Your essential guide to Dubai

With its chic yet relaxed style, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is the ideal location for exploring the sights and sounds of the glamorous emirate

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By Gareth Rees

Gareth is former editor of Emirates Airline's in-flight magazine, Open Skies, and food editor of the UAE's best-selling entertainment magazine, What's On, and contributes to CNN Travel, and Condé Nast Traveller Middle East

Find your bearings

In the charming beachside neighbourhood of Jumeirah – beloved of long-time Dubai residents – Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai sits near the city centre attractions of Downtown Dubai and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), as well as Dubai Marina, but, as befits a luxury hotel, it also provides an escape from the crowds. When you’ve checked in and are ready to explore Jumeirah, take a left out of the hotel and enjoy a stroll down Jumeirah Beach Road, heading for the beachfront district of La Mer, where you’ll find food, shopping and family fun, such as Laguna Waterpark.

Feed your mind

Just a short drive from the hotel you’ll find the Etihad Museum. Located next to Union House, where the UAE constitution was signed in 1971, the distinctive building – with its curved white roof representing the parchment of the constitution and its golden columns representing the pens used to sign it – is the ideal place to brush up on your UAE history. Other essential cultural attractions include Alserkal Avenue, Dubai Opera and Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, home to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and Al Fahidi Fort/Dubai Museum.

Shop like a local

Dubai is a world-renowned shopping destination, best-known for the luxury stores in Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest malls, and Mall of the Emirates, home of Ski Dubai. Additionally, the city offers many traditional souks, such as the Gold Souk, the Perfume Souk and the Spice Souk in Deira, and the Textile Souk, a five-minute abra trip across Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai.

In recent years, the city’s consumer offering has diversified. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, Box Park caters to more urban tastes, Dubai Design District is a must-visit if you are a fashion lover looking to add a few choice garments from local designers to your wardrobe and, during the cooler months, The Ripe Market at Zabeel Park promises local produce, food vendors, artisans, designers, jewellers, entertainers and musicians. Jumeirah itself is home to some of the city’s finest independent shops, including boutique-café Comptoir 102 and Scandinavian furniture and homewares store D.tales.

See some sights

Dubai is home to some of the world’s most incredible architecture. Take in the awe-inspiring skyscrapers of Burj Khalifa and Cayan Tower, the elegant curves of the Burj Al Arab and the one of a kind Dubai Frame. If you are a real architecture connoisseur, seek out lesser-known gems such as the Index Tower and the mesmerising rotating shutters on the Apple Store at Dubai Mall designed by Foster + Partners and the quirky O-14 in Business Bay designed by Reiser+Umemoto.

Toast your arrival

Start your evening with a poolside cocktail at Sun Vibe at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai while gazing at the setting sun and the calm, clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. Alternatively, head to Netsu, a Japanese Steakhouse showcasing the traditional cooking technique of Warayaki – straw fire cooking. The terrace is perfect for sipping cocktails or sampling the extensive wine list.

Make time to unwind

Make time to unwind

Spa & Wellness

Exploring a new city can be tiring, so make sure you treat yourself to a few hours of rest and recuperation, with a visit to The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai.

With nine treatment rooms, including two couples’ suites, a Hammam-style suite and a VIP suite, it’s the ideal place to pause and revitalise your body and mind.

Dine in style 

In the last decade, Dubai has staked a robust claim to the title of food capital of the Middle East, with its culinary offering running the gamut from authentic street food to world-class fine dining. Opt for one of the in-house signature restaurants at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai –  such as Tasca for Portuguese food poolside – or take a short trip to Folly by Nick & Scott in Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Hakkasan Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm or La Serre in Downtown Dubai for its Mediterranean-style menus and boulangerie.

Dubai’s cultural hotspots

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

The neighbourhood was built in the early 1900s by merchants from the Persian town of Bastak who made this are their home. Getty Images

Alserkal Avenue

Measuring to around 25,000 square feet, Alserkal Avenue is a creative warehouse. Alamy

Dubai Design District

The District aims to engage, inspire and enable emerging talent, and inform about the importance of design, as well as showcasing Middle Eastern creative talent.

Dubai Opera

The Dubai Opera plays host to all sort of visual arts, from opera to pop, musicals to ballet. Getty Images

Time travel

Did you know that Jumeirah is home to the Jumeirah Archaeological Site, the remains of a settlement dating back to the period of the Abbasid Caliphate between the ninth and the 11th centuries?

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And finally

Kite Beach is just a short taxi ride away from Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai – popular with locals, it’s also home to Salt, a restaurant on the sand that evolved from a popular food truck.

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