A medley of Middle-Eastern charm and western glamour

A dazzling jewel set in a golden desert, Dubai is a medley of cosmopolitan sheen and Emirati tradition. Though its futuristic vision may leave you spellbound, this sandy city is no mirage. As a young destination with a world-class outlook, Dubai strives to be the best on earth – largest shopping mall, tallest building, and the best luxury hotels. Not to mention rumours of the world’s first flying taxis. But don’t be fooled by its flashy exterior. Each district feels like stepping into a brand-new city, from the creative and contemporary to the earthy and traditional. 

Dubai Design District

With galleries, conceptual street art and a medley of authentic eateries from across the globe, Dubai Design District – or D3 – is the city’s creative hub. Discover exciting exhibitions by up-and-coming artists. Peruse sparkling showrooms by famous designers, including Giorgio Armani. All before retreating from the heat for a scoop of organic gelato at Amorino.

To really get your creative juices flowing, head to The Swarovski Creative Centre. Get acquainted with a huge range of crystals and experiment with different cuts and colours. You can even attend a workshop to discover different techniques or book one-on-one time with a Swarovski specialist. While you’re in Dubai, a trip here is a great opportunity to connect with designers, manufacturers and local creatives alike.

When the sun sets over the city, stick around in the Design District for a taste of what it has to offer. Go for gold at Chez Charles and pick from a spellbinding Michelin-starred menu full of decedent French dishes. Try the Burgundy snails la à Provençale, followed by the Angus steak tartar, seasoned to perfection.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, look out for Al Nassama Camel Milk Chocolate. Creamier than cow’s milk, it’s a Dubai delicacy you’ll be craving long after your visit.

Downtown

Downtown Dubai is worth fighting the crowds for. With light shows at the Dubai fountain, an Olympic-sized ice rink and bustling souks, you’ll be left speechless at every turn. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Dubai without taking in the views from the Burj Khalifa. But fear not – it won’t take a day to reach its heights in one of the world’s fastest elevators. At 10 metres per second, you’ll be swept from the ground to the 148th-floor observation deck in less than a minute. Be sure to bring your camera to snap panoramic shots of Dubai. But the city can get foggy, so we’d recommend choosing a clearer day for some truly spectacular scenes.

Dubai Downtown - Dancing Fountain

Dubai is all about the biggest and the best. So there’s no wonder it’s home to the world’s biggest shopping mall complete with an indoor aquarium, and an underwater zoo. Not to mention a working ski slope with huddles of (real) penguins.

Al Quoz

Though less glitzy than its neighbouring districts, Al Quoz is a striking industrial cityscape and a haven for art-lovers. Take a turn down Alserkal Avenue and get lost in the culture. For an inside look into contemporary Middle Eastern art, head to Saksaki Private Museum. Or to experience a melting pot of global influences that echoes the city itself, take in this season’s exhibition by an international artist.

Deira

See past the skyscrapers and city lights, and spend an evening in the district of Deira. From Nikki Beach Resort & Spa hotel in Pearl Jumeirah, hail a cab to Al Ghubaiba docks. From there, cross Dubai Creek in a traditional abra boat and gaze on in awe as you get closer to the Gold Souk. Heady spices, sparkling fabrics and embellished tapestries will draw you in, but be sure to keep your cool – this is one of the best spots to hone your haggling skills.

Where to stay

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa

Set on Pearl Jumeira private island, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa is as captivating as it is contemporary. Spend your days lounging on your poolside cabana, with the bar just a short swim away. Or, after a day on the Nikki private beach, head to your room – the blue hues and sea views will leave you feeling instantly relaxed.