Earlier in April, A and I headed overseas for a month. We stopped over in Dubai for three days before we flew onward to Rome. I’ve visited Dubai before but only for overnight stopovers so it was great to spend a few days there and partake in some of the food and activities offered.
Below is a snapshot of Our Dubai Eats and Our Dubai Activities.
Our Dubai Eats:
Felafel pita wraps – There’s nothing better than a light, crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-in-the-middle felafel. When A and I were in Jordan, we bought bags of freshly made Felafel for a dirt-cheap price and made a quick snack by adding hommus and pita bread. In Australia, it’s hard to find felafel that isn’t too dense and it’s one of my favourite dishes to order when I’m in the Middle East.
Felafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans. They are typically served in pita bread with hommus and are seen as a Middle Eastern ‘street food’.
Ful Medames, simply known as ful, is an Egyptian dish of cooked and mashed fava beans served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. My mum is Egyptian and I grew up eating this dish for breakfast or dinner.
Ful is served with fresh Lebanese bread (or pita bread, as it’s known in the Western world), which is used as a makeshift utensil to dip within the ful and drop it directly into your mouth. One of my favourite dishes!
Manakesh is a popular Syrian and Lebanese food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch. After the dough has been rolled flat, it is pressed by the fingertips to create little dips for the topping to lie in.
Classic toppings include Zaatar, a Middle Eastern herb, which is mixed with olive oil and spread onto the bread before it’s placed in the oven.
We also ate a cheese manakesh, which I chose to combine with a piece of the zaatar manakesh. This combination is a classic Middle Eastern combination of flavours and it tastes amazing!
Traditional Mint Lemonade – I was introduced to this beverage while A and I were in Jordan a few years back. This isn’t like Western lemonade as traditionally it is quite sour. The fresh mint gives this beverage a burst of flavour and this is our favourite beverage to drink while we are in the Middle East.
Arabic Coffee – If you enjoy your coffee strong, order an arabic coffee next time you’re in the Middle East. This coffee is very thick and grainier than Western coffee, but the added flavour of cardamon seeds will introduce you to how Middle Easterners traditionally drink their coffee.
Our Dubai Activities:
On our first day, we dropped our bags off at our hotel and got a taxi to Jumeirah Creekside Hotel to use their rooftop pool at Cu-Ba. If you are not a guest at the hotel there is a small entrance fee but the panoramic view, privacy and service at this rooftop bar is worth it. We spent our afternoon lounging by the pool and drinking mint lemonade.
An added bonus is the shadecloth over the pool, which is handy for those hot Dubai days.
I love smoking shisha (flavoured tobacco smoked via a hookah) so we headed to QDs within the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club for dinner and a Cherry Shisha. QDs is a beautiful spot at night for a casual meal and drink, as it overlooks Dubai creek. Pictured below was my ‘Virtuous Virginal Cocktail’, made with a blend of apple and elderflower syrup, fresh basil, honey, lime and ginger ale
(On a side note: While we were at QDs we saw lots of people heading out on BBQ Donuts. I loved the thought of floating around the creek on one of these donuts while cooking and enjoying some privacy.)
A and I love to shop so we headed to Dubai Mall. Amazingly, we happily spent 8 hours within the mall walking around and trying to visit the 1200 shops (!). We highly recommend a special trip for it.
Pictured below is a small portion of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which houses one of the largest tanks in the world. We didn’t head in but you can see some of the 85 species housed in this tank from one of the viewing panels within the mall. An amazing feature to see!
We went to the top of the Burj khalifi during our trip. Amazingly, the observation deck is on the 124th floor of the tallest building in the world and the views are spectacular. I have to admit that I was a little scared after realising that there are empty panels on the sides between the glass – especially as we were so high up! In saying that though, it was definitely a highlight of our trip.
If heights aren’t your thing, I still recommend a trip to see the Burj Khalifi – it is a beautiful building, especially at night.
At the bottom of the Burj Khalifi, there is The Dubai Fountain. After a fabulous dinner at Zahr El-Laymoun near by, we watched on the many fountain shows, which are set to different pieces of music. You can view one of the fountain shows at 1pm, 1.30pm and then every half hour from 6pm to 11pm (Sunday to Wednesday) or 6pm to 11.30 pm (Thursday to Saturday).
During our last day, we went on the ‘Sundowner’ Arabian Adventures Safari, which is a business franchise of the Emirates Group. A booked this for us and it was quite an experience. We were picked up from our hotel and taken out into the desert where our trained ‘safari guides’ took us over sand dunes and through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
Our first stop was for a Falcon demonstration, where we were able to this bird of prey in action.
We also saw a camel…
… a Mountain Gazelle…
… and in the distance there was an Arabian Oryx.
Our second stop found us in the heart of the desert where we were able to watch the sunset over the dunes. A and I spent our time doing handstands and trekking up and down dunes. For 360°, all we could see was desert. It was an amazing experience.
Our final stop was for a hearty Middle Eastern feast under the stars in a bedouin-style camp. However, before dinner we were also provided with the opportunity to ride a camel. After a bit of hesitation, I decided to give it a try. The camel that we were supposed to mount had her baby attached behind her and just when we were supposed to hop on, she freaked out when she couldn’t see where her baby was. For their size, camels can get up very quickly and it is a long drop!
In the tent, we were treated to typical Middle Eastern food, including a selection of grilled meats, fresh salads and delectable sweets. There was also a selection of beverages (including beer and wine).
On one side of the tent, there was also a shisha area, where you could sit on cushions and smoke your tobacco flavour of choice. After dinner, there was a belly dancer who enticed guests to get up and dance with her. After an enjoyable evening in the desert, we got back in our 4x4s and made our way back into the city.
A and I loved our short trip to Dubai and highly recommend making a stop over on your next overseas adventure.