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Our Guide to Dubai

15 February 2024

Welcome to our introductory guide to Dubai, a one stop shop of all our favourite experiences in this wonderful place. It’s not all beaches and brunches, though, as we unearth some hidden gems among the city’s myriad treasures. Nor is it a comprehensive list – not enough space in the newsletter – but we’ve managed to break the highlights down into 4 categories: restaurants, shopping, arts & culture and neighbourhoods. Enjoy.


Dubai’s sprawling malls and high-end international brands are a hallmark of its appeal; but there are other, more interesting places to visit.

There are countless souks dotted around the city, but topping our list is the Dubai Spice Souk. This place is a treat for the senses, a delicious combination of aromatic spices and herbs wafting through the stalls as tourists and locals haggle with vendors over Middle Eastern spices mixes, barberries and saffron.

Dubai’s answer to the pop-up stall is Ripe Market, which appears in various locations on weekends throughout the year. It boasts over 200 stalls selling everything from jewellery to street food – mostly with a local angle – so be sure to leave space in your suitcase for the homeward journey.

It’s fair to say that when Dubai does high-end, it goes all in. For a store with a difference, try Carvana, a concept store in the Al Quoz industrial area (more on which later) that showcases the best of the best in global fashion, jewellery and homeware.


If there’s one thing we love more than anything else at Love To Explore, it’s our food. The thrill of discovering new flavours in restaurants around the world is one of the reasons we travel and Dubai is no different. The city is littered with endless excellent places to eat, a few of which we’ve outlined below. We have tried to go with restaurants that are independent of hotels and resorts for something a little different.  

Jun’s: in the beating heart of Downtown Dubai, you’ll find Jun’s. More specifically, you’ll find chef Kelvin Cheung’s amazing menu, which draws on his unique travel experiences. This is fusion cooking at its finest, with dishes spanning the globe from France to China – via Canada.

Orfali Bros Bistro: the foodies among you may have spotted this Syrian Bistro on the list of the 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa 2024 but, for those who didn’t, it’s well worth the hype. The brainchild of three brothers from Aleppo, Orfali Bros opened its doors in 2021 and have been a smash hit ever since, its blend of Syrian staples, European techniques and Asian ingredients drawing in punters from around the world – us included.

21grams: granted, Balkan food probably isn’t front of mind when haute cuisine is mentioned but, judging by this place, it should be. Described as an urban Balkan bistro, 12grams’ menu features contemporary dishes alongside the traditional favourites that have inspired them, all created with locally sourced seasonal ingredients.

Art & Culture

Dubai has seen an explosion of exhibitions, museums and attractions in the past few years and narrowing it down can be a minefield. We’ve included a few below but it’s by no means an exhaustive list, with new sites opening up almost daily and old favourites laying a solid foundation for the city’s cultural heritage.

The Museum of the Future: having opened in 2022, this ‘Home for Inspiration’ has fast become one of Dubai’s most eye-catching pieces of architecture. Inside, you’ll discover what life in the future could look like, with innovation, technology and interactive touchpoints located throughout – this is perfect for a family day out.

The Aura Skypool: at 200m above the Palm, this is the world’s highest 360o infinity pool and boasts extraordinary views of Dubai’s landmarks. Take your pick from one of four timeslots throughout the day, including the stunning sunrise and sunset sessions.

Alserakal Avenue: one of the city’s long-running success stories, this buzzy cultural district was first established back in 2008, with the stated aim of supporting self-expression and encouraging creatives in Dubai. A host of warehouses in the Al Quoz industrial area have been converted into galleries, studios and creative spaces and a visit here is a journey through local art, pop-up exhibitions and independent film screenings.


Dubai can feel overwhelming a times, so we thought a neighbourhood breakdown might come in handy. There are plenty to choose from but, if we only had a couple of days, these are the two we’d choose not to miss.

Al Fahidi is the Dubai’s historical heart. In a city where gravity-defying skyscrapers and endless construction is often the principal talk, the past can be overlooked. A wander through Al Fahidi, though, will take you straight back to the mid-19th century, where winding pathways and traditional wind towers were the order of the day. Museums on Arabic culture are the perfect place to brush up on your knowledge and, once you’ve had your historical hit, head to a textile souk to explore the local wares.

Secondly – and you may have realised that we really love this area – there’s Al Quoz. The area was once Dubai’s industrial zone and, at first glance, nothing much seems to have changed. Look at little closer, though, and you’ll see that Al Quoz is now overflowing with creativity: studios, performance spaces, artisan markets, boutique coffee roasters. We could go on – this neighbourhood has it all.

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