This is how I felt about Dubai. It had become a traveling buzz-word destination, perhaps even a tourist’s cliché. I saw it on every IG page and read it in every traveling magazine. What was this lure of gargantuan malls, indoor ski facilities, imported penguins, and high-end shopping all in the middle of the desert that was so attracting? My best friend and I packed up our backpacks and decided on a 7 day stint to hit just the ‘knowns’ and see how we’d like it.
About my best friend and I. As traveling companions go, I could not ask for a better partner. Our challenge, however, is choosing a place for our annual escape. As a tropical person, my compass always points beach, while she’d prefer rainy days in London, dipping and diving between European architecture. But having grown up together since the age of four, we are plenty used to the compromise, and this is why Dubai was a perfect match for us. I got to lay by the Arabian Sea and bronze myself under the desert sun while capturing sunsets like no other, while she was able to shop in Plymouth-size malls, watch water fountains that dance, and gape under the height of what is the world's tallest building. Not failing to mention how safe we both felt as female travelers alone in the middle-east, we both whole-heartedly agree that we found our perfect destination, you might say, an Arabian Heaven.
Just as I was returning from Dubai, my grandmother sent me a 36 Hours article written by Seth Sherwood from the New York Times on Dubai. I actually read the article as I was unpacking my sandy laundry load, and nodded a resounding ‘yes’ while reading. It consisted of a top ten list of things to do on the weekend. I will highlight two things from his list, and do a couple of additional ‘Tiff’ add-ons.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Dubai has beach parks which are really impressive to me. With the equivalent of $3.00 USD (about 10 dirham) you can lay out on the beach, have access to cafes, cook out, view beautiful botanical gardens, and enjoy a few rides. Most of the local hotels have free shuttles to and from the parks on any given day and several have ‘women’s day’ so as a female, you can go and enjoy the kiss of the sun without the voyeuristic spying of men.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)
Imagine the sexiest city walk or boardwalk in your favorite beach town, then add a little Arabian swag with a camel ride down the strip. Very touristy, and where most of the expats hang out, but some of the best people watching you’ll do in the city.
Tip: The Arabian weeknd is Friday, Saturday, not Saturday, Sunday, so if you want to avoid crowds, Sunday is a great day to have more beach to yourself. And of course seashell pick by the sea’s shore.