Truffle tasting, lessons in literature and fat-biking through the desert…here’s what we’ll be doing with our downtime this weekend
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11
Truffle fans, take note. W Dubai’s supremely-Instagrammable Italian restaurant, Torno Subito has launched a truffle-based tasting menu, available exclusively for the month of February. A five-course sharing spectacular, Il Tartufo – which means ‘The Truffle’ – comprises an array of delectable, truffle inspired dishes, including Uovo, a poached egg dish with Parmigiano foam, asparagus, mushroom chips, and truffle; the Chef’s Favourite, featuring warm focaccia with creamy mozzarella, robiola cheese and truffl; handmade Tagliolino pasta, with porcini mushroom essence and, naturally, more truffle; Wagyu cheek, with potato and truffle puree, spinach and truffle sauce and Crema ice cream – an unexpectedly yummy combination of, vanilla, hot cherries, and truffle – to finish. Better still, order two Il Tartufo tasting menus to your table and you’ll receive a complimentary bottle of house grape. Priced AED499 per menu, call 04 245 5800 to book.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 12
If you missed the main part of this year’s Emirates Festival of Literature, you still have a chance to immerse yourself in regional arts excellence during its closing weekend this Friday and Saturday. Taking place in Dubai’s creative heart of Al Serkal Avenue, the final two days of the annual arts extravaganza celebrates both the written and spoken word, and includes literary sessions from around the world, workshops, poetry and community events that the whole family can enjoy. Highlights include appearances from Lemn Sissay, author and diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash, the Fashion, Football & Feminism session featuring Hafsa Lodi and FIFA coach Houriya Altaheri, and the beautiful Festival finale. For more information, and to get your tickets, visit emirateslitfest.com
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13
Fancy a spot of desert exploration on two wheels? Then make your way to The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert Nature Reserve to try out a guided desert tour on the resort’s very own luxury electronic Fat bikes. A secluded oasis set amongst 500 hectares of desert conservation, the new E-Fat Bike tours offer a unique way to see the desert and provide a workout for beginner and experienced bike riders alike. Boasting 26 inch tires, and a 48V motor, the specially-designed Super 1000 Desert E-Fat bikes have five speed levels and can go up to 40 kilometres per hour, allowing for either a leisurely or a thrilling ride, meaning you can tackle the toughest of dunes at any given moment. Guided by experienced rangers, aside from the magnificent desert landscape to enjoy, guests can learn about the flora, fauna and wildlife along the route, with the chance of meeting resident Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelles that roam free through the dunes along the way. Guided tours are priced AED 250 per person per hour, AED 400 per couple per hour, AED 400 per person for two hours or AED 700 per couple for two hours. For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com
Landlocked in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is a magnet for trekkers owing to its alpine wilderness. Bordering Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and China, it remains untouched by mass tourism (for now), making it the ideal destination if a little adventure is in order. September is widely considered the best month to visit Kyrgyzstan as the crowds start to dissipate, and the weather is still warm enough for hiking and horse riding. But Kyrgyzstan doesn’t just cater to outdoorsy types – it’s also a land where Silk Road sites, a crumbling Soviet legacy, and a rich nomadic culture coexist. Here’s how to take in a bit of everything.
You’ll likely fly into Kyrgyzstan via Manas International Airport, and soon see why a jaunt in this often-overlooked capital is mandatory. For starters, Bishkek is set in the foothills of Tien Shan, so it won’t be long until your first sighting of this majestic mountain range. Moments of beauty also await at its public parks and wide, tree-lined avenues – a legacy of the Soviet era. Russophile or not, you’ll also appreciate its architectural oddities and their equally curious backstories, many of which are clustered together.
Built-in 1976, the UFO-like Kyrgyz State Circus welcomed performers from around the world and functions to this day. It’s a testimony to the role played by the circus in the Soviet Union – the first stationary circus of Russia opened back in 1877, adapting street entertainment to the aristocracy’s tastes. Nearby, the Wedding Palace stands as a reminder of the days when religion (“the opium of the masses”) was banned. Pointy and pompous, this glass-and-marble venue was designed as a compromise between communist authorities and those furious about not being able to wed in religious establishments like mosques and cathedrals. Victory Square, tame in comparison and dedicated to the victory over Nazi Germany, is also in the vicinity.
Prefer to join a guided walk? With themes spanning the likes of ‘Mosaics of Bishkek’, ‘Soviet Architecture of Bishkek’, and ‘The Making of Industrial Bishkek’, opt for those led by Bishkek Walks. All that walking will inevitably work up an appetite, and a meal at Navat or Faiza makes for a great introduction to Kyrgyz cuisine – think: fist-sized dumplings stuffed with mutton (manti), homemade noodles with a meaty stew (laghman), and fermented mare’s milk (kumis). Admittedly, the latter – foamy and uniquely sour – is an acquired taste. And if you’re looking to sample Kyrgyz snacks like kurut and samsa while immersed in local life, Osh Bazaar is the one to beat.
Incidentally, Bishkek is also ideally placed to explore a few of Kyrgyzstan’s most popular spots. Less than an hour away, Ala Archa National Park contains trails that accommodate varying fitness levels and is beloved for its striking gorge and array of juniper trees. Burana Tower and Konorchek Canyon, meanwhile, are commonly paired by tour operators, accenting a trip to the ancient city of Balasagun’s remains with a landscape of red rock formations. As for those with a penchant for the unusual? Catch a marshrutka to Issyk-Ata, where the 131-year-old Issyk-Ata Sanatorium feels like a time capsule, but is still very much operational – strange therapies and all. On the menu is everything from radon baths to full-body massages and even mud electrocution, but visitors can simply walk around the premises to get off the beaten track, Soviet-style.
A complete contrast to the odd, angular, brutalist architecture of Bishkek are the felt-and-wool yurts anchored with the help of birch wood poles. They’re a vital part of nomadic culture, so a trip to Kyrgyzstan without at least a night of yurt camping would be incomplete. The southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake – the world’s second largest saline lake – offers plenty in terms of natural wonders, many of which are easily accessed following a stay at Bel-Tam Yurt Camp.
