Some might sneer at Dubai for its man-made marvels; others seek it out for the guaranteed sunshine, the luxurious hotels, the malls, the restaurants and the accessibility from London. Best is to take a weekend there as you fly through en route to somewhere far-flung and enjoy a city which is all about, not the C of culture, but the C of convenience; not the S of sights, but the S of shopping. For those who want to dally longer, a visit to the desert for lunch and an afternoon of falconry is a pleasingly exotic side trip with sightings of Arabian oryx and gazelles guaranteed as well, of course, as camels. Give it a chance and you’ll be surprised, says Mary Lussiana…
The Weekender: Discover Dubai
If you choose to stay in town, make the most of the private beach at Dubai’s latest, sleekest, most seductive hotel, the Bulgari, and when dusk comes head over to Dubai’s extraordinary fountain. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed fountain, shooting water 500ft into the air, illuminated by 6,600 lights and accompanied by classical, contemporary Arab or world music. For music of an operatic kind, check the programme at the 2,000-seat Dubai Opera which has performances throughout the year. But in between the other diversions make sure to leave enough time to dip into the vibrant food scene. Most of the heavyweight chefs have an outpost here, creating a dazzling range of culinary possibilities.
The Bulgari, with its decorative theme of white coral courtesy of designers Antonio Citterio and Patrica Viel, is a brilliant new addition to the city. Excellent service and the rooms are vast and luxurious.
Don’t miss the Dubai Frame. Made from glass, steel, aluminium and reinforced concrete, it’s hardly likely as it is an architectural landmark 150 metres tall and 105 metres wide, but once there, snap away.
Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara in the Burj Al Arab delivers sublime dishes from wild turbot with seaweed mashed potato to Cornish scallops with mushroom risotto in the setting of the aquarium.
Spend the day at the ultra luxurious, Arabian style One&Only Royal Mirage comprising of three resorts set across 65 acres of grounds. Enjoy a stroll around the lush gardens taking in the impressive fountains, palm trees (there are 1000 in total) and 1km of private beach. Amongst the 15 restaurants and bars is Provence-inspired DRIFT beach club – dine on sea bream en papillote and drink Miraval rosé at the before spending the afternoon relaxing by the pool or at the beach. Enjoy a romantic evening meal at three Michelin starred chef Mauro Colagreco’s Beach Bar and Grill; the Royal Seafood Platter starter is a must. After dinner, recline on “Majilis” style cushion seating in atmospheric The Courtyards with a shisha, digestif or tea.
The Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest, encompassing an aquarium and underwater zoo alongside the designer shops. Alternatively, head to the Gold Mall where watches and jewellery are yours for the picking.
Scott Dunn offers a seven-night stay at Bulgari Resort, from £2,100pp B&B, based on two people sharing a Superior Room, and includes flights and private transfers throughout. 020 8682 5070
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