JOIN THE LADIES WHO LUNCH
- Get two in one, an organic café inside of a chic concept store
- Shop a curated collection of niche decor and accessories
- Stay for a while, try the creative salads, raw juices and vegan dishes
A concept store that doubles as an organic café? Sounds like it would be more at home on L.A.’s Abbott Kinney Boulevard—but Comptoir 102 has carved out a perfect niche for itself right here in Dubai, just blocks from the beach. Step into this sunny, effortlessly chic spot and you’ll wonder what took you so long. The two French expat owners have curated a just-so collection of beautiful objects geared to global nomads: Astier de Villatte candles, John Derian plates, India Mahdavi lacquer stools, K Jacques sandals, Mr. Boho retro-modern sunglasses. On Instagram, the owners are equally comfortable extolling the virtues of the latest $900 Jerome Dreyfuss bag as they are shooting the colorful haul at their weekly organic farmers’ market. A quick browse of the merchandise will have you considering your options for shipping back home. Pull yourself away to spend time with the café’s healthful menu, one whole side of which is devoted to organic juices (with unironic names like Skin Glow, Youthful Green, Skinny Boost, and Heart Beet). Signature dishes like scrambled tofu and lentil-celeriac salad are gluten- and dairy-free. The cafe also offers raw and vegan options. Good, and good for you.
You can find this experience near the Jumeira Centre Station. Comptoir 102 is located diagonally, across the street, inside a stylish white bungalow. You can’t miss their sign in front the chic outdoor terrace.
HAVE A FRENCH FEAST
- Taste perfection in French Mediterranean cuisine
- Savor an ever-changing menu of local ingredients
- The kind of place you find on the French Riviera
There are so many great restaurants in Dubai, it’s hard to know where to start. La Petite Maison, in the International Financial Center, is far from local. In fact, it feels like it was plucked straight out of the French Riviera. That said, the service is disarmingly charming, the Mediterranean-inflected food is delicious, and the room buzzes with a palpably glam energy every night. La Petite Maison makes you feel like an insider from the first bite.
Make your way to the Emirates Towers Station. Walk past the towers while taking in the view. Turn right on 312th Street and shortly after, make another right onto Gate Village. You can easily recognize the restaurant from its red awning.
PUT A RING…OR AN EARRING…ON IT
- Head to the source of Dubai’s gold and fine jewelry
- Customize 24-Karat bracelets, rings, earrings and more
- Try on a mix of celebrated local and international designers
Did your visit to the glittering Gold Souk whet your appetite for a sparkly little something to take home as a souvenir? Can’t say we blame you. Dubai has a way of making even the most abstemious among us feel like a splurge. Even so, the Gold Souk, with its heaps of 24-karat gold, isn’t where we’d suggest you do your damage. Instead, take the recommendation of in-the-know expats and head to the source: Cara Jewellers at Gold & Diamond Park in the industrial Al Quoz district, not far from the Mall of Emirates. (Ask for the owner, Kiran.) Be forewarned: this no-frills place is not for dabblers or for the faint of heart. You come here with a clear idea of the baubles (classic diamond tennis bracelets; channel-set hoops; cabochon ruby rings) you want custom-made for you, and you get them at amazing prices and with record turnaround time. If you’re looking for a spot that’s conducive to browsing, we love the home-grown brand Sauce’s fine jewelry offshoot at the Village Mall, Sauce Rocks. In this airy boutique you’ll find whimsical contemporary pieces that hint at Middle Eastern motifs (evil eye; Hand of Fatima) while remaining eminently wearable everywhere from Dubai to London to New York City.
You can find the Galleria Mall near the Jumeira bus stop, on the corner of Al Wasl and 13th Street. You can enter the mall from Al Wasl Road. After you browse the fine jewelry, take a look at some of the other uniques stores throughout the mall.
HAVE AN EMIRATI BREAKFAST WITH A SIDE OF CULTURE
- Skip the restaurant, let locals dish out a traditional bedouin spread
- Be a part of an open discussion of culture
- Savor authentic recipes handed down from generations
So you’ve been in Dubai for all of 24 hours and you’ve got a million things you want to know about the local customs and traditions. Who do you ask what life is like in a local home, why Emirati men wear the dishdasha (white robes), and what the different colors of their headdress (kaffiyeh and agal) signify? And why do some women cover their faces with a niqab while others don’t? A great place to start is at breakfast at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, housed in one of the original wind tower houses of historic Bastakiya. This organization’s motto is “open doors, open minds,” so no questions about the local culture are off-limits. Local volunteers lead the conversation over a traditional bedouin breakfast in the house’s main courtyard. The dishes you’ll try are prepared from recipes handed down from the owner’s mother. They include freshly baked Khameer (bread) and Nihki; balaleet, a sweet noodle-and-egg dish flecked with golden raisins; lgeimat (Arabic doughnuts); and Emirati pancakes, or chebab, served with date syrup (there are over 40 varieties of the fruit grown in the UAE). There’s tons more to explore here in the oldest neighborhood of Dubai; if you have more time to spend, check out our 5-hour itinerary.
GET TO THE BEACH
- Bask in the Dubai sun at one of the city’s prime beaches
- Grab signature Wagyu sliders at a nearby food truck
- At day’s end, refresh with a Moroccan iced tea at a nearby hidden gem
The beach is an essential way of life in Dubai. The only question is which beach to choose. We love Kite Beach in Umm Suqeim, where you can spend hours watching kite surfers bob acrobatically in and out of the waves. Just be sure to ask the concierge for detailed directions on how to get there, and start your beach day early—Dubai’s midday sun can be punishing no matter what time of the year you’re visiting. For a snack break, you can’t miss the Wagyu sliders at Salt, a food truck in a retrofitted Airstream trailer. Ready for some shade? Head to one of our favorite hidden gems in Dubai: Kif Kif, a little Moroccan restaurant on Beach Road between Al Manara and Umm Al Sheif. Couscous or tagines are filling and incredibly reasonably priced. The Moroccan iced tea and fresh juices (we loved the pineapple-orange-carrot juice) are the perfect chaser post fun in the sand and sea.
Make your way to Umm Suqeim station. Once there, It will take you no longer than 5 minutes to walk to Kite Beach. Just go southwest on Jumeira Road and turn right on 2 D Street and you’ll already be able to spot the beach.
GO SHOPPING IN A REALLY BIG WAY
- If you can’t find it at the world’s largest mall, you can’t find it
- Visit over 1,200 unique places to dine, retail and entertainment venues
- Make a night of it and shop until midnight, any day of the week
Whether or not you’re an avid shopper, any visit to Dubai is bound to include a trip to the mall: in this town, shopping centers are essentially cultural happenings. And like everything else in Dubai, malls here are an exercise in superlatives, each bidding to outclass, outsize, and outdo the next. The one not to be missed? The Dubai Mall, a consumerist behemoth whose vast footprint includes 12 million square feet of retail and entertainment and dining venues. It’s open Sunday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. until midnight (yes, you read that right) and Thursday to Saturday they are open until 1 a.m. . A visit here calls for a considered plan of attack—especially if you’re bringing kids. You’ll definitely need help navigating, so take advantage of all the arrows.
Head to the Burj Khalifa station. From here, you can go for a 15 minute walk over the Metro Link Bridge or take the feeder buses from the station. Both will take you directly to the Dubai Mall.