A simple weekend guide to Dubai
September 6, 2017 | 6:31 PM
by Salim Al Afifi

Would you believe it if I tell you that I often go on day trips to Dubai for a quick lunch and shopping and then drive back home the same day? Sounds unbelievable, isn’t it? But yes, I do it at times with my friends just for the love of food and fashion that are available in abundance. But this time it was different...

For those of you who love the tranquillity of Oman, but at times crave for a vibrant life full of hustle and bustle, especially during the weekends, Dubai is the perfect getaway. From world-class cuisines, extravagant hotels, breathtaking skyscrapers, and mega malls to world-famous concerts, art, and not to miss the ever-evolving fashion industry; there’s a lot more to the city than meets the eye. The fact that something new is always happening and there’s something to do for everyone, is what makes Dubai so special. Last weekend I was in Dubai and this time I chose to stay there for a couple of days to explore more of the multi-cultural melting pot. Here’s a quick guide on some of my favourite spots in Dubai for a weekend full of fun and a lot of shopping.

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Where to Stay

La Ville Hotel and Suites

First things first. Where to stay during your shopping and dining visit? Well, I know some of you die to stay by the beach, but let’s face it, if you’re on a shopping spree, dipping your toes in the sand will be the least of your concerns. I’d suggest staying at the heart of the city or somewhere in close proximity to shopping destination, such as La Ville Hotel and Suites, situated in the urban living destination of City Walk.

The boutique hotel is perfect, sporting minimalistic interiors with a hint of elegance. As you enter the lobby, you’ll notice a unique sense of sophisticated styling. The place sports a soft, creamy palette with a blend of dark brown and neutral furnishings, giving you a timeless interior that celebrates open spaces. And, the huge windows overlooking a green courtyard added a bit of a nature’s touch to the place, which I loved.

The rooms at La Ville are luxurious. I had the pleasure of staying at a deluxe room, which sport a contemporary decor and soft shades. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the massive digital artwork that is placed above the bed, depicting the fashionable lifestyle of City Walkers. The spacious rooms come with beautiful views of City Walk streets as well as the main street. I loved the view as I often enjoy watching how the night gets super busy with people and rides.

Given shopping is what you’ll be doing, you’re ought to feel exhausted and in need of a relaxing session. A little treat at their intimate spa will do the trick. Followed by a quick dip in the swimming pool on the top floor, which serve views of Burj Khalifa and both old and new Dubai — how cool.

The hotel also offers executive suites as well as residences for long short-term and long-term vacancy who want to experience luxe living. La Ville is part of the Autograph Collection Hotels. In short a lovely stay is guaranteed.

La Ville Hotel and Suites, City Walk

+971 4 403 3111

Where to Eat

Gossip Cafe and Desserts

I discovered this gem of a place during my last visit to Dubai and from that moment a trip to Dubai is not complete without a stop at Gossip Cafe and Desserts; the place that offers some real sweet treats and savoury bites. During my visit, I tried wild mushroom cappuccino soup; a creamy porcini soup drizzled with white truffle oil. Not a hardcore fan of soupy treats but this tasted amazing. I also tried Gossip Uzoi Lamb, tender and flavourful shredded baby lamb, marinated in a bunch of traditional Arabic spices, bedded on Emirati-style fragrant rice, and topped with chickpeas and cauliflowers. I fell for the flavours.

Now, let’s talk about the stars of the show, the milk cakes. At Gossip, they are known for making delicious milk cakes with a variety of flavours. I tried the plain cake, as well as the saffron, rose, and pistachio flavours. The cakes were a delight, from the texture to the colours to the actual taste. I asked the waiter about it. Apparently it’s a traditional take on a local favourite, but with a unique Gossip touch. I could eat this day and night, totally worth a visit.

Gossip, Box Park

+971 4343 0181


Aubaine is an elegant London-born restaurant and boulangerie that serves French goodness that will entertain your taste buds. The place has a casual-yet-royal feel to it, probably from its vintage interior that adds an interesting character. The place is known for handcrafting their patisseries and authentic dishes.

