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7 Reasons to Visit Dubai (Other Than Shopping)

Museum of the Future DubaiPin

Think of Dubai and you picture a futuristic city full of shiny buildings, buzzy malls, and fast cars. And it is all that. But there’s more to it, of course. There’s art and culture in spades, some cool museums, excellent dining, and many luxury experiences. Here are 7 reasons to visit Dubai if you (like me) are not interested in shopping.

Be a culture vulture

Alserkal Avenue Dubai 2Pin

Did you know that Dubai has a thriving art and culture scene?  Begin your exploration at Alserkal Avenue, a former warehouse area in the Al Quoz industrial district, which has been transformed into a cultural space. Established in 2008, it spans 500,000 sq. ft. and houses over 70 galleries. It also hosts the annual Quoz Arts Fest every January when contemporary art exhibitions are coupled with live music performances, food trucks and a midnight movie marathon.

Alserkal Avenue Dubai 1Pin

Or you can plan your visit in March when the Alserkal Art Week is in full swing. This includes one day of Alserkal Lates when all the galleries stay open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a great time to meet the artists and curators, attend thought-provoking talks around contemporary issues, and participate in workshops.

Immerse in digital art

Infinity des Lumières. DubaiPin

The highlight of my visit last year was at that mecca of retail therapy, Dubai Mall. I didn’t go there to shop, of course, but for a surreal immersive experience at Infinity des Lumières. This is an innovative digital art centre, the largest and most advanced gallery of its kind in Dubai (and in the GCC). It is located on the second level of the mall, a sprawling 2, space where a combination of 130 laser video projectors and 379 screens brings art to life. They had a van Gogh exhibition going on and I had the chance to fully immerse myself in his paintings, appreciate their vibrant colours, and admire those unique brushstrokes up close. Current exhibitions showcase the works of Gaudi, Kandinsky, and Klee.

Peek into the future

Museum of the Future Dubai 2Pin

The biggest opening in Dubai last year was the Museum of the Future, which takes you to 2071 (the UAE’s centenary year). Over seven floors, immersive exhibitions on space resource development, bio-engineering, and emerging technologies all attempt to imagine the next 50 years of mankind.

Museum of the Future Dubai 1Pin

The museum’s design itself is no less futuristic. Shaped like an elliptical torus rising 77 metres above the ground, its facade is made of 1,024 fibreglass and steel panels. These are inscribed with artistic Arabic calligraphy, which doubles as windows allowing natural light to flood the building. Read my detailed feature on the museum for The Established.

Take in the views

Sky Views DubaiPin

Given all the soaring skyscrapers, Dubai has no dearth of some excellent vantage points. Opened just last year, Sky Views Dubai atop the Address Sky View Hotel is a must-do. A panoramic glass elevator takes you to the 53rd floor where you will get spectacular views of the city’s skyline. Then, head to the Glass Slide, a transparent glass tube that wraps around the tower’s exterior. Whiz down, but keep your eyes open for uninterrupted views. If you’re adventurous, try the Edge Walk — don the harness and step out on a floating walkway encircling the tower and get a bird’s eye view of the city. Another spectacular lookout point is The View at The Palm, a 240-metre-high observation deck overlooking The Palm Jumeirah.

Hop on a luxury cruise

The Boat by the Address DubaiPin

The Boat By Address is a luxe way of cruising the Dubai Creek.. Board this fully serviced 85-feet luxury boat at the Creek Marina Yacht Club and cruise along the Dubai Canal and past the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. You get magnificent views of the Dubai Creek Harbour, the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai skyline. The boat comes with three bedrooms, a lounging deck, and an onboard chef who will delight you with a bespoke menu.

Costa Azzurra DubaiPin

Another fun cruising experience is aboard the Costa Azzurra catamaran. The two-seater electric catamaran has a protective canopy and comfy seats, and is controlled by an easy-to-use joystick. Sail around the turquoise waters of the Palm Jumeirah and enjoy fabulous views of The Atlantis.

Dig into its culinary scene

Speaking of menus, Dubai’s dining scene is positively flourishing with new restaurants, celebrity chefs, and stellar food.

Sushisamba DubaiPin

One of my standout meals last year was at Sushisamba on the 51st floor of Palm Tower. Here, Chef Moon Kyung Soo dishes up a fabulous blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine in a vibrant, high-energy setting. The gorgeous 360° views of Palm Jumeirah just add to the overall experience.

F&B DubaiPin

Another place I loved was Tamoka at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai JBR with its laidback beachfront location. Try Chef Cesar Bartolini’s delish Latin American and Caribbean fare along with some smashing cocktails. Other restaurants I recommend are La Cantine du Faubourg for eclectic French cuisine, Brunch & Cake for, well, brunch and cake, and Address Sky View Hotel for their poolside afternoon tea. If you’re missing the taste of home, head to Trèsind Studio, the only Indian two Michelin-starred restaurant in UAE.

Stay at some stylish digs

With several new hotels opening over the past couple of years, you have plenty of options when you visit Dubai.

Paramount Hotel Midtown Dubai 2Pin

Paramount Hotel Midtown Dubai 1Pin

On my last visit, I stayed at Paramount Hotel Midtown in Dubai’s Business Bay. This stylish hotel channels Hollywood glam through its mid-century styling and plush accents. I particularly loved the rooftop Malibu Pool with stunning skyline views. Another option is 25hours Hotel Dubai One Central, my favourite boutique hotel brand’s first offering in the GCC. In the Jumeirah area, you have the sprawling Raffles The Palm Dubai on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah or Hyatt Centric Jumeirah Dubai located at La Mer, close to Laguna Waterpark.

The Atlantis DubaiPin

Have you visited Dubai? What’s your favourite thing to do? Leave me a comment below.

Disclosure: My visit was courtesy Dubai Tourism, views and images my own.

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