dubai: no taxes and no cold weather, what’s not to love?

visitng dubai has always been on my bucket-list and recently, i finally got a chance to go. what an incredible city: warm weather, an abundance of nice rooftop lounges, and beach clubs everywhere. my perfect city! definitely a bit excessive at times (aka the indoor snowboarding hill found inside a mall, plus the huge aquarium complete with sharks and diving cages, also found at a mall) but this city has it all. if north america and asia had a baby, they’d name it dubai. it was surprisingly clean, which was a shock to me because most cities in the world that i visit usually aren’t (i’m looking at you new york). it’s an expensive city, but with good reason, and at least the salaries people make there match up. friends that live there are making much more than they would doing the same jobs here in canada, and no one gets taxed on what they earn, which makes a massive difference! there’s also an extensive expatriate community there, which i found really refreshing and comforting, probably because of the way i grew up as a tck. amina, one of my best friends that currently lives there, put together the perfect itinerary for my vacation.

bliss lounge at the sheraton on jbr

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bliss was one of the first places i went to during my trip, and i fell in love immediately. i couldn’t believe that such a place was just a short walk from my friend’s apartment! it reminded me of beach clubs in bali and embodied the definition of “vacation” perfectly. beds right on the beach, waiters coming right up to your bed to serve you food and drinks, deep, chill, house music (accompanied by a live saxophonist), and the softest sand beneath your feet. i know the sand is technically “fake”, but it felt as real as the softest, whitest sand i’ve stepped on in tropical islands in asia. i ordered the rainbow roll and the sushi was surprisingly decent, i was not expecting to find quality sushi in dubai.

barasti

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barasti is another beach club that we went to – not quite as classy as bliss, but still relaxing and fun nonetheless. how casual it is was actually quite refreshing, because most places in dubai won’t let you in without proper footwear (aka no flipflops) and a reservation. great drink and food specials during happy hour, and turns into quite the outdoor beach club at night – there’s nothing like dancing to awesome house music while being barefoot on the sand.

shades at the address hotel (dubai marina)

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the address hotels are a huge chain of upscale hotels in dubai, and one of amina’s clients for work. a rocket pesto linguini with prawns from shades makes the perfect lunch. paired with a drink, on a bed, poolside with a view… you can’t really ask for more.

the palace (address hotel downtown)

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the palace is also part of the address hotel chain, and another place we went for poolside drinks… but this time in tents.

helio

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helio is a place i discovered on my own, while amina was at work one day. it was right on the marina, which looks similar to vancouver’s seawall because it was designed by the same guy. i ordered besara (a traditional egyptian recipe made with puree of skinless foul blended with dill, herbs and garlic, topped with crispy fried onions) that came with pita bread, and my own personal shisha (which is very common there, i swear the air just permanently smells like shisha).

barracuda (on jumeirah road)

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my friend mace took me to this amazing seafood restaurant where we were able to pick our own fresh items and have them cooked. it reminded me a lot of jimbaran in bali. we ordered an assortment of prawns, fish, and clams, along with the side salads and pita bread. i was wondering where the alcohol was on the menu, and mace informed me that no restaurants in dubai could serve alcohol since it was illegal, and that the only places that were allowed to serve alcohol were the ones in hotels. ohhhhh that’s why we were always drinking in hotels! 

tom & serg

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cute contemporary brunch place that originated in australia. i ordered the smoked salmon and poached eggs on zucchini fritters, with hollandaise a side of avocado. it was delicious, gluten-free, and they served great coffee there too.

atmosphere at the burj khalifa

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atmosphere is the lounge on top of the burj khalifa, the tallest building in the world. i can’t even explain how incredible it feels to be up that high. there’s something so calming about being so far from the rest of the world. the lounge has a wooden interior, and i felt like i was on a private jet or a high-class yacht. we had window seats and made it right in time to watch the sunset. these stuffed olives (one of the better bar olives i’ve had in my life) and smoked almonds (they almost tasted like meat) were served with our drinks, and both were incredible tasting.

armani lounge

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also located inside the burj was the armani lounge. your dubai experience isn’t complete until you’ve had a glass of champagne here.

i went to a few more places that aren’t pictured here: mall of the emirates, the dubai mall (the biggest mall in the world), a “dive bar” (which was still really nice and located in a hotel) to watch the hockey game, the le meridien for poolside drinks to the sunset (where we also saw peacocks just randomly roaming around), and also to eat at maya, the mexican restaurant there (we sneakily got in without having proper reservations), and some restaurant next to the burj, which had a great view of the fountain show. one week in dubai definitely wasn’t enough time and there’s so much more i want to do (like the all you can eat and drink brunch at atlantis, the palm) but not to worry… dubai, i’ll be back.

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