Dubais Notable Buildings

BurjAI Arab (p75) The Burj was completed in 1999, and is set on an artificial island 300m from the shore. The 60-floor, sail-shaped structure is 321m high. A translucent fibreglass wall serves as a shield from the desert sun during the day and a screen for an impressive light show each night. Until the Burj Dubai arrived on the scene to steal its thunder, it was f je iconic symbol of Dubai. Burj Dubai (Map pp72-3) To retain an edge over rival skyscrapers, developers Emaar chose to keep the...

Early Settlement

Little is known about the early history of the area that now forms the United Arab Emirates. However, archaeological remains found in Al-Qusais, on the northeastern outskirts of present-day Dubai, show evidence of humans here as far back as 8000 BC, after the end of the last Ice Age. Up until 3000 BC the area supported nomadic herders of sheep, goats and cattle these early inhabitants camped on the coast and fished during winter, then moved inland with their herds during summer (not so very...

Bur Dubai

Possibly the most eclectic eating area of Dubai, restaurants here run the gamut from dirt-cheap curry joints to white-tablecloth restaurants worthy of a Michelin star. FIRE & ICE Map pp64-5 Contemporary European 3 341 8888 Raffles Dubai, Wafi City Mall mains Dh200, tasting menu from Dh550 S 7-11 pm If Michelin gave stars in Dubai, they'd surely consider bestowing one on Fire & Ice, Raffles Dubai's floor-to-ceiling-brick dining room that feels strangely like a styled-out New York...

Arabian Handicrafts Souvenirs

Arabian handicrafts are as popular with Dubai visitors as carpets, gold and perfume. The Oriental d cor of the city's top-end hotels and restaurants seems to inspire travellers to pack away little pieces of exotica to recreate their own little Oriental Rugs Today, 2nd edition, by Emmett Eiland Persian Rugs and Carpets Their History and Symbolism, by Essie Sakhai Oriental Rugs, A Complete Guide, by Murray L Eiland Jrand Murray Eiland the Third The Carpets, Rugs and Kilims of the World, by Enza...

How To Use This Table

The table below allows you to plan a day's worth of activities in any area of the city. Simply select which area you wish to explore, and then mix and match from the corresponding listings to build your day. The first item in each cell represents a well-known highlight of the area, while the other items are more off-the-beaten-track gems. Sports, Spas & Outdoor Activities Eating p106 Entertainment p125 Shopping p91 Sleeping p151 Dubai isn't meant to look like this anymore. Old, dirty,...

Top picks

Jumeirah Beach Hotel (p160) Mina A Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (pi60) Al-Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (p159) taxis. The best hotels front the Creek. Budget hotels are tucked inland along narrow streets. Many hotels provide airport, mall and beach shuttles inquire when you book. You'll find great deals in Deira, but if you have business elsewhere, you'll be slowed (way) down by traffic choose Bur Dubai instead. PARK HYATT DUBAI Map pp56-7 Hotel SSS 3 602 1234 www.dubai.park.hyatt.com Dubai Creek Golf...

Kitsch Souvenirs

The ultimate kitsch souvenir used to be a colourful mosque clock with an irritating call-to-prayer alarm. Now the souqs and souvenir shops overflow with wacky, kitsch gifts -glass Burj A1 Arab paperweights, wooden Russian dolls painted as Emiratis, Barbie and Ken dolls in Emirati dress, key rings strung with miniature towers, camel-cross-ing-sign fridge magnets, and coffee mugs and baseball caps with Sheikh Zayed or Sheikh Mohammed waving to the crowd. Karama Shopping Centre (p97) is where...

Perfume Incense

Attars (Arabian perfumes) are spicy and strong. Historically this was a necessity with precious little water, washing was a Due diligence is essential for prospective carpet-buyers, fhough you may only want a piece to match your curtains, you'll save a lot of time and money if you do a little homework. Your first order of business Read Oriental Rugs Today (2nd edition), by Emmett Eiland, an excellent primer on buying new Oriental rugs. In the early 1900s, rug makers started using fast-acting...

Deirasouq Stroll Walking Tour

1 Spice Souq As soon as you step off the abra at Deira Old Souq Abra Station, the heady scents of sumac, cinnamon, cloves and other spices will lure you across to the Spice Souq (p53). Take some time to explore. Chat to the shopkeepers. If you can't guess what's in those sacks, ask. Buy something (see p93) saffron is excellent value frankincense, oud and an incense burner make a memorable souvenir and sheesha kits are much cheaper here than they are in the malls. When you exit the souq on...

R

Homes the traders built were the most sophisticated in Dubai, and were only found in coastal towns where there was enough wealth to build with coral, gypsum and limestone - a big step up from palm fronds. A typical house was two-storeys with a central courtyard, which most rooms opened onto, and which boasted decorative arches with intricate carvings. Generally fairly plain from the outside, they had the wonderful carved wooden doors you see today, plus crenulations, carved grilles and stucco...

