Just as we are celebrating the long-awaited return of beach weather, we’re faced with the question that comes up every November: where will I travel over the long National Day weekend? And while getaways to Oman, Sri Lanka, and Zanzibar are always a good idea, this year, we suggest packing a couple of layers and heading to Europe instead. For starters, Dubai residents tend to visit European cities exclusively in the summer, thereby missing out on the charm that comes with scenic snowy landscapes and bustling Christmas markets. And let’s not forget the joys of exploring a new city when fewer crowds and lower hotel rates are a given. Let the planning begin.
Everyone and their mother wants to be in Amsterdam come summer – and for good reason. But the Dutch capital is equally appealing during winter. For starters, it’s less crowded, giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate its vibrant cultural scene, third wave cafés, and obscure antique stores in peace. And with Christmas celebrations spanning the month of December, the festive cheer in the air is palpable. Bonus: the historic canals sometimes freeze, giving lucky locals and visitors alike a chance to walk or ice-skate on a veritable symbol of the city.
Stay at: Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam for its storied setting, a 100-year-old building that served as the headquarters for a number of shipping companies and is now a national monument.
The German capital translates to one thing in December: the very best Christmas markets on the planet. With nearly 80 markets in Berlin alone – and an estimated 2,000 across Germany as a whole – this city is a no-brainer if you’re looking to travel next month. Elsewhere, the city is known for its progressive vibe, dark past, audacious art and culture scene, anything-goes approach to nightlife, and diverse dining scene – none of which are hampered by lower temperatures.
Stay at: Hotel Bikini for its urban jungle ambiance, quirky-colourful guestrooms, and unexpected extras – all guests can borrow the hotel’s resident Mini Cooper for free.
Prague, Czech Republic
There’s just something so charming about the Czech capital during winter – its distinct landscape of brick-red roofs church spires coated in powdery white snow, the nostalgia of a lamplighter clad in period clothing manually lighting up the gas lamps on Charles Bridge, endless opportunities for ice-skating amongst Baroque-style buildings, and nightly performances of The Nutcracker at National Theater in December. As for the hot and hearty dishes of Czech cuisine? The perfect accompaniment to chilly weather.
Stay at: Golden Well Hotel for a journey back to simpler times, courtesy of art deco touches, masterful reproductions of centuries old furniture, and location below the walls of Prague Castle.
Reykjavik earns a spot on this list for several reasons. Not only is it the northernmost country capital in the world, but it’s also well-versed in hosting visitors over winter. Here, you can bathe in the instantly recognisable Blue Lagoon, explore a glacier by snowmobile, go whale watching, or even chase the Northern Lights. Bonus: the Golden Circle – an easily explored route between three of Iceland’s most visited attractions – is accessible during colder months.
Stay at: 101 Hotel for its designer amenities, Instagrammable décor, central location, on-site art gallery, and – wait for it – underfloor heating.
Time and time again, the Austrian capital is voted as Europe’s best city, and lower temperatures do nothing to deter tourists. The city’s most famous attractions – think: St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, the iconic ferris wheel built-in 1897, the Museum of Natural History, and more – are all up and running come winter. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the famous Magic of Advent Christmas market that transforms City Hall Square into a whimsical winter wonderland can easily compete with the best of the best in Berlin.
Stay at: 25hours Hotel for a stay that blurs the line between imagination and reality thanks to touches of surrealism throughout – a bath on the balcony, swings instead of chairs, a saucepan instead of a washbasin.
Summer’s here, and schools will be closed before you know it, resulting in that all-too-familiar feeling of restlessness. But jetting off to a foreign destination isn’t always an option, which is why we’ve scoured the city of Dubai for a handful of hidden gems, each of which caters to all ages. Win-win.
1. Courtyard Playhouse
For those who think Dubai lacks culture, listen up. Independent theatre Courtyard Playhouse, located in Al Quoz, is where it all happens – acting classes, improv workshops, theatrical productions by amateur theatre groups, and more. Culture vultures will love National Theatre Live, an initiative by National Theatre to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas around the world.
And as Courtyard Playhouse is a partner venue, past screenings have included the likes of Fleabag, Hamlet, and Hedda Gabler. The ultimate family-friendly offering, meanwhile, are the highly interactive Improvised Kids’ Storytime sessions held every Saturday. They’re especially popular amongst families as children aged 4-11 can get in on the action, volunteering on stage or directing the actions of the actors, resulting in a wonderfully whimsical afternoon every time.
It’s no secret that art is easily one of the best ways to express oneself – or just a great way to while away the hours during summer. Enter: thejamjar, a community arts space rooted in supporting the development of Dubai’s arts scene through educational initiatives, community projects, and more. Tucked away in Alserkal Avenue, the studio hosts everything from guided DIY sessions to classes that cover drawing techniques and even workshops on connecting with your deeper self through art.
Young ones, meanwhile, are welcome to attend the bi-weekly Jam Time sessions where anyone over the age of four can paint for two hours together and take home the artworks. And if your kids are even younger? Opt for Toddlers Artsploration, which serve as bonding sessions between toddlers (ages 1-3) and their guardians while helping them develop their motor skills.
To walk into the intimately sized History of Cinema Museum is to step into a world of mechanical wonders. A hidden gem in every sense of the word, it’s open by appointment only and discreetly located in Barsha Heights, chronicling the progression of visual entertainment from its inception to the advent of early cinema through a collection of over 300 antiques.
