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Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

Let the festivities begin!

One of the world’s grandest festive occasions is right around the corner. Diwali, meaning “row of light”, marks five days of joyous cheer celebrated by friends and family. It is during this period that Hindus adorn their homes with blossoming marigolds and a wide variety of candles to commemorate the return of the Hindu god Rama to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years. Dubai, being home to nationalities and religions from far and wide, offers a wide range of dining and entertainment options suitable for all cultural and traditional celebrations. Want to make Diwali a little extra special this year? Here are our picks of the best dining destinations for the occasion.  

Bombay Brasserie

In addition to its spirited murals and unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa, Bombay Brasserie at Taj Dubai offers a lavish blend of traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine. Enjoy the breathtaking fireworks display this festive season while you indulge in rich, aromatic flavours. Each dish promises to deliver an authentic Indian experience that’s well-suited for this joyous occasion.

Bombay Brasserie, Taj Dubai, Burj Khalifa Street, Business Bay, 04 438 3222, eatapp.co

Basanti & Co.

Celebrate Diwali in style at Basanti & Co. at Bluewaters Island. It’s the prime location to enjoy the astonishing fireworks display and the magnificent Bluewaters Street Festival while feasting on classic Indian fare. Top off your evening with a craft cocktail from the in-house lounge or a delightful gulab jamun from the dessert menu.

Basanti & Co., Bluewaters Island, 04 557 6947, [email protected]

Farzi Café

Located at City Walk in Al Safa, this beloved spot offers an elevated gourmet experience that will take your culinary journey to new heights. The gastronomic array of traditional classics fused with global delights at Farzi Café reinterprets Indian cuisine in the most unexpected ways. Additionally, the restaurant shines with the glow of diyas and fairy lights during Diwali to truly pay tribute to this major holiday.  

Farzi Café, Dubai City Walk II, Al Safa St., 04 394 2556, [email protected]

farzi cafe

Source: @khyberdubai

Khyber

This award-winning restaurant situated in the heart of Palm Jumeirah stays true to its Indian identity through awe-inspiring murals, vibrant décor, and unmatched North Indian food and beverages. Share the festive spirit with company at Khyber by treating yourselves to scrumptious vegetarian delights such as the paneer tikka and makai ki tikki.

Khyber, Dukes The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, 04 455 1101, [email protected]

Patiala

No matter which special occasion calls for a splurge, this elegant spot at Souk Al Bahar has you covered. Patiala’s sophisticated setting and relaxed ambiance is just the right choice if you prefer a more laidback celebration. Sit back and take pleasure in well-loved Punjabi classics accompanied by service that reflects exuberant Indian hospitality. Take your taste buds on a sensory experience this festive season with the signature vegetarian delicacies such as the dum ke khumb and garbar falooda.

Patiala, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, 04 451 9151, [email protected]

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No, This Is Not Your Typical Advent Calendar

Let the 24 days of giving back begin!

‘Tis the season of overindulgence, late nights, and way too many social events, but at Gaggler, we’re doing things a little differently, taking this holiday season to give back instead. Here, our 2022 advent calendar will help you mark the 24 days until Christmas by conserving our oceans, educating a child, empowering underprivileged women, and more. Click on each image to get started.

December 1: Plant a Seed

With its ability to stay green in harsh desert environments, Ghaf is the country's national tree because of its cultural significance. Now, not only can you plant a seed with the help of social enterprise Goumbook, but you can also join its Community Planting Day and plant it yourself. Learn more at www.goumbook.com

December 2: Repair Local Reefs

Are you a diver, an underwater photographer, a marine biology student, or a marine biologist? Support the marine conservation efforts of Freestyle Divers by joining its environmental monitoring programmes to get involved with protecting local reefs. Learn more at www.freestyledivers.me

December 3: Enrich a Life

While there are no statistics available on the number of people diagnosed with autism in the UAE, we know that it's on the rise, so volunteer with Dubai Autism Center if helping those with special needs is something close to your heart and you have time to spare. Learn more at www.dubaiautismcenter.ae.

December 4: Educate a Child

Operating 1,687 schools across Pakistan, The Citizens Foundation has been educating children from underprivileged families since 1995, and you can support the cause by sponsoring a child's education or an entire classroom. Learn more at www.tcf.org.pk.

December 5: Caffeinate Differently

The Bee Café in Abu Dhabi is the first in the country to be operated entirely by people of determination, so supporting it with a visit is a must-do. The café is part of the Bee the Change campaign, which aims to increase the employment of people of determination. Learn more at @beethe_change on Instagram.

December 6: Save a Preemie

The world loses a newborn every 10 seconds, so let's live in a world where all premature babies – including those from vulnerable populations – have access to an incubator by donating to the founders of the portable and life-saving Embrace incubator. Learn more at www.embraceglobal.org.

December 7: Offer a Safe Space

Skateistan has been empowering Afghan girls through skateboarding and education programmes since 2009 and, now, it's expanding to 20 locations – starting with Jordan. Help the award-winning international NGO write its next chapter by making a donation. Learn more at www.skateistan.org.

December 8: Scour the Seas

Whether you sign up as a temporary or permanent volunteer, you can make a difference for the local dolphin population by volunteering with UAE Dolphin Project. As for why your help is needed? Not only are dolphins “ecological indicators” of the status of the sea, but sightings have also declined drastically in the past few years. Learn more at www.uaedolphinproject.org.

December 9: Empower Underprivileged Women

Empowering underprivileged women through sustainable crafts, Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts deserves your patronage. Looking for unique Christmas gifts? Head to its e-store and opt for something that features Sadu, a traditional weaving technique that plays a central role in the social lives of Bedouin women. Learn more at www.alghadeeruaecrafts.ae.