Here, you can sunbathe by the lake, catch a folklore show around the nightly bonfire, or take a horseback ride – with creature comforts like hot showers and eco-friendly toilets to boot. The definitive experience, however, has to be the Salbuurun demonstration. Recalling the days when golden eagles, taigan dogs, and bows and arrows were utilised to capture animals for food, it depicts authentic hunting traditions (so be warned that a sacrificial rabbit is involved).
The city of Karakol is under three hours away from the camp, so you can cross off a couple of key attractions in only a matter of hours, starting with the dramatic Fairy Tale Canyon. A mere 30 minutes away is the small settlement of Barskoon, where both a towering waterfall and a giant boulder carved into the head of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin make for great photography subjects. From here, it’s just over an hour until you reach the unique Seven Bulls rock formation – and inevitably hear the related legend about a man’s infatuation gone awry – before calling it a night in Karakol.
Is Karakol the most underrated city of Kyrgyzstan? Hint: yes. Most travellers merely view it as a gateway to conquer the mountains or take a rest from them, hightailing it out of the city as fast as possible – much to their detriment. Easily explored on foot and full of unexpected discoveries, Karakol boasts an unmissable dining experience: the Dungan Village Visit & Family Dinner. The ancestors of the Dungan (Chinese-Muslim) community fled persecution in China back in the 1800s, escaping to Kyrgyzstan via the Tien Shan mountains in brutal conditions.
Today, a visit to the home of a local family entails a veritable feast (including ashlan-fu, a spicy noodle dish that’s served cold and absolutely delicious) alongside insights into their way of life in modern-day Kyrgyzstan. While you’re around, make the time to visit the architecturally ambiguous Dungan Mosque, too. Built by Chinese artisans between 1907 and 1910 for the local Dungan community, it is entirely constructed without any nails and reflects their Buddhist roots – a pagoda in place of a minaret, for example. And while the exhibits within Karakol History Museum aren’t quite as interesting, it’s worth a visit as it houses a permanent photography exhibition of Swiss adventurer Ella Maillart’s work.
As Europe’s first documented solo female traveller in Central Asia, her black-and-white photos depict the minutiae of everyday life during her 1932 expedition, back before the region fell under the Soviet Union’s reign. Elsewhere, the past is also alive and well at the aptly named Antique Shop, the definitive pit stop for anyone looking to secure a piece of communist kitsch. A word to the wise: owner-collector Alexandr Korablev knows the story behind every item, so linger and get a better sense of your finds. More conventional souvenirs can be purchased at EthnoMir (embroidered slippers and locally made chocolate) and One Village One Product (felt toys, organic soaps, and a wide selection of jam and honey).
Arguably, the country’s most fascinating day trip originates in Karakol, taking visitors through the mountainous Chon-Ashuu pass (3,822m) to the eerie ghost town of Engilchek. This once-thriving mining town was home to 5,000 inhabitants, but quickly forgotten with the Soviet Union’s collapse. A handful of residents remain, living amongst debris and decay. You’ll need a permit to visit Engilchek as it’s in a buffer zone close to the border with China, but don’t let that deter you – the team at Visit Karakol can facilitate your journey to this truly remote corner of Kyrgyzstan.
If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s referring to summers in Dubai as “slow and sleepy”. Whether it’s the green season of Salalah, the vibrant cultural scene of London, or the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Baku, residents hightail it out of the city as soon as the mercury rises, travelling far and wide in search of respite. This summer, however, was surprisingly eventful, bringing with it a whole host of new openings across dining, fitness, hospitality, entertainment, and more. Let’s catch you up.
Dubai got a little sweeter over the summer, courtesy of Margaux’s arrival. The intimate new pastry boutique at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam offers a decadent selection of tarts, millefeuille, and more – all of which can all be ordered online and delivered to your home. It’s located just off the hotel’s main lobby, and accented with the likes of feminine detailing, ornate mirrors, and soft lighting. As for its elegant shopfront? Adorned with delicate pastries and desserts collectively transporting guests to the heart of Paris, where the cobblestone streets are paved with chic bakeries and chocolatiers. Expect to indulge in the likes of tiramisu, pistachio flan, button cake, and chocolate eclairs.
2. Horror Cinema
While we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cinematic experiences (Cinema Akil for leading foreign films, Theatre by Rhodes for films with a side of fine dining), there was never a space dedicated to those with an appetite for horror movies – until now. Aptly named Horror Cinema, this new opening in Indigo Sky building screens cult favourites from the genre (IT, Rings, Insidious, and Insidious: Chapter 2) in an intimate environment. But you’ll have to brace yourself as the experience is designed to immerse visitors in a world of scares at every turn, starting with a scary check-in and a seating area reminiscent of a haunted house. Expect a series of flashes, splashes, and high-tech special effects for an evening like no other in Dubai.
3. Blended Wellness
Our growing quest for wellness brings with it the launch of Blended Wellness. Located at Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, it is an innovative, all-encompassing collective of purpose-built health, fitness, and beauty experiences, pioneering a new way of thinking that challenges the ideology of perfection. The lifestyle concept not only caters to both mental and physical health, but also introduces the country’s first traditional Russian banya. An innovative interpretation of a traditional Russian bathhouse, Dubanya brings the tradition to today, blending ancient cleansing and detoxifying practices with new-age health and wellness rituals. Elsewhere, a spa, a salon, an aesthetic clinic, a fitness centre, and a space dedicated to mental wellness collectively ensure a picture of holistic health.
Located at Pier 7, Bedrock is a new sports bar that’s here to redefine the face of sports bars in Dubai. A change of pace from the typical dark and dingy options, it pairs a fresh and stylish interior with a warm and friendly atmosphere, incredible food, high-tech indoor sports, and the perfect view of every unmissable sporting moment. Bedrock features 20 TV screens, the latest technology in darts, and the region’s best indoor golf simulator for the ultimate competitive socialising. Bedrock is also home to five state-of-the-art darts boards with digital scoring and game options, challenging traditional notions and bringing darts to a new generation.
