Dubai is full of exhilarating things to experience around the city — safely of course. And there is never a lack of new things to discover.
QUARANTINED FOR A DAY
Most of the hotels in Dubai are open (read at amazing discounts). However, in the concern for safety, at less than 70 percent occupancy. We have booked at the brand new Sofitel the Obelisk, a stunning blend of Egyptian architecture and French hospitality, for the first part of our trip. Mostly because of an offer that was hard to resist and includes breakfast, a La’ Occitane spa, high tea as well as a dinner. It’s an impeccable place to get away from the bustling city and with Raffles right next door, we get to drop by for a Dubai Sling. But of course, the prime luxury of all is to relax and do nothing at all. Akanksha (my daughter) and I had never-ending (and outstanding) Arabic coffee in the room and could see the beautiful city skyline from the bed — what else could we ask for as we wait for our COVID report, a mandate for all visitors arriving in Dubai.
ART AND A VEGAN RESTAURANT
Akanksha loves creative art and I want to try this plant-based restaurant for breakfast. Yes, vegan taco sounds like an oxymoron but Wild & The Moon in the artsy area of Al Serkal proves it’s not only possible to make but seriously delicious. The food includes everything from indulgent pancakes with coconut cream and homemade almond milk smoothies to the kind of superfood bowls you can imagine Pamela Anderson making for lunch. Knowing that Akanksha would never want to get up from bed for an early breakfast, I promise her a multisensory experience at Oo La Lab. Here fragrance chief Faisal Khan enlightens us on the discipline behind scent making, and works with Akanksha to create her own unique fragrance. We are equally awed by granaries that entice top-notch flair to its fold, counting statement making Tunisian French street artist eL Seed, whose studio appeals financiers with a profound taste on his characteristic calligraphy, christened ‘calligraffiti’. After we are done with gallery hopping, we head to Dubai Mall for shopping, there is a sale going on you see and we are women!!
HISTORICAL NEIGHBOURHOOD OF AL FAHIDI
On one side is the bustling downtown with shopping malls, luxury hotels, and all the latest luxuries, and on the other is the historical neighbourhood of Al Fahidi. The labyrinth of shops here will keep gratifying you as you go deeper and deeper. Wistfulness seems to be a prevalent theme here. It’s a fascinating balance: old-style tea houses, period restaurants and cosmopolitan coffee chains, all packed. Since we are dabbling in history replete with kaftans as our attire, we decide to eat at Arabian Tea House. This quaint place is one of the few realistic examples Dubai has of a life gone by, when people would meet and take refuge in tea houses, not just to escape the heat of the day but to bond with each other. And we do exactly that over some awe-inspiring Emirati food.
A SHOW AND A DINNER
The most exciting thing about travelling with your daughter is dressing up and more so if you are going to a theatre that too after nearly a year or more. Once seated, both of us smile in an awed hush. La Perle by Dragone is as remarkable as it is mesmerising. All senses are treated with surround sound, a high definition screen that lengths the stature of the theatre, and enormous projections that alter the complete thirteen hundred volume arena, lasers and a monsoon’s worth of rainfall. Together with unbelievable acrobatics, it is a sight to witness and implausible to watch. As I poke my chopsticks at the bunch of delicious Shisha Sushi at Taiko back at the Sofitel, swimming in a lake of sweet smelling smoke on my dinner table, I listen attentively to Akanksha (she’s a chef and that too one trained at the World’s Best Osteria Francescana) on how this is such a simple looking but difficult dish to make and recalls how her Japanese chef back in training days would keep throwing what she made in the bin till she had perfected it. The mood at the dinner table is so happy, travel bonding with my daughter has been such a good idea.
BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF DUBAI
Akanksha has faint memories of her seaplane ride in the Maldives and ever since she’s seen my pictures of a recent one, she’s been keen to do one. I book us on a 20-minute journey as it is the most affordable and still manages to pack in most of Dubai’s famed sights. After an exciting take-off from Dubai Creek, this special plane, takes us over the amazing Dubai skyline including the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab before returning to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. All seats have a window, so none of us get to miss anything and it is fun comparing notes on the videos we have shot for our Instagram over the yummiest burgers at Salt, La Mer Beach where we have booked the brand new Rove La Mer for an overnighter so we can explore the location properly and Akanksha gets time to quickly catch up on her work on the go.
For the last leg of our trip, we want to have a little glitzy feel of Dubai. So we book ourselves a Burj Khalifa Suite at the Manzil Downtown. For a traveller, few things are as exciting as discovering a new side to a popular destination, and we are befittingly chuffed with the best views of the Burj Khalifa and life in the bustling downtown. The courtyard here is a hidden gem and the best place for shisha and some butter chicken, if you please. We try our hand at shisha, and Akanksha tries to teach me how to do it like a pro. I fail miserably but none the less, it’s enjoyable.
How many 25-year-olds can I think of who would holiday with their mother and have fun? I am happy I raised her well and happy.
The vigour in Dubai was just as vibrant and rechargeable as it was in the pre-COVID days, and even with all the safety measures in place, our experience is still unforgettable. Mask and sanitizers inplace, we are definitely heading back.