A NOVICE’S GUIDE TO THE
DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL!
Dubai. The City of Lights. The city of endless possibilities. Truly the city that never sleeps! In Dubai, you can pretty much find any and everything your heart desires, which makes it a destination for a variety of vacation choices – solo travel, family, honeymoon, business – anything! With the holidays now upon us, there’s even more to dive into in the most populous city in the UAE. One of the main causes for celebration is the Dubai Shopping Festival!
To celebrate Dubai Shopping Festival’s 25th Anniversary, we’re here to share with you 25 ways to get the most out of all (and boy, do we mean ALL) the offers available for the duration of the festival, which starts on December 26th and carries on until February 1st, 2020!
Established in 1996, DSF is one of the first city-wide shopping festivals in the world, and the biggest one in the region. Promising to be grander than ever before, the festival will take over the city of Dubai with a calendar packed with established festival favourites, innovative experiences, world class concerts and events, world renowned brand activations, pop up markets, daily fireworks displays, and so much more.
THAT’S A LOT. WHERE DO I BEGIN?
Having so much to choose from can sometimes be overwhelming, but don’t panic because we’ve put together a guide to all the best things to see, eat and do while you’re out there!
OK! LET’S GO!
FOOD AND DRINK:
This may be the land of excess but even then there is a way to narrow down the choice and that’s what we’re going to do for you!
So, instead of your run-of-the-mill meal experience, why not take things to the next level and include some pizzazz? With these restaurants, you’ll get dinner and a show!
1. BRUNCH AT COYA: Bottomless drinks (mocktails for the non-drinkers too), a DJ playing, guacamole at the table and delicious Peruvian food? This place has all the makings a filling experience.
2. TING IRIE: Dubai has become home to many Jamaican creatives, restaurateurs, chefs and more! At Ting Irie, one of the authentically Jamaican restaurants (owned, run by and chef’d by), you not only get that cosy island feel, but you also get the welcoming energy and good vibes that the Caribbean islands are known to exude. With an all-inclusive staff, Nigerians will be pleased to find some of their kinfolk in this establishment and, if you play your cards right, there may even be a dance-off to go along with the incredibly delicious food and drink you’ll be consuming.
3. AL HADHEERAH RESTAURANT AT BAB AL SHAMS RESORT: Out in the desert, under the cloak of night, with a few stars peeking through, you’ll experience the real combination of dinner and a show! Sit underneath the stars in the night sky, enjoy a very literal all-you-can-eat buffet, experience the exhilaration and frustration of getting a Turkish ice cream and then sit back and enjoy the exciting show of dance, theatre and music! A night at Bab Al Shams is a great way to spend an evening in the UAE.
4. NIGHTJAR COFFEE: Nestled in a warehouse in Al Serkal, which is the burgeoning art and culture district of Dubai, NightJar is a coffee lovers haven. The interior mimics that fancy bar you can find in any fancy city, but instead provides you with something far different that just a convoluted cocktail that takes 20 minutes to make. Nightjar offers some of the most audacious coffee mixes you’ve ever tried. Couple that with a delicious selection from their food menu and have yourself a full lunch experience.
THINGS TO DO:
5. DUBAI FRAME: Looking north through the frame are the older districts of Dubai, looking south are the modern buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road and Downtown Dubai. Standing at 150 metres, this architectural landmark, is said to be the largest frame in the world. It takes you high above the city (elevation is a theme here), and gives you an incredible aerial view of just how stunning Dubai actually is! When you get back down to ground level, be sure to stay for the amazing short documentary that shows you what the future of Dubai could look like. It’s immersive, informative and just plain cool!
6. MIRACLE GARDEN: Boasting over 72,000 square metres – making it the world’s largest natural flower garden – and featuring over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants, Dubai’s Miracle Garden is a spectacle of artistic prowess in a way you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And when you get inside, there’s so much to get lost from the trampoline park to the hilltop from which you get a breathtaking 360 of all the floral creations, to the butterfly passage, and as if that’s not enough, there’s always an event to get involved in!
7. GLOBAL VILLAGE: Heralded as the number one destination for culture and activities, Dubai’s Global Village is a seasonal multicultural festival park with cultural features and highlights from over 90 countries!
8. OLD DUBAI: In the heart of Dubai, reside the locals; those whose lineage have been part of the fabric of Dubai since the 19th Century. If you want to get a glimpse into the heart of this city, then a visit to Old Dubai is a rich and authentic way to dive into it. Be sure to go with a well-informed guide who can share some of the city’s rich history as you explore the side of the city very few visitors get to see!