5. Studio 14
While several gyms made their debut in recent months, Studio 14 in Umm Al Sheif stands out for its eco-friendly space inspired by nature. Catering to both children and adults, it houses high-tech machines that are not only effective, but also powered by the users themselves – thereby using zero electricity. As for the good news if you prefer to join workout classes? Each is limited to only six people in order to provide a more personalised experience. Studio 14’s eco-friendly outlook, meanwhile, is reflected in details such as green walls, recycled woods, and a retail selection that includes sustainable items like recyclable bags.
6. Roxy Xtreme
Not a fan of catching horror flicks in indie cinemas? Meet Roxy Xtreme, home to the biggest screen in the MENA region. Spanning 423 square metres, its screen is a whopping 60% bigger than a tennis court. Combine that with state-of-the-art laser projection, DOLBY ATMOS surround sound technology, and absurdly comfortable seats, and you’re looking at every cinephile’s dream destination. Not only will Roxy Xtreme screen an array of blockbusters, but also unmissable sporting events like the FIFA World Cup. Incidentally, the auditorium features 382 premium reclining seats in total, but those in the Director’s Boxes tier promise pure luxury; they’re fitted with heated seats, wireless phone chargers, shopping bag storage, and a personal swivel table.
7. Eva Beach House
In a case of culinary déjà vu, the line-up of restaurants at Palm West Beach continues to grow, catering to just about every occasion and palate possible. Case in point: Eva Beach House, a beachside destination celebrating the bliss of Tulum-style seaside dining. The aesthetics of this new venue feature airy and draped elements in shades of clotted cream and earthy brown, complemented by wooden accents and all manner of cacti, creating a spot of escape from the city’s frenzy. Bathed in natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows, it also allows the breathtaking skyline views to steal the spotlight. Meanwhile, a rich selection of the day’s catch, dry-aged meat, and a menu rooted in diversity promise a treat for the taste buds.
Between the likes of Dream, Papillon, and The Theater, the city’s nocturnal landscape now offers more than simply bars and nightclubs. 53 joined the line-up over the summer, and it’s officially the highest dinner show in the region. Pairing a refined culinary approach with world-class nightlife and entertainment, it promises to redefine the experiential dining experience in Dubai as it’s the brainchild of a team of innovators and experts in event production. With its stunning interiors with views over the skyline from its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, patrons are invited to enjoy sundowners from an early evening that will evolve into a night to remember. Incidentally, the dinner shows take place across a multitude of elevated stages, giving the opportunity to all guests to immerse in all the elements of the venue without taking focus away from the dining experience.
9. Salmon Guru
It hails from Madrid and boasts the #24 spot on the World’s Best Bars list – and there isn’t a hint of salmon on the menu. Meet Salmon Guru, a quirky new concept located at The Opus by OMNIYAT. Named to express the ability of going upstream and against the flow, it was brought to the region thanks to legendary bar industry figurehead, Diego Cabrera. His vision? To recreate the intimate-yet-casual European experience of the original outpost in Dubai. To that end, he has personally designed this venue, infusing all his creativity into his first project outside of Spain. Here, guests can immerse themselves in the unique drinks execution by sitting in or behind the detailed open bar stations. The venue itself, while intimate, combines three distinct vibes: a ’60s Tropical Speakeasy section, an Asian Night Market, and a Comic Book themed area. In short, an evening riddled with escapism is promised.
As Dubai residents bid farewell to summer, returning to work and re-establishing routines, let’s talk about our homes and what they mean to us. Do you want your home to be a calm, peaceful sanctuary as you settle in? Do you ever feel like there is just stuff everywhere? Does the lack of space cause you anxiety? Do you feel frustrated when you can’t find that thing you need right now? Does the clutter drain your energy?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can relate to how much our environment has an impact on us, physically and mentally. It is so important that weregularly address these areas of clutter regularly – otherwise, the daily stress and frustration will cause us to not fully love our homes. Our homes are our sanctuaries and thus need nurturing. Here, we describe some simple steps on how to create the desired calmness. Give it a go and feel the difference!
As a professional home organiser, I have the expertise to create calmness from chaos. It’s not always an easy process, but it is life-changing when you get it right. Having a home that works for you, meets your needs, and brings you joy is what we strive for. Having a vision for your personal space will help you make a powerful change. As for getting started? Follow my five-step S.P.A.C.E method to declutter, organise, and calm your home.
WATCH THE VIDEO: The S.P.A.C.E Method
1. See it all.
You need to see all the items that are in a space, and you need to see the area clear of all things. Starting with a good stocktake of all the things you own will help you process what is actually in the space. Take each item out of the cupboards, drawers, baskets, and closets. Find a large open area – like the bed, the floor, or a table – where you can put all the items so that you can see them.
Once you have emptied the identified space, look at it with fresh eyes. How can you maximise the use of the area? What spaces were not used before? What storage works well? What useful things do you not have? Keep the answers to these questions in your mind as you go through the process.
2. Put the items into categories.
This can be the challenging part for some people as it is natural to resist change and not want to let things go. When decluttering, you need to be brave and make quick decisions. You need to seriously ask yourself how much you need each item in your life, and whether it make a difference to your happiness if you didn’t have it. Keep those things that bring you joy and that you cherish. Once you have gone through all your items, you should have them grouped in the following categories: Keep, Donate, Dispose, or Sell.
Keep – These items are those you use regularly and need to have in your home. They should add value to your life and be a part of the vision you have for your home. ‘Keep’ items can be put into two subcategories: regular use and storage. You may not use some items right now, but you definitely need to keep them. Some examples of this category are seasonal clothing, travel items, seasonal decorations, and outdoor equipment.
Donate – These items are of good quality and can be used by others. Giving away an item can help you let go as it is easier when you know someone else will benefit from it more than you do. Be mindful about what you donate and make sure it is in a condition that you would like to receive it in – clean and well-presented. There are many local charities that will take donations.