The magic of the moving image comes to life through interactive exhibits that take visitors on a journey through time and technology – they can peep into an 18th century peep box or turn the reel of an early 20th century mutoscope to see the flicker effect. As for the rarest piece? A toy magic lantern with a 1001 Arabian Nights theme from Germany circa 1860. A guided tour, for obvious reasons, comes highly recommended.
Artisan chocolatier Mirzam offers so much more than its beautifully wrapped creations. Workshops and tours are also offered at its facility, so there’s always something to look forward to – like the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop, for example. This one’s a must for anyone who loves chocolate and coffee as it takes attendees on a sensory journey expertly pairing signature single-origin chocolates from its Maps collection with single drip V60 coffee from El Salvador, Brazil, and Ethiopia.
And if restless kids are in the picture, we suggest booking the Chocolate Factory Tour & Custom Wrapper Making Workshop instead. Fun for all ages, the workshop allows participants to design their own wrappers, which they can then use to wrap their custom chocolate bar, followed by a tour of Mirzam’s chocolate-making process.
While there is no shortage of memorable sunset spots across Dubai, Mazmi Café gets our vote for its backstory and location. Owned by an Italian woman and her Emirati husband, this seriously underrated destination is located in Old Dubai and serves up an honest snapshot of the city – especially as Textile Souk, Shiva Temple, and Grand Mosque are all in the vicinity.
But it’s the must-try homemade gelato (flavours include stracciatella, saffron, and pistachio) that makes it popular with kids and adults alike. And because it sits at the edge of Dubai Creek, Mazmi is not only frequented by residents in need of a change of pace, but it also translates to endless photography opportunities. Incidentally, Mazmi also houses a three-room B&B, where Afghan fabrics, black-and-white photographs depicting fishing scenes, and coffee table books dominate the soothing aesthetic.
Every day brings with it a hit of dopamine as more countries lift travel restrictions, whetting our appetites for adventure and kicking our summer plans into high gear. But exploring a new destination starts with one rather tedious aspect: making a packing list. Here, we do the legwork, putting together a list of tips and hacks by holiday type.
You’re in dire need of some vitamin sea. We hear you. But whether you’re headed to Boracay, Bora Bora, or Zanzibar in search of palm-fringed beaches and crystalline waters, there are a few things to keep in mind.
You’ll need a beach bag, so use yours as a carry-on baggage
A kindle packed with beach reads (why lug books around?)
Two to three pieces of swimwear
One or two cover-ups to take you from the beach to dinner
A light sweater for chilly evenings
A wide-brim sun hat
SPF lip balm
Flip-flops and a pair of dressy sandals
Wet wipes aplenty
An after-sun hair product, like the multitasking Solar Sun Oil by System Professional
City breaks bring with them a bit of everything – food, culture, art, history, and adventure, all in a matter of days. But first? A few packing reminders rooted in comfort and practicality.
A lightweight rain jacket
A handful of statement accessories
Light layers to dress according to weather changes
An anti-theft backpack
A power bank or portable charger
A travel document holder
Dresses – they’re light to pack and can be dressed up or down
A reusable water bottle
A lightweight travel camera
A portable WiFi device
Taking a cruise is a great way to explore several new destinations without long layovers and having to pack and unpack multiple times. Bonus: someone else is responsible for all the planning.
Eveningwear in case dinner comes with a dress code
A hanging toiletry bag with clear pockets
A backpack or beach bag
A travel-size wrinkle-release spray
Necessary medication and a copy of your prescriptions
An international travel adapter
A waterproof phone case
Activated charcoal tablets in case of food poisoning
Specialised attire for themed nights
Oh, and steer clear of the pineapple motif – it’s code for wife-swapping!
Going on safari is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the memories you’ll make while wildlife-spotting are priceless. As for what you’ll need in the midst of a sprawling savanna? Read on.
A wide-brim safari hat
Moisture-wicking clothing in neutral hues
Local currency for tipping and snacks
A lightweight scarf
Lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirts to prevent scrapes and mosquito bites
A utility jacket
Sturdy closed-toe shoes
A multitasking antiseptic, like Sudocrem
Proof of inoculations
Soft-shell luggage (hard-shell suitcases are banned on the small planes flying into the parks)
A sizable dry bag to protect your belongings from rain and mud
Between the surge of adrenaline during the day and the après-ski traditions that follow, escaping the summer heatwave for powdery pistes is a no-brainer. Just be sure to follow these packing tips.
Resist the temptation to buy pricy ski equipment – rent instead
1 to 3 waterproof ski jackets and pants
Thermal base layers and fleece layers
A non-cotton balaclava or ski mask
Goggles, ideally with changeable lenses for sunshine and low visibility
Bring your own ski boots, and roll up small clothing items inside them
Sunscreen and lip balm, both high in SPF
A daypack to carry all your essentials on the slopes
Sun-drenched shores, picturesque sunsets, and palm-fringed beaches blend seamlessly with chaos of the best kind – meet Zanzibar, an archipelago of four major and several small islands with charisma to spare. Located 35km off the Tanzanian coast, Unguja (more commonly known as Zanzibar) is the largest and most populated of these islands. And to say Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience is an understatement.