I was introduced to this place by a friend who’s a big fan of French cuisine who said to me that Aubaine is one of the popular diners in Dubai. I decided to pay a visit and see what the hype is all about. I was in for a treat. Everything that the chef prepared was perfect. For starters I had burrata, an Italian cheese, covered in a mozzarella shell with a soft inside that mixes cream and cheese, served with cherry tomatoes and slices of peaches, and drizzled with avocado oil. This was the pinnacle of cheesy starters, one of the best I’ve had in a long time. For the main I dived deep into lobster spaghetti, a pasta dish served in delectable creamy lobster bisque, with chunks of lobster, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of basil cress. The dish had a perfect oceanic taste mingled well with the pasta. The portion was huge, still I managed to clear the plate and lick off the yummy sauce.

For desserts I had Mille-feuille, (known as Napoleon dessert in English), a traditional French pastry that consists of three layers of puff pastry and in between those layers, two layers of pastry cream, topped with a dust of sugar. The chef promised a grand dessert, and he delivered that and more. It was crunchy, creamy, and just perfect. Do not leave the diner without giving this goodness a try. Aubaine branches at City Walk and The Dubai Mall are the only international franchises outside of the UK. Tasting Paris on your lips has never been this close.

Aubaine, The Dubai Mall

+971 4501 6970

Graze Gastro Grill

This is a great place for just-grilled lovers, as the place serves a variety of steaks and seafood grills. Apart from its trendy, raw, and visually striking interiors, the place has art on its ceiling and it’s minimally lit with contemporary lamps, giving you a low-key, cozy spot for savouring your smoky dishes. And, its massive windows offer a peak into the street of City Walk, where you’d get to truly appreciate the beauty of people watching.

The service is top-notch and the food is to die for. I devoured a rare-grilled striplion served with pepper sauce and mash potatoes. The steak was great and grilled as requested, but the rockstar here was the mash potatoes; the creamy side dish was without a doubt one of the best I’ve had. For desserts, I had chocolate mud cake filled with popcorn ice cream, and showered with hot chocolate. Kudos to the chefs; the presentation was brilliant, so was the taste.

Graze, La Ville Hotel, City Walk

+971 5430 95948

Farzi Café

When it comes to interior, ambiance, and presentation, Farzi Café is a winner. I had a quick lunch with friends at this Indian gourmet diner that celebrates fusion creations inspired by the Indian culture. The interior at this place is stunning and full of gold palette that adds a bit of luxe to the overall dining experience. My visit happened at a busy lunch hour but still I was impressed by the attentive waiters who were scattered around the diner, ready to serve you.

The menu is extensive with a bunch of Indian delicacies and global fusion food. I ordered a seabass risotto, which had a perfect combination of oceanic flavour and creamy cheese. The dish was presented on a traditional looking basket that looked uber-cool, and the portion was fine, too. To quench my thirst I had an iced Earl Grey tea. All your Indian favourites can be found at this place, and believe me when I say that it’s worth every penny.

Farzi Cafe, City Walk

+971 4394 2556

Where to Shop


There’s no denying that Sauvage is one of the best perfumes ever made, and my absolute favourite. So when I heard that Dior has opened its first beauty store at City Walk Mall in Dubai, I got excited, and the hype that was taking place online added fuel to my curiosity. The store is classy and a fragrance wonderland that serves you luxury at its purest form.

As I entered the store, I was welcomed by the super friendly manager and her team, where they gave me a quick tour of what the store has to offer. You’d think you know all about Dior, but wait till you step into this place. Your jaw will drop to the floor. The boutique hosts exclusive editions of perfumes, as well as private collections such as La Collection Privee Christian; the only Dior skincare range for men in the UAE, exclusive makeup and beauty products for the ladies, and pre-launches two weeks before anywhere else in the region.

That’s not all. The Dior store also works as a one-stop-shop for beauty, as it offers a salon for treatments, makeup, and other exclusive beauty services done by experts in the game. You can even book the entire store to get you and your guests all dolled up for an event. The stand-alone store has something for everyone, which fits a variety of budgets. It’s definitely a must-visit, especially for men as their Homme selections need no introduction.