December 10: Gift a Meal

Partnering with UAE Food Bank to guarantee responsible distribution, the Gift a Meal initiative is on a mission to ensure that no one ever misses a lunch. Join the movement to help feed an individual in need – gifting a meal will only cost you AED 10. Learn more at www.makemymeal.ae.

December 11: Help a Sister

The first licensed non-profit shelter in the UAE that runs specifically for the care of women and children, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is always seeking volunteers who are professionals and highly skilled in educational, vocational, and recreational training, so lend a hand if you fit the bill. Learn more at www.dfwac.ae.

December 12: Remember the Forgotten

SmartLife is an NPO/NGO that reciprocates the immense hard work of blue collar workers by educating them to walk towards a better tomorrow and unleashing their hidden potential. As for how you can chip in? Anything from donating your time and passion to help to sharing creative ideas and marketing skills. Learn more at www.smartlifefoundation.org.

December 13: Buy a Doll

For each personalised doll sold that you purchase from Dumyé, a doll is gifted to a child in need. Not only can you choose your ethically handcrafted doll’s body colour, eye colour, hair colour, and hairstyle – that’s over 140 unique combinations at your fingertips – but it also makes for a present suited to a budding philanthropist. Learn more at www.dumye.com.

December 14: Grant a Wish

Make-A-Wish exists for only one reason – to grant wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions. You can make a difference to a child's life by volunteering as a wish granter, an office worker, a translator, a fundraiser, a speaker, or event staff member. Learn more at www.makeawish.ae.

December 15: Raise Awareness

Pink Caravan is a UAE-based breast cancer initiative that falls under Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) for early detection of cancer, and you can play your part in raising awareness about this disease by donating money, registering as a volunteer, or even joining the medical team. Learn more at www.linktr.ee/pinkcaravan.

December 16: Serve the Sick

Equip a struggling hospital or clinic by making a financial donation to Project C.U.R.E., the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment and supplies to resource-limited communities across the globe – it has been serving the sick and dying in over 135 countries since 1987. Learn more at www.projectcure.org.

December 17: Support Health Equity

Another global non-profit rooted in improving public health, PATH comprises a global team of innovators working to accelerate health equity by advising and partnering with public institutions, businesses, grassroots groups, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. Donate now and your contribution will be matched – win-win. Learn more at www.path.org.

December 18: Protect the Planet

Shop with purpose by turning to Azraq's e-store for essentials like soap, shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable face masks, and more. The Dubai-based organisation is on a mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem and species. Learn more at www.azraqme.org.

December 19: Start Fundraising

The first licensed online donation and crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, YallaGive is all about fundraising with a smile. Campaigning for a charity or a personal cause? Start fundraising through the platform or donate to one of its many active campaigns to make a difference. Learn more at www.yallagive.com.

December 20: Join the Movement

Like the idea of simultaneously looking cool and giving back? Not only is the activewear and streetwear clothing by The Giving Movement entirely sustainable and made in the UAE, but the brand also donates AED 15 to its partner charities for every single item sold. This is conscious consumerism at its best. Learn more at www.thegivingmovement.com.

December 21: Break the Cycle

A locally based philanthropic organisation with a global outlook, Dubai Cares has been on a mission to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring all children have access to quality education since its inception in 2007. Here in the UAE, you can participate in initiatives that are linked to its global mandate – Walk for Education, Volunteer Emirates. and Volunteer Globally included. Learn more at www.dubaicares.ae.

December 22: Donate Your Locks

This holiday season, chop your locks in the name of making a cancer survivor more beautiful and confident – and what could be more beautiful than that? Enter: Locks of Hope, a campaign that provides wigs to individuals who have undergone chemotherapy with the help of both DHL and Friends of Cancer Patients. Learn more at www.focp.ae.

December 23: Get Social

With the need for improved animal welfare more urgent than ever, you can help the dedicated staff at Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre. Unable to adopt or foster a pet? Volunteer! You can head there to socialise with its adorable animals, taking the dogs for walks or spending time with the cats. Learn more at www.rakawc.com.

December 24: Save a Life

Founded in 1986, the Dubai Health Authority's Blood Donation Center is the city's main blood donation center and committed to providing a safe supply of blood to all DHA hospitals and private hospitals in Dubai. You can also donate platelets, a type of blood cell that is essential for blood clotting and helps the likes of leukemia patients and premature babies. Learn more at www.dha.gov.ae.
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Wooden Live Well

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for December

Mark your calendars.

December 3: Rediscover Dubai

Explore a side of the city that you may not know with the UAE National Day Food & Chai Tour. Guided by three homegrown brands that are passionate about exploring the city and showcasing street flavours – Frying Pan Adventures, Project Chaiwala, and Rove Hotel – you’ll head to one of Dubai’s most historic neighbourhoods for three hours of traditional snacks and local tidbits.

Learn more here.

December 4: Understand Scent

You know the region’s love of perfume – now roll up your sleeves and actually make one yourself at the Arabic Perfume Making Workshop led by social enterprise alBeqsha. Conducted in English, the hour-long session will be held at art and events space The Workshop in Jumeirah.

Learn more here.

December 10: Watch This Space

Movie screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout the month of December, with the independent cinema platform in Alserkal Avenue hosting a flawlessly curated selection of movies. Also on the roster? Making Waves, the globe-trotting film programme celebrating Hong Kong cinematic arts by showcasing an eight-film programme from December 9 to 14.

Learn more here.

