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4 Can't-Miss Things to Do in Dubai

Our resident expert Janet Bellotto reveals the best places to go in the desert city.

Janet Bellotto

Janet Bellotto, artistic director for Dubai's recent International Symposium on Electronic Art, moved to the city from Toronto to teach visual arts at Zayed University in 2006, when the architectural boom was just starting. "Walking along Sheikh Zayed Road, with the palm trees lit at night and the tallest building in the world in front of you, you really feel anything is possible," she says.



An airy cultural space recently developed by a pair of Emirati twin brothers, Creekside is a real fusion of Middle Eastern and European influences, and shows the colliding worlds of old and new Dubai. The local arts community likes to hang out here, and I can spend an afternoon reading, working and drinking lattes.
Bur Dubai waterfront, 971-4-359-9220

XVA Gallery

XVA Gallery

It's located in a merchant building in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, where Dubai really began. There are small exhibitions of contemporary local, regional and international artists, a boutique hotel, and a courtyard with a tiny shop and a restaurant that serves the best mint lemonade. From here, you can jump on an abra (passenger boat) to the other side of Dubai Creek and visit the spice, gold and perfume souks.
Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, 971-4-353-5383

The Farm, Al Barari

The Farm, Al Barari

Not far from the middle of the city, there's a lush new residential area full of manmade lakes and walking trails that feel remote from the skyscrapers and the desert. In this beautiful green oasis, the Farm serves great Saturday breakfasts and the food is made with quality organic ingredients, like local corn-fed chicken, done with Thai and Middle Eastern flavours.
Al Barari, 971-4-392-5660

Global Village

This is where a lot of Emirati families shop. The different pavilions give you a good sense of regional products from Afghanistan, Yemen, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It's open 4 p.m. to midnight, and similar to a souk, you can bargain with the shopkeepers. I pick up kilim carpets and Turkish tiles for my place in Toronto.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd., 971-4-362-4114



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