Ride aboard a traditional sailing dhow, stop to admire weathered doors with intricate carvings, and explore the heady scents of the many spices that have earned Zanzibar its nickname, ‘Spice Island’. Here, diversity reigns supreme. The Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Omanis, and Shirazis have all been here, some settling down and marrying into local families – thus turning Zanzibar’s modern-day residents into true symbols of its colourful heritage.
Any trip to Zanzibar should be anchored in exploring Stone Town, its historical capital and the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Located on the island’s central-west coast, its cobbled streets and crumbling 19th century architecture make it easy to see why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. While you could simply stroll around its bathhouses, craft centres, mosques, and colourful backstreet markets at your own pace, a guided tour comes highly recommended for true insights into this traditional society – and tidbits that you would undoubtedly miss on your own. For example, Zanzibar’s iconic doorways are not only functioning works of art, but they’re also storytellers, revealing the origin, occupation, religious beliefs, and social status of their original owners.
The town has changed little during the past 200 years, and boasts a multitude of important architectural highlights. History buffs should start at the imposing Palace Museum. Once the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it was renamed the Peoples’ Palace following the revolution in 1964 and turned into a museum in 1994. Another defining feature is the Old Fort, the first defensive structure erected by the Omani Arabs when they seized the island from the Portuguese in 1698. The structure once performed double duty as both a prison and place of execution. These days, its restored rooms house offices for the Cultural Arts Centre Zanzibar, while the open-air amphitheatre provides a dramatic screening venue for the Zanzibar International Film Festival. On the lookout for authentic souvenirs? Be sure to make a pitstop at the Cultural Arts Gallery – which is housed within the fort – to watch local artists in action and purchase their works.
The most attractive landmark in the cultural heart of the island, however, is the Old Dispensary. This late 19th century building was commissioned by prominent Indian merchant Tharia Topan, and has been successfully restored after falling into disrepair in the 1970s, so a visit to admire its peppermint-green latticework balconies is a must-do. But no trip is complete without exploring Zanzibar’s beleaguered past, as the island remained a hub of slave trade in East Africa for several centuries. Christ Church is built on the site of the world’s last open slave market, its altar marking the spot where slaves for sale were lashed. While you’re here, be sure to walk over to the poignant slave memorial outside that depicts five slaves standing in a pit wearing original neck collars and chains, their haunting expressions serving as a grim reminder of a not-so-distant past.
An evening spent at the waterside Forodhani Gardens comes highly recommended. Here awaits a carnivalesque atmosphere, courtesy of the al fresco food market that comes alive every night. This is the place to sample everything from crab claws and calamari steaks to the hearty Urojo soup, hand-pressed sugar cane juice, and Zanzibar’s take on pizza – all on a budget, too. Celebrating a special occasion or in the mood to splurge? Head to Tea House Restaurant at Emerson on Hurumzi hotel. Pairing authentic Swahili cuisine with expertly made cocktails, it’s the magical setting of this restaurant that you’ll long remember – think: vibrant floor cushions, dimly lit lanterns, live taarab music, and views over the motley roofs of Stone Town. Just be sure to book ahead and get there in time for sunset.
What Lies Beyond
At least one day trip outside of Stone Town is needed for a change of pace and, considering Zanzibar is blessed with several offshore islands, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Prison Island, originally used by the Arabs to detain insubordinate slaves, is only a 30-minute boat ride away. You can sunbathe or simply gaze at the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean on its powdery-white beach, or snorkel as it is also fringed with a beautiful coral reef. Prison Island is also home to a family of giant tortoises – some of which are over 100 years old – that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century.
Another jaunt not to be missed is the Princess Salme & The Spices tour operated by Zanzibar Different. Because many of the islands produce nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it incorporates a guided tour through a spice plantation as well as tracing the footsteps of Zanzibar’s rebel princess by way of Mtoni Palace ruins, Persian baths, and a coffee ceremony amidst spice plantations. The company also runs Mrembo Spa, where employment is offered to blind and deaf therapists with a deft touch. The menu here spans everything from henna application to aromatherapy massages, but for a treatment rooted in tradition? Opt for the Singo Scrub that Swahili women undergo before their wedding day and is made using the likes of ylang ylang, sandalwood powder, rose petals, and rosewater – any excuse for a little R&R after navigating Stone Town’s labyrinth of alleys.
A five-day Eid break is headed our way, but not everyone is keen on the idea of long-haul travel. And that’s understandable. Still looking to explore a new destination and satiate your wanderlust? One word: Bahrain.
Not only is it the only archipelago in the region, but it’s only a mere 70-minute flight away. And between its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, trendy eateries, old-school souks, cultural institutions, and endless island-hopping opportunities, it’s also seriously underrated – especially if a quick getaway is all you can manage.
By now, many of the major luxury hotel groups have landed in Bahrain – Sofitel, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton included. But we’re slightly biased towards boutique hotels, preferring to stay at properties that have an entirely distinct personality of their own. Enter: The Merchant House, an ultra-contemporary property that boasts 46 beautifully appointed suites, a lush rooftop terrace, a library curated by The Ultimate Library of Oxford, and an eclectic collection of artworks by emerging and established artists. Another plus? Location, location, location. The Merchant House is ideally placed in the always-vibrant Bab Al Bahrain area.