December 12: Heal from Heartbreak

Coping with the breakdown or end of a committed romantic relationship is never easy, and there could be collateral damage, but healing is made a little easier with the free Heartbreak Support Group at The LightHouse Arabia. Designed for men and women over the age of 21, it’s led by a clinical psychologist and aims to provide a safe space to share, connect, seek support, and explore the challenges that come with break-ups.

Learn more here.

December 15: Take a Walk

Hone your street photography skills with the Creekside: Street Photography photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques to overcome unfavourable lighting conditions – regardless of the camera or cell phone in use – and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you on a route through Dubai Creek that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

December 16: Catch a Classic

The festive season brings with it a Christmas favourite as The Nutcracker returns from Russia to Dubai Opera. A treat for the whole family, Moscow Ballet “La Classique” pairs its artistic ballet mastery with lavish costumes and magnificent stage sets to take you on a journey back in time to the beautifully nostalgic world of Clara and her beloved nutcracker doll.

Learn more here.

December 20: Feel Festive

For a festive twist on a quintessentially English tradition, book your spot at the Christmas Afternoon Tea hosted by Anything To Eclair on BreakBread. Expect to dine on Sausage Rolls, Cranberry & Kumquat Scones, and Black Forest Yule Log alongside a selection of teas and mulled wine.

Learn more here.

December 24: Cultivate Awareness

According to Mayan belief, working with cacao – a.k.a. food of the gods – allows one to cultivate awareness on an emotional and spiritual level, guiding you in the direction that you need to take. And that’s where the Heart Opening Cacao Ceremony & Sound Healing Journey at Yoga House comes in. Led by energy, sound, and breathwork practitioner Lisa Oxford, the ceremony will open your heart in order to release what no longer serves you.

Learn more here.

December 27: Ring in 2023

With 2023 on the horizon, make a beeline for the Casting Your Visions meditation session at Illuminations. Led by healer therapist and life coach Jana Reddy, this hour-long New Year meditation ritual will help your visions come true by rooted your resolutions in a resounding ‘why’ so that they’re not lost after a few months.

Learn more here.

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Best Places to Travel in 2023

Your 2023 Travel Plans Will Change After This

All hail Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel guide.

The travel gurus at Lonely Planet have released their annual Best in Travel report, detailing their top picks for tourists in 2023. This time around, however, they’ve done things a little differently. Instead of simply sharing their recommendations on where we should be travelling, they’ve sorted 30 must-visit destinations by trip type – Eat, Journey, Unwind, Connect, and Learn – to help you find your next adventure. 

Offering a comprehensive set of itineraries to help travellers explore the world, the new edit is sure to help you navigate the world in the way that’s most meaningful to you – through recommendations from the local voices who know these places best. Cities in Canada, Germany, Japan, Peru, and Malaysia made the cut. How many are on your bucket list?

Eat

This category features destinations that boast exciting culinary scenes ranging from dynamic street food to fine-dining experiences – each perfect for the travelling foodie. Lima, the capital of Peru, is on the list owing to its famed cevicherías and Pisco cocktails, while Umbria in Italy was chosen as its culinary delights are complemented by art and old-world traditions. Further east, both the Japanese city of Fukuoka and the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur made the cut owing to internationally renowned Hakata ramen and food stall-lined streets respectively.

Over in South America, improved airlinks will make access to Montevideo – the capital and largest city of Uruguay – much easier, paving the way for tourists to explore its laidback beaches and under-the-radar food and wine scene. Lastly, complementing its internationally known (and loved) vineyards, South Africa’s new generation of chefs is propelling the country’s culinary scene forward, making it a destination to visit not just for wine, but food as well.

2023 travel plans

Journey

This category is all about those journeys that are transformative, trips that truly move a traveller. Nova Scotia in Canada was selected owing to its postcard-perfect communities that dot its shores and call for a journey of driving between seaside villages. And with the fully restored Trans Bhutan Trail reopening to visitors in September, Bhutan is also on this list, the 250 miles of scenic footpath offering visitors a unique perspective of this Asian country. Elsewhere, Colombia’s 59 protected natural areas – Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia – have been dubbed a must for nature lovers. Along with protecting some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, 26 of these areas are also inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

Unsurprisingly, a train journey is also on the list – the recently restored overnight service between Sofia and Istanbul whirls two adventures into one, leaving the place where east meets west in Istanbul and depositing travellers in Bulgaria’s laidback capital city 11 hours later. And with Australia now open to the world, the mind-blowingly large region of Western Australia comes highly recommended. Looking to swim on the ledge of a mighty waterfall? Spot wildlife? It’s surprising that Zambia is less visited than other spots on the continent of Africa, and Lonely Planet is ready to remedy that.

best travel destinations 2023

Unwind

Sometimes, you need a trip where you can unwind and reconnect with yourself, your partner, your family or just the world around you. As for the destinations where you will relax and rebalance, according to team Lonely Planet? Jordan, a place where you can experience the buzz of Amman before unwinding in places like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. Dominica, a lesser-visited island in the Caribbean and also known as Nature Island. Another lesser-known region on the list? Northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula, which stretches into the Aegean Sea and offers blissful beaches that are an idyllic setting to relax and unwind.

