Dubai the Pearl of the Emirates.

This bustling, modern, gleaming metropolis with skyscrapers rubbing shoulders side by side is a far cry from the quiet fishing village and pearl diving centre it once was not too long ago. There is a bit of the old Dubai left in the historical Al Fahidi (Al Bastakiya) quarter, which was restored in the eighties and is home to galleries and restaurants and where the Dubai Museum is located in the old fort, the oldest building in Dubai. The Old Souk and Abra station is also close by, the boats get you across the creek. The souks are definitely worth a visit, the textile one where you are able to buy beautiful shawls at a fraction of what it would cost in Europe. The Spice Souk is a heady experience, just seeing saffron in abundance is such a delight. In Sweden the little packets of saffron are hidden under the check out counters like contraband.

The shopping malls are a planet onto themselves, everything from every imaginable label, to restaurants, cafes, skating rinks and ski slopes, aquariums, you will find it all there in the malls. Living with untenable weather for part of the year, it is a desert after all, the malls are a good refuge to escape the scorching heat.

The food scene is amazing, most top end restaurants are located in hotels, it is also the only place where alcohol is permitted to be served. You really can find every type of cuisine here, Middle Eastern and Indian very good of course, and I found my favourite Taiwanese dumpling chain Din Tai Fung. Also loved the falafel from Operation Falafel, didn’t feel greasy and over fried, nice consistency and spices. Indulged in Red Velvet cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery and the most delicious macarons from Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Stuffed Dates are a perfect sweet snack and I found delicious ones at Bateel, they can be found in all the malls.

The top luxury hotels are quite a sight to behold and to experience, the Al Qasr and The One&Only Royal Mirage are both spectacular both in terms of architecture and for facilities that they provide. Go there even for just a drink at sunset. Getting around is easy with taxis, although it can also be a heart stopping experience but they are inexpensive and easy to find.

I did not do the desert tour, will leave something for my next trip, when I will also visit Abu Dhabi and the exciting new Louvre and Guggenheim Museums on Saadiyat Island. Dubai surprised me on many levels, all positive, and I look forward to going back.