Dispose – These items should be those that no longer serve any purpose and cannot be used by anybody else. Recycle as much of this as possible. Safely dispose of glass, electronics, and medical items.
Sell – Successfully selling items is not always an easy feat. You will need to list it, be patient, and be prepared for various offers. Local community groups are often the easiest way to advertise goods, as are online platforms. These products need to be in a good condition and have a market value to attract buyers.
3. Allocate storage areas.
Once you have gone through all your belongings and put them into the above four categories, you have completed the most difficult step. Now we focus on the items you have chosen to keep and how to store them. Firstly, group similar items together to get a better understanding of what storage areas you require. Categories may include frequently used items, extra stock, and items that need to be stored in the long term.
Next, look at the room and analyse it. Which is the most functional and practical place to put an item? Go through all the spaces and make sure you have allocated a location for all the items that are meant to be in this space. During this process, you may find that some objects don’t actually belong in that room, and it would make more sense to store them elsewhere. Remove them from the spaceimmediately so that you remain focused on the area at hand.
4. Contain your belongings.
Containing your belongings is the fun part! Think about what style you like and choose container colours that will match the existing colours in the space. The safest shades are white, black, grey, or natural tones as they can be used elsewhere if needed. You may have an accent colour in the room, which you could use for your storage containers to unify the look.
There are endless types of containers you can use from simple baskets to custom cabinetry. I recommend looking at what you already have in your home. Some containers might be moved around from different rooms. You can also repurpose furniture items to suit your new storage needs. For example, a bookshelf in the bedroom might now be better suited to the living room. You will be surprised at what you might find when having a good look around your entire home, checking how well each furniture item is being used. Baskets, drawers with dividers, plastic bags, hooks, hangers, and boxes are all examples of things we can use to streamline the storage of items and keep things in their place. The main goal with containing items is that they are easy to identify, easy to access, and easy to put back in their place after use.
5. Evaluate and enjoy!
This is the most rewarding part of the process. Once you have organised all the items into purposeful storage, use the space for a few days and tweak the area if you feel some things need moving around. Staying organised and maintaining your space is a constant task. You need to put things back where they belong in order to keep the space tidy and neat.
To create a stylish look that you love, choose some of your favourite items to display in the space. Examples could be photos, sentimental pieces, and artwork. Add plants to bring nature indoors and scented candles to appease the senses. These additional accents will complete the feeling of a calm and organised area that is clutter-free. Finally, it is time to enjoy your peaceful new space!
If you would like to know more about how to calm that clutter, visitFern McGahey’s website or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
Getting out of bed on weekends is always a challenge, but there’s nothing like brunch to get anyone up and running! It’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with friends, family, or a special someone. Now, take your brunch game to the next level by sipping your mimosas while you feast your eyes on stunning city views. Here are five brunch spots in Dubai that win our vote.
Marina Social by Jason Atherton
Founded by Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton, Marina Social is more than just your typical restaurant. It redefines social dining through its open gallery concept and dessert bars that offers guests a peek into the magic that happens in the kitchen. This glamorous destination at InterContinental also features an exclusive ‘Social Table’ where its patrons can enjoy a unique dining experience that consists of only the best selection of champagne, teas, cigars, and more. Enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views of the city with your inner circle in this elegant joint – and don’t forget to share a side or two!
Marina Social by Jason Atherton, InterContinental Dubai Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St., Dubai Marina, 04 446 6664, [email protected]
CÉ LA VI Dubai
A classic stop among brunch lovers, Cé La Vi owns the spot for being one of the city’s best destinations for contemporary Asian cuisine. Its famous Brunch on 54 on Saturdays offers guests an elevated brunch experience that combines a gastronomic set menu, incomparable views of the Burj Khalifa, and groovy music to make the dining affair like no other. With the restaurant name taking its roots from the famous French saying c’est la vie – that’s life – this spot truly paints a picture of Dubai’s best.
CÉ LA VI, Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, 04 582 6111, [email protected]
This chic Dubai restaurant puts a twist on your usual brunch experience. Hola Rooftop transports its guests to the islands of Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca without ever leaving its premium spot atop The Meydan Hotel. The Mediterranean-inspired rooftop lounge offers delectable Spanish dishes paired with refreshing drinks and live entertainment with a remarkable golf course view in the backdrop.
Hola Rooftop, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba 1, 056 358 3333, rsrvit.com
Located at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Bubbalicious showcases over 10 live cooking stations in three restaurants within the resort: Baba, Sui Mui, and Mina’s Kitchen. With such a diverse selection, guests will be treated to a wide array of menu items that includes Indian and Asian dishes, seafood delicacies, mouth-watering roasts, and more. Don’t miss the roaming acrobats and live band sure to make this feast one to remember.
Bubbalicious, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina, 04 399 4141, www.marriott.com
MOOD Rooftop Lounge
Perched atop The Meydan Hotel, this lavish rooftop dining spot is a go-to for local and international flavours and a laid-back atmosphere that lets guests unwind and socialise with their companions. Each dish is proudly made with top-quality ingredients and prepared with utmost care from the kitchen to the table. Crowd favourites include the charred king prawn, veggie sushi, and the truffle chicken & mushroom pizza.
MOOD Rooftop Lounge, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba, 054 440 0227, www.moodrooftop.com
If you’re into cooking, exploring, or just enjoy a fish-out-of-water adventure(pun intended), Waterfront Market is a great place to spend an early morning. While away the hours checking out the different types of locally caught fish and meeting the melting pot of people who catch your fish in Dubai.
Cost: Free (fish not included)
Waterfront Market, Al Khaleej Road, 800 627 538
O’Pao is the definitive hidden gem in Karama, known for serving wallet-friendly sliders from the streets of Mumbai – a.k.a. O’ Vada Pao – at a bargain price of only AED 7 each! A literal treat for your taste buds, this vegetarian delight is made of a spiced potato dumpling, garnished with chutney, and sandwiched in a homemade bun.