Parfums Christian Dior, City Walk

+971 (0)4 342 7489

Level Kids

From petit designer pieces to edutainment sections, this three-floored store is all you need for your little one. The store is home to about 300 brands with exclusive sections such as The Beach Club for swimwear; Young Athletes for kids sportswear; School is Cool, as well as a beauty salon for kids, a dance club for ballet classes, a restaurant, and a dedicated space with the largest selection of kids shoes in Dubai.

The stunning factor for me (apart from awesome clothes and toys) was the fact that the store’s interior has a unique and fun theme, where the ground floor is underwater with blue shades and sea creatures; first floor as the land, sporting muddy shades and nature touches that reflect the desert; and the second floor as the sky with clouds all over the ceiling. Wandering around the store is sure to be a relaxing experience for you and the kids. With eight international awards under its belt, Level Kids is an iconic shopping destination for children of all ages as well as adults who wish to bring out their inner child out to play. They have a section for maternity, too.

Level Kids, City Walk

+971 800 5383 55437

Boutique Le Chocolat

What adds a sparkle to our lives you ask? Chocolate, and this week I’m taking you on a cocoa journey to one of Dubai’s ultimate attraction for chocolate shopping. The store occupies three shops with international luxury chocolatiers including Guittard, Henri Le Roux, and Boissier among others. The place is full of creatively crafted chocolates in a variety of forms and sizes, with 750 flavours, there’s definitely something for everyone, and if you want to be amazed, explore creations that include a big dress, high heels, cars, cigars, and a bunch of other items made of cocoa goodness, and most importantly their luxury chocolates covered in edible gold and silver — such as stunner.

Boutique Le Chocolat is not just a place to buy chocolates, you can immerse yourself into the chocolate-making process where you’ll truly appreciate the art and beauty that comes along with it. If you are a chocolate lover like me, your dream of walking in a cocoa wonderland is about to come true.

Boutique Le Chocolat, City Walk Mall

+971 4590 5075

Dragon Mart 2

Dragon Mart has always been a favourite attraction for locals here, due to its extensive selection of items at reasonable prices. Now with the introduction of Dragon Mart 2 that opened in early 2016, the whole shopping experience is elevated and became more fun and relaxing at the same time.

The second mart is nothing short of a trip to the mall; it’s spacious with large ceiling windows that catch sunlight, with well organised shops, and it’s massive in size with 570 stores selling a variety of items from fashion to household items and more. What makes this a great shopping destination is that you can take a break and chill for a while; it has a cinema, coffee shops, and a boulevard of restaurants with a number of your favourite casual eateries including Chili’s and the Turkish diner The Mahal.

With the development of Dragon City, and the availability of Ibis Styles Hotel nearby the mart, your shopping extravaganza will no longer require any hustle; this can be your full weekend shopping experience in itself.

Dragon Mart 2, International City

+971 4433 6200

The Dubai Mall

Going to the Dubai Mall is never a dull moment, as it is one of the largest malls in the world that hosts international luxury brands, commercial department stores, world-class restaurants and cafes, and numerous entertainment venues.

Visiting this place is some sort of a staple for many folks, as it has everything one could possibly need in the fashion department, brands such as Armani, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Kenzo, Ellie Saab, Moschino, and Versace to name a few are all available for hardcore fashionistas who enjoy wearing luxury, as well as brands such as commercial brands such as Zara, H&M and Splash, which have more variety than what we have in the Sultanate, for both men and women.

The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai

+971 800 3822 46255

What to Do

City Walk

If you’re staying at La Ville Hotel, you’ll get to enjoy the urban living atmosphere that City Walk serves. The Meraas-developed concept is a perfect outdoor attraction that offers a combination of upscale gourmet diners, concept stores, and innovative retail options. If you’re still in shopping mode, then you can stop by your favourite designer brand such as Calvin Klein, or shop for luxury home collections at Roberto Cavalli. Other notable mentions include the mega department store Le BHV Marais, as well as beauty and perfumes pioneer brands M. Micallef and Sephora

Shopping and dining is not all that City Walk offers; you can still visit this place and enjoy a cup of coffee while people watching.

