Between the desert and the Persian Gulf, the city of the future has sprung up. A city of steel, asphalt and glass capable of challenging the same time. It stops two hundred meters high when the forty degrees of temperature are relieved by immersing ourselves in the panoramic pool that shows what we are about to discover with the permission of the haze. But “there is no rush.” It seems the motto of the Aura skypool where we have come to stop to take the pulse of dubai. or rather the tempo. It appears to have accelerated in recent decades, with the emirate bent on to be at the top of luxury and sophistication at the beating of a checkbook, innovation and Guinness record. It is not trivial. Turning a sun-baked sandbank into the city of the future has merit, but turning an oil well into a tourist gem even more so.
Dubai has been chosen as the Number 1 World Destination in TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for the second year in a row. “This recognition supports the goal of the recently launched D33 Dubai Economic Agenda to cement Dubai’s status as one of the world’s top three destinations for tourism and business,” according to Dubai Tourism. In figures: the city has received 12.82 million international tourists between January and November 2022 and the goal is to reach 40 million by 2031.
But not everything runs at hypersonic speed in the newest metropolis in the United Arab Emirates. We head to the Middle East to discover the trendy venues that mark the new tempo of Dubai and the places that venerate the ancient.
The aura of the emirate
Let’s go back to the beginning. Imagine a hammock, yours; a cocktail and the rhythm deephouse with ethnic traces that surrounds the environment while, one after another, some wagyu sliders, a prawn yakitori from Singapore or a tuna nigiri arrive as a list of pan-Asian dishes that make up the gastronomic proposal of the lounge Aura. His motto: “the infinity pool tallest in the world”. We swim through the warm waters of this panoramic pool in a 360 degree tour around the perimeter of the 50th floor of The Palm Tower. Many influencers and applicants can search spots to let time pass with privileged views of the skyline from the city. We have found it. Its price: from 162 euros for the full day.
Each corner reveals a new scenario of this city capable of defying the laws of physics. We contemplate the silhouette of the gigantic artificial island The Palm Jumeirah, just below, an engineering whim that has been able to conceive an islet in the shape of a giant palm tree in the Persian Gulf. We also make out the residential complex of La Marina, where hundreds of yachts moor every day and dozens of Ferraris and Lamborghinis park every night. The sunset or sunrise is quite an event in the Aura, which is celebrated as a triumph while no one seems concerned about earthly problems from up here. But if we are talking about heights and vertical pleasures, we are talking about Burj Khalifa, which appears out of the sandy mist, our next stop.
Burj Khalifa, vertical limit
We talk about tallest skyscraper in the worlda futuristic structure that rises to 828 meters high. The traveler soon discovers that talking about Guinness records in Dubai is nothing new. However, Burj Khalifa is not just a building, it is a city within another. Or the vertiginous height of Downtown Dubai. In this vertical microcosm we find the Dubai Mall at its base, a shopping center that occupies 111 hectares and offers the visitor a tour of more than 1,200 stores where the most cutting-edge brands could not be missing. It also has an aquarium, the SEGA theme park, 22 movie theaters and an underwater zoo as well as countless cafes, restaurants and entertainment spaces. indoors For those who need to escape the sweltering heat.
One of the most popular shows in Dubai today is to witness the festival of lights and music that accompanies the aquatic display of its fountain. In other words; a choreography of jets that exceed 150 meters in height to the sound of music or a mix between elegance and tacky that is difficult to distinguish, but always worth witnessing. This is Dubai.
But without a doubt, what deserves a chapter on the trip to the emirate is going up to the observatory at the topthe highest in the world (it would be missing more), arranged on a large terrace located at the 124th level of the Burj Khalifa.
The restaurant under the sea
Sated the vertical pleasures, we descend to the depths. For dinner? The restaurant ossiano. Its headquarters: the Atlantis Hotel. This peculiar five-star, located at the end of The Palm Jumeirah, aims to immerse the guest in the domain of King Neptune and its greatest asset to achieve this is this Michelin Star that appears on the wish list of all good foodie. We found out why.
the celebrity chef Gregoire Berger has returned to the helm of the restaurant to establish its progressive haute cuisine that pays homage to the riches of the ocean and coastlines around the world. In the words of the chef: “We hope to take guests on an immersive and emotional journey.”
