XY Travels: Dubai

This story, which first ran in December, 2008, marked the first in our new series, XY Travels. Every few weeks, we’ll give the world’s coolest cities the XY treatment – digging deep to find you the best restaurants, nightlife, shopping, hotels and more. For this inaugural edition, we visit the global capital of opulence, sunny Dubai.

Lounge: After you check in to your 5-bathroom suite at the ultra-luxe Tamani Hotel Marina, lounge poolside in a semi-private Bedouin-style tent while snacking on sumptuous dates.

Haggle: Join locals on the creaky, leaky waterbus for a 35-cent ride across the river to the spice souk. Wander narrow streets and marvel at a Babylon of languages, burning frankincense and awful knock-off clothes.

Shop: Browse Duchamp crystal cufflinks at Harvey Nichols, an outpost of the tony British department store, which opened recently in the immense Mall of the Emirates.

Pray: Jumeirah Mosque is Dubai’s biggest, and the only that non-Muslims can tour. Intricately patterned mosaics and peaceful gardens offer the perfect antidote to mega-mall malaise.

Eat: Dabawis’ transient lifestyles are reflected in the fact that most top restaurants are in hotels. (They’re in international hotels as they are the only places allowed to serve booze.) Dine at Nobu Atlantis, where the décor is bizarrely intimate; picture Frank Gehry designing Ewok City.

Party: At Sanctuary, Atlantis’s new mega-club, huge pillars disappear into a multi-coloured ceiling. Warning: come rich. Minimum table charge is $1,400, and a local favourite – the 15-litre Nebuchadnezzar Moët & Chandon – goes for a cool $13,000.

Emirates Airlines flies direct to Dubai; Etihad Airlines flies direct to Abu Dhabi, an hour’s drive away.

Image courtesy of Michael Foley Photography.

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