Cost: AED 7
O’Pao, ground floor, behind Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, Karama, 04 349 6726
Hop on board a traditional abra and explore Dubai’s original downtown through the creek that cuts right through it. Did we mention that it only costs AED 1? Head out at sunset for the perfect Instagram picture, or take the time to reflect on Dubai’s evolution as you pass by the historic buildings of Al Fahidi and Al Seef. And if you rather cruise through the creek, you can even book an abra as a private charter for AED 120 per hour.
Cost: AED 1
Various abra stations across the creek
Make a Splash
With access to some hotel pools in Dubai costing up to a whopping AED 250, Barasti Beach pool is a perfect frugal hack. And trust us when we say the early bird definitely gets the worm – or a sun lounger in this case. Ladies, make sure to also look out for their ladies days to get an extra (sometimes, even free) bang for the buck!
Barasti Beach, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, 04 318 1313
But First, Coffee
Take a trip down memory lane in Old Dubai, courtesy of The Coffee Museum. What better way to celebrate the city than learning all about coffee and the rich history it has in Arabic culture?
Cost: Free entry
The Coffee Museum, Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood, 04 353 8777
The Cool Factor
If you’re looking for the perfect place to people-watch (we have spied the major artists, designers, and all-round cool kids of Dubai) then Dubai Design District is the place to see – and be seen. Stroll through this concrete and glass jungle, passing stunning art installations, homegrown designer boutiques, a skate park, and some of the best homegrown restaurants and bars along the way. Our favourites? The beloved One Life Kitchen and contemporary Indian eatery Mohalla.
Dubai Design District, adjacent to Business Bay
Blast from the Past
Located by the banks of Dubai Creek, Al Shindagha Museum offers fascinating insights into the UAE’s rich past. Step inside and discover various facets of Emirati culture and heritage from traditional remedies and food to the history of trade in the Dubai Creek. Bring friends or family along and avail the group ticket price of just AED 10 per person!
Cost: AED 5 for children, AED 15 for adults, AED 10 for a group of five
Al Shindagha Museum, near House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, 04 515 5336
Free as a Bird
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts, or those just looking for an epic photography site! This wetland reserve is home to several species like the grey heron, flamingo, and cormorant. A visit to the sanctuary also features the famous salt flats, mangroves, and lagoons. Our tip? Pack water, snacks, and sunscreen as this really is the perfect all-day adventure.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, Ras Al Khor Road, 800 900
Social Media Star
You’ll never look at Starbucks the same way after visiting the iconic branch in Al Seef. Located in the heart of the city, this one-of-a kind outpost has become one of the most talked about Starbucks locations thanks to TikTok and Instagram. Trust us, seeing is believing.
Cost: Free/Your Starbucks order
Starbucks, Al Seef, 04 419 0014
Another Woman’s Trash
If shopping is a sport, then a trip to Dubai Flea Market is an all-out war! Arm yourself with small notes (store holders love change) and make sure you get to the markets as soon as they open. We’ve picked up designer shoes for as little as AED 10 – true story!
Cost: Free entry
Dubai Flea Market, various locations across Dubai, click here for schedule of upcoming events
This hotel needs no introduction – anyone who has spent some time in the UAE is sure to have heard of Emirates Palace. Featuring over a hundred domes, chandeliers, and meticulous architectural craftsmanship, it is an ode to an ornate past and a symbol of Arab hospitality. While booking a room and dining at the hotel is likely to leave a dent in your wallet, the actual hotel is open to visitors free of charge, so get your phone and start clicking!
Est Corniche Road, 02 690 9000, Emirates Palace
Take a walk in the green gardens of Umm Al Emarat Park after a long week of work for some budget R&R. The park boasts several gardens, a promenade, and even a shade house for when it’s too hot – all for AED 10! Aside from being a great space to de-stress, the park frequently hosts al fresco markets, has dedicated children’s gardens, and houses an animal barn and petting zoo with animals such as camels, ponies, and emu birds, making it perfect for the whole family.
Cost: AED 10
15th Street, Mushrif Area, 02 666 9559, Umm Al Emarat Park
You can find some of the UAE’s oldest cafeterias in the city’s capital, so enjoy a late night AED 7 shawarma and an AED 4 juice named after a landmark of Abu Dhabi. Immerse yourself in local culture and rub shoulders with a melting pot of different nationalities as you all enjoy some cheap eats.
Cost: Starting at AED 4
Cafeterias are located around Abu Dhabi, check out Google reviews to see local favourites
All That Jazz
Whether you’re a huge fan of jazz or couldn’t name a single jazz song, Jazz & Fizz Bar is the place to be from 8pm to midnight on Wednesdays. Ladies get three free drinks and 50 percent off food while listening to the best live jazz that Abu Dhabi has to offer.
Cost: 3 free drinks and 50 percent off food
Jazz & Fizz Bar, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Capital Plaza, 02 813 7777
You Grow, Girl
Living in the UAE, you sometimes crave lush greenery, right? And thanks to Al Ain Oasis, you can get your forest fix – all without leaving Abu Dhabi. Al Ain Oasis offers shaded pathways with a thick canopy of over 147,000 date palms and other trees.
Cost: Free entry
Al Ain Oasis, Central District, near Al Ain Palace Museum, 03 711 8251
Gym memberships can be pricey and doing a couple of spin classes a week can really add up! So why not take care of your body and your bank account with Vogue Fitness? It’s offering a three-day free membership for all new sign-ups. The best part: it has a ladies-only gym at Yas Marina! Sign up here for a three-day free trial.
Cost: 3 days free
Vogue Fitness, Yas Marina, Khalifa City & Al Raha, vfuae.com
Back to Nature
A wetland reserve might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the UAE, but the Al Wathba reserve is here to prove you wrong. This biodiversity hotspot is home to several species of birds, plants, and aquatic life, with the most popular being the iconic pink flamingos. Spanning five kilometres with walking trails, bird-watching hides, a visitors centre – and most importantly – a thriving ecosystem, it is a unique green jewel in Abu Dhabi.
