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Artificial islands, world-class shopping and exciting mega-attractions are just some of the examples of the sleek grandeur that is opulently springing out of the desert in Dubai. Perfectly calculated to please the luxury traveler at every turn, the city seems nevertheless surreal. While Dubai is built on oil with dreams of being a financial center rivaling Hong Kong, there is no city that tops it in glitzy luxury tourism. See why the number of hotel guests doubled in the country over the last five years. (Most photographs courtesy of the Government of Dubai, Dept. of Tourism and Commerce Marketing).

Activities Dining Shopping Resources Nightlife  

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Ski Dubai
Mall of the Emirates
Tel. +971 (4) 409.4000
Yes, there is skiing in Dubai. Step out of the perpetually hot desert sun of Arabia and into a 25-story, five-run ski slope complete with a toboggan run and igloos. Get a cup of hot cocoa at the St. Moritz cafe. Purchase time in two-hour blocks and rent winter clothes – except hats and gloves. Opening last December, the “resort” even offers lessons from certified instructors. Brag to friends about learning to ski in Dubai.

Dubai Desert Safari
Various Tour Operators
A visit to Dubai without experiencing the beauty of the desert is like a visit to Miami without experiencing the beach. A number of tour operators offer a similar experience: a hotel pick up in the afternoon, a ride into the dunes that includes scenic stops, smashing through the dunes in a four-wheel drive, and dinner. The dinners include a barbeque and usually belly dancing, henna tattoos and general merriment under the stars. Some tour operators offer an overnight stay in a traditional Arabian tent. Ask the concierge about any hotel’s tour offering.

The Creek
City Center

This natural seawater inlet is a window into old Dubai. Watch traders load and unload dhows just as they did in the Middle Ages. Take water taxis from the souk side, Deira, to the Bur Dubai side. Hire a boatman to give a slow ride to the mouth of the creek and inland to see historic sites along the water.

Emirates Golf Club (Dubai Golf)
Tel. +971 (4) 380.2222
This was the first championship-caliber, all-grass golf club built in the region back in 1988. The brainchild of the ruling sheik features a clubhouse complex that looks like a traditional Arabian tent village. This par-72 course often hosts the Dubai Desert Classic, which brings in the PGA’s best every year. Those who don’t golf can enjoy exquisite dining, basketball, squash, swimming facilities and more.

At the Burj al Arab…

Al Mahara
Tel. +971 (4) 301.7648

Dine at the world famous Burj al Arab Hotel, the one shaped like a giant billowing sail. Inside, experience one of the finest seafood restaurants in the Middle East. Diners travel to the restaurant via a submarine-themed elevator. The tables surround a giant fish-tank, which even holds a shark. At Al Mahara, you must reserve a table at least one month in advance, but it is worth it. Prepare to be amazed as they prepare a lobster five different ways in one sitting.

Al Iwan
Tel. +971 (4) 301.7600
Enjoy views of the Arabian Gulf as you dine on traditional Arab cuisine with a Moroccan tinge. Reservations are essential and dress to impress.


Sho Cho
Dubai Marine Beach Resort
Tel. +971 (4) 346.1111
It is tough to get a primetime reservation at what is widely regarded as the best Japanese restaurant in Dubai. Fish tanks in the walls make for an interesting sideshow while eating. This is a hot spot for evening drinks and cocktails as well.

Cafe Chic
Le Meridien Dubai (Deira)
Tel. +971 (4) 282.4040

This is the French restaurant for the true cosmopolitan in Dubai. Cafe Chic is what its name implies. Two-star Michelin chef Michel Rostang oversees a kitchen that matches the extraordinary atmosphere, which features throne-like chairs impossible to rise from after a dinner topped off with the famous chocolate souffle.

Al Nafoorah
Sheik Zayed Road (Jumeirah Emirates Towers)

Tel. +971 (4) 319.8760
Leave falafels behind and indulge in some of the freshest Lebanese cuisine imaginable. The fresh bread is scrumptious, the complimentary olives and vegetables are divine and plump, and the humus seems light enough to float off the table. Try the zaatar salad and the soujuk (lamb sausage).

