48 Hours In... Dubai

It's time to reevaluate the great metropolis of the UAE

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Dubai is a city that doesn't know when it's beaten. After decades of being dismissed by seasoned travellers as a city with nothing to offer but scorching sun and ways to waste obscene amounts of money, the damn place keeps coming back with more and more ways to change your mind, from world class food to a burgeoning cultural scene.

So - whether you're out there for business or open-minded enough to try it our for few days of sunny down time, here's a quick guide to the best the jewel in the United Arab Emirates' crown has to offer.

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The glistening, ornate high rise glass tower that is the Armani Hotel could barely be better placed, being ten minutes from both the Dubai Mall and the synchronised beauty of the Dubai Fountain (famously the world's largest). Inside it is as sleek, well-designed and pleasant smelling (yes, really) as the name would suggest, and in Amal boasts not just the finest Indian restaurant in the city but one of the best in the world. Oh - and trip to the top will also give you the best view of the growing metropolis available anywhere.

armanihoteldubai.com

Shop

Adventure HQ, in the Times Square Center shopping mall, is a must for outdoor lovers, with top clobber for divers, kayakers, cyclists and walkers. Even better, it has a 30ft climbing wall so you can try out those new Red Chili Durango climbing-shoes that you'll never, ever, wear again.

See

The humbled hubris of Dubai on a skydive over The World, the vast artificial island complex unfinished since 2008's financial crash. The blue skies make it an excellent place to learn to parachute and from 4,000ft you get spectacular views of a city that barely existed just 40 years ago.

Dine

The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill is a lovingly recreated slice of Waspy East Coast Americana. The bar alone warrants an entry on this list (distressed brickwork; wide range of liquors; hirsute, bow-tied, hipster staff, you know the drill) but we're here for the excellent seafood towers of Canadian snow crab, prawns, oysters and scallop ceviche. Even its low key location — in the car park around the back of the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel — is quaintly endearing.

themaine.ae

Lunch

In a city where authenticity is in scarce supply, Zuma's izakaya (a Japanese gastropub) cuisine is right on the money. Try the sliced seabass with salmon roe, yuzu and truffle oil if you're not convinced. That a restaurant in the financial district can draw so many devotees is true testament to the high quality of its food. The interior — elevated ceiling, granite block sushi counter and a huge bamboo sculpture — runs the grub a close second.

zumarestaurant.com

Party

Not far from Cove Beach is the Dubai franchise of London's Mahiki club. There's still the Polynesian theme and lethal treasure chest cocktails, but fewer young Sloane Rangers. There's also no VIP area or face control on the door, which makes a refreshing change.

mahiki.com

Do

Dubai has constructed island archipelagos, a vast indoor ski centre, and now a surf wave. In the desert. At Al Ain, enjoy the perfect wave break of your choosing — low rollers, 10-footers, A-frames, close-outs for the pros — all without anyone dropping in on you.

wadiadventure.ae

Drink

Almost every bar or restaurant in Dubai is amalgamated to a hotel. Cove Beach is on the white sand in front of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Order a bottle of Château Léoube rosé and settle into a beach sofa to watch the sunset as the bar DJ does his finest Café del Mar impression.

covebeach.com

Getting There

Emirates fly straight to Dubai from London, and their Business Class route is famous among regular Dubai visitors for good reason. First, there's the complimentary chauffeur service, cutting out that stressful drive or train to the airport. Then there's the business lounge where first class food (and a shower) await. But the real fun start on board, where the inflight entertainment is second to none, the Wifi actually works and there's even an oval bar at the back where you can walk around (imagine it!) and enjoy cocktails as good as those waiting for you at your hotel. Flying this distance really doesn't get much better.

emirates.com/uk/english