Speaking of which: a stroll through Manama Souq is part retail therapy, part cultural experience, so skip the malls and head here instead. The main entrance is the historic Bab Al Bahrain, taking you back in time as you browse shops specialising in everything from jewellery and antiques to calligraphy, handpainted room dividers, embroidered poufs, perfumes, and more. It’s not just kitschy souvenirs, we promise. Oh, and keep an eye out for the art installation inspired by the traditional Bahraini necklace ‘martasha’ while you’re around. Strategically located at the entrance of Manama Souq, it is composed of 20,000 gold-plated coins that are attached to seven-metre strings suspended from the ceiling.
All that walking around will leave you famished, and no trip to Manama Souq is complete without pausing at Haji’s Cafe, where time has essentially stood still 1950. Sitting on those bright-blue benches surrounded by vintage photos and platters of delicious food in a narrow alley is such an unadulterated joy. Bahrain’s tolerance of all faiths is well-documented, so try to visit the Shri Krishna Temple, even if it’s tricky to find at first. Not only was it built in 1817 – making it a whopping 204 years old – but it has also recently been renovated and decorated in the traditional Mewar style of art that originates in Rajasthan.
Take a couple of moments to appreciate the colourful detailing before stepping into Manama Post Office. No ordinary post office, this museum houses an archive of photographs from the postal service since its inception, an extensive catalogue of stamps from Bahrain and all over the world, and a collection of vintage scales and franking machines. As for its claim to fame? It was designed by none other than interior designer Ammar Basheir.
Bahrain is an island beloved amongst foodies, and it’s easy to see why. A district by the name of Block 338 is where everything from Nikkei cuisine hotspot Clay and patisserie Café Lilou to Japanese restaurant Mirai and Mexican eatery Calexico reside. Elsewhere, rustic-chic Italian restaurant L’ORTO is still the hottest ticket in town, bringing a taste of the Tuscan countryside to Manama – after all, everything chef Susy Massetti touches turns to gold.
Another firm favourite is Fusions By Tala, a dynamic eatery where Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi – the poster child for culinary experimentation – captures the essence and flavours of local cuisine while transforming it into lighter, more elevated fare. But if an entirely unexpected experience is what you’re seeking, make a beeline for Japanese teahouse Chawan. Here, a Bahraini tea master by the name of Budoor Steele hosts traditional tea ceremonies, celebrates Japanese festivals such as Tanabata and Tsukimi, and serves intricately crafted nibbles like onigiri, mochi, and nerikiri.
The island’s art and culture scene is constantly evolving, but Muharraq is where it’s at if you’re pressed for time. You don’t have to go looking for its charm either – it’s there in spades, especially if you’re guilty of Golden Age thinking. And the best way to discover the neighbourhood? A walk down the Pearling Path, a 3.5km trail that snakes through its storied alleyways, rehabilitating this urban center of yesteryear while introducing contemporary infrastructure to match modern-day lifestyles. It’s especially suited to those interested in street photography, public art, street food, and coffee pitstops.
Most people don’t realise that Pearling Path includes 17 public squares that are dotted along the different neighbourhoods that the path crosses, with strategically placed lamp posts guiding visitors through the streets. For an optimum introduction to Bahrain’s pearling era, start at the Pearling Path Visitor and Experience Centre, which sits at the entrance of Qayssareyah Suq and hosts rotating exhibits on pearling history alongside a café and an auditorium. Alternatively, you can begin at the trail’s southern starting point, Bu Mahir Fort (from where boats used to set off for oyster beds) and its glass-walled visitor centre.
While you’re around, be sure to see the Vertical Garden up close – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in innovation. This living laboratory at the entrance of Muharraq is home to over 200 plant species, mostly from subtropical and desertic areas around the world and is the first of its kind in the region. Sheikh Isa Bin Ali House, one of the most impressive examples of Gulf Islamic architecture in Bahrain, is another interesting spot. Stroll around its multiple courtyards and walk up and down the various staircases to take in the carved wooden doors, ingenious wind towers, and perforated gypsum panels for insights into royal life circa 19th century.
There’s no shortage of ancient sites on the island, and one’s more intriguing than the last. The UNESCO-recognised burial mounds from the Dilmun era, for example, are a must-visit. Unique and mysterious, they continue to dominate the A’ali landscape due to their sheer number – there are over 11,000 of them and therefore impossible to miss. Prefer to time-travel within the comfort of a cultural landmark? Of the many exhibition halls at Bahrain National Museum, one focuses on the artifacts and history of the Dilmun civilisation, while another showcases its fascinating burial practices – it even features an actual burial mound that was transported from A’ali and reassembled onsite!
Meanwhile, as Bahrain residents turn to trendy rooftop bars for great views, we suggest Qal’at al- Bahrain (or Bahrain Fort as it is commonly known) instead. Walk around this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll encounter plenty of vantage points while breathing in the soothing ocean air. On your left, you’ll see the adjoining Karbabad Beach, which explains that aforementioned breeze. Straight ahead? An excavated coastal fortress dating back to the 3rd century AD, with the glistening city skyline rising above the horizon. The site is also surrounded by groves of palm trees, which you’ll notice on your right. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exceptional example of human occupation that spans nearly 4,500 years.