Diners are swept away from the moment they arrive in this space located ten meters deep and in the middle of one of the largest aquariums in the world. Imagine dining surrounded by hundreds of sharks. In this way, the ocean environment surrounds the 50 diners who come together in Ossiano.
Ossiano’s nine-to-eleven wave tasting menu is guided by Berger’s lifelong respect for seasonality, terroir and seafood, all sustainably sourced within fifty kilometers of shoreline. From Brittany to the most distant ports. Berger’s travel and childhood memories are the protagonists on the menu metanoia with phantasmagorical elaborations like Back to where the mist meets the sea; Life begins at the end of the comfort zone either On the path of nostalgia. “This menu combines my passion for sustainably sourcing the best products from our oceans with my love for storytelling and challenging the senses,” says the chef. Price: from 275 euros.
The Museum of the Future
This museum space opened its doors last year to take the visitor on a journey back in time to the year 2071. The Museum of the Future (MOTF) has become one of the hallmarks of the new Dubai, located in an avant-garde architectural complex designed by Shaun Killa, with 1,024 pieces of steel that make up this ovoid-shaped puzzle without pillars, with Arabic calligraphy cladding that acts as glass windows that let in light from the outside. Inside, we inquire among its various interactive rooms that explore the possible evolution of society in the coming decades through science and technology.
A “living museum” incorporating elements of traditional exhibitions, immersive theater and attractions themed on the future of travel and life in space, climate change and ecology, health, wellness and spirituality.
The beach club and the endless summer
Dubai does not have the beaches of the Caribbean or French Polynesia, but it does beach club. And they are well worth a hole in your schedule, either at a connecting stop on this hub or on a proper getaway to the United Arab Emirates. One of its temples is the Drift Beach Dubai which, since its opening, has become another magnetic point for the jet set and trend-seekers.
We enter one of the most elegant beach destinations in the city, which presents itself to the guest with its calm atmosphere, without crowds and a cozy design with organic traces where relaxation becomes a dogma and enjoyment an obligation. It is located in the One&Only Royal Mirage hotel in Al Sufouh. In addition to his pool overlooking the Dubai Marina and its long sandbankhis sun loungers where you lose track of time and of his sessions of chill outhighlights the gastronomic proposal from your restaurant. What does she taste like? Fresh ingredients that give rise to simple preparations with memories of French Provence paired perfectly with the innovative cocktail menu by mixologist Ruslan Svezhenko. We are talking about one of those corners to disappear or to be seen. You will decide.
We say goodbye for a moment of so much luxury and sophistication to explore the bowels of old Dubai. The city was born as a port for the sale of pearls around its estuary and that is where we will go to find its hidden essence in the bazaar. We start the tour at the Al Fahidi district which protects the historic quarter of the emirate and which takes its name from the fort built in the 18th century, now converted into the Dubai Museum.
In it alseef district, in the surroundings of the estuary, an area with historical buildings is combined with another with contemporary ones while we find different souks such as the one for spices, the one for textiles and the one for gold or the mecca of bargaining in the Persian Gulf. It is obligatory to take a barge to cross the Abra channel and go to the Arabian Tea House to try the authentic gastronomy of the area in proposals such as manakish (Arabic pizza) or luqaimat (crispy fritters).
But if we talk about looking for the most original essence of Dubai, we will head towards the desert. Let’s not forget that the city is trapped between the waters of the Persian Gulf and Rub al-Jali, the fifth largest desert in the world, with 650,000 km2.
We venture to explore this remote environment dominated by the oryx, the protected antelope that stands as a national symbol, on a 4×4 tour run by the Platinum Heritage company. In this luxury safari, in addition to touring the desert and discovering its biodiversity, we will visit a Bedouin camp where you can try the local cuisine, music and dances among the different traditions of this nomadic tribe hidden among the dunes.