City Guide

Dubai 2008

20 Aug 2008 by Sara Turner

With developments springing up every day, there’s always something new to see in Dubai. Colette Doyle braves the heat and checks out the latest places to cool off, smoke shisha and taste the money.


1. Khan Murjan

Dubai is simply chock-full of places which tempt you to part with your hard-earned cash, from top-drawer department stores to bustlingly authentic souks. Located at the upscale Wafi City Mall, Khan Murjan is every inch an Islamic-themed bazaar, with architecture inspired by the original souk of the same name, which was built in Baghdad in the 14th century and served as an inn for travellers and traders.

The glitzy Dubai version covers around 4,645 sqm and is a two-level subterranean structure featuring more than 150 bazaar-style shops, where craftsmen from around the Middle East display their wares. The stunning centrepiece of the souk is a 256-sqm stained-glass ceiling – a kaleidoscope of colour inspired by the paintings of Iraqi artist Yahia Ibn Muhamud Al Wasti. Khan Murjan is open daily from 10am-10pm (10-12am Thurs-Fri). Visit wafi.com.

2. Atlantis The Palm, Dubai

Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah (atlantisthepalm.com) will officially be opening its doors on September 24, so you may want to organise your next business trip to coincide with its inauguration, as this extraordinary hotel bills itself as a “must-see destination” within the city.

Set to be the region’s first integrated entertainment resort, this 1,539-room development is home to 18 million litres of water-themed amusement at Aquaventure, including fresh and saltwater pools, lagoon exhibits and an open-air marine habitat. When all that outdoor activity gets a bit much, satisfy your appetite at one of the 17 on-site restaurants, including four celebrity-chef venues – Nobu, Rostang’s French Brasserie, Locatelli’s Ronda Locatelli and Santi Santamaria’s first foray outside Spain, his gourmet seafood restaurant, Ossiano.

3. Dubai Marina  

One of the smartest residential addresses in “new Dubai”, the marina has proved a winner with affluent Western expats who appreciate its resort-style ambience. Visitors will find this a pleasant place to stroll in the cooler months, as they admire the multimillion-dollar yachts berthed here and soak up the atmosphere.

Marina Walk is a landscaped pathway which winds through the development – look out for the spectacular dancing fountain. Spread over 5,570 sqm, the marina also offers a host of shops and a vibrant Friday market which operates from October to April, while restaurants run the entire gamut of tastes from regional cuisine to Thai, Mediterranean, Indian, Japanese, and even a Fifties-style American diner.

Boating enthusiasts can also look forward to the opening of the Dubai Marina Yacht Club by the end of the year, featuring a clubhouse and charter yachts. Visit dubaimarinayachtclub.com.

4. Downtown Burj Dubai

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, this new real-estate development by Emaar Properties has the whole city talking. Dubai doesn’t like to do things by halves and, consequently, the cornerstone of this new district is the magnificent Burj Dubai, set to be the world’s tallest tower, eclipsing even the 553-metre CN Tower in Toronto.

Once you’ve eased the crick in your neck (estimates suggest that the tower will be 818 metres tall once completed), take a stroll around this brand-new neighbourhood. The Souk Al Bahar is an Arabesque waterfront shopping market whose stone corridors and high archways lend it a rustic ambience. Alternatively, you might want to stop off at The Palace The Old Town – this elegant Sofitel property is designed like a huge Arabian citadel and offers an outdoor terrace, great for shisha evenings when the humidity permits.

5. Dubai Festival City

Stretching three kilometres along Dubai Creek, Festival City (dubaifestivalcity.com) offers a waterfront complex of shopping and entertainment that really is well worth exploring. The colossal retail experience incorporates brands as diverse as the glamorous Nicky Hilton boutique and the reassuringly familiar Marks and Spencer.

If all this activity has left you feeling a trifle fatigued and you want to chill out, then head to Canal Walk. This 400-metre canal features Arabian-style water taxis offering free rides and is the largest al fresco dining area in the Middle East.

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