Sun, Sea, Sand
You’d think an island would entail plenty of beach clubs to choose from, but alas, that is not the case. Luckily, boho-chic Solymar Beach brings dining, partying, swimming, sunbathing, and lounging in luxury to one highly Instagrammable venue. However, what makes Bahrain truly unique in this part of the world is that it’s composed of 70 natural and 33 artificial islands. Jaradah Island is arguably the most famous as it’s only visible during low tide. Another great option is Al Dar Island, despite its size.
For starters, it’s just a 10-minute boat ride from Sitra Fishing Port. If facilities are high on your agenda, this one’s for you – everything from palm leaf huts and chalets to fishing trips, dolphin-watching excursions, and water sports are on offer. There’s even a burger joint on the island in case you get peckish. For something a little more serene, think Nurana Islands. Whether you head here for a run, a horse ride, a swim, or killer views, it’s utter bliss.
The Great Escape
A journey deep into the lush green mangroves in Tubli Bay is one that every tourist should take. This one-of-a-kind eco tour feels like a true escape, taking you away from the commotion of the city centre and introducing you to the aquatic plants and diverse wildlife of this protected ecosystem. Birdwatchers are also bound to enjoy the boat ride due to the sheer variety of resident and migratory birds spotted throughout.
Mother Nature has blessed the island with so much more than the aforementioned mangroves, though. The height and density of the trees at Karzakan Forest is unexpected, to say the least, making it a popular place for impromptu photoshoots and early morning cycle rides. But if you’re going to make the time to visit only one natural wonder, it has to be the Tree of Life. For over 400 years now, this 32-foot mesquite tree has stood all by its lonesome in the barren desert with no water source in sight, making it an enigma to many – and a source of pride for Bahrain.
Ramadan is not only rooted in self-discipline and introspection, but it’s also the perfect month to spend quality time with loved ones. To guide you on how to make the most out it, we’ve rounded up the nine best activities you can do with friends and family in Dubai.
Indulge in iftar – with a twist! Enjoy up to two hours of continental dinner delights as you cruise alongside cultural sites such as Dubai Museum, Heritage Village, Gold Souq, and more. Choose between the dhow’s lower or upper deck and soak in the beautiful sights as you break your fast.
This cultural attraction features both classic and contemporary architecture that shows the beautiful contrast between the old and new Dubai. Catch a glimpse of the past as you take a stroll down the creek and enjoy its various shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Top tip: make a quick detour at the unique Starbucks branch and take that Insta-worthy shot.
Al Seef, Al Seef Village, Dubai Creek, 800-738245, alseef.ae
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding
Learn about the country’s history through SMCCU’s guided walking tour along the neighbourhood. Then, relish in the rich flavours of traditional Emirati cuisine through a cultural dining experience led by its very own local hosts. The motto Open Doors, Open Minds means that any inquiry – big or small – is welcome, so don’t hesitate to ask questions in order to make the most out of your experience.
SMCCU, House 26 & 47, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Al Musallah Street, Bur Dubai, 04 353 6666, [email protected]
Infinity Des Lumières
Watch the most iconic art come to life as you walk through the impressive 2,700-square-metre structure located inside The Dubai Mall. This attraction uses 130 projectors, 58 speakers, and 3,000 HD digital images, holding the record for the largest digital attraction in the region. Learn more about the life of Van Gogh or take a digital stroll across Japan through this surreal visual activity.
Infinity Des Lumières, Level 2 The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, Financial Center Rd, 050 358 3001, infinitylumieres.com
If you prefer a more laidback Ramadan activity, meandering through Box Park on Al Wasl Road might be for you. It’s a modern lifestyle destination that offers unique dining and shopping experiences for everyone. And if you schedule your visit during the evening, you can also enjoy its lively atmosphere and colourful display of lights.
Box Park, Al Wasl Road, 800 738245, boxpark.ae
Dubai Water Canal
Take a relaxing post-iftar walk along Dubai Water Canal, where you can choose among various attractions along its path, such as watching a show at La Perle or cruise along its waters from Marasi Marina in Business Bay. If you prefer a more physical activity, you can bike along its cycle paths and take in the beauty of Dubai on your own time.
Dubai Water Canal, Sheikh Zayed Road, visitdubai.com
This unique Dubai landmark treats its visitors to a 360-degree view of Dubai’s past and present. Witness the amazing growth of the city through three different attractions showing its past, present, and future. Don’t forget to step on its interactive 50-metre Skydeck that will make you feel like you’re walking on air.
Dubai Frame, Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Za’abeel, Al Kifaf, 800 900, dubaiframe.ae
Take your shopping experience to the next level by visiting City Walk. This shopping establishment boasts modern, open-architecture that’s perfect for spending weekends with the family. Visit its trendy dining spots and overwhelm your senses with the endless array of flavours from around the globe.
City Walk, Al Safa St, Al Wasl, 04 590 5090, citywalk.ae
What better way is there to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan than by giving back? We suggest discovering the many government-recognised charities before creating a positive impact by donating or volunteering. You never know, your small act of kindness might just make a big difference.
Planning for a day out with your girls? Not sure where to go? Want to go somewhere different instead of your typical venues? Well, then it’s time to pack your swimsuits and head over to one of the following beach clubs, each boasting some incredible ladies’ day offers. Between the bargains and dreamy weather, you’ll want to make it a weekly ritual.