E30 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Truck Road
Art for Art’s Sake
Get in with the local art scene at Manarat al Saadiyat, the go-to space in Abu Dhabi for all things cultural and creative! Make sure to check out their various (free) exhibitions showcasing innovative art projects and local diversity, and the MAS space, where you can relax and do everything from hone your skating skills to read that book you’ve been meaning to get around to. Plus, if you’re willing to fork out a little more, there are a plethora of workshops and other enriching programmes that are organised year round.
Al Saadiyat Island, 02 6575 800, manaratalsaadiyat.ae
Wonder where all the celebrities take those majestic desert shots when they visit Abu Dhabi? The Empty Quarter is the perfect backdrop for any photo op. With its shimmering sands at sunset, this mesmerising landscape is the perfect place to bring your out-of-town visitors and for any Instaworthy photoshoot.
The Empty Quarter, Rub’ al Khali desert,
Cup of Karak
Best Tea Café isn’t called Best Tea Café for nothing! It’s famed for having the best karak in town, so visit this Abu Dhabi institution to find out why everyone raves about its karak.
Cost: Drinks starting from AED 3
Best Tea Café, near Sahara Hotel Apartments, Defense Road, Al Nahyan, 02 641 8515
Sharjah seems to be a bit of an enigma for some, the undisputed source of Dubai’s relentless traffic for others. And then there are those who see it for what it truly is: a city packed to the brim with cultural and culinary offerings. Here, we’ve put together a list of things to do that are surprisingly affordable, proving why it’s time you head northeast.
Right as Rain
Sharjah doesn’t get enough love, but the opening of Rain Room is doing its part to draw Dubai residents. This site-specific installation provides an immersive experience of continuous rainfall, but getting drenched isn’t a concern – your movements will trigger motion sensors to pause the rainfall as you walk through the room. You can buy your tickets once you get there, but as the Rain Room is incredibly popular (read: fully booked), we recommend buying them online.
Cost: Free for children five and under, AED 25 for adults
Al Majarrah, 06 561 0095
Specialising in what is known as “calligraffiti”, French-Tunisian artist eL Seed uses his work to promote cross-cultural tolerance and his larger-than-life murals can be seen everywhere from Cairo’s Garbage City to a bridge in Paris, a rooftop in Rio de Janeiro, and the minaret of a mosque in Tunisia. In Sharjah, an abandoned building serves as the canvas for the artist’s first piece of public art in the UAE. His mural draws inspiration from a poem by 19th century Iraqi poet and calligrapher Ahmed Bu Sneeda, who spent most of his life in Sharjah.
Next to Al Arabi Toys Centre, Bank Street
The largest historical preservation and restoration project in the region, Heart of Sharjah is worth a visit for photography enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Many of the buildings in this heritage area are former Emirati homes that have been restored over the years, so traditional courtyards, coral walls, narrow alleys, and hanging lanterns translate to an air of nostalgia. Throwback vibes continue at Souq Al Arsah – considered one of the country’s oldest souqs – which is located just minutes away and home to stores that sell everything from old-timey antiques and handicrafts to herbs and spices.
Corniche Street, Mareijah, 06 511 2555
Art for Art’s Sake
Sharjah Art Foundation is to Sharjah what Alserkal Avenue is to Dubai – a.k.a. a hub for artsy types and a great place to while away a Saturday evening. Here await urban gardens, several art exhibitions, alfresco film screenings, and more. Our pick? The upcoming Vantage Point Sharjah 10, an annual photography exhibition that supports up-and-coming photographers from the region and around the world.
Al Shuwaiheen, Arts Area, 06 568 5050
A patisserie, a supermarket, a branch of Sharjah Co-operative Society, an outpost of Taza Chicken, and now an arts centre – meet the aptly named Sharjah structure with nine lives. Inspired by the Brutalist architecture style of the 1950s, The Flying Saucer was recently renovated by Sharjah Art Foundation and now features new exterior spaces, as well as community gathering spaces that include a multi-activity café around a sunken courtyard with a specially curated library and multiple screening walls. Today, the venue hosts film screenings, workshops, and other events accessible to the general public.
Corner of Sheikh Zayed St and Sheikh Humaid Bin Saqr Al Qasimi Square, 06 544 4113
Just about any architectural structure designed by award-winning architecture firm Foster + Partners is worth a visit, and House of Wisdom is no exception. Part-library, part-cultural landmark, this striking destination spans over 12,000 square feet and boasts a whopping 305,000 books across print and digital in different languages. It’s also the definitive spot if peace and quiet is what you’re after, courtesy of the library’s futuristic suspended private pods. Elsewhere around the premises? Lecture halls, outdoor reading spaces, an auditorium, an eatery, and uninterrupted views of ‘The Scroll’ monument that was designed to look like an ancient Arabic scroll looping 36 metres towards the sky.
Al Juraina 1, 06 594 0000
With cooler weather on the horizon, now is the perfect time to escape to to the 45,470-square-metre Al Noor Island, which is best explored around dusk. Here, lighting, literature, art, and nature collide, coming together to form a leisure destination that is intended to foster a sense of serenity – a rather unexpected discovery amidst the frenzy of the city. While there’s quite literally something for every age group, kids and adults alike are bound to love the Butterfly House that is home to nearly 500 different species of butterflies in an ornately designed building inspired by its inhabitants.
Cost: AED 10 for children aged 3 -12, AED 15 for adults
If there’s one thing that life in Dubai has taught us, it’s that expensive does not equal delicious when it comes to food. In fact, some of our favourite local haunts are shockingly affordable, much like Al Mukhtar Bakery in Sharjah. A beloved staple in the city’s casual eats scene, this bakery has been churning out pastries, pizza, fateer, and desserts since 1981. Having said that, it’s still the manakish that people rave most about. And with14 different varieties to choose from, there’s something for even the pickiest palate – Nutella included.
Cost: AED 10 for a Labneh & Zaatar manakish
Al Bustan Tower – Block B, Al Etihad Road, 06 531 2228
While Al Majaz Waterfront boasts several family-friendly attractions – think: countless cafés and restaurants, green spaces aplenty, a jogging track, a magnificent mosque, mini golf, Maraya Art Park, and more – it’s the spectacular Sharjah Musical Fountain at this epicentre of entertainment that enthralls kids every single time. Not only is it one of the biggest in the region, but it also pairs water that shoots up to 100 metres high and 220 metres wide with cutting-edge sound, light, and laser techniques. Add to that the sheer variety of shows, and there’s always something new to come back for.