Back in the Caribbean, Jamaica wins the hearts of travel experts thanks to its beautiful white sand beaches, scenic mountain peaks, waterfalls, and rivers, making it the perfect spot to unwind. Malta in Europe is also expected to increase in popularity come 2023, beckoning visitors with its prehistoric temples, fantastic scuba diving, and buzzy capital of Valletta. Lastly, Raja Ampat is a great alternative to better-known Indonesian islands – the best way to see its coral reefs, excellent diving, and beautiful beaches is by chartering a ‘liveaboard’ dive boat and heading out to sea for several days.

best destinations to discover in 2023

Connect

The energy of the destinations in this category will take you on an adventure, connecting you to both culture and community. In Accra, Ghana, await bustling markets, new community spaces like skate parks, and creative spaces for artists plus a nightlife set to great music. The natural beauty of Albania will take your breath away – it’s one of the few places where you can start your day in the mountains and end it at the sea. Back in Australia, a destination that international visitors have missed during the pandemic, new Indigenous tours over the bridge make Sydney worth returning to.

Culturally connected to the Caribbean, Guyana is an under-the-radar South American country that is 90% rainforest and a great place to see unspoiled nature and incredible waterfalls. Alternatively, you can head to Alaska for not only spectacular wildlife, but also an opportunity to learn about native culture and witness indigenous groups managing authentic tourism experiences that also embrace sustainability. Boise, a mid-sized city in America, beckons adventure travellers. Between water rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter, and a rich culinary scene, it is a great place for connection.

best destinations to discover

Learn

Travel always opens us up to new experiences, and Lonely Planet has shortlisted six places where your best souvenir is what you learn, starting with the state of New Mexico. Home to 23 native tribes, this is an ideal spot to learn about indigenous culture, art, and music while enjoying the food and natural beauty of the American Southwest. Further south, El Salvador is quietly becoming the place where those in the know come to catch waves and hone their surfing skills owing to its idyllic beaches.

Over in Germany, Dresden’s urban renewal continues in 2023 with the second phase of renovations of the Altmarkt (central square) to include more accessibility and climate protection measures. Just over three hours away, Marseille is both beachy and urban, French and Mediterranean, modern and historic. Go for the beach, but linger for its diverse neighbourhoods, street art, and architectural tours. Finally, Manchester and Southern Scotland round off this edit. The former will welcome the return of Manchester Museum and the opening of Factory International arts space in 2023. The latter is a great region in which to learn more about the country’s history and famous residents like writer Robert Burns.

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Wellness Calendar for November

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for November

Mark your calendars.

November 1: Speak Up

We all know the impact and importance of interpersonal relationships – and that’s where the Open Communication workshop at Illuminations comes in. Led by intuitive healer and spiritual teacher Neus Ventura, the session will focus on both personal relationships and healthy partnerships, guiding participants on how to effectively communicate about everything ranging from everyday nuisances to more serious matters.

Learn more here.

November 5: Follow the Glow

Candlelight Concerts bring the magic of unique, one-of-a-kind concerts played by flickering candlelight to locations worldwide – which now includes Dubai. The upcoming 65-minute performance will feature the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and more alongside a ballerina performance at The Theatre in Mall of The Emirates.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

Choreographer Boris Eifman has mastered the tragicomedy genre. Case in point: The Pygmalion Effect, a ballet interpretation of the archetypical story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his creation, a statue of a beautiful young woman. Two productions will run at Dubai Opera across two days, November 7 and 8.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

November 8: Dive Into Design

Design buffs have reason to celebrate once again as Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest creative festival, returns for its eighth season. Expect everything from experimental mediums and talks to temporary pop-ups, workshops, and even children’s activities. This year’s edition is focused on designing a sustainable future, so the theme ‘Design With Impact’ will entail a series of immersive installations that demonstrate innovative design thinking.

Learn more here.

November 12: Make a Connection

Alserkal Art Week returns to Alserkal Avenue, this time spanning nine days of art and design. Reminding us that everything eventually intersects, the event will feature thought-provoking exhibitions, a Majlis Talks programme, intriguing slow art walks by curators, conversations with artists, and more.

Learn more here.

November 18: Swing and Sway

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from exhibitions and yoga classes to breathwork meditation sessions. We’re marking our calendars for the immersive Jazz Music Night, a unique 90-minute jazz performance accented with stunning 360-degree projections.

Learn more here.

Swing and Sway

November 20: Take a Walk

Explore a side of Dubai you may not have seen and hone your street photography skills with the Karama: People & Places photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques for difficult lighting conditions and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you through a route in Karama that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

November 21: Grasp Your Grief

Grief is a truly complex process and affects us all – now start to understand it. The LightHouse Arabia is hosting its annual Evening of Remembrance from 6pm to 8pm, designed to help participants understand the nature of grief, its impact, and how to support someone who is grieving. The event will take place both in-person and online via Zoom.

Learn more here.

November 25: Test Your Palate

If you love chocolate and drink coffee, but have no idea what the term “single origin” means, the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop is perfect for you. Hosted by artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam, it features samples of chocolate from the Maps collection as well as single drip V60 coffees from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Brazil. You’ll receive not only instructions and handouts, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.

Learn more here.

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European Cities to Visit in Winter

5 European Capitals That Are Better in Winter

Winter layers at the ready.

Just as we are celebrating the long-awaited return of cooler temperatures, we’re faced with the question that inevitably returns: where will I travel over the upcoming holidays? And while getaways to Oman, Sri Lanka, and Zanzibar are always a good idea, this year, we suggest packing a couple of layers and heading to Europe instead. For starters, Dubai residents tend to visit European cities exclusively in the summer, thereby missing out on the charm that comes with scenic snowy landscapes and bustling Christmas markets. And let’s not forget the joys of exploring a new city when fewer crowds and lower hotel rates are a given. Let the planning begin.

