On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:If it’s legal you can buy it in Dubai, often for prices that are competitive with shops back home. If you’re looking for something expensive in particular — Arab, Persian or Turkish carpets, high-end electronics or camera gear, jewelry — first do some research before you arrive on prices and quality. Many of the city’s boutiques and reputable shops are online, so you can easily coordinate a serious splurge before you even arrive — and make sure you’re paying a fair price.
Dubai has been a hub for the gold trade long before mass tourism touched the city, and Forbes Travel Guide’s editors say gold is still the best thing to bring home from your visit, particularly since the combination of competition amongst hundreds of retailers and no government taxes keeps prices as low as you’ll find pretty much anywhere in the world. The gold souk in Al-Ras offers traditional Arabesque and South Asian designs as well as contemporary styles, while the Dubai Mall has its own “gold souk” wing with fantastically extravagant jewelry shops and some well-stocked international bauble boutiques.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:Dubai’s ever-growing status as an international melting pot makes for exciting dining options that go well beyond what you might expect, including our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the city’s five best food experiences:
1. Celebrity chef restaurants. Dubai has a number of upscale white-tablecloth restaurants that are affiliated with world-class chefs from around the world; most of these places are located within the city’s top luxury hotels. These Four- to Five-Star caliber restaurants often have vast wine cellars, too, though expect to pay outrageous, sin-tax-inflated prices for those bottles.
2. Brunch. Weekend brunch is big with the huge European and American expat population, with unlimited refills of champagne one of the big draws of the sometimes day-long affair.
3. Ethnic restaurants. A more affordable option are the huge number of ethnic restaurants offering everything from Argentine to Singaporean fare. One of our favorites is Ravi’s, a famed Pakistani restaurant that’s popular with locals and tourists alike. The supremely basic décor here belies the complexity and quality of the food.
4. Shawarma. The local classic is a late-night shawarma snack after a long night of partying. Follow the crowds to Satwa for eats at Al-Mallah or Beirut.
5. Waterfront dining. Finally, dinner on the Dubai waterfront is one of the more underrated dining experiences in the city. Legends, a steakhouse located at the Dubai Creek Golf Club, is a recommended option.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:Much of the nightlife in Dubai centers on hotels and hotel bars, which with few exceptions are the only places in the city with licenses to serve alcohol. At.mosphere, on the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa, is outrageously expensive, but Forbes Travel Guide’s editors feel it’s worth every dirham for the outstanding views that you’ll enjoy with a well-heeled crowd chatting over the quiet tunes of occasional live lounge acts. Other luxury hotel bars and restaurants have high-quality (if expensive) drinks, including Library Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, Vista Lounge at Dubai Festival City and a few outposts of Trader Vic’s at various locations. The Irish Village is a kitschy favorite in the old part of town.
The global reach of Dubai even pulls in international stars for occasional shows, with huge DJs and pop acts dropping in at clubs and hotels around town. For the biggest names, you’ll want to get tickets ahead of time and prepare for epic lines — and a party that doesn’t really get going until after midnight. The traditional after-clubbing activity is hitting the shawarma stands around town that stay open for one final late-night snack.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:Seeing Dubai in one day is like taking a simultaneous trip through history and the future. Forbes Travel Guide’s editors suggest starting with an early wake-up call, indulging in the big breakfast spread at your hotel then hitting the old quarters of the city before the heat gets too fierce. A short abra (water bus) ride across the Creek is a photo-friendly reminder of Dubai’s port history; the souks of Deira and Al-Ras will just be getting started for the day during your visit, making this a good time for more relaxed browsing.
Hop on the spotless metro back toward the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), one notable home to the city’s blooming arts scene and a number of worthwhile galleries. From there, look for a late lunch in the now-trendy Marina district or at the Mall of the Emirates, where high-quality options abound, including an outpost of New York cult favorite Shake Shack. The mall is also home to Ski Dubai, the irresistibly over-the-top indoor ski slope. (If you don’t want to ski, there’s an adorable penguin program that’s very kid-friendly.)
In the evening, freshen up from a hot day and have a drink at your hotel bar before visiting Ravi’s, a famed Pakistani joint in the Satwa neighborhood – your cabbie will most certainly know it. For a nightcap, reserve a table at At.mosphere, the 123rd-floor bar at the Burj Khalifa, and watch the city twinkle below.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:Dubai is a paradise for shoppers, with enormous malls, more traditional souks and a fantastic gold trade that’s closely regulated by the government. A budding gallery scene is also turning the city into a nascent hub for collectors of contemporary Arab, Persian and Far Eastern art.