Al Majaz Park, Khalid Lake Trail, 06 511 7000
New and Now
Between its trendy concept stores and traditional offerings, Souq Al Shanasiyah is a great place for an aimless browse. For starters, Dukan Namlet is one of the few places in the country where you can give Namlet a try. The drink – still unknown to most residents – dates back to the 1920s and had just about disappeared by the 1980s, only to return recently. Coffee aficionados, meanwhile, swear by specialty café Ratios Coffee. Overlooking Sharjah Creek and featuring décor elements that have been reclaimed from a 60-year-old dhow that was used by the traders of yesteryear, it’s our favourite spot in which to sip a cup of single-origin coffee in Sharjah.
Corniche Street – AlMerijah, Heart of Sharjah, 06 511 2555
Expand your culinary horizons at the Taste of Owambe supperclub hosted by Man like Mus via the BreakBread platform. Inspired by Nigerian “Owambe” parties, this intimate dining experience introduces attendees to classic festive dishes (think: jollof rice with lamb chops and plantain, puff puff, goat meat peppersoup, and more) and illustrates why the food is the best part of every Owambe party.
Jo Koy was meant to kick off his Funny Is Funny world tour in Dubai back in December 2021, but his show was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances”. As for his rescheduled performance on May 14? Cancelled, this time due to the death of Sheikh Khalifa. Now, in a case of ‘third time’s the charm’, the Filipino-American talent will take to the stage at Coca-Cola Arena on September 3, promising that we’ll be among the first to see new material from his Netflix special before it even airs.
Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from jazz performances to yoga flow sessions and Indian music nights. We’re marking our calendars for the hourlong Breathwork Meditation Session, which invites participants to take an immersive journey into themselves. Elisabeth Bohler, a certified meditation facilitator, will guide you through an intense circular breathing technique that has the power to reconnect you with your inner self and release stress for both body and mind.
We all know our beliefs shape the very foundation, affecting how we perceive ourselves and others, interact in our relationships, perform our work, and show up in the world – and that’s where the Letting Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs session led by Annabel Lynch at Illuminations comes in. Exclusive for women, this onsite guided meditation session is designed to help you to let go of self-limiting and critical beliefs, while inviting you into a space of presence, positive self-belief, confidence, happiness, compassion, and contentment.
Film screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout September, with the independent cinema hosting a flawlessly curated selection that includes a Stanley Kubrick retrospective. Our pick of the roster is The Housemaid, a 1960 erotic thriller that will screen only once. Restored in 2008 by the Korean Film Archive, it chronicles how a comfortable home becomes a physical and psychological battleground in the wake of a romantic entanglement between a piano composer and his housemaid.
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 to assist with the experience, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.
Launching on September 23, Gaudí, Kandinsky & Klee: Raise Vibration will be a one-of-a-kind cultural and immersive experience that uses cutting-edge digital technology to transform the way we perceive, understand, and feel art. Step foot into The Dubai Mall’s impressive Infinity des Lumières venue, complete with 130 projectors and 58 speakers. Here, you can witness 3,000 moving images on a huge projectable surface, designed to bring the works of renowned artists Gaudí, Kandinsky, and Klee to life as a magnificent fusion of light, colour, sound, and rhythm.
Discover the beautiful new trails in Hatta, encountering gazelles and oryx while you explore the foothills of the Hajjar mountains – all in the company of like-minded women, courtesy of UAE Trekkers. Entitled Ladies Only: Hatta’s Gazelle Trail, this weekend experience spans three hours – 4pm to 7pm – and is perfect for beginners who feel that it gives them a chance to experience hiking without worrying about their footing or fitness level.
You constantly take photos with your smartphone – now take them up a notch by attending the Smartphone Photography & Editing workshop at Gulf Photo Plus. The three-hour session will delve into essential camera controls, focus, and exposure lock in addition to teaching you the fundamentals of using light and shadow. Also included? How to develop a personal style, apps to conduct in-camera editing, and more.
With residents across Dubai returning home and gearing up for life as usual, let’s revisit the Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘declutter’: “to remove things that you do not use so that you have more space and can easily find things when you need them”, implying the main motivation for decluttering is that we can find things quickly when we need them and make more space. This is partly true, yes, but this definition does not reflect the impact of decluttering on a person’s lifestyle.
I believe that the main function of decluttering is something much more important. It changes the way you live in your home. By removing what you don’t need, you create space for calm and mindful living and make it a place you love to live in. According to Marie Kondo, decluttering only has an impact if it is all done at once – not throwing out one item a day and doing it gradually. And I have to agree with her. When you declutter an entire wardrobe or defined space in one session, you will see and feel its impact. You will feel lighter and feel a sense of relief, which is all you need to change your life from that point onwards.
Watch the Video: 6 Steps to Decluttering Your Home
How Do I Start?
No two people have the same clutter – what is clutter to me is not clutter to you. It is subjective. This is why there are no specific instructions about what to declutter. There are, however, steps to follow in order to guide you through the process of decluttering. After all, decluttering is the first step to starting a new lifestyle. Once you intentionally decide what you need to keep in your home to live your ideal life, you have established the path to clutter-free living.
Organising and storing your items is not going to change your life because you will constantly be tidying items that you do not need. Now you may ask: when does one organise and store their items? That step comes after decluttering. Your space can only be successfully organised if you have decluttered properly. This is why I have developed the following six specific steps to get you started correctly – and successfully!
1. Identify the Cluttered Space
The space you identify could be one of three things: a room, a smaller space, or a category of things. A room is the easiest thing to identify due to its physical boundary of walls. A room can also be the hardest thing to declutter as it can be large with various zones and many different items. Make sure to set aside at least four hours for a good declutter session to get the desired effect. A smaller space can include a closet, a nook, a bathroom cupboard, the bedside table, the kitchen drawers, or the fridge. These are spaces that keep the same sort of items performing one function together. These take less time, but are very rewarding as you can declutter it one session.
