Hello and greetings from Riyadh where it’s another day of sun (well almost, it’s warm but overcast). Life has been going along as usual with the slight addition that I have got some part time/freelance work with a PR firm based in city centre Riyadh, which is why things have been a little quiet on the blog recently – but exciting to be working in KSA!
I might do a blog about working in KSA in the future, but for now the only differences to working in Belfast are that I have a driver who brings me and collects me, the air conditioning is so cold I have to go outside at lunchtime to warm up and when I go to the coffee machine I have to wear an abaya (I don’t have to wear it in our actual office as there are no Saudis working there) – apart from that work is work wherever you are in the world!
I thought I would do something different for this blog and write about our recent weekend in Dubai. It was our second trip to the glamorous, glitzy UAE city and I thought I would include some recommendations from things we did and others still on our list, which might be of interest for anyone planning a visit!
Dubai is all about luxury and big shiny new things – skyscrapers, cars, hotels, shopping malls etc. It’s not really a budget option and top end has no end! However we were on a visa run from KSA so our approach was not so ‘extra’ but we still had a lot of fun running around the city.
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt which is really big! It’s close to the airport and Dubai Creek (Al Seef district) – so a bit of the way out from the city centre, the Burj Khalif etc… but perfect for us.
We visited Dubai Frame at Zabeel Park which is essentially a large steel and glass picture frame (150 m high) and from the top you can see new Dubai on one side and old Dubai on the other. It opened just over a year ago and basically you take an elevator up one side, walk across the top the take the elevator down on the other – but the views are good and there is also a clear glass walkway down the middle of the floor on the top which is a bit hairy for those not so good with heights!
Next we visited Dubai Creek which has lots of winding, narrow streets. The buildings have been built to recreate the traditional Arabian style of architecture and as it’s in the Indian quarter there are a lot of shops selling Indian pashminas, clothes, flower garlands, incense etc. We took a walk around and then hopped on a traditional wooden abra boat for a trip along Dubai Creek which was really lovely!
Then we hopped in a taxi over to the QEII which is permanently moored in Dubai and is now a floating hotel. There was a really interesting exhibition on the history of the ship, but we were a little underwhelmed with the actual ship itself… but it was good to see!
Of course no trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing the Burj Khalifa laser light show which happens every hour from 7pm. We watched it from a bridge over the lake at the Dubai Fountains and the lights together with the music and the dancing fountains were spectacular – definitely something not to be missed – it’s the number one thing on every tourist’s list of things to do in Dubai!
The Burj is the tallest building the world – 160 stories high with a mix of hotels, apartments and offices. We didn’t go up to the top but instead, on some good advice, we went to Neo’s cocktail bar on the 63rd floor of the Address Hotel just across the way from the Dubai fountains and enjoyed the view from there!
Of course being out of the desert and by the coast we had to make a trip to the beach. We visited Kite Beach which is one of Dubai’s public beaches. There is lots going on: exercise classes, beach gyms, festivals, kids’ entertainment, pop-up shops, coffee stops and food trucks. We went to SALT which is the original Dubai food truck and the mini sliders were delish!!
One evening we went to another beach area called La Mer. It has a lovely buzzy vibe restaurants and cafes lining the boardwalk. We went to a restaurant called Masti – cocktails and cuisine, which was very cool. The food had an Indian twist and the cocktails were soo good. Another restaurant recommended to us was Osh serving Uzbekistan food – next time!
We also took part in another local tradition – the Friday afternoon sparkling brunch. We opted for the Al Dawaar revolving restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and it was sooo good! You buy a buffet package including either bottomless soft drinks, wines or champagnes and sit and graze on all the delicious foods all afternoon with your bottomless glass – what’s not to like?! Also as the restaurant revolves you get a constantly changing view (and it doesn’t go so fast that you feel dizzy – you barely notice it moving).
And that’s about it from our Dubai weekend. Some other top tips we would pass on – alcohol is very expensive so you might consider paying a visit to Dubai duty free on your way out of the airport ;0). Also look up and the happy hours, nearly all the hotel bars have them and it can make a sundowner go down that bit easier!
We’ve also been told Ceasar’s Palace hotel is the one if you’re looking for the Dubai super luxe hotel experience – it’s newly opened and the restaurant is by Gordon Ramsey – apparently the breakfast are amazing!
Other recommendations for restaurants include (in no particular order) Kismet, PaiThai and PierChic.
And of course no visit to Dubai would be complete without a visit to a mall – and although they’re massive they are also really, really busy so steel yourself for that!!
And as they say here we are halas (finished) for this Dubai weekend blog. I hope you have enjoyed it – until next time!
PS It wasn’t very sunny but it was warm and really humid!