By Chris Dwyer
Nov 4, 2022
DUBAI’S FAMOUS ENERGY is inexhaustible, as the batteries in this UAE powerhouse keep the city speeding on full throttle. Celebrities, Instagrammers and other influencers love to flaunt the city’s famously extravagant party lifestyle, with seemingly permanent blue skies and Champagne on tap.
But there’s clearly far more nuance to a destination that welcomes upwards of 15 million international visitors every year. From museums and malls to dining and adventure, here are 10 new experiences that underline why Dubai is still one of the world’s most compelling spots to take a break – aside from the fact that, yes, the sun is nearly always shining.
Expo City Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai was clearly very unluckily timed, coinciding with the global onslaught of you-know-what – but, yet! Astonishingly, almost 25 million visitors from around the world still flocked to its educational, cultural and entertainment offerings, because it was awesome. Today, 80 percent of the infrastructure has been kept and morphed into Expo City Dubai, where vast pavilions keep visitors informed and entertained. The Sustainability Pavilion and Terra the Women’s Pavilion, which celebrates women’s achievements while highlighting the challenges they face, are two of the best.
W Dubai – Mina Seyahi
Standing 31 floors overlooking the Arabian Gulf, W Dubai – Mina Seyahi is the hottest new hotel in town. That’s thanks to its atmospheric and artistic W Lounge at check-in, decked in warm colors and subtle Middle Eastern design accents, as well as dining delights like Ginger Moon’s eclectic global menu you can partake of while others bronze themselves on the adjacent Wet Deck. Most of all, in this adults-only property, it’s thanks to Attiko, a rooftop lounge with imaginative cuisine, DJs and mixologists which has swiftly become one of the city’s premier places to party in style.
www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/dxbmw-w-dubai-mina-seyahi; look out for our review of our stay at this new W Dubai coming later this month.
Sublimotion, Mandarin Oriental
Only open for a six-month residency from November 1, this new version of the Ibiza-based multi-sensory dining event called Sublimotion, truly one of the most Dubai experiences we can think of, is taking the emirate by storm. With just 12 seats a night, numbers are already very limited, while the price point of US$1,360 per person – no, that wasn’t a typo – ensures that the unique 20-course spectacle remains highly sought-after amongst Dubai’s wealthiest. For your money, you’ll get some serious culinary theater with multiple changing backdrops, projections, music and virtual reality. Subway this ain’t.
www.mandarinoriental.com/en/dubai/jumeira-beach/dine/sublimotion; full review on this ridiculously cool dining experience also coming to T+L SEA soon
Dave’s Hot Chicken
At a far more wallet-friendly scale — a generous set meal runs from US$14 — comes the Instagram gold of Dave’s Hot Chicken located at the Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence. They only started out in 2018 in an East Hollywood parking lot, but have since gone almost as nuclear as their hot sauces thanks to backing from pockets including Drake and Samuel L. Jackson. The range of heat on their chicken runs from ‘No Spice’ to ‘The Reaper’ – which needs every diner to sign a disclaimer. Oh, yes, indeed. We suggest the strawberry milkshake to help calm things.
Museum of the Future
Another new cultural destination comes at Museum of the Future, somewhere impossible to miss thanks to its remarkable silver 78-meter-high design covered in Arabic calligraphy. Inside it’s all about innovation, with dazzling exhibits and interactive displays around robotics and AI, bioengineering and living in outer space. There’s a big focus on tech that will change the world for the better, while kids will love a floor dedicated to them: Future Heroes, where the games are hands-on but there’s nary a screen in sight. Don’t miss the fragrant gardens highlighting the UAE’s surprising biodiversity.
Dubai loves its superlatives more than anywhere, so it’s fitting that it claims the world’s biggest indoor virtual reality zone at Play DXB. If you’ve ever wanted to walk in the shoes of John Wick, or attempt to pilot a drone through a futuristic Dubai cityscape, then you’re in for a treat. Once you’ve found it within the vast Dubai Mall, you’ll be able to channel your inner kid through more than 30 adventures across two floors of adrenalin and skill-based games, including an old-school gaming Arcade and an inflatable playground.
L’Olivo Al Mahara
No visit to Dubai is complete without admiring the iconic Burj Al-Arab hotel. Although they recently started offering tours to non-guests, one way to see it is to book into experience the exquisite tastes of Italy at L’Olivo, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant from sunny Capri that is now in residency at the hotel’s Al Mahara restaurant. Chef Andrea Migliaccio’s stunning tasting menu is served as you sit surrounded by a large aquarium, making you feel slightly guilty tucking into pasta with sweet red shrimp or stunning gilthead fish in a Sicilian caponata sauce with their potential relatives swimming by.
Terra Solis by Tomorrowland
It’s important to make time in Dubai to occasionally pull yourself away from the always-on city and the brand new Terra Solis by Tomorrowland looks the perfect antidote. The oasis retreat is only a 35-minute drive from the Burj Al-Arab, but a world away in terms of pace of life. You can choose to visit for the day or stay in their luxury tents or lodges – our choice, since their elegant pools promise parties with top local and international DJs and the eats include a Mediterranean menu at Mesa and shisha, bites and cocktails at Sala.
Dubai Hills Mall
There are definitely no prizes for knowing that retail therapy is Dubai’s unofficial national spot. A dizzying array of malls keeps getting added to, each trying to outdo the next. But when the mercury hits the heights in the summer, there are few better escapes. The latest addition to tempt the credit card comes at Dubai Hills Mall where a cool 650 new stores await, along with the world’s fastest vertical launch rollercoaster– probably best not visited straight after a stop at Shake Shack, one of dozens of places to dine.
Kind by M.O.
Finally, to a welcome breath of eco-conscious living in the form of Kind by M.O., a fully sustainable store of resortwear and accessories located just yards from the soft sands of Jumeirah beach. Dubai’s ongoing initiative to create a green economy has seen a growth in socially responsible retail and Kind by M.O. is one of its proudest exponents. Ten cruelty-free and fully-sustainable brands feature, while everything from clothing tags to mannequins are crafted from recycled materials. Rarely has zero-waste shopping been so stylish, with collections including Folpetto swimwear, Pala Eyewear and Sunkiss which promises to protect your skin and the planet.