Decluttering by category refers to groups of items that could be in more than one place in the house. Examples include children’s toys, toiletries, cleaning products, or kitchen equipment. Often, this is a very efficient way to declutter as you are targeting all the items in that category at home. For example, you may have toys in more than one room, so you need to get all the toys out from all the rooms, declutter them, and then decide where they will go. It might be somewhere new that works better for the family. Cleaning products is another category that can be spread around the house – in the kitchen, bathrooms, or laundry area. When decluttering these areas, think of all the cleaning products in the house and do a stock take of all items to make sure you know exactly what you have in the house before you declutter.
2. Visualise the Space
Think of the details. How do you want the space to look and feel? What colours do you see? Is there a photo on Instagram or Pinterest that inspires you? Do you like neutral colours? Do you want that spa feel in your bathroom? Then think about why you want this feeling – really hone into your ultimate goal for your home and keep this in your mind throughout the process.
3. Start to Declutter
Take all items out of the space and spread them out on the floor or on a table. Pick up each item individually and ask yourself these few questions to determine where it needs to go:
Do you need it?
Does it add value to the life you want?
Does it belong to the vision of this space or should it go elsewhere in the home?
4. Sort Items Into Categories
Sort items into four storage boxes – Keep, Donate, Dispose, Recycle – while you are decluttering. Dedicate a space in the room to put the ‘Keep’ items. The rest of the items will go into the ‘Donate/Dispose/Recycle’ containers. Cardboard boxes or baskets are ideal, but make sure that they are clearly labeled and accessible nearby. You can use a marker on some tape or write directly on the boxes. Having these boxes at hand helps you make a decision quickly. You need to put the item in one of the three boxes if you are not keeping it.
It can also be motivating to have the ‘Donate’ box nearby in order to encourage you to get rid of items as you know someone else will make better use of it than you currently are. In the ‘Donate’ box, you might also identify some items you want to sell. You can address this at a later stage or have a separate box for sale items. It is time to give yourself a pat on the back when you have completed this step – it’s the most challenging part of the decluttering process. You may feel drained and exhausted as a result of all the decision-making, so take a well-deserved break as you only have two more steps to go.
5. Take Immediate Action
As soon as you have gone through all the items in the identified space, move the boxes out immediately. Take the recycling to the recycle depot or bin that day. For donations, do your research about where to take certain items. A professional organiser can help you with this, too. At this stage of the process, it is often easy to feel tired and unmotivated to carry on. Donating items is rewarding and will give you the motivation you need to keep going.
6. Give Yourself Some Love
Decluttering is no easy feat. People avoid it all the time as it is mentally draining and takes time. However, if you get it right and achieve your goal, decluttering can be life-changing. You’ll feel light and have a huge sense of achievement. You’ll also feel proud as throwing out items that once meant something to you is not easy. However, understanding that those items are no longer adding value to your life is even more important. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, put those feet up, and visualise the calm and peaceful space that is to come.
After decluttering, the next steps include allocating storage, organising the items, and beautifying the area. Not only can a professional organiser coach you through the decluttering process, but also provide you with their expert opinions on storage solutions and organisational methods that will calm and simplify your space. Make your home work for you already!
If you would like to know more about the art of decluttering, visit Fern McGahey’s website or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
All the Outdoor Furniture on Our Wish List Circa Now
Because decent weather is (nearly) in sight.
Living in a city where the hot desert climate is in effect for most of the year can have its ups and downs, but one of the many advantages? Being able to make use of your garden area to get a tan, hang out with friends and family, or simply unwind when the temperatures begin to cool off. Now, with summer coming to a close, you’ll get a chance to spend more time outdoors, making this the perfect time to rethink the aesthetics of your patio or garden. If you are contemplating a redesign in time for fall, you’re in luck. The Gaggler is here to help you turn your outdoor space into your own personal sanctuary with these furniture picks, each perfect for the upcoming cooler months.
Source: Danube Home
Danube Home Ashley 7-Seater Sofa Set in Grey
This selection from Danube Home displays the feel of sophistication and cosiness with ease. The dual-toned wicker frame and the beautiful upholstery work boasts unparalleled aesthetic and craftsmanship integrated into this outdoor piece. Comprising two two-seaters, a single seater, two corner tables, and a coffee table, it’s perfect for big groups that want to hang out and chat while basking in the outdoors. As an added bonus, the corner tables provide storage space, too.
Add a pop of colour to your outdoor space with this rattan stool from Homebox. The vibrant blue tone of this light, yet durable choice makes it a great accent piece that will complement any design theme. The glass top adds to its easy charm and, most importantly, takes zero effort to clean.
Take your siesta game to another level, courtesy of this gorgeous daybed from Rattan House. It is an upgraded version of a sun lounger that’s made with powder-coated aluminium with wooden finish, making it a classic piece that won’t compromise function. The light fabric of its cushions and drapes give it a clean, natural aesthetic perfect for the pool and garden area.
Hanging out with company is great, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a space reserved just for you. This hanging pod from Homeworks is the best choice when it comes to making the perfect scene for your well-deserved alone time. Laze around and take pleasure in the outdoors with a book and cup of coffee (or two) in this stylish and long-lasting outdoor chair.
If you’re big into camping and generally staying outdoors, you won’t go wrong with this beautiful gazebo from Home Centre. With its adjustable draping, you can set it up any way you want, depending on your style and lounging needs. The premium materials used in this outdoor fixture not only add to the style of your space, but also provide much-needed protection from the heat.
Kick back and free yourself from past exhaustion and future worries in this posh hammock from La Siesta. The lovely fabric comes in weather-proof material that will last you ages. Additionally, it’s 100% sturdy and built to fit up to two people comfortably! You can choose from three different colour assortments perfect for any style. For a bright and cheery look, we recommend the sea salt variant. And for a more classic and muted vibe? Opt for the almond alternative.