Five Palm Jumeirah
Spanning across 150 metres on PalmJumeirah, this beach club features double-width sun loungers, cabanas, and a deck for dining. It also hosts an Instaworthy glass-lined pool with a chandelier. Mediterranean in theme, it has a carefully crafted menu that is highly hyped amongst guests – and for good reason. Its ‘Praia Ladies Day’features unlimited cocktails, pool access, and a lunch platter.
Located on Bluewaters Island, this is a place rife with modern vibes and R&B tunes playing in the evenings, creating the perfect setting to watch a breathtaking sunset. With a stretch of soft white sandy beach and open lounge spaces, the beach club offers a lavish retreat.Named ‘Rosé All Day’, its offering is arguably one of Dubai’s most popular ladies’ days, offering unlimited rosé and pink gin tonic, a lunch platter, and a free sunbed.
A supersized new addition to Dubai’s beach club scene, Bla Bla is a lively spot with a dedicated bar, a regular programme of live entertainment, and uninterrupted views of Ain Dubai. The beach club is very active by the massive infinity pool, where four-poster cabanas and daybeds dot the pool’s edges. For ladies’ day, it offers four hours of free-flowing house white or red wine, sangria, mocktails, or soft drinks plus one bar snack.
Located in Atlantis, White Beach is one of Dubai’s new and hottest beach clubs, complete with ladies’ day. It features an infinity pool, a chic outdoor restaurant, and a breezy open-air-terrace for sundowners. With some amazing views of the Dubai skyline, this place is accented with some seriously boho detailing – think: whitewashed furniture and wooden cabanas with plush sofas. Its ‘Daysies Ladies’ Day’ offers four hours of free-flowing beverages and cocktails.
Located next to Skydive Dubai’s Drop Zone, this beach club hosts one of the city’s longest-standing ladies’ days. Spanning 2,000 square metres with a 39-metre glass-fronted infinite swimming pool, this place is always filled with tourists and residents alike. With a focus on relaxation, its ladies’ day offers free access to the pool, free yoga sessions, a drink on arrival, and a gift from a leading beauty brand.
Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone – King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St, 04 399 0009, https://www.0-gravity.ae/, every Sunday and Tuesday 9:30am-5pm
One of the pioneers of ladies’ day offerings at beach clubs, Nikki Beach serves up a lively atmosphere with live music in an ultra-modern setting featuring cutting-edge architecture and interiors. The pool area is filled with oversized luxury daybeds, single beds, and private cabanas along with sofa seating and three VIP cabanas. Its ladies’ day deals offer fourcomplimentary beverages, a two-course lunch, and a complimentary daybed with pool access.
Known as the best beach club in Dubai for families, Riva Beach Club is an ideal destination for a relaxed day out with kids. Hosting a private stretch of beach, it has an expansive swimming pool and dedicated children’s pool. There are plenty of food and beverage services across the pool and beach areas to keep guests indulged in various delicacies. Its ladies’ day offer comes at half the regular price and features free beach and pool access with a complimentary starter dish.
As a favourite beachside hangout at Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR, Azure Beach is the perfect destination to soak up the sun while relaxing with your girls. It has recently elevated its luxury offering with the introduction of six exclusive cabanas to create the ultimate poolside experience. Azure Beach has a variety of packages to choose from, with its ladies’ day offering a discounted price along with five select drinks vouchers.
This beautiful beach club has a chic atmosphere with elegant interiors that perfectly blend with its newly expanded pool and a terrace adorned with palm trees. It is filled with a variety of modern amenities, private cabanas, and sunbeds. Granting views of the Dubai Marina skyline and gorgeous sunsets, this beach club is the ultimate hideaway for a time-out with your girls. Its exclusive ladies’ day deals come with six hours of free-flowing drinks and light bites along with pool/beach access.
Andreea’s, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, Dubai Marina, 04 408 4400, https://andreeas.ae/, every Thursday and Sunday 10am-11pm
Wandermust: 6 Bucket List Travel Experiences That Are Surprisingly Accessible
Each is five hours or less from the UAE.
Just when the world was starting to look forward to the holiday season, news of the Omicron variant broke, making us reconsider any long-haul travel plans. The good news? There are six travel experiences that not only belong on any bucket list, but are also easily accessible from Dubai – each destination is only five hours or less from the UAE, eliminating the additional stress that comes with layovers and stopovers. Let the planning begin!
Cruise Down the Nile
Just as a visit to the pyramids is practically obligatory, a cruise along the Nile River is, too. But don’t just book a trip with any cruise ship because the Steam Ship Sudan – or SS Sudan – is truly special. Built in 1885 as a gift for King Fouad and launched as a cruise vessel in 1921, this historic paddle steamer retains the Belle Époque grace that inspired Agatha Christie to write her famous 1937 novel, Death on the Nile. Today, the ship regularly traverses the Nile on five-night cruises that launch from either Luxor or Aswan, chugging along at a relaxed eight kilometres an hour.
Float in the Dead Sea
The ancient city of Petra is what attracts hordes of tourists to Jordan, but a dip in the Dead Sea is seriously underrated. Formed three million years ago, this super-salty lake is the lowest point on land (423 metres below sea level) and the world’s oldest natural health resort – its mineral-rich waters are loaded with healing properties for several skin conditions, making it a prized ingredient in the world of beauty. Besides, effortlessly floating in the Dead Sea is just plain fun! But the time to visit this natural wonder is now; the Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate, with experts estimating that its surface level is falling by more than a metre each year.