Amsterdam, Holland

Everyone and their mother wants to be in Amsterdam come summer – and for good reason. But the Dutch capital is equally appealing during winter. It’s less crowded, thereby giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate its vibrant cultural scene, third wave cafés, and obscure antique stores in peace. And with Christmas celebrations spanning the month of December, the festive cheer in the air is palpable. Bonus: the historic canals sometimes freeze, giving lucky locals and visitors alike a chance to walk or ice-skate on a veritable symbol of the city.

Stay at: Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam for its storied setting, a 100-year-old building that served as the headquarters for a number of shipping companies and is now a national monument.

Amsterdam, Holland

Berlin, Germany

The German capital translates to one thing in December: the very best Christmas markets on the planet. With nearly 80 markets in Berlin alone – and an estimated 2,000 across Germany as a whole – this city is a no-brainer if you’re looking to travel over the holiday season. Elsewhere, the city is known for its progressive vibe, dark past, audacious art and culture scene, anything-goes approach to nightlife, and diverse dining scene – none of which are hampered by lower temperatures.

Stay at: Hotel Bikini for its urban jungle ambiance, quirky-colourful guestrooms, and unexpected extras – all guests can borrow the hotel’s resident Mini Cooper for free.

Berlin, Germany

Prague, Czech Republic

There’s just something so charming about the Czech capital during winter – its distinct landscape of brick-red roofs church spires coated in powdery white snow, the nostalgia of a lamplighter clad in period clothing manually lighting up the gas lamps on Charles Bridge, endless opportunities for ice-skating amongst Baroque-style buildings, and nightly performances of The Nutcracker at National Theater in December. As for the hot and hearty dishes of Czech cuisine? The perfect accompaniment to chilly weather.

Stay at: Golden Well Hotel for a journey back to simpler times, courtesy of art deco touches, masterful reproductions of centuries old furniture, and location below the walls of Prague Castle.

Prague, Czech Republic, Best Winter Destination in Europe

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik earns a spot on this list for several reasons. Not only is it the northernmost country capital in the world, but it’s also well-versed in hosting visitors over winter. Here, you can bathe in the instantly recognisable Blue Lagoon, explore a glacier by snowmobile, go whale watching, or even chase the Northern Lights. Bonus: the Golden Circle – an easily explored route between three of Iceland’s most visited attractions – is accessible during colder months.

Stay at: 101 Hotel for its designer amenities, Instagrammable décor, central location, on-site art gallery, and – wait for it – underfloor heating.

Reykjavik, Iceland, Best Winter Destination in Europe

Vienna, Austria

Time and time again, the Austrian capital is voted as Europe’s best city, and lower temperatures do nothing to deter tourists. The city’s most famous attractions – think: St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, the iconic ferris wheel built-in 1897, the Museum of Natural History, and more – are all up and running come winter. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the famous Magic of Advent Christmas market that transforms City Hall Square into a whimsical winter wonderland can easily compete with the best of the best in Berlin.

Stay at: 25hours Hotel for a stay that blurs the line between imagination and reality thanks to touches of surrealism throughout – a bath on the balcony, swings instead of chairs, a saucepan instead of a washbasin.

Vienna, Austria
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Unique Outdoor Activities in the UAE

5 Unique Outdoor Activities to Try This Winter

Wake up from summer hibernation already!

With temperatures falling and winter approaching, it’s time to step out of the air conditioning and head outside. Here, we’ve compiled a list of five unique outdoor activities that you can try this winter in the UAE.

1. Freediving

Freediving

We’ve all heard of scuba diving, and you might have even tried it at some point. But what about freediving – a.k.a. diving without an oxygen tank? Sound impossible? You might be surprised. Anyone can learn to freedive and hold their breath for longer periods of time with the appropriate training. After all, humans have been doing it for centuries. Not only can you get closer to marine life without scaring them off with the bubbles from an oxygen tank, but you can also delve into a journey of personal exploration and learn to push your limits. Diving centres like Nemo Diving Center, Freediving UAE, and Deep Dive Dubai offer introductory courses for beginners.

2. Stargazing

Stargazing

Whether you’re into astronomy or merely want to try something new, stargazing is an exciting activity that can humble you to the grandeur of the universe. Observatories such as Al Thuraya Astronomy Center offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the cosmos through guided night sky observations and various shows. On the other hand, if you wish to venture into the wild – and have the expertise to do so – you can always head out to the vast swath of desert that is the Rub’ al Khali (otherwise called The Empty Quarter), where light pollution is minimal and stars are visible to the naked eye. You can also visit Al Quaa desert in Abu Dhabi, which is famous for being one of the best places in the country to view the Milky Way.

3. Dinner in the Sky

Dinner in the Sky

If you have a fear of heights, this one might not be for you. Located in Al Sufoh, Dinner in the Sky is one of the most unique restaurants in Dubai – if not the whole country. The experience involves being lifted 50 metres from the ground by a crane, after which you will be served a three-course meal with a view that’s hard to beat. Guests are secured with safety belts, and standing presenters and crews are attached to safety harnesses. The whole event lasts for 90 minutes, and 22 guests can be seated at once for a meal of a lifetime. 

4. Falconry

Falconry

Falconry is strongly intertwined with the UAE’s culture, so you can get a glimpse of this ancient tradition through a falconry show. Here, you can get up and close with these majestic birds and learn about various falconry techniques, watch displays of these birds in action, and handle the birds directly – all in a beautiful desert location. Head out to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, Wild Flight (which also offers a falconry course!), or any other centre that offers visitors a chance to interact with these unique creatures. 