9. SPICE SOUK: Located in Deira, in Old Dubai, the spice souk is home to a variety of fragrances and spices from myrrh and saffron to the many herbs used in Arabic and South Asian food. All the way down you’ll find all sorts of exciting traditional remedies for daily needs.
10. GOLD SOUK: Beware, you can get so immersed in the jewellery district of Deira and you’ll find yourself snapping out of it, hours later! This market is an ostentatious display of all sorts of predominantly gold – but also silver and precious stone. Best to go with someone who has a lay of the land so you can appropriately negotiate prices!
11. SHEIKH MOHAMMED CENTRE FOR CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING (SMCCU): Described as a “non-profit organisation which promotes awareness of Emirati culture, customs, traditions and religion among expatriates and foreign visitors in the United Arab Emirates, as well as aiming to remove cultural barriers.” The SMCCU is an understated space in Old Dubai in which your first encounter is a family style eating area where visitors eat and interact with the museum’s guide who encourages everyone to ask questions about culture and tradition in the UAE. It is an opportunity to informally – and without any judgement – discuss beliefs, cultures and more, all while eating delicious food!
12. LOTUS YACHT: For the ones who fancy a more luxurious experience, why not hop on board the Lotus Yacht for a cruise around the city at night, while eating delicious food and being entertained by some of the finest musicians and DJs the city has to offer!
13. AT THE TOP, BURJ KHALIFA: Afraid of heights, look away now! For the rest of you, the top of the Burj Khalifa, is one of the best ways to view the city (and see the islands too). Experience panoramic views of the city of Dubai from the 125th and 148th floor of the tallest building in the world (at 830m)! Stop for some lunch while you’re in there and be sure to find the wings for a great photo op!
14. LIVE EVENTS: Truly the city that never sleeps (eat your heart out, New York), Dubai has a wealth of live events for every kind of interest. From music shows to floral parades and everything in between, be sure to check out Dubai’s city guide to see what’s happening while you’re visiting and, with the DSF sales on, you can be certain you’ll get tickets for amazing prices.
15. THE WALK AT JUMEIRAH BEACH RESIDENCE: The popular promenade located in Jumeirah Beach Residence on Dubai Marina, The Walk has a wealth of restaurants, bars, shops and more for you to spend a whole day at. Plus there’s a boardwalk with henna parlours, food and ice cream trucks, benches to sit and admire the views and so much more!
16. SAND AND SUN: There’s no shortage of beaches for you to splay out with a book, your loved ones, some good music and more! Find one that perfectly fits your energy and spend the day getting some much needed Vitamin D!
17. MALL OF THE EMIRATES: The world’s first shopping resort and Dubai’s first super-mall, the Mall of the Emirates is more than your typical shopping experience! Home to over 630+ brands, Ski Dubai (skiing? In the desert? Yes!), cinemas, grocery stores, and restaurants, there is so much to experience at Mall of the Emirates. If you’re a more straightforward shopper, this is the place for you – bypassing the overwhelming feeling of large crowds and tricky maps, you’ll experience shopping much like the residents do!
18. DUBAI MALL: Legend has it, that you can’t do the full length and breadth of Dubai Mall in one day! But why would you want to, when you can spread it out over the course of your trip? With over 1,200 shops, the Dubai Fountain, the aquarium and underwater zoo, and numerous restaurants and bars, there’s so much to immerse yourself in here!
But wait, there’s a bit more for you to consider!
WHERE TO STAY:
There is no shortage of accommodation options in Dubai but here’s a list of a few close to the action:
19. THE ADDRESS HOTELS: When in the city, you might find yourself getting just a little bit confused by the number of Address hotels there are but don’t fret, they all in close proximity to the heart of Dubai so all you need to do is choose which one has the type of room you’re looking for!
20. A great way to narrow down your choices is to use apps and websites like BOOKING.COM to find the best options to match your specifications and budget!
21. And if you’re the independent type who don’t need no room service, then why not check out AIRBNB for some self-catering accommodation options!
22. Sure, all the activities are well and good but you might be wondering just how to get there? Don’t fret, EMIRATES has daily flights to Dubai!
24. UBER x TAXI
AND THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE BEFORE YOU JET OFF?
Be sure to carry the local currency – UAE DIRHAMS – as you’re able to get around with more ease!
Now, go forth and have yourself a fantastic time in the City of Lights while enjoying all the brilliant deals that come with Dubai Shopping Festival!
Photography: Seye Kehinde for Genevieve Magazine
Special thanks to: Dubai Tourism, Dubai Shopping Festival, Mall of the Emirates, Ting Irie, The Address Downtown Hotel, Uber UAE.