In our latest travel Middle East article Caroline Dierckx introduces us to a truly fascinating city.
Opinions differ regarding this city of a thousand and one colours. Some will say that you can tour the city in three days while others will find their one-week stay much too short. I belong to the latter category. Indeed, Dubai is not just about shopping and private beaches. There are so many interesting places and activities that spending a week there is simply not enough. It is a city on the move where business meets leisure. Many expats have chosen this lifestyle. In addition, Dubai is super ‘safe’. It is a real luxury to feel safe day and night. Regarding Covid-19, Dubai has long since taken strict measures. The authorities are in control of the situation, and you can feel it since everything has been open for a long time, restaurants, museums, hotels, beaches… If you are looking for a safe vacation, Dubai is undoubtedly one of the best destinations.
Get onboard! March 2021, Belgium is confined and almost everything is closed. The magic carpet called work takes me to Dubai. Brussels Airport is almost empty, and we are flying Business Class with Qatar Airways. From the beginning of 2021, the company could once again take its passengers to Dubai. The journey begins when we are comfortably seated on the plane (A350-900). With a glass of champagne as a welcome, we leave Brussels for Doha. In-flight service is impeccable and neat.
It is not for nothing that Qatar Airways was once again voted Best Airline of the Year. The meals are excellent with a varied choice à la carte: Signature Arabic Mezze, Grilled veal fillet or Smoked cheese tortellini, cheese plate. Beverages: Mocktails, Teas, Coffee, Karak chai. Plus an excellent menu of wines, such as Bordeaux, Château Corbin Michotte, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2012. Entertainment brings together young and old alike. The flight crew were so nice.
Six hours of flight later, we were at Hamad International Airport in Doha, a magnificent airport, a crossroads from the Middle East to the middle of the world, serving the most exotic destinations. Dubai was now just an hour away.
We arrived at the hotel: The H Dubai. We chose this hotel because it is one of the trendiest in the city, the location is incredible, located at #1 Sheikh Zayed Road. The H Dubai is a gateway to the Middle East’s most dynamic city. It is just a short distance from all of the city’s main attractions and business districts, including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Frame, Dubai Garden Glow, La Mer Beach and Dubai World Trade Center. But it is also known for the comfort and impeccable service you would expect from a 5-star hotel. The bedrooms are very spacious. The H Dubai has no fewer than 11 restaurants offering various culinary journeys.
There is also a Spa, Le Mandara Spa, a gym, and an outdoor swimming pool. We also knew that this hotel makes a point of ‘covid free’ security. In the month of March this year, it was 29°. Pure happiness – the sense of freedom that drives us is incredible. Everything is open, everything is alive – there are people everywhere!
In Dubai, there are must-see places to visit, and I’ll start with one of the city’s most iconic, the Burj Khalifa. On the 124th floor, admire the city in 360°. After visiting the tallest tower in the world, go to the Burj Lake for a show of giant, magical fountains set to the rhythm of songs by Celine Dion and Andréa Bocceli. This is Dubai Fountain. You can also follow the show on the terrace of the Lebanese restaurant Abdel Wahab, while enjoying a delicious meal. The best moment? When the sky has covered its night mantle. Close by is The Dubai Mall, an iconic location in the city and one of the largest shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates, boasting more than 1,000 shops, a gigantic Aquarium, an ice rink and restaurants.
Luxury getaway on the beach
We had a rendezvous for a luxury getaway and a lunch at the Spiaggia restaurant, at the Beach Club of the Bvlgari Hotel & Resort, located in Jumeira Bay Island. We also earmarked Nammos Beach and its beautiful private beach. We fell in love with one of the city’s most trendy and famous beaches: White Beach Dubai, which is none other than one of the beaches at the fabulous Atlantis hotel located in the upscale Palm Jumeirah district.
During the day, installed on the comfortable deckchairs and in the shade of a pretty woven parasol, you can polish your tan, cool off in the lagoon-blue infinity pool, or in the warm sea – it’s your choice. We never tire of this view of the Palm, the skyscrapers in the distance that seem painted on the horizon, and we thank the universe for being on this sandy beach – it is a real gift. No need to get up to go to the bar, the hostesses take all the orders and take care of everything.
I highly recommend the cocktails. This is the height of luxury, as lunch was served on the deckchair. The dishes are varied, colourful and very tasty. The atmosphere is ‘chill’, and we are serenaded by lounge music. In the evening, White Beach hosts the international DJs and artists who ignite this festive mecca in Dubai. On the Friday we spent the best day ever, just chilling out in Dubai. Not to be missed! Remember to book in advance, deckchair or white beach VIP Cabana. A word of advice: follow the whitebeach Instagram account. Information: www.atlantis.com
Dubai, a paradise for the taste buds? Yes! Oriental, Indian, Asian, Western inspiration… There is something for everyone. No matter where we were in the city, there wasn’t a single restaurant where we were disappointed. Quality is on every plate. We tested some legendary addresses, such as Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen from the famous US show Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, located at Caesar’s Palace on Bluewaters Island. Pier7 on the edge of the Marina offers a ‘lifestyle dining’ experience with seven different restaurants of Arab, Asian or European inspiration. The view is also amazing. Visit PLAY, on the 36th floor of The H Dubai, for a gastronomic journey like nowhere else in a warm and trendy decor that will take your breath away. Take a walk to LA MER BEACH and stop off at one of the many restaurants.
Sonara Camp, a suspended moment
All international stars, influencers and models go through Sonara Camp. So we too wanted to experience this timeless experience in the middle of the desert. An hour’s drive from the city, it is in the heart of the Arabian desert that this ecological camp named Sonara takes shape. We chose The Sunset Dinner Experience and a 4×4 Land Cruiser was the shuttle for the 10-minute drive in the desert.
We were lucky enough to see wild animals, such as a gazelle and tropical birds. The arrival at the camp was a magical spectacle – the heat enveloped me, the light was exquisite and the beauty of the place left me speechless. The musical welcome gives a crazy charm to the intimate and at the same time very large atmosphere of the place. For two hours we listened to live music, tried our hand at Sand Boarding, tasted cocktails and snacks, met the Falcon, took a camel ride and watched the sunset behind the desert dunes.
The skies turned black, the camp lights came on, and it was time to sit down to dinner and watch a show worthy of a spectacle in Las Vegas. The menu of French Chef Franck Sana, revisited with audacity and generosity, seduced one and all. Sonara camp is an experience to be lived, not just told about. Note that you can also sleep at the camp in luxurious tents with all the necessary comfort. Several formulas are available. Also remember to book well in advance. www.nara.ae Instagram: sonara_camp
Marmoon Camel Race Festival
Everyone has seen a camel race on television, but seeing it live and up close is very impressive. We witnessed the race at Al Marmoon Heritage Village. Very popular in Dubai, the festival attracts a lot of people and is one of the most anticipated events each year. A good address to take you there or to discover the heart of Dubai: www. mytourstudio-dubai.com
The best time to travel to Dubai is from October to April, when the heat is very pleasant. Dubai, we already miss you…
To get there: www.qatarairways.com
Where to stay: The H Dubaï Getting around: by taxi (cheap)
Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)