Hawala The Business Of Trust

Imagine a money transfer system with quick delivery and minimal or no fees, which is available to people in the poorest countries in the world. This is hawala, and Dubai is one of the key centres of this controversial practice. Hawala is an Arabic term for a written order of payment. It works like this. You hand over your dirhams and the contact details of the recipient to your neighbourhood hawala trader. In return you get a code - say, a letter and four numbers. Then you ring up the recipient...

Yoga Pilates

345 2131 www.dubstretch.ae next to Capitol Hotel, Al-Mina Rd per class Dh70 S 8.30am-8.30pm by reservation An independent studio great for Pilates and Bikram hot-room yoga, Club Stretch's Oriental Hammam p141 Impeccable re-creation of a Moroccan bathhouse. Not to be missed. Couples'Massage Amara, p140 Reignite your romance behind a walled garden. Pure Awakening Package Taiise, p141 Get over your jetlag in 50 minutes-or at least feel somewhat refreshed. Maya's Secret Sensasia, p141 Indulge your...

City Tours

Arabian Adventures Map p52 303 4888 www.ara bian-adventures.com Emirates Holidays Bldg, Interchange No 2, Sheikh Zayed Rd city tours adult child 2-12 yrs Dh135 70 Arabian Adventures operates daily half-day city tours. From Tuesday to Thursday and on Sundays, it also runs a fascinating Al-Jadeedah tour Dhs425 , which covers the sites of Dubai's most audacious future megaprojects, before high tea at the Burj Al Arab. Lama Tours Map pp64-5 334 4330 www.lama .ae Al-Sayegh Building, Suite No 202...

Abu Dhabi International Airport

With Etihad often offering cheaper fares to the UAE than rival airlines, an increasing number of passengers are using Abu Dhabi's airport as their entry point to Dubai. Landing in the neighbouring emirate might even save you time too. The airport is compact and efficient, meaning that you can sometimes get from the plane to the street in under half an hour. It's situated 22km from Abu Dhabi in the direction of Dubai, which means New Dubai's beach hotels are only an hour's drive away. Travelling...

Dubais Ecological Footprint

Dubai's transformation from a small town into a major metropolis in the space of a few decades has been remarkable. But such rapid expansion has inevitably had a negative impact on the environment. According to the World Wildlife Fund WWF ,the United Arab Emirates is the least environmentally friendly country in the world. The WWF measures the ecological footprint of countries by calculating how many global hectares - an area of biologically productive land or sea - is required to sustain the...

Racism In Dubai

Notice something weird about the job ads in the classified section of the newspaper In the UAE, it's quite normal for employers to specify the preferred nationality or gender of applicants in advertisements. Ads often include phrases such as 'Arabs only', 'UK US AUS only', or even 'males preferred'. Some employers expect female candidates to send photographs with their application. The open discrimination you'll see in job ads is often reflected in pay. A European can expect to earn more than a...

The Coastal Drive

An early start is required if you're going to see the coast in one day and have some time to relax on the beach. If you do this excursion on a Friday, you can catch the bull-butting opposite in Fujairah on the way home, although the beaches are likely to be much less crowded during the week. At first, the road from Dubai to Fujairah is strangely desolate, a dune landscape punctuated only by power poles. But the scenery completely transforms when the grey, jagged Hajar Mountains come into view....

EATING

Dubai's culinary landscape mirrors the imported expat population - Indian, Thai, Chinese, African, Lebanese - not local Emirati culture. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find anything indigenous. Unless you score an invitation to a wedding, you're unlikely ever to sample the local specialty, khouzi, a whole roasted lamb or baby camel stuffed with rice and spices. You might come across chicken, lamb or shrimp mashbous - spiced meat served with equally spicy rice - but they're nothing fabulous,...

The Oasis Retreat

The UAE's third city is a breath of fresh air. Compared to Dubai, life in Al-Ain seems uncomplicated and unrushed. There are no skyscrapers here, no megaprojects, no big shopping malls - and no attitude. People are genuinely friendly and welcoming and are determined to show visitors why they are so proud of their city. It's the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed, and Al-Ain has benefited from his patronage and passion for greening the desert it's famed for its lush gardens and date palm oases, as well...

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Umm Qaiwaim

Move over Dubailand - the largest project in Dubai to date, at least in terms of square kilometres, is one we hear practically nothing about. At 225 sq km, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve www.ddcr.org accounts for five percent of the emirate's total land. It's a national park, where the primary goal is to protect the desert's biodiversity. Dubai's approach to environmentalism is characteristically commercial. The DDCR is managed and funded by an airline-a major supplier of climate...