Sleep in a Yurt
A longstanding symbol of nomadic culture, yurts have been around for thousands of years. This circular dwelling is not only portable, but also steeped in tradition as it is made of animal skin or felt and serves as the primary style of home across Central Asian countries such as Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. In Kyrgyzstan, the concept has been taken up a notch, pairing glamping with yurt life at Supara Chunkurchak ethnoresort. Located just 37 kilometres south of the capital Bishkek, it’s immersed in untouched rural beauty, yet offers creature comforts, cultural activities aplenty, and even an onsite spa – because why not?
Fly Through the Mountains
The average adventurer will tell you that Everest Base Camp deserves a spot in your bucket list, but let’s face it – this once-in-a-lifetime trek isn’t exactly accessible to all. Yes, it requires no mountaineering skills nor technical expertise, but altitude sickness can strike as Everest Base Camp sits at 5,364 metres above sea level. Now factor in that you’ll be walking for somewhere between 12 and 15 days, and you’re looking at a bucket list experience that’s not for everyone. Enter: the mountain flight. This shortcut to Mount Everest by domestic airlines such as Yeti Airlines offers passengers a front-row seat to the breathtaking, snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas, bringing them back to Kathmandu in an hour.
Take a Scenic Train Ride
Considering its bounty of natural beauty, Sri Lanka boasts some of the most scenic train rides in the world – at a bargain price, too. Arguably the most spectacular route is the seven-hour ride from the centrally located city of Kandy to the small town of Ella. In fact, it’s even been dubbed “Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attraction” as the vistas comprise everything from rolling rice fields and lush forests to towering mountains, sweeping tea plantations, waterfalls, and more. A word to the wise: avoid taking this train ride midday or on a weekend as it’s extremely popular with locals and tourists alike (read: uncomfortably crowded).
See the Whirling Dervishes
The phrase ‘an embarrassment of riches’ comes to mind when it comes to bucket list musts in Istanbul – taking a ferry across the Bosphorus, getting scrubbed at a traditional hammam, gorging on a kumpir with countless toppings in Ortaköy. But if a truly cultural experience is what you’re after, head straight to Hodjapasha Culture Centre, home of the famous whirling dervishes. Declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity, the mystical Mevlevi Sema ceremony depicts a journey of man’s spiritual ascent to “perfection” through mind and love, making it an unmissable blend of music and moves. For the uninitiated, the Mevleviye is an ascetic Sufi order founded in 1273 and renowned for their whirling dances.
10 Exciting Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Dubai
Let the countdown to 2022 begin!
If there’s one place to be during New Year’s Eve, it’s definitely Dubai – the city has mastered the art of ringing in a new year. And with numerous ways to celebrate the coming of 2022, it can be a little tough to settle on only one. Enter: this round-up of the best in town by The Gaggler!
Luxury Dinner Cruise
You can wave 2021 goodbye and enjoy a luxury dinner cruise that will sail on the Dubai Water Canal. From here, you can witness many New Year fireworks taking place all across the city alongside an unlimited buffet of local specialities, grilled meats, salads, and delicious Arabic desserts. You’ll also enjoy unlimited drinks and a ride back home!
Are you looking for an elegant New Year’s Eve? Well, you can never go wrong with Atlantis! The resort has a variety of restaurants offering distinct menus, each specially curated for an unforgettable evening, which means you can spend your night feasting on various regional and international delicacies to your heart’s content.
For New Year’s Eve, Dubai Opera is offering a glamorous and sumptuous cocktail dinner, unlimited drinks, and different musical performances by live bands and some of the best DJs – truly a music lover’s paradise. Get your tickets early so you can catch performances by DJ Said Mrad, DJ Saif & Sound, and Carrie Gibson’s Nuvo Soul.
Take your New Year’s Eve celebrations to new heights (literally!) by celebrating at the Level 43 Sky Lounge, located 155 metres above the ground. Being a rooftop bar, you will get a front-row seat to the New Year fireworks taking place across Dubai. It also has a buffet with special in-house beverage options, so drink in style while being surrounded by the city’s tallest skyscrapers.
Level 43 Sky Lounge, Four Points by Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road, 056 414 2213,www.level43lounge.com, 2pm-2am
Queen Elizabeth 2
After sailing around the world, Queen Elizabeth 2 is here to stay at Port Rashid and has exciting things to offer, this New Year’s Eve included. You can board the ship for an elegant British-style gala dinner, complete with live music and DJ sets. You could even stay in one of its luxurious cabins.
Queen Elizabeth 2, Port Rashid, 600 500400,www.qe2.com, timings vary with booking
Global Village goes all out for New Year’s Eve, hosting numerous firework shows going on through the night, which ends with a bang at midnight. You can also enter 2022 with a bit of retail therapy! Another bright side? There’s a huge variety of restaurants and food kiosks to choose from.
Global Village, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road – Exit 37 – E311, 04 362 4114, www.globalvillage.ae, 4pm onwards
La Perle by Dragone
Produced by Italian artist Franco Dragone, La Perle by Dragone is known for being the best live show in the city as it brings a mix of music, dance, astounding acrobatics, lights, and special effects together. The show has received the highest accolades from world critics and amazes millions of spectators worldwide, so why not head here to ring in 2022?