I promise you that there’s no place like it in Dubai, at least for me, as it is ideal for those of us who love street café culture. And if you want to be stunned, wait for their fountain show that takes place in the heart of City Walk at around 7pm, where you’ll get to experience a show to remember with a ton of killer effects. You can also check out Hub Zero, an entertainment hub with rides and thrilling attractions for adrenaline seekers. Alternatively, you can visit Hareem Al Sultan: The Exhibition for some royal inspiration.

Dining options are in abundance as well; make sure to try Cocoa Kitchen for chocolate-inspired dishes; Chival for world-class global menu; Project Pie for delicious pizzas; and the iconic Harper’s Bazaar Café for a fashionable dining experience.

City Walk, Dubai

+971 4 317 3999

Box Park

Box Park is hip, uber-cool industrial inspired shopping and dining stretch that offer trendy boutiques and a lot of other quirks. It’s known as a platform of expression for young and young at heart. The concept is visually striking and has a vibe of its own, especially at night where the low-key colourful lights ignite the night away. This urban street is adorned with funky decors and coloured containers, giving you an endless source of inspiration for the art lovers. Some of the shops include Adidas Originals, Nike, Typo, The Zoo, and Urbanist among others, and for dining fanatics, you can try Big Smoke Burger for gourmet pattice, The Melting Pot for some interesting fondue creations and dips, and Bianca Mozzarella & Co for some Italian goodness. The place is fantastic for night walks and a great spot to chill with friends and loved ones. They got valet parking, too.

Box Park, Dubai

+971 (4) 317 3999

Imagine Laser Show

Imagine Laser Show promised me a show like no other, a one-of-its-kind spectacle in Dubai. Visit Dubai Festival City to witness a stunning laser show with the largest water screen projection in the world, giving you an experience of a lifetime, full of laser beams, water splashes, fire, animated graphics, cinematic music, and a ton of fun.

The show is stretched over 20 acres across Festival Bay and the mall, with shows running 365 days a year with shows such as dancing fountains, to entertain folks of all ages. This is truly an experience not to be missed; you better add it to your bucket list of mind-blowing attractions to visit.

Imagine Laser Show, Dubai Festival City Mall

+971 800 332

Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

This place is among the must-visit places at The Dubai Mall, especially if you are a fan of underwater creatures as it has thousands of animals. The aquarium has a tunnel where you can get up close and personal with some of the most interesting aquatic animals including sharks, and if you head to the upper floor to the underwater zoo, you’ll get to see fascinating beings that are exhibited for you to learn all about ecology and sustainability of marine life. The place is massive with numerous creatures to explore. Make sure to check out their latest addition, King Croc, one of the world’s largest reptiles and a rare phenomenon of nature. If you want an exciting yet adventurous experience, then try their underwater cage and diving activity.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, The Dubai Mall

+971 4 448 5200

Fly with Flydubai

I am a huge fan of road trips to Dubai, but when I am alone I prefer to fly, and this time around I got to experience Flydubai business class for the very first time. The booking process for business class is plain and simple. You get a pass to an elite lounge at the airport where you can fill up your stomach with a great selection of food from the buffet and relax until boarding time. After boarding, we were welcomed by the super friendly and attentive cabin crew who gave us refreshments and towels to get set for the journey. Now, for my favourite part, the food. Flying in general is not that fun for me, so food is what keeps me excited really. The choices onboard are probably some of my favourites. The presentation and selection has a luxe feel to it. I had some cheese, smoked salmon on a toasted goodness, and more. The seats are comfortable, making the short trip even smoother. And, the best part is the fares are relatively reasonable. Flydubai will probably be my go-to flight for my regional trips. It travels internationally, too.

Flydubai offers 6 daily flights to Muscat. For more information log on to

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