Day Spas Massage

Though you can get a good rubdown at most sports clubs, for the proper treatment book a dedicated spa. Dubai's spas like to incorporate food into their treatments - berries, chocolate, even gingerbread at Christmas. You may disagree, but we remain unconvinced of their merit. If you're dubious, stick to the tried-and-true, not the out-of-the-blue. Make reservations as far in advance as possible for top spas such as Amara and the Oriental Hammam, book weeks ahead. Ask if a spa treatment includes...

Father Of The Nation

Visitors to Dubai will no doubt see enormous posters of a smiling sheikh in a pair of Ray Ban-style sunglasses-this is Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the first, and up until his death in 2004, the only President of the UAE. Revered by his people, and often called 'father' by Emiratis, he commanded huge respect across the Middle East. Sheikh Zayed was born in Abu Dhabi in 1918, and his father was ruler of the emirate from 1922 to 1926. After his father's death in 1927, Sheikh Zayed relocated...

Pearling

The heyday of pearling is laced with romanticism. But unfortunately for those who dove in the depths to collect pearls, it was a life of hardship and the rewards were no match forthe dangers involved. Most of the divers were slaves from East Africa and the profits of the industry went straight to their master, the boat owner. The only equipment the divers used was a rope tied around their waist, a turtle-shell peg on their nose and leather finger gloves to protect their hands from the sharp...

Walking Tour

1 Bastakiah Nights Start this heritage walk of Dubai's oldest areas at Bastakiah Nights pill restaurant, near Al-Seef Rd. The courtyard house it occupies is lavishly decorated and worth a look inside staff are happy to show you around . Spend some time wandering the quarter's atmospheric narrow lanes and peeking into the lovingly renovated wind-tower houses. 2 XVA Hotel amp Art Gallery A superbly re stored courtyard residence in Bastakia, XVA left houses an art gallery, a caf , a gift shop and...

Airlines

The following is a selection of carriers that fly to and from Dubai. Air France Map pp56-7 602 5044 www.airfrance .co.ae Al-Shoala Complex, cnr Al-Maktoum Rd amp 9 St, Deira Air India Map pp56-7 227 6747 www.airindia.com Sheikh Rash id Building, Al-Maktoum Rd, Deira British Airways Map pp72-3 307 5777 www.british airways.com 21st fl, Al-Attar Business Tower, Sheikh Zayed Rd Cathay Pacific Airways Map pp56-7 295 0400 www.cathaypacific.com Al-Shoala Complex, cnr Al-Maktoum Rd amp 9 St, Deira...

Deira

Deira has a great street scene snag a sidewalk table beneath flickering neon and soak up the colour. Deira is where many poor people live, and here you eat their food - Chinese, Arabic, African and especially Indian. With several notable exceptions, most of them listed below, Deira lacks upmarket restaurants for a white-tablecloth dinner with wine, head to the beach. If you're on a budget, you can do well for under Dh20 see the boxed text, p109 . But even if you're not, an unpretentious dinner...

New Dubai

Eating pi 19 Entertainment p130 Shopping plOI Sleeping p162 There's an expat fable about a couple who move into the penthouse suite of a high-rise Marina apartment with amazing views of the Burj A1 Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and The World. Feeling smug about the postcard perfection of their dream life in the Emirates, they retire to bed. The following morning they wake up, pull back the curtains, and are devastated to discover a block of apartments entirely obscuring their view. The couple should...

Beating The Drum

Here's an environmentally friendly, social and entertaining way of seeing the desert - join a drum circle. Dubai Drums www.dubaidrums.com hosts regular full-moon drum circles adult child Dh150 50 in desert camps. These sessions are led by Atsu, a Ghanaian masterdrummer,and usually last several hours and occasionally until the early hours of the morning -look out for the near-legendary all-nighter events. Drums and a BBQ dinner are provided. offered in the standard desert-safari package, plus...

Sheikh Mohammed Mr Dubai

Having spent several years as a de facto ruler while he was crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed was the only candidate for the top job when Sheikh Maktoumdied in early 2006. He has spoken about managing Dubai as if it were a business, and like the most successful CEOs he has a knack for making the right decision at the right time. Although he is surrounded by some of the greatest minds in the Gulf, as well as political and economic expertise imported from all overthe world, there s no uncertainty...

Bus

The gradual introduction of air-conditioned shelters is making bus travel in the summer months a viable option. While Dubai s long-suffering bus users have welcomed the new shelters, bar some justifiable grumbles that they re far too small, further improvements need to be made. The buses are infrequent and often drive straight past stops the timetables are confusing and hard to locate, and the routes are circuitous to say the least. On the plus side, bus travel is very cheap and offers large...