Mecca is in nearby Saudi Arabia, but the shopping Mecca is Dubai. Low duties and a deep retail infrastructure help Dubai rival any distinctive city in shopping. Most shopping is now done in large, air-conditioned malls, but some is in the older souks. Check out the best:

Gold Souk
Creek Road (Deira)

Serious hard-bargaining gold buyers mix with tourists just checking out the glittering window displays. The gold trade in Dubai has slackened a bit since its high in 1997, but great deals are still had from jewelry makers, most of whom are Iranian or Indian.

Spice Souk
Al-Sabkha Road (Deira)

It is a timeless marketplace in a modern city. Wander around the spice market and let the smells fill your nose. This is the best way to remember the Middle East.

Wafi City
Oud Metha Road
Tel. +971 (4) 324.4555
Three floors of varied and ultra chic shopping plus one floor devoted to children’s entertainment. Pierre Cardin, Versace, Bugatti, and more mix with some Arab brands in a decadent Egyptian theme. Unwind at Cleopatra’s spa.

The Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers
Tel. +971 (4) 330.0000
Even though it is a relatively small shopping center by Dubai standards, The Boulevard is nothing short of luxurious excellence: Cartier, Yves Saint Laurent, Armani and all the usual high fashion suspects are here at great prices.

Azza Fahmy
Emirates Tower Blvd.
Tel. +971 (4) 330.0346
Beautifully crafted jewelry incorporating calligraphy, charms and religious symbols.  It all looks like it came from the past or the future.

Dubai Mall (Level 1)
Tel. +971 (4) 344.7270
Exquisitely cut gowns from Lebanese designer Rabih Keyrous along with slinky ones by Essa

The Flying House
18 25 Street, Al Quoz 3
Tel. +971 (4) 265.3365
This is one of the few galleries that focuses on Emirati artists.  Two of the better known ones are Layla Juma and Hassan Sherif.

O'de Rose
999 Al Wasl Road, Umm Suqueim 2
Tel. +971 (4) 348.7990
This boutique, which is owned by Lebanese born fashion designer Mimi Shakhashir,  provides a more unique shopping experience then is found in this city of air conditioned malls. Unlike all the usual brands (Louis Vuitton. Bulgari etc) this shop, which is in a residential villa,  carries clothing, accessories and contemporary art by independent Arab-world designer local artisans.  

 NEW ! Tickets to shows, sporting events and more!

Now offers its members the convenience of booking their theater, sports, tours and other events with us -- directly online. Book tickets here!


Dubai Tourism
View more listings of Dubai shopping, watch Web cams and listen to live radio.

Dubai City Guide
A more commercial site that has Dubai news headlines, links to other Emirates’ sites, a generally user-friendly page.

The Apartment Lounge
Jumeriah Beach Hotel
Tel. +971.4.348.0000
The Apartment was the original godfather of Dubai's exclusive and elitist hotspots. What used to be a boozy rabbit hole underneath the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, is now coming back with a vengence. It now boasts a massive dance floor, pretty chill lounge area, private plush makeout niches, and of course the sweetest eye candy dancing to the hottest dance tracks. Dress to kill though as the place still prizes exclusivity and the chillout and dance rooms only hold 200 and 150 people respectively, the luscious wine bar only seats 40 and you bet you'll see Madonna scratching out Beyonce for a chance to hit the outlandish, but limited VIP rooms.

Blue Bar
Novotel World Trade Center
Zabeel Road
Tel. +971 (4) 332.0000

If the site of souks and mega resorts becomes weary, check out Blue Bar and unwind. Go on Thursday nights for jazz, blues and funk with Wael. Perch on a bar stool or sink into a comfy couch to relax.

Madinat Jumeirah
Jumeirah Beach
Tel. +971 (4) 366.8888

Most bars and clubs in Dubai are located in hotels, although this is changing a bit. Madinat Jumeirah has more than 45 bars, restaurants and lounges mostly centered on man made canals. This resort has done a lot for the nightlife scene in Dubai, even though it’s about 15 km from the city center. Trilogy is a new nightclub hotspot, three stories tall. The Agency serves fine wines. Bahri Bar has views of the harbor and gulf. Barzar has an urban feel. Koubba is arabesque.

Century Village (Garhoud)
Tel. +971 (4) 282.9952

This crowded cafe is a great place for a late night sheesha (flavored tobacco smoked out of a water pipe). The terrace has fantastic views.