Desert Digs: 5 Ways To Rediscover Dubai

Once hitting the headlines thanks to its string of towering skyscrapers, Dubai is changing its tune. Away from all of the glitz and the glamour, there are incredible things to be discovered. Beyond the shopping malls, impossible lagoons, and staggering heights, the city is a hotbed of surprises, and in 2018, things are more exciting––and unexpected––than ever before. On the hunt for a genuine adventure? Dubai might just surprise you.

Where To Hang Out 

Hipsters and Dubai might be a combination that seems like chalk and cheese, but in this part of the world, anything is possible. The city’s achingly trendy Box Park is arguably one of the coolest places to visit and with countless contemporary escapades taking place in the area, it’s well worth checking out. Boasting its fair share of exhibitions, foodie hotspots, pop up shops and independent retailers, Box Park is well and truly focused on the new. Special events and offers are always listed on the area’s website, so make sure you take a peek before venturing out; it’s always better to be in the know. 

Where To Cool Off

A little bit of desert never stops the savvy traveller from cooling off, and Dubai is no exception. Despite being cornered by sand dunes, the city has its fair share of watering holes and soothing lagoons, and if you’re in need of a little chilling time, you’re more than well covered. One of Dubai’s very best watery spots is the recently opened La Mer, a luxury beach park in the city. As well as being an Instagrammer’s dream, the beach is incredibly well equipped, featuring hammocks, beach huts, and plenty of water in which to cool off. Want a little privacy? Try hiring a daybed or your own cabana if you want to get out of the crowds.

Where To Shop

Shopping malls are something of a legacy in Dubai, but if you’re looking for something a little less ordinary, there are also plenty of gems to be unearthed. Kitted out like a private house, Comptoir 102 makes for a uniquely boutique shopping experience. Offering up lovingly crafted homeware, fashion, books, and jewellery, the shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave. While away your morning in the shop before heading to the onsite café for a light lunch. Serving up local, organic dishes, the place is bound to leave you lusting for more. 

Where To Stray From The Beaten Path

When it comes to tourist day trips, Dubai is all about the desert. But what if you’re searching for an experience that’s a little more uncommon? If you look beyond the welltrodden path, there are plenty of wonders to be found. Groups like Unseen Trails make the unusual their objective, offering up tours to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to spot some of the region’s more unusual inhabitants. Try your luck at spotting gazelles, oryx, and falcons in the desert wilderness before stopping off for a delicious local lunch. Morning tours are best booked if you want to stay out of the heat. 

Where To Get Your Cultural Fix

The recently opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi might be an hour and a half’s drive away, but it’s well worth a visit. As well as boasting pieces of art from Ancient Egypt and those created by the likes of Ai Weiwei, the museum is an architectural marvel. Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the building unveils itself slowly throughout the visit in subtle reveals. Everything comes to a head in the final, cathedral-esque space, topped off with its own lattice ceiling. Balancing light and shade to perfection, the museum is a contemporary masterpiece and merits a visit.


Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.