Best of Dubai: Part One
I’ve been living here in the UAE for quite some time now and I’m loving it. Not only is it close to Europe (my favorite continent) but this country boasts of beautiful places and sights of its own. And so on this post I’m going to share some of my favorite spaces in Dubai, the metropolitan emirate of this country, though I have to travel two hours from my home base to reach it. We’re currently living in the oasis city of Al Ain, part of Abu Dhabi where my workplace is. (I’ll write about Al Ain in another post soon).
You might be surprised that I didn’t include the Burj Khalifa or Burj Al Arab in this list. But you must know that I’m the type of person who thrives in the not-so-ordinary, so without further ado, here are my TOP PICKS for now.
The first time I visited Dubai, my good friend Vennie showed me around the city and I instantly fell in love with Souk Madinat. In retrospect, it is basically a trendy hotspot with cafes and restaurants located in a somewhat recreation of the traditional arabic souks or market. Personally, I was truly amazed with the middle-eastern architecture the moment I laid eyes on them.
I wouldn’t mind going back to this place every now and then. I just love the chill and peaceful vibe it emanates that’s why we always recommend it to friends who are newcomers to this country. It’s also one of our favorite reunion spots when my classmates and I get together in Dubai. Aside from al fresco dining which is my favorite thing to do especially on chilly months, I think many would enjoy the shopping experience as well as the many activities and events they hold on special occasions. (Christmas market, yey!)
I always prefer eating at Meat Co. because I think it’s the most budget-friendly resto around and offers the best view of the Burj Al Arab, IMO. One more thing, don’t forget to try the abra. If Venice has gondolas, Dubai’s abras would definitely be worth your bucks.
THE IRISH VILLAGE
I’ve only been here twice, the first time was with my friend Vennie (again, thank you Nong) and the second time was when we watched Toploader perform live. Like the Souk Madinat, my favorite part of being here is always the laidback ambience and the impression that you’re actually in a pub in Ireland.
The good thing about it is the amount of outdoor space and terraces available where people could just chill and relax while watching sports or bands performing live. On winter days, it’s recommended to pay this cool spot a visit and indulge in their array of Irish delights like roast, steaks and crowd favorite, fish and chips.
On sunny days, my friends and I head down to the docks every now and then where a number of luxurious yachts await. But of course, who could afford that anyway?
But then again, good things happen to those who wait. Our class president Reyven found Cobone coupons online and so we were able to celebrate our Servien Anniversary with a 2-hour yacht ride. Talk about AWESOME!
THE WALK, JBR
Another favorite hang-out spot to beat is The Walk at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences). The beach + trendy spots = LOVE. The great part is that the beach is open to the public. And so after a long afternoon swim, people don’t need to go farther because shops and restaurants line up to satisfy everybody’s appetite. But my favorite part would have to be Dubai Night Markets held in this area from time to time.
There’s something about night markets and food truck events that make me giddy like a little kid. Maybe it’s the festive feel, or even just the community spirit, I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, they make me really HAPPY. They remind me so much of HOME.
XVA ART GALLERY
When you’re in the mood for something genuinely arabic, take a leap of faith and explore the unfamiliar streets of Old Dubai. Be surprised to discover lovely hidden alleys and beautiful courtyards, galleries and museums. That’s what happened to us when Kim, Michael and I decided to ditch our malling routine and ended up in the beautiful Bastakiya Quarter.
Along with cafes and shisha stops, we found a hidden gem in the heart of Bastakiya – the XVA Art Gallery which houses contemporary art from independent artists in the Arab world. At first we had a hard time locating it because it was tucked away in the outskirts of the historical Al Fahidi neighborhood but the moment we stepped in, the interiors were just on point and people getting lost there would definitely wouldn’t mind spending an hour or two just hanging out and sharing stories over coffee while admiring the intricate artworks around them. Well, that worked for us.
We found one of Dubai’s best kept secrets and surely it didn’t disappoint. Our unplanned day trip turned out to be rewarding and I believe there’s more to Dubai than meets the eye.
That’s it for now. Dubai is one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever set foot on so I consider myself lucky that I get to visit it every time I want to. Anyway, I’ll be writing more posts about Dubai soon. This city has unlimited surprises to offer, for sure.