The Dubai Jumeirah district runs down the coast south of the old city centre. It’s one of the city’s most upmarket suburbs, particularly popular with wealthy European expats and their wives – or “Jumeirah Janes” (as they’re often described). Most of the district is a fairly featureless sprawl of low-rise villas and specific sights are fairly thin on the ground, apart from the fine Jumeirah Mosque, open to non-Muslims on regular tours, the quirky Mercato Mall, and the lovely (although currently closed) Jumeirah Beach Park.
These low-key sights, however, pale in comparison with what lies beyond. At the far southern end of the district (technically speaking in the adjacent suburb of Umm Suqeim) rise three of modern Dubai’s most iconic landmarks: the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel; and spectacularly kitsch Madinat Jumeirah; and, most famously, the remarkable Burj al Arab, the building which has done more than anything else to put Dubai on the map.
Start at the northern end of the district with a morning tour of Jumeirah Mosque, probably the most interesting and enjoyable cultural experiences you have can in the city, and offering a rare into local Emirati life. The cute little Lime Tree Café just down the road makes a handy pitstop before or after.
Jump in a cab and continue south along the coastal road, where attractions include the quirky Mercato Mall and the time-warped Majlis Ghorfat um al Sheef, as well as the dated Dubai Zoo. Alternatively, grab some sun and a piece of beach at the idyllic Jumeirah Beach Park. There are various lunch options in Mercato (the French-style Paul café is particularly nice).
Further south again rises the majestic outline of Burj al Arab, backed by the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel (where you’ll also find the popular Wild Wadi waterpark). You’ll need an advance reservation at one of the hotel’s restaurants or bar in order to get inside the Burj al Arab and see its extraordinary interior (which you’ll find either stunningly opulent or hideously brash, depending on which direction your interior design tastes are pointed). The opulent afternoon tea is expensive but memorable, and can be either taken in the atrium café or in the mile-high Skyview Bar near the very top of the building.
Continue on to the almost equally extraordinary Madinat Jumeirah – a kind of ersatz miniature Arabian city looking like the world’s biggest and most beautifully made film set. There’s good (if pricey) shopping in the rustic souk or a wander around the quaint waterfront. You’re spoilt for eating and drinking choices here. Bahri Bar and Koubba are particularly fine for a sundowner, with superb views of the Burj al Arab and out over the massed windtowers and rambling Arabian outline of the Madinat.
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