Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai
This palatial hotel is 100 percent pure Versace, from the bespoke fabrics to custom furnishings all in the inimitable Italian fashion house's signature style. With 215 rooms and suites, more than a hundred residences, eight restaurants and bars (each with an al fresco terrace), three outdoor pools, and unobstructed views of the Dubai Creek and the city skyline, it basically doesn’t get any fancier than this. Consider it a must-see, even if you just stop in for lunch and a stroll through their gorgeously manicured gardens.
The Ripe Market at Zabeel Park
Zabeel Park, Bur Dubai
Zabeel Park is one of Dubai’s largest—there’s a jogging path, a skateboard park, picnic areas, a boating lake, a mini-cricket pitch, children's playgrounds, wi-fi, and more than 3,000 palm trees. But the real draw is the Friday market, where you can shop for local, organic fruits and vegetables as well as goods from more than 100 local businesses selling specialty foods, clothes, and jewelry. There’s even a petting zoo for littles.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding
House 26, Al Mussallah Rd., Bur Dubai
One thing that's striking about Dubai is how brand-new everything is nearly everywhere in the city. The exception is the tip of the city that points toward Sharjah, sometimes referred to as—yes, Old Dubai. Water (Dubai Creek) divides this section into two main neighborhoods: Bur Dubai and Deira. Plan to spend a morning/afternoon exploring both, starting with SMCCU in the historic Fahidi district of Bur Dubai. Here, you'll see the oldest architecture in Dubai (meaning a couple hundreds years, but still, you'll feel a world away from the sleek Burj Khalifa—a mix of stone, tent, and palm tree structures that were home to the area's fishermen and pearl divers. The cultural center offers tours of the neighborhood, including Diwan Mosque (probably the only time women visitors will cover their hair—so it's a good idea to bring a scarf with you, but you can borrow one if you forget). What's really cool about SMCCU is they host breakfasts and lunches where visitors are invited to ask any and all questions about Emirati and Muslim culture. It can be a pretty fascinating experience—both learning more about different customs and traditions and…
The Sum of Us
Burj al Salam Trade Centre, Bur Dubai
From chef Tom Arnel and restaurateur Sergio Lopez, the same guys beind the eponymous Tom & Serg, this sleek-yet-charming venture offers the same gold standard service (and coffee). Tucked inside the ground floor of the Burj al Salam Trade Center, the gourmet café pretty much does it all: They bake our own bread (try their yeast-free sourdough), roast their own coffee, and prepare everything from scratch. It's both a great place to grab coffee and work, and casual dining destination in its own right—their extensive menu offers everything from chilled quinoa pudding to pistachio falafels with beetroot tahini to spiced corn and cod risotto. You'll also find a lot of vegan and dairy- and -gluten-free options.
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