boxes at the airport – I like the ones with the almonds in the center, but the caramelized pecan-filled dates are also a treat.
This part of Dubai has a lot in common with Las Vegas, including a fountain show designed by the same team that created the famous fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel. The fountains shoot water hundreds of feet into the air, all choreographed to music – a mix of Arab & world music classics.
Another friend happened to be passing through Dubai on the same night, and joined us to watch a few rounds of the fountain show. Afterwards, we had dinner at the Armani Hashi
sushi restaurant located in the Burj al Khalifa – the tallest building in the world at 2,723 feet. This was our view during dinner, as we sat on the terrace looking up at the building.
I felt as though I had stepped into the future, and even more so when we arrived on the 123rd floor for a cocktail at the Atmosphere
It was a fun and interesting trip to a new place – I didn’t visit any of Dubai’s shopping malls, but instead had a perfect day seeing several different sides of the city.