Stunning art, paddleboarding and chebab pancakes: An insider's guide to Dubai

We spoke to some local residents in Dubai to learn what makes the emirate so appealing, and why it is more than just a glitzy holiday destination. Read on to find out about the spectacular food, fascinating culture and outdoor sports that await away from the skyscrapers.

Stunning art, paddleboarding and chebab pancakes: An insider's guide to Dubai

While Dubai is widely known for its lavish hotels, amazing beaches and gorgeous weather, there is much more to the emirate than the travel brochures suggest.

Even though the internet is full of information on the tourism hub, the best resource to learn about the destination's growth is perhaps from residents themselves, who know all the hidden gems and top tips of the growing destination.

Of course, the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa and the jaw-dropping shores of the Arabian Gulf cannot be missed, but we've spoken to two locals to find out what else awaits travellers in the emirate.

"You literally never get bored"

Nicole Drinkwater, a personal trainer living in Dubai, is a huge fan of the region and believes its variety of culture is especially appealing.

An insider's guide to Dubai - you never get bored.

When asked about her favourite part of living in the emirate, she said "the cultural diversity", explaining that it is a place made up of people from different countries who connect to create a diverse and exciting community.

"It's also nice to live in such an innovative city with great cultural acceptance. There's also a great variety of things to do. Sunbathing, skiing in the afternoon, fancy dinners - you literally never get bored!"

She also believes several misconceptions she had have been disproven since she arrived in the emirate, describing the law as fair and just, and explaining that the atmosphere provides plenty of opportunities for business, family and recreation.

An insider's guide to Dubai - chebab Arabic pancake.

Nicole is also a huge fan of Dubai's food, recommending the chebab Arabic pancake, a filling dish often served with cream cheese and sugar. Another tantalising meal she approves of is gaimat - a battered dumpling topped with sugar that makes for a traditional emirati breakfast.

"Dubai is a great place for spending time outdoors"

An insider's guide to Dubai - surfing.

Stacey Siebritz, a deputy editor living in Dubai, cited the emirate's outstanding sports options as one of the key reasons why the area has become such a big hit with holidaymakers. Stacey explained:

"Most people think of Dubai purely as a place to shop and stay in fancy hotels. There IS that, but Dubai is also a great place for spending time outdoors. The beaches are lovely for paddleboarding, kite-surfing, snorkelling and even surfing at certain times of the year."

An insider's guide to Dubai - art.

As well as the outdoor activities, Stacey mentioned the emirate's art scene as another excellent attraction, explaining that Alserkal Avenue boasts great galleries and workshops. The arts hub was introduced in 2007 and boasts 500,000 sq ft of artworks and creative spaces for visitors to explore.

An insider's guide to Dubai - Lebanese food - muhammara.

While Nicole championed Dubai's local delicacies, Stacey is a huge fan of Lebanese food, listing foul moutabel (garlic chickpeas in olive oil) and muhammara (a hot pepper dip) as two of her favourites.

Stacey also commented on some of the spectacular destinations reachable from Dubai, noting Oman, Sri Lanka and Kenya as just some of the places that can be reached in a few hours via plane.

What top events should travellers look forward to?

As well as letting us in on their favourite things to do, Nicole and Stacey highlighted some of the top events scheduled in the emirate.

An insider's guide to Dubai - shopping.

Nicole's top picks included the Dubai Meydan Races, the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and the Rugby 7s tournament.

Meydan Racecourse is the venue for a full season of horse racing, running from November 9th 2017 to March 31st 2018. There are nine meetings overall during this time, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to see some of the action.

An insider's guide to Dubai - fireworks.

The DSF will run from December 26th 2017 to January 28th 2018, where there is a wide array of fun lined up, including competitions, bargains and fireworks. Whether you're a shopaholic or not, you're sure to find some great bargains at this retail extravaganza.

The Rugby 7s tournament also runs from November 30th to December 2nd, featuring some of the world's top teams battling it out at the Sevens stadium.

An insider's guide to Dubai - park and the Dubai City Amphitheatre.

Stacey also highlighted the Formula One Grand Prix in nearby Abu Dhabi every November, as well as Party in the Park at the Dubai City Amphitheatre, which she describes as a "mini-festival," she also added:

"It usually gets good indie acts - we've had Stereophonics, Richard Ashcroft - and Liam Gallagher is coming this year."

Stacey advised travellers to visit the emirate between October and April, when temperatures are below 30°C on average. However, she admitted that there are advantages to booking a trip later in the year, as:

"...a lot of places drop their rates really low over the summer months."

Both Nicole and Stacey are looking forward to Dubai hosting Expo 2020, and how it will boost the emirate's economy. Jones Day analysts believe the global showcase will generate over £14.8 billion for the UAE, with around 25 million visitors expected over the course of the six-month event from April to November 2020.

Gaby Lucius

Gaby Lucius

Pleasure-addicted wonderer

A devoted pleasure-seeker in all things travel-related, my aim to conquer the world's most glamorous...

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