So back in September I went to Dubai for a week, the main reason for my visit was to hang out with my friends Farida and Jeremy and their baby Layla. I’ve known them both for many years and I used to live with them ‘back in the day’. They have been living abroad for 3/4 years and recently relocated to Dubai, so I thought it was about time I visited them and saw a little bit of the Middle East.
Since telling people I was going to Dubai quite a few people have rolled their eyes and asked if it’s as superficial as it is portrayed. I was well aware of these views before I went and to be honest if friends were not living there it’s unlikely I would have gone, BUT I absolutely loved it there. One week is a long time to spend there and ideally 3-5 days would do fine, but I was happy to have as much time as possible catching up with Farida as we hadn’t since each other for three years. September is still super hot in Dubai with temperatures in the 40’s and humidity between 50-80%, but everywhere is air conditioned and I found it manageable most of the time, though I expect some people would not be comfortable with these conditions.
As I had a 10 hour overnight flight my first day was spent resting and chilling, though in the evening we did go to Ladies night at the Pure Lounge on 35th floor of the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Residences. The deal at the Pure Lounge is free pink drinks (fizz and cocktails) from 9-11pm for all ladies. As we were eating there we could access the free drinks from when we arrived which was definitely a bonus. The food we had there was nice, I found the portion size quite small, so we ordered a few dishes and shared, the dessert was the stand out feature though, crème brulee with Pandam leaf. I really enjoyed it here, the vibe was great, there was a big terrace to hang out on and it was a nice,friendly crowd of people.
For my whole trip I was completely relaxed and not bothered about running round and seeing everything. I was quite happy to lounge by the pool, cook lovely food, chat and drink wine. A standout meal for me in Dubai was at the Boardwalk restaurant which is part of Dubai Creek Golf Club it was one of those nights with great food and company and afterwards we went for shisha and mint tea. We also went for afternoon tea at The Palace Hotel. Dubai has lots of afternoon tea options, we choose this one purely on the basis that it was a 10 minute walk away, but it proved to be a good choice. The Palace Hotel is beautiful and a perfect surrounding for afternoon tea, I decided to opt for the Arabic inspired afternoon tea, which contained many baked delights I hadn’t tried before like cardamon and saffron scones and rose-infused cheesecake.
It wasn’t all gadding about eating and drinking in fancy restaurants though. We drove to Abu Dhabi one day to visit the Grand Mosque, had breakfast on the beach in front of the Burj al Arab and I visited Dubai museum along with the gold and spice souk and took a boat ride on the creek. One of the highlights of my trip was having for an Emerati breakfast at the Emerati cultural centre. In Dubai I was overwhelmed by how British it felt, this is largely due to the amount of expats and at times it feels like a home from home with lots of British shops and brands. For me my favourite part of travelling is meeting local people and learning about their culture and traditions. The Emerati cultural centre hosts a breakfast where you can eat a typical Emerati breakfast (dates, dungaw, balaleet, chabab and khamir) while eating you are given a talk about different aspects of Emerati culture and invited to ask questions. It’s a very friendly and open atmosphere and I learned a great deal and enjoyed this experience.
As Farida’s apartment was only a ten minute walk from the Burj Khalifa there was no was I couldn’t go up the tallest building in the world. We decided to go up at sunset which is great to see, but not really the best conditions for getting good photographs as when the light goes you have to rely on the flash, which I don’t particularly like using and doesn’t work well against glass. It’s crazy busy when you get up there, in my opinion they let too many people go up and getting to the window to get a photo requires some effort, but the views are breathtaking. One of my favourite things about Dubai was the architecture and amazing skyline. I felt completely overwhelmed and in awe driving in on my first day, for me it felt like I was entering a futuristic metropolis.
On my last day I went sand duning in the desert. Before I came to Dubai I met a few people who had visited and this activity was recommended to me. I booked my trip through Fun Tours, who I thought were good and reasonably priced. The tour includes pickup from your location, sand duning for 20-30 minutes then you are taken to a desert camp for a meal, camel ride, henna painting, and entertainment. To be honest I would have been happy with just the duning as the rest of the experience is very cheesy, but I knew what to expect so just embraced it. As we were duning a massive storm began and we were wizzing over the dunes with lightening striking around us which was both fun and a little scary.
All in all I had a great time in Dubai. Believe me I know that Dubai isn’t great for everyone and have read many articles on the pros and cons of visiting. But overall it exceeded my expectations and I had a fantastic trip.