The Al-Fahidi Fort that is now the Dubai Museum.
The Al Fahidi Fort that is now the Dubai Museum.
The charming Hotel and Gallery XVA in the restored Al Fahidi neighbourhood also known as Al Bastakiya.
The charming Hotel and Gallery XVA in the restored Al Fahidi neighbourhood also known as Al Bastakiya.
XVA's lovely courtyard cafe.
XVA’s lovely courtyard cafe.
The XVA Boutique Hotel and Art Gallery in the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood.
The XVA Boutique Hotel and Art Gallery in the Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood.
Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood, Al Bastakiya.
Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood.
Make Art Cafe, Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood.
Make Art Cafe, Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood.
Al Bastakiya quarter, built by Persian traders in the 19th century.
Al Bastakiya quarter, built by Persian traders in the 19th century.
Old Souk or textile souk in Bur Dubai.
Old Souk or textile souk in Bur Dubai.
Old Souk, Bur Dubai, staggering selection of beautiful wool and cashmere shawls and scarves.
Old Souk, Bur Dubai, staggering selection of beautiful pashmina and cashmere shawls and scarves.
Abra station, for as little as 1 dirham you get to ride across the creek.
Abra station, for as little as 1 dirham you get to ride across the creek.
The water taxis, Abra that get you across the Dubai Creek.
The water taxis, Abra that get you across the Dubai Creek.
Spice Souk in Deira.
Spice Souk in Deira.
The array of spices, heady smells combined with the colours makes this a real trip for the senses.
The array of spices, heady smells combined with the colours makes this a real trip for the senses.
Shops at the Spice Souk sell everything from garam masala to camel chocolate.
Shops at the Spice Souk sell everything from garam masala to camel chocolate.
Gold Souk, get ready to be dazzled. Deira Dubai.
Gold Souk, get ready to be dazzled.
The elaborate designs at the Gold Souk. Deira.
The elaborate designs at the Gold Souk.
View from the 51st Floor overlooking the Dubai Marina.
View from the 51st Floor overlooking the Dubai Marina.
The Dubai Marina.
The Dubai Marina. View from a friend’s apartment on the 51st Floor.
Mall of the Emirates.
Mall of the Emirates. 3,000 sqm ski park included in the mall. In Dubai anything is possible.
You are able to find just about anything and everything in the malls in Dubai, here the legendary macaron house of Pierre Herme.
You are able to find just about anything and everything in the malls in Dubai, here the legendary macaron house of Pierre Hermé.
My favourite dumplings when I lived in both Singapore and Shanghai was from Din Tai Fung, I was thrilled of course to find them in Dubai.These exquisite little parcels are filled with soup.
My favourite dumplings when I lived in both Singapore and Shanghai was from Din Tai Fung, I was thrilled of course to find them in Dubai.These exquisite little parcels are filled with soup.
The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Resort, a stretch of restaurants and shops by the waterfront.
The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, a stretch of restaurants and shops by the waterfront.
Ottoman Candy man at The Walk, JBR.
Ottoman Candy man at The Walk, JBR.
Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world.
Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world. It also houses the world’s largest Aquarium, and the access to the 124th floor of world’s tallest building, Burj Al Khalifa is through the mall.
Angelina at Dubai Mall, spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants and cafes.
Angelina at Dubai Mall, spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants and cafes.
The palatial Al Qasr hotel.
The palatial Al Qasr hotel.
The Al Qasr Hotel in Madinat Jumeirah, just breathtaking.
The Al Qasr Hotel in Madinat Jumeirah, just breathtaking.
The beach at Al Qasr.
The beach at Al Qasr.
Dubai's iconic Burj al Arab at sunset.
Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arab at sunset.
The restaurant Pierchic is at the end of this pier, it has been voted as the most romantic restaurant in Dubai.
The restaurant Pierchic is at the end of this pier, it has been voted as the most romantic restaurant in Dubai.
Al Qasr at dusk from the pier.
Al Qasr at dusk from the pier.
The restaurant Pierchic, in the distance you are able to see Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis.
The restaurant Pierchic, in the distance you are able to see Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis.
The bar at Pierchic, nets filled with Swarovski crystals.
The bar at Pierchic, nets filled with Swarovski crystals.
Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Beach.
Jumeirah Beach.
The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, JBR.
The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, JBR.
Macaron heaven at Ladurée at JBR.
Macaron heaven at Ladurée at JBR.
New York favourite, Magnolia Bakery is a must for my favourite Red Velvet cupcake. JBR.
New York favourite, Magnolia Bakery is a must for my favourite Red Velvet cupcake. Along The Walk at JBR.
The Royal Mirage One & Only Resort welcomes us with camels at sunset.
The One&Only Royal Mirage welcomes us with camels at sunset.
The spectacular dome in the lobby of the Royal Mirage Hotel.
The spectacular dome in the lobby of the Royal Mirage Hotel.
Walking into The Royal Mirage is like walking into a fable from a Thousand and One Nights.
Walking into The Royal Mirage is like walking into a fable from a Thousand and One Nights.
The Rooftop Bar at The Royal Mirage, perfect spot for a drink before dinner while watching the sunset.
The Rooftop Bar at The Royal Mirage, perfect spot for a drink before dinner while watching the sunset.
Rooftop bar at The Royal Mirage.
Rooftop bar at The Royal Mirage.
Restaurant Nina at the Royal Mirage, warm elegant space that serves delicious Indian food with a European twist in the most exquisite flavours. And impeccable service.
Restaurant Nina at the Royal Mirage, warm elegant space that serves delicious Indian food with a European twist in the most exquisite flavours. And impeccable service.
The exotic warm courtyard in the Arabian Court with live traditional music and shisha pipes. The Royal Mirage.
The exotic warm courtyard in the Arabian Court with live traditional music and shisha pipes. The Royal Mirage.
The Royal Mirage is just stunning.
The Royal Mirage is just stunning.

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Global Nomad living in Stockholm, blogging on Art, Design, Beautiful Interiors and Travel. I have lived in 7 different countries, and travel widely. Love Art and Design especially the Scandinavian aesthetics. My blog features interviews with creative people, many of them top artists and designers from Scandinavia. I also blog on my travels, offering insider tips from my global network.

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