Dubai Beyond The Burj Khalifa

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The many facets of Dubai go much beyond its iconic landmark the Burj Khalifa that makes the city a potpourri of interesting experiences.

Think Dubai and its glitzy sky scrapers come to mind almost instantly. However the cosmopolitan city has several sights that go beyond them revealing a culturally rich, gastronomically vibrant and pulsating adventurous place. And if you are wondering where to head to for a summer break, well, Dubai beckons with its numerous sights that offer something for everyone in the family.

Laguna Waterpark
Laguna Waterpark

Adrenalin Rush

With a motley mix of adventure activities there is much to choose for adventure seekers in Dubai. Start you day with an outing at the Laguna Waterpark that has a range of water based activities that is a sure way to beat the summer heat. Based on your aptitude for adventure you can chose from rides like the Constrictor, a high intensity tube ride, Free Fall a ride for the brave hearted, Mad Racer, a mat racer ride, The Loop a ride that will twist and turn as you splash into the water and Wave, an exciting skate boarding experience. There is also a splash pad for toddlers and small children and an Infinity Pool to relax. The venue has several restaurants and also an interesting ice cream parlour called I Scream where you can sample unique ice cream flavours like Zucchini, Tabbouleh, Karak tea and Elderflower. Cabanas line the place and if you simply want to chill and beat the heat, relax in one of them. Located on the beachfront of La Mer, you can also swim in the placid waters of the beach here.

VR Park
VR Park

If you prefer a more virtual experience head to the VR Park Experience at Dubai Mall that has several exciting activities like Dubai Drone, Dune Bash, Hologate, Sphere, VR Maze, Burj Drop, Drifters, Virtual Rabbids, Holocube VR and We Play VR. While you have to remind yourself that the action is actually virtual, there are enough thrills and spills in these rides that will set your pulse racing. The Burj Drop for instance, again not for the faint hearted will see you seated and take you up an elevation and give you the illusion of falling off the Burj! Also check out the Dubai Ice Rink also at the mall where you can experience a real life skating experience that will almost make you forget that you are actually in a desert. The rink allows you to borrow skating shoes and there are also instructors to help you skate.

Coffee Musuem
Coffee Museum

Museum Musings

Dubai’s heritage hub, Al Bastakia in Bur Dubai is the place to head to if you are a culture aficionado. A must see here is the Coffee Museum that showcases a wide selection of antique items that depict regional and international coffee history and culture. The exhibits here include a variety of ancient coffee processing machines, a room dedicated to coffee origins, Middle Eastern antiques, interesting vintage coffee ads that dot the walls and interesting coffee literature. The two storied building is a delight for coffee lovers and the entry fee includes a complimentary cup of Turkish or Arabic coffee that you can relish on completion of your visit. Located close by is the Khanjar Museum where you can see a variety of daggers on display. There are a huge variety of daggers that are displayed here and in glass cases you can see dagger maker tools, Emirati dagger parts and more. Jehangir Alam who looks after the place tell me that each dagger takes almost a month to make and each part is made by almost five different people who have skills in the material. Goat skin is used to make the body of the dagger as it is more durable and easy to sew. For a different experience, head to the Museum of Illusions that will test your mind, play tricks and give you a whole new lesson on how perspectives matter. Located in Al Seef heritage area, the museum is an ode to all things that will tease and test your brains and also has several interactive models that you can actually touch and feel while you solve cryptic puzzles along the way. This is where you will click many photographs so make sure your camera is fully charged. And while the Grand Souk at Deira is a must see, stop at the Municipal Museum here that overlooks the creek. This place played an important role in the trade activity carried out by the Municipality. The building has retained its traditional rooms as such that today houses old documents and is an ode to Municipality history.

Legaimat at Sikka cafe
Legaimat at Sikka cafe

Foodie Paradise

With a vibrant restaurant scene, you are never too far away from food in Dubai. Interestingly the food here is a spread of varied cuisines courtesy the large expatriate population of the city. For an elevated dining experience – literally and figuratively book a table at Atmosphere, located at Level 122 in the Burj Kalifa building is the tallest restaurant in the world. You can sample a three course menu here that includes starters like Organic Salmon Gravelax, Hand Dived Scallop, main course that includes Wild Seabass, Celeriac cooked as a risotto and desserts like Vacherin and Chocolate Extravaganza. For a American meal complete with sushi, steaks and hand crafted cocktails, try Kona Grill. Likewise if you are here on Wednesday you can experience an extensive buffet and Arabian themed night complete with dance performances at Ewaan at Palace Downtown. And for an authentic Emirati meal head to Sikka Café. Apart from a traditional breakfast, you can also try the cold mezze options like the Baba Ganoush, Tabbouleh, Muhammara and Hummus as well as the hot mezze options like Grilled Halloumi, Chana Dal and Naan bread and Sambousek. This is where you can try the famed dessert Legaimat a fried mini ball dumpling dunked in honey and date sauce as well as the Chebab Katayef made with shredded mozzarella cheese, walnuts and date syrup. Do not forget to wash it all down with the famous Karak Chai. Dubai is a city that takes you on an endless discovery and isn’t that what travel should be all about?

This story first appeared in Spice Route June 2019 issue here:

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