Issue 8: Dubai

Discover a locally curated guide to the city's finest experiences

    • Looking up into the iconic glass-walled atrium. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
    • A lobby restaurant. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
    • The opulent, indoor infinity pool lined with shimmering mosaic tiles. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
    • A bridge connects the hotel's private island to Jumeirah Beach. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
    • A sumptuous banquette inside the Arabian restaurant Al Iwan. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
    • Nearly 4,000 fish species swim inside a floor-to-ceiling aquarium at the Al Mahara restaurant. Photograph by Walter Shintani

      ISSUE 8: dubai


      Few places in Dubai better symbolize the modern city’s exuberant “more is more” philosophy than this gleaming glass skyscraper that rises like a wind-rippled sail from the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The fourth tallest hotel in the world, it’s also widely considered the most luxurious: all of the 202 duplex suites are stocked with Hermès toiletries, airport transfers are offered via Rolls Royce, Mercedes, or helicopter, and upon check-in guests are presented with a solid gold iPad to use as a “virtual concierge.”

      • Miso-marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
      • A signature cocktail, the barrel-aged Nyusatsu Negroni. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
      • Take a seat at the sushi bar. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
      • A table setting and an artfully composed dish of sliced seared tuna, chilli daikon, and ponzu sauce. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
      • Shelves of sake line the walls. Photograph by Walter Shintani.

        ISSUE 8: dubai


        The refined Japanese cuisine and the people watching are both world class at this high-design Financial District hotspot. Named one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World in 2012, it’s the perfect place to head when you’re craving a lunch of miso-marinated cod in the company of Emirs and other power brokers.

        A minty virgin apple mojito and other fresh, fruity drinks. Photographs by Walter Shintani.
        The bar awaits.
        Beanbags and lounges on the patio.
        A striking sculpture.
        An array of earrings and bangles at a stall in the gold souk. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
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          Need a break from the bright lights? Leave the bustle of the city behind on a safari deep into the vast Arabian Desert. An exhilarating 4×4 ride over the massive dunes brings you to camp for a traditional dinner and a magical view of the sun setting over the sands. Other highlights include camel rides, falconry, and belly dancing by firelight.

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            AL MAHA

            Nestled in a lush preserve 45 minutes from the city center, this exceptional all-suite hotel boasts a tent-like architecture inspired by Bedouin encampments, deluxe rooms featuring plunge pools, and vistas of the desert and nearby Hajar Mountains. Bonus: Nature-loving guests can enlist the help of one of the on-site Field Guides to spot species like oryx and gazelles in the wild.

            Sacks of dried flowers and spices line the souk stalls. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
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            SPECIAL OSTADI

            Weary of glitz and hungry for a taste of “authentic” Dubai? Make tracks to Special Ostadi restaurant, a charming, old-school grill whose kebabs, fresh flatbreads, and herb-flecked yogurt sauces have been a favorite of Emiratis for more than 30 years.

            Golfers at play. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
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              PEOPLE BY CRYSTAL

              Party on a palatial scale at this stylish club–one of the city’s largest–set inside a glass pyramid atop the posh Raffles Hotel. While known for attracting top DJs, it has something to please everyone: hit the illuminated dance floor or settle into a white leather booth with jaw-dropping views of the city.

              A tuna wakame salad. Photographs by Walter Shintani.
              Roasted cornish hens.
              The dramatic view from the pier..
              The mod interior.
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                GROSVENOR HOUSE



                Sleek and glamorous without being showy, since opening in 2005 this 45-story hotel near Dubai’s marina has won raves for its tasteful Art Deco decor, superlative restaurants, and impeccable service. (As in: all 749 rooms are equipped with butlers and Bvlgari bathwares.) Plus, its location in the heart of the action–just a short skip from the sprawling Mall of the Emirates but close to Jumeirah Beach’s water sports and resorts–simply can’t be beat.









                Water, highways and skyscrapers. Photographs by Walter Shintani.
                A chain of islands.
                A plane on the dock.
                Gliding over the city.
                • Eggplant with tahini, olive oil, pomegranate, and parsley. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
                • Lanterns cast a golden glow. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
                • A mixed grill of shrimp, lamb, beef, and chicken. Photograph by Walter Shintani.
                • A pile of flatbreads and arugula salad with onions, tomatoes, and olive oil. Photograph by Walter Shintani.

                  ISSUE 8: dubai

                  AL NAFOORAH

                  Mouthwatering mezze, or Lebanese small plates, are the draw at this swank, wood-paneled restaurant at the base of Emirates Towers. Bring friends and order to share–the kibbe is wonderfully fresh and the hummus rumored to be the best in town–then work it off with a stroll through the Tower’s upscale shopping arcade.

                  An art exhibit. Photographs by Walter Shintani.
                  Homemade mint lemonade.
                  The central courtyard.
                  A bright couscous salad.
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                    LA PETITE MAISON

                    Consistently voted among the best restaurants in Dubai, this lovely, understated eatery is known for perfectly executed homestyle French fare with a Mediterranean accent–like onion pissaladire and grilled lamb with smoked eggplant–and desserts that you won’t want to share. Plus, in a city full of velvet ropes, LPM’s warm, unpretentious welcome is every bit as refreshing as the food. The logo on the door says it all: “Tous celebres ici.”  In other words: “Everyone is famous here.”

                    Waiters line a dancefloor. Photographs by Walter Shintani.
                    A plush corridor.
                    A vodka tonic.
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                      LE MERIDIEN MINA SEYAHI

                      A little slice of paradise for both couples and families, the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Dubai is ideally set against the white sands of Jumeirah beach with easy access to all its watery entertainments, from bars to windsurfing and waterskiing. The polished décor has an old Holywood glamour and the champagne brunch at the neighboring Westin (which shares facilities with Le Meridien) is the stuff of legend.

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                      BURJ KHALIFA

                      Prepare to be amazed by the sheer scale and beauty of this skyscraper–the tallest building in the world. Just how big is it? So big you could watch the sun set on the ground and then zoom up to the 124th floor and watch it set again. (Go ahead, try it!) But remember: it’s perpetually packed so save time by booking ahead.