5. Photo Walks

Photo Walks

Have a camera that’s collecting dust in some corner of your house? It’s time to put it to good use. Guided photo walks in the UAE take you through scenic or historic parts of the country with experts who can advise you on how to get the perfect shot. Not only will you get a chance to improve your camera skills, but you will also learn to look at familiar sights through a new lens (pun intended) – and maybe even make a few friends along the way! Check out Gulf Photo Plus and Aperture Tours to book a photo walk or head to meetup.com to find walks organised by shutterbugs in your community.

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diwali in abu dhabi

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi

Go all out for the Festival Of Lights.

In Abu Dhabi and looking to celebrate Diwali in style this month? We’ve curated a list of experiences ranging from fine dining to family fun to help you ring in the Festival of Lights with lights, colour, and sparkle. Diwali will take place on Monday, October 24 this year and will be one of the most significant holidays for Hindus who reside in the UAE.

Apart from the religious festivities, celebrations include decorating homes with clay lamps, known as diyas, and creating decorative patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand. Most important, though, is the quality time spent with family and friends and indulging in delicious food and desserts. Read on to make your plans. And if you’re in Dubai, don’t worry – there’s plenty to do there too.

Diwali in UAE

Martabaan

Head down to Emirates Palace this weekend to take in the air and enjoy an all-day outdoor street food adventure with six stalls showcasing Indian street food and sweets at the Diwali Mela from October 22-24 between 11am and 7pm. There will be special Diwali gifts for every table, as well as Martabaan sweet boxes are also available to purchase.

Martabaan, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 02 690 9000

Bollywood Parks

Bollywood Parks is at a prime location on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so it’s a great reason to stop by – whether you’re heading in or out of the capital. It really is a memorable destination on its own. It’s the first Bollywood-themed park in the world, and only 56 minutes from the heart of Abu Dhabi. The traditional Indian street dancers are the best part, along with the theatre performance that happens multiple times during the evening.

There is a lot to do apart from the customary performances. There’s the rocket-shaped gravity ride, carousels, vibrant hang gliders, and the Bollywood Sky Flyer, which holds the record for the largest swing ride in the world. From food and rides to just soaking in the vibes inspired by your favourite blockbusters, there is something for everyone at this theme park.

Bollywood Parks, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 800 262 9464, www.bollywoodparksdubai.com

diwali celebration in abu dhabi

Osmo Lounge

There is no better location than Osmo to celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi. Visit the terrace to enjoy a variety of healthy street snacks, nibbles, and treats while admiring the magnificent Yas Bay fireworks. Live stations will provide typical fare like chaat, pani puri, freshly grilled tandoori skewers, a variety of samosas, and tea. You can order off the à la carte menu or enjoy the benefits of the limitless meal and soft drink offer for just AED 200.

Osmo Lounge, Yas Bay, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 02 208 6900, www.hilton.com

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than to visit Yas Bay and take in the breathtaking fireworks display? You can enjoy this spectacle that will light up the sky on Monday, October 24. To experience a wonderful light show for the Festival of Lights, be there by 9pm.

Yas Bay Waterfront fireworks, Yas Island Yas West, Abu Dhabi, www.yasbay.ae

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

If you’re in Abu Dhabi for the weekend after Diwali, the Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island will continue to celebrate the Festival of Lights on October 29, and invites guests to enjoy a memorable Diwali. You can visit the spice market at Capila Pool Bar & Grill and DIY your own delicious chaat. The exquisite masala bike will serve tantalising Indian dishes while the tandoori BBQ will dish out succulent tikka. As no celebration is complete without dessert, guests can end their meal with indulgent Indian sweets. The Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island’s façade will come to life with a special 3D animated light show, and you’ll have a view of the fireworks at Yas Bay.

Capila Pool Bar & Grill, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, 02 208 6900, [email protected]

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Jet Ski Companies in Dubai

The 10 Best Jet Ski Companies in Dubai

Dubai is one of the best places in the world to jet ski because of the inviting Arabian Sea and iconic buildings in the background. Stay with us as we reveal the top 10 best places to jet ski in the city, allowing you to make the most of its famous landmarks while protecting both your wallet and your safety.

Ride in Dubai

With its array of packages on offer, Ride in Dubai is guaranteed to be one of the best jet ski services in Dubai. They also offer a sizable selection of jet ski and fly board combo sessions that last for an exhilarating two hours. Only professional-grade jet skis, fly board, and other equipment are used by Ride In Dubai, alongside an upgraded Kawasaki 1500cc 310r edition, in accordance with a quality service policy. TripAdvisor has awarded Ride in Dubai with a Certificate of Excellence. Additionally, this is the best jet ski service according to travelers as of 2021. Ride in Dubai also prides itself in offering the best equipment on the market, professional and experienced jetski & Flyboard teams and instructors, and quality service to its clients. Their flyboard sessions can be customized to suit your personal level. And has experienced Flyboard instructors that can assist and teach a first-timer, beginner, intermediate, or professional Flyboarder. They are indeed versatile in all water sports activities in Dubai and will make you enjoy your time at Ride In Dubai.

Ride in Dubai, Po Marinas Harbor, Jumeirah 4, Al Fintaas St, Umm Suqeim, Jumeirah 3, www.rideindubai.com

Hydro Water Sports

From The Walk, you can rent a jet ski and capture the natural coastline of Jumeirah Beach with its many fantastic hotels, Bluewaters Island (home to the world’s largest ferris wheel), and Palm Jumeirah. Additionally, it is especially stunning at night, when jetpacks illuminate the water.

