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Discovering Dubai

Downtown Dubai Dusk

Photo Credit: Dubai Tourism

Dubai is an extraordinary place; home of The Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building, palm-shaped island archipelagos, indoor ski-slopes and aquariums. It’s located on the warm waters of The Arabian Gulf, surrounded by sand dunes and has more than its fair share of sunshine. Before I discovered the city for myself I have to admit to having in my mind more than a cliché or two.  Images of a pristine city with a skyline of gleaming glass tower-blocks; infinity malls bursting with bling, countless luxury hotels and innovative architecture. Of course it is all of that but there’s another side to Dubai.  Amid the skyscrapers I found a city with an authentic Emirati culture, a rich heritage and a fascinating food scene. If you’re looking for adventure in Dubai you’ll find that too.

We had a packed programme for our time in Dubai so here’s a quick round up of our itinerary to give you an idea of what’s coming up on the blog in the next few weeks.

Read More: Five Sides of Dubai

Dubai Food Festival

Our visit was arranged to coincide with Dubai Food Festival and the majority of our programme was food based.  Needless to say we ate some incredible food and I’ve been on an exercise regime since I got back!  The food festival is an exciting menu of mystery dining tours, foodie pop-ups and a selection of  shipping container food stalls at the Beach Canteen on Kite Beach. Some of the Dubai Food Festival events we experienced were:

‘Dining on the Creek’ at Al Mansour Restaurant Dhow where we at some excellent Indian food and chatted with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor during a culinary boat experience.

The Beach Canteen at Kite Beach featured 11 delicious home-grown restaurant concepts set up in on a beach deck with views of the Burj al Arab and is where I tasted my first camel burger! Read more Dubai Food Festival – Find your Flavour.

Beach Canteen

The Beach Canteen

We took an evening mystery culinary skyline tour with ‘Lime and Tonic’ stopping off at four different venues with breathtaking views of the city for drinks, starters, main course and dessert.  At each point food and drink inspired by the view was served up.

Read more: How to spend 48 hours in Dubai

The Emirati Food Scene

More of Dubai’s vibrant food scene was discovered outside of the Food Festival.  During a fascinating Food Lover’s Tour of Old Dubai covering the souks and markets with Arva from Frying Pan Adventures. We tasted some traditional Emirati fare, learned about a myriad of spices in the spice souk, visited the fish, meat and vegetable markets, took an Abra across Dubai Creek and learned about Arabica coffee in the Coffee Museum.

Spice Souk, Dubai

The Spice Souk

We visited a community Farmers’ Market ‘The Farmer’s Market on the Terrace’ where local farmers sell freshly picked organic goods, honey, coffee beans, juices and delectable bread and pastries – right in the heart of the city.

Savoury Pastries

Savoury Pastries at The Farmers Market

Friday Brunch in Dubai is an institution and something very special at the start of the weekend.  We had a spectacularly memorable Friday Brunch at the Ritz Carlton as well as lots of other foodie treats including a sushi and sake master-class, dine-around lunch, sundowners and pastry-tasting.

Our trip wasn’t just about the food and we explored a combination of new and old Dubai on our visit.  We saw Dubai from the sky on Food Lover’s Tour of Old Dubai for the At the Top experience on floor 124 of Dubai’s most iconic structure and the world’s tallest building.  We spent time at Dubai Mall at Fashion Avenue and I visited Dubai Aquarium where I walked the underwater tunnel with rays and sharks swimming over and around me.

View from Burj Khalifa

View from Burj Khalifa

A complete contrast saw us dune bashing, or sand slapping as our group re-named it, before taking a camel ride and enjoying dinner in a desert camp with Alpha Tours

Dubai Sand Dunes

Dune Bashing

We flew with…

Although we were flying Emirates our flight to Dubai was a code-share with Qantas, so we got to experience two airlines on this trip; flying out with Qantas and returning with Emirates.

Where we stayed…

The Ritz Carlton is an iconic beach-front resort and at just six stories high – an oasis among the skyscrapers in the middle of the Marina area and on a lovely stretch of beach near to JBR Walk. Read my review of the Ritz Carlton Marina.

La Baie Lounge, Ritz Carlton Dubaii

La Baie Lounge, Ritz Carlton Dubaii

We packed in a lot of sight-seeing and a lot of calories during our trip – so lots to write about.  Check back for articles coming up on the blog this month.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Dubai Tourism and The Ritz-Carlton Dubai who kindly hosted my visit to Dubai. Opinions and views are, as always, entirely my own.

Have you been to Dubai?  Please share any sightseeing and dining tips in the comments below…

Packing my Suitcase

Wednesday 8th of April 2015

Wonderful post Suzanne!! I Have been to Dubai before, during my honeymoon actually... and I wish I had the experience you had in terms of culture. I didn't really get to know well the Emirati culture, for me Dubai was filled with foreigners :( but it was a great experience and I would love to go back. Having dinner in the desert is something I really want to do! Ohh the hotel looks stunning!!!

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 8th of April 2015

I was really surprised by the cultural old side of Dubai that we discovered and as for the food - wow!


Wednesday 11th of March 2015

The spice souk looks so so gorgeous and I bet the smell was heavenly. It has always been my dream to get to Dubai. I keep trying to talk my husband into it because we are really only a few hours by airplane (living in Rome).

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 12th of March 2015

The smell of Frankincense wafted on the air and with shafts of sunlight peeking through the slatted roof it was very atmospheric in the spice souk. Ihope hubby comes round soon!

Just Add Attitude

Wednesday 11th of March 2015

The spice souk looks amazing as does Dubai. You are so lucky to see all these place. ;)

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 12th of March 2015

and I appreciate every second of it! :)

Johanna Bradley

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

I have to admit, it's not a place I feel the need to visit, Suze, but you should never judge till you've seen, and it looks like you had a blast. Hope you're allowed afew extra calories for your birthday. Have a good one!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

I was very pleasantly surprised by the lovely people we met, the fabulous food and the real sense of history in parts of the city. Thanks for the birthday wishes - made myself a lemon drizzle cake :) x

Bridget @ A Traveling B

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

Dubai seems very interesting, Suzanne! I firmly believe that food is one of the best ways to learn about another culture so it seems like you had that covered. Can't wait to read more!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 10th of March 2015

It was fascinating mixture of old and new :)

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