La Perle by Dragone, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road,www.laperle.com, timings vary with booking
New Year’s Eve in the desert? Trust us when we say that it is truly magical. You can enjoy a traditional Bedouin dinner and celebrate the big event under the starry sky, far away from city life. Stay overnight, and wake up to a royal treatment. And if you’re looking for a slightly less expensive option, it offers that as well!
New Year’s Eve and DJ Sigala? Sign us up! Dance your way into 2022 at the Zero Gravity Party, where you can witness several firework shows while jamming to fantastic music by the English DJ and record producer, making memories you’ll never forget.
Top Golf never fails to go all out. This year, it’s hosting a neon New Year’s Eve party featuring an array of mind-blowing entertainment. The party will feature unlimited drinks, appetiser platters, and a live DJ, all while enjoying the fireworks show and so much more. Don’t forget to book in advance!
We all look forward to the festive season since it is one of the most joyous occasions of the year – and between its twinkling lights, towering Christmas trees, and delicious food, it’s exactly what the end of 2021 calls for. Are you as excited as we are? Dubai boasts a variety of Christmas markets, each unique in its own way, which will keep you brimming with festive spirit.
The Ripe Market
Ripe Market is a community market that features upcoming artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. This winter season, it will be buzzing with activities and stalls for you and your familyevery weekend from December 4 to 26. From meeting Santa himself to Christmas workshops and cookie decorations, there’s plenty to look forward to.
The Ripe Market, Academy Park, @ripemarket, Fri (9am-7pm) and Sat (10am-7pm)
JBR Dubai is going all out this Christmas – with light shows, snowball fights, mini-golf, inflated slides, live music, and appearances by Santa Claus, this market is a must-visit destination if you have children. Oh, and don’t miss out on the wonderful Christmas delicacies as well!
Every winter, Madinat Jumeirah turns into a German-style Christmas market, filled with fun activities and stalls, a train to the North Pole, and even Santa Claus himself! Every nook and cranny is so lively and vibrant – we dare you to not get into the Christmas spirit.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, 3pm-12am on weekdays & 1pm-12am on weekends
Desert Winter Wonderland
No, you read that right – Bab al Shams Desert Resort is shaking things up by hosting a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Visit the resort from December 12 to 20 for Christmas dishes, mulled wine, hot chocolate, gifts, and activities for the young ones to enjoy!
Enjoy one of the most glorious Christmas markets coming at Habtoor Palace Hotel. From December 5 to 28, you can find Santa, an extremely tall Christmas tree, bouncy slides, train rides, cheery carolling, andcarnival games for the kids. Bonus: entry is free!
With temperatures falling and winter approaching, it’s time to step out of the air conditioning and head outside. Here, we’ve compiled a list of five unique outdoor activities that you can try this winter in the UAE.
We’ve all heard of scuba diving, and you might have even tried it at some point. But what about freediving – a.k.a. diving without an oxygen tank? Sound impossible? You might be surprised. Anyone can learn to freedive and hold their breath for longer periods of time with the appropriate training. After all, humans have been doing it for centuries. Not only can you get closer to marine life without scaring them off with the bubbles from an oxygen tank, but you can also delve into a journey of personal exploration and learn to push your limits. Diving centres like Nemo Diving Center, Freediving UAE, and Deep Dive Dubai offer introductory courses for beginners.
Whether you’re into astronomy or merely want to try something new, stargazing is an exciting activity that can humble you to the grandeur of the universe. Observatories such as Al Thuraya Astronomy Center offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the cosmos through guided night sky observations and various shows. On the other hand, if you wish to venture into the wild – and have the expertise to do so – you can always head out to the vast swath of desert that is the Rub’ al Khali (otherwise called The Empty Quarter), where light pollution is minimal and stars are visible to the naked eye. You can also visit Al Quaa desert in Abu Dhabi, which is famous for being one of the best places in the country to view the Milky Way.
3. Dinner in the Sky
If you have a fear of heights, this one might not be for you. Located in Al Sufoh, Dinner in the Sky is one of the most unique restaurants in Dubai – if not the whole country. The experience involves being lifted 50 metres from the ground by a crane, after which you will be served a three-course meal with a view that’s hard to beat. Guests are secured with safety belts, and standing presenters and crews are attached to safety harnesses. The whole event lasts for 90 minutes, and 22 guests can be seated at once for a meal of a lifetime.
Falconry is strongly intertwined with the UAE’s culture, so you can get a glimpse of this ancient tradition through a falconry show. Here, you can get up and close with these majestic birds and learn about various falconry techniques, watch displays of these birds in action, and handle the birds directly – all in a beautiful desert location. Head out to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, Wild Flight (which also offers a falconry course!), or any other centre that offers visitors a chance to interact with these unique creatures.
5. Photo Walks
Have a camera that’s collecting dust in some corner of your house? It’s time to put it to good use. Guided photo walks in the UAE take you through scenic or historic parts of the country with experts who can advise you on how to get the perfect shot. Not only will you get a chance to improve your camera skills, but you will also learn to look at familiar sights through a new lens (pun intended) – and maybe even make a few friends along the way! Check out Gulf Photo Plus and Aperture Tours to book a photo walk or head to meetup.com to find walks organised by shutterbugs in your community.