Hydro Water Sports, Oceana Palm, Jumeirah, 054 598 5353, www.hydro-watersports.com

Jet Ski Dubai Adventures

In Dubai Marina, Jet Ski Dubai Adventures provides premium guided tours on the newest Yamaha Jet Skis. Jet skiing in Dubai Marina or in the Arabian Sea off of Jumeirah Beach are both options nearby at the Marina Byblos Hotel. Views of Atlantis The Palm, Burj Al Arab, and other opulent Dubai coastline landmarks can be seen during the jet ski tours.

Jet Ski Dubai, JBR, 052 708 3946, jetskidubai.ae

First Yacht

La Mer Beach – which has a large number of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues – is one of Dubai’s distinctive beaches. La Mer’s water sports by First Yacht is the best choice for a memorable jet ski experience. Along with other water sports, it also provides kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, and flyboarding.

First Yacht, La Mer, Jumeirah 1, 058 884 9240, www.firstyacht-me.com

Sun and Fun

Close to Umm Suqeim 2’s fishing harbor, Sun and Fun’s offerings are some of the best water sports in Dubai, and the prices and packages are unique because you can choose between three different tours: a jet ski tour of Burj Al Arab, a jet ski tour of Dubai Marina, or a jet ski tour of Atlantis The Palm and Palm Jumeirah island.

Sun and Fun Water Sports Dubai, 78 2 C St, 054 303 5799, sunandfun.ae/en/home

Popeye Jetski

Experience Dubai from a unique vantage point with Popeye Jetski, which will introduce you to the pleasure of jet skiing on the newest model of powerful jet skis while posing for photos at the foot of the most recognisable hotel in the world: Burj Al Arab.

Popeye Jet Ski, Fishing Harbour 2, Umm Suqueim 1, Jumeirah 4, 055 285 1012, www.popeyejetski.com

Nemo WaterSports

As one of the top jet ski rental companies in Dubai, Nemo WaterSports allows you to have an unforgettable vacation filled with the best marine activities. You can go on a jet ski tour as a family, a couple, a group of friends, or by yourself. You have the option to ride further to Jumeirah Beach Residence, the Dubai Marina skyline, the Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis The Palm, and Burj Khalifa. The tour circles around Dubai’s top attractions and skyscrapers.

Nemo WaterSports, Umm Suqeim Fishing Harbour, Umm Suqueim 2, Jumeirah Road, 050 471 7002, www.dubai-jetski.com

Sea Ride Dubai

Sea Ride Dubai has been in the jet ski scene for more than eight years, so you know that they are experienced. Additionally, they provide cutting-edge experiences with the newest jet ski models in complete safety. All necessary certifications are included with their safety equipment, so a memorable experience is guaranteed.

Sea Ride Dubai, Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah, Jumeirah 1, www.searide-dubai.com

Aqua Blue Jetski

One of the top jet ski companies in the city is Aqua Blue Jetski. From here, you can rent the renowned 1800cc Yamaha jet ski. Boasting a team with extensive training, expertise, and years of experience, they also offer kayaking, fishing excursions, and yacht rentals. Additionally, you can combine your jet ski tour with a flyboarding lesson.

Aqua Blue Jet Ski, Jumeirah 1, P & O Marinas Fishing Harbour, www.aquabluejetski.com

Beach Riders Dubai

The yacht excursions offered by Beach Riders Dubai are what they do best. However, they also offer fantastic deals on jet skiing and other adventure sports. They are one of the most well-known adventure activity companies in Dubai.

Beach Riders Dubai, Arabian Gulf Street, Dubai Marina, www.beachridersdubai.com

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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for October

Mark your calendars.


October 1: Laugh Aloud

If laughter really is the best medicine, then consider Riaad Moosa the cure. The South African doctor-turned-comedian famed for his observational humour returns to Dubai for one night of stand-up comedy at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. Audiences will also get a chance to attend a screening of the award-winning actor’s latest release, New Material, the sequel to his hit movie Material.

Learn more here.

October 3: Recognise the Signs

With the pandemic resulting in a rise of eating disorders worldwide, the Getting to Grips with Eating Disorders and Body Image webinar hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help university students, university educators, and young adults gain a better understanding of what an eating disorder is and how they develop. The session will help recognise the warning signs, learn about treatment, and learn practical tips for supporting young people with such issues.

Learn more here.

October 5: Lose Your Blues

A collision of singing, dancing, and plenty of laughs awaits as Footloose The Musical makes its way to Dubai Opera for four days of performances. Whether you’re loyal to the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon or only familiar with Craig Brewer’s 2011 remake for a new generation, this is a stage adaptation you don’t want to miss.

Learn more here.

October wellness events in Dubai

October 7: Broaden Your Perspective

At the intersection of art, science, and technology is Festival X, a one-of-a-kind event that hopes to attract and create a community of open-minded artists, scientists, and tech experts coming together and sharing knowledge. Taking place at Alserkal Avenue from October 7 to 9, it will feature exhibitions and talks (free to attend) alongside shows (priced AED 150) and workshops (priced AED 1,200).

Learn more here.

October 11: Go Green

Vegan or not, foodies across the city ought to experience the culinary prowess of French chef Vincent Caudet. We recommend booking the Fusion Vegan 5 Course Secret Menu, which encourages diners to keep an open mind and surf the vegan trend, returning to nature through a selection of 100% plant-based products.

Learn more here.

October 16: Embrace Imperfections

Take a cue from the Japanese and give a new lease of life to something broken during the guided kintsugi art workshop taking place at the upcoming UnleashYou Retreat. Held at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, this daylong event will also feature a coaching session using the art of mandalas and another that delves into the correlation between music and interpersonal relationships.

Learn more here.

