Flying Emirates to Dubai in February, the month of love and of Fashion Weeks…why? What can be a good reason to skip it all and go to Dubai? In my case, the sun and a sport goal: my race, Marathon des Sables, is around the corner, so I needed to train in the heat, and on sand. This made me discover that Dubai, in this season, is absolutely perfect for training…and to enjoy life, of course.
A Woman, Alone, In Dubai – Is that a Good Idea?
My task these days is to run, run, and run. I traveled alone so I confess I was a bit worried about being in the middle of construction sites or half deserted areas where a lot of men, probably of different cultures and religions, work. The respect is total and men (often in big groups) didn’t even look at me. I have heard that punishment for molesting women are really hard in this city, and that anybody disturbing would be kicked out of the country immediately. Whatever the case, I have felt extremely comfortable since day one.
Walk and Relax on Jumeirah Beach
You gotta love Dubai: the recently built Jumeirah Corniche Track isn’t only popular with runners. People walk, chat, watch seagulls and the Burj Al Arab on the immaculate 14 km track along the beach. Some parts are basically a free open-air gym (with machines, music, free wi-fi), others are quiet and relaxing. The whole Jumeirah is lively and full of coffee shops, shops and anything money can buy.
Luxury Showers in the Desert: Al-Qudra Cycle Track
Public luxury, in the desert? Absolutely. The brand-new Al-Qudra track in Dubai features public showers that look like a 5 stars hotel. There is also a line of trees to show you the way for the whole road (remember every single plant has a hose on the ground to bring water – we are in the desert after all). Finally, the track feature parking spaces, a restaurant, an emergency station and a mosque. If you, like me, want to avoid the road and run on the sand, just follow on the side and enjoy the nature; the air-conditioned locker rooms wait for you at the end!
One of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, it offers everything money can buy. Private and public beaches, sky diving, bars and luxury clubs, shopping malls, golf courses, yacht club, water sports, cruises, fine food, henna tattoos, camel ride, private planes…non-stop entertainment for the whole family. I even saw a tanning salon! Don’t ask me who needs that. And of course there’s a brand new track to run.
Dubai Street Style
How are girls and women really dressed, in Dubai? Obviously the community is very international (I have heard that only 