Dubai may be known for its luxury shopping, but it also has plenty of culture, nature and history. Here’s my guide to exploring this surprising city.
Dubai has it all – serene desert landscapes, world-class shopping and old Arabian markets.
Here are the best things to do in Dubai:
1. Alserkal Avenue – an artsy compound
Head for Alserkal Avenue – a compound full of warehouses that have been re-made into shops, galleries and cafes.
The first gallery at Alserkal opened in 2008. Others gradually followed and an expansion in 2015 doubled its square footage to some 500,000.
Alserkal Avenue is now a mix of industrial, business and creative spaces, housing some 60 cultural venues. During Ramadan it hosts month-long exhibits, events and workshops.
Stop for lunch at the chic Wild & the Moon, a food and juice bar that launched as a superfood cantina in Paris before expanding to Dubai. The decor is minimalist with high ceilings, exposed pipes and hanging potted plants.
I recommend a creamy latte and a magic budwig bowl that’s a mouthwatering mix of ground almonds, spirulina and banana. It’s indulgent, refreshing and vegan. A perfect light yet nourishing power lunch for a hot afternoon.
eL Seed’s studio is nestled in a warehouse nearby. eL Seed is a French-Tunisian artist. His work is bright, colorful murals that play with classical Arabic calligraphy in a decidedly modern way.
Nearby, The Junction is a 158-seat theater that puts on plays like A Streetcar Named Desire and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. An old-fashioned popcorn machine stands at the entrance and the walls are decorated with bright theater posters.
Also check out The Jam Jar, a community arts space aims to boost art appreciation in the UAE, and regularly hosts workshops, youth programs and events.
And although Alserkal is creating a buzz with the city’s art lovers, it feels like a hidden gem tucked between rows of warehouses. In a city full of dizzying luxury and record-breaking shopping malls, it’s also proof there’s more to Dubai than the stereotypes.