Embrace Imperfections

October 25: Think Global

Impulse purchases, cultural performances, street food, extreme rides, and family-friendly attractions – if you want to pair the return of cooler weather with a little old-fashioned fun for all ages, Global Village is where it’s at. Season 27 is set to begin on October 25, bringing with it 80 different cultures across 26 pavilions as well as plenty of new entertainment offerings.

Learn more here.

October 27: Watch This Space

Advocating tolerance and unity through film, META Film Fest marks the first film festival to take place in the country in five years – and it promises to be a big one. Spanning three days, this brand new film festival will be held at Vox Cinemas at Nakheel Mall and feature movie premieres, international blockbusters, and regional feature films. Cast members and celebrities from the Arab world, Hollywood, Bollywood, and even Nollywood are expected to make an appearance on the red carpet.

Learn more here.

October 30: Catch a Classic

It’s never too early for young ones to develop a taste for ballet, especially if it’s a production that the whole family can enjoy. Enter: The Sleeping Beauty: A Bite Size Ballet at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. A unique spin on a classic, this 60-minute show is the perfect blend of classical elegance and immersive fun, capturing children’s attention and telling the story adapted specifically for younger audiences.

Learn more here.

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Places To Visit in Al Ain

6 Must-See Attractions in the Garden City

There’s more to Al Ain than palm trees.

Between its natural springs and palm groves, Al Ain offers endless appeal to those deprived of nature and desperate to escape city life for a few hours – especially with the return of cooler temperatures. But a closer look reveals that the capital’s garden city also boasts hidden gems, historical forts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an impressive showcase of wildlife, and plenty more. Here, we delve into six attractions worth visiting and who they’re best suited to.

Al Ain Oasis

for the nature enthusiast

Al Ain Oasis
Courtesy: Visit Abu Dhabi

We’d be remiss not to start with Al Ain Oasis, arguably known as garden city’s ultimate attraction owing to its tranquillity. Spread across 1,200 hectares and the first UNESCO World Heritage Site certified in the UAE, this oasis is famed for offering insights into the ancient ‘falaj’ irrigation system that brings water from the mountains via a complex system of underground and surface channels, and continues to nourish it today. It’s also our favourite place to immerse in nature; the many pathways within Al Ain Oasis are shaded by towering fruit trees (mango, orange, and fig among others) and more than 147,000 date palms. Bonus: you can explore the premises on foot, on horseback, or by bicycle.

Al Ain Camel Market

for the UAE newbie

Al Ain Camel Market

While it’s not entirely kind to the senses – dust, noise, and funky smells are admittedly a given – a trip to Al Ain Camel Market is the perfect way for new expats to immerse in the country’s true culture – camels have always been at the centre of life in the GCC, after all. The sheer spectacle of haggling and trading (these hoofed mammals are either suited to racing or purchased for breeding purposes) takes place early in the morning and is a sight worth catching, especially if a complete departure from life in Dubai is what you’re after.

Al Qattara Arts Centre

for the artsy type

Al Qattara Arts Centre

Housed within a traditional mudbrick residence and home to permanent exhibitions, archaeological findings, and classes (everything from painting and drawing to handicrafts and music sessions are on offer), Al Qattara Arts Centre has single-handedly elevated the arts scene of Al Ain. It’s also one of Al Ain’s leading events venues – this cultural landmark often marks milestones by showcasing the works of local artists or screening films by Emirati talent. The programming changes according to season, but regardless of what’s on the agenda, there’s plenty to while away a couple of hours.

Jebel Hafeet Beehive Tombs

for the adventurer

Jebel Hafeet Beehive Tombs
Courtesy: Alexander McNabb

Own a four-wheel drive and up for a little off-roading? The tombs at the base of Jebel Hafeet beckon. Believed to be 5,000 years old, these remnants of an ancient cemetery still contain the skeletal remains of Al Ain’s earliest inhabitants. Hundreds of dome-shaped tombs have been found in this area, with artefacts suggesting trade links with Iran, the Indus Valley (modern-day Pakistan and India), and ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). Getting here is half the adventure – a bumpy ride and a complete absence of facilities follows soon after you exit the roundabout when following Google Maps towards Jebel Hafeet National Park near the Mezyad Border Post.

Hili Archaeological Park

for the history buff 

Hili Archaeological Park
Courtesy: Sunil Kumar Nair

For a slice of history that’s more easily accessible – and recognised by UNESCO – Hili Archaeological Park is both family-friendly and furnished with extras like go-karts and tennis courts that accent the earliest known evidence of an agricultural village dating back to 3000 BCE. Elsewhere, the likes of tombs, strongholds, old dwellings, and irrigation systems also offer a glimpse into Al Ain’s Bronze Age and Iron Age past. Incidentally, the circular Hili Grand Tomb is considered the crown jewel of this sprawling park as it’s over 4,000 years old and the largest monument of its kind in terms of the size of stones used. Tip: be sure to linger by the two entrances until you spot the engravings depicting human and animal figures.

Al Ain Safari

for the animal lover

Al Ain Safari
Courtesy: Visit Abu Dhabi

While Al Ain Zoo needs no introduction (the beloved attraction has been operating since 1968), this 217-hectare park is yet to be discovered by many. Home to one of the world’s largest man-made safaris, it houses a range of African animals and closes to 2,500 plants. Adding a sense of place to the overall safari experience, meanwhile, are the Emirati guides who steer the SUVs – they have extensive knowledge of the vicinity’s flora and fauna (white rhinos and African lions included). And while activities like feeding the giraffes and dining at the edge of the park’s lion territory make for a memorable outing with the kids, it’s the conservation efforts that animal lovers will value most; critically endangered or locally extinct species such as the addax and scimitar oryx roam free in the wild here.

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