Forbes Travel Guide’s editors think the best shopping in this modern Middle Eastern metropolis might be at the Dubai Mall, the grand-daddy of shopping centers – it is, indeed, currently the world’s largest – that’s home to countless stores, an ice rink, an aquarium and a giant outdoor fountain show that puts the Bellagio’s, in Las Vegas, to shame. The Mall of the Emirates is another fantastic shopping spot, with endless variety, tons of restaurants, an enormous supermarket and an indoor snow park called Ski Dubai.
Few people trek to the Ibn Battuta Mall, on the southern edge of town, but it does have some unique-to-Dubai shops and crazy architecture, even by Emirati standards. Gold is another great buy here, and tight government control of the trade means you can shop with confidence. The Gold Souk in Deira is still the most atmospheric place to peruse your options. For art galleries, start your hunt at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where an increasing number of curators are setting up shop.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:Visitors will find a number of kid-friendly activities in Dubai, once they’ve applied sunscreen to fend off the unrelenting rays, that is. These are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to do with kids in the city:
1. Ski Dubai. While the novelty of indoor skiing at Ski Dubai is one option, a new program at this famous Mall of the Emirates attraction lets visitors interact with and even hug live penguins that trainers introduce to kids. There’s also a kid-friendly tobaggan run here.
2. Wild Wadi Dubai. This is one of two big waterparks that are always a big hit with kids. You could easily spend an entire day splashing down the numerous slides at Wild Wadi Dubai; we love that every attraction here has the option of riding down either by yourself or side-by-side, perfect for parents with younger kids.
3. Aquaventure Dubai. Located at kid-friendly resort Atlantis, The Palm, Aquaventure is the other major waterpark in Dubai. It includes a private beach, water playgrounds for younger children, two river rides and a number of water slides. Don’t forget, too, that Dubai’s beaches are also ideal for families, though they do get sweltering during the summer months.
4. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Here’s a little Guinness World Record trivia for you to use at your next cocktail party: This fantastic aquarium, located at the Dubai Mall, is home to the world’s largest acrylic panel. There are plenty more reasons to spend a day with the kids here, including glass-bottom boat rides, a 157-foot-long aquarium tunnel and, for kids 10 years old and up, the chance to dive with sharks.
5. Mall Arcades. If a few hours of mindless, air-conditioned diversion are in order, many of Dubai’s massive malls have elaborate arcades with rides and over-the-top games. All of them are at least a couple steps above the dated arcades you’re used to back home.
On September 18, 2012Paul Brady answered the question:There’s plenty to do in modern Dubai, from shopping sprawling megamalls and dining in world-class restaurants to working up a sweat in a number of outdoor activities, despite the sometimes extreme desert heat. Put our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to do and see in Dubai at the top of your itinerary:
1. Sheikh Zayed Road. The sci-fi skyline of Sheikh Zayed Road is a spectacular sight akin to the Las Vegas Strip, and visiting the half-a-mile-high Burj Khalifa skyscraper – the tallest manmade structure in the world – offers fantastic views from the 124th floor observation deck.
2. Air-Conditioned Shopping. Shopping malls in Dubai are sometimes ridiculed as vapid, but in reality they serve as de facto (and air-conditioned) town plazas, offering fantastic people-watching as well as distractions like in-mall ice rinks, aquariums, movie theaters and surprisingly good food courts.
3. Ski Dubai. The now-famous indoor ski slope at the Mall of the Emirates is worth seeing for novelty alone, even if you don’t rent a snow suit and hit the bunny hill. There are five different runs here of varying difficulty, and a tobaggan run perfect for kids who aren’t yet ready to strap on some skis.
4. Old Dubai. The old part of Dubai, found in the lively neighborhoods of Al-Ras and Deira, offers a fascinating peek into the way things were in the emirate less than 100 years ago, before globalization irrevocably transformed the city into the international business and tourism hub it is today.
5. Dubai Museum. Located in Deira, not far from the popular abras (water buses) that ferry tourists and locals across the Creek that divides the city, Dubai Museum is another highly recommended destination for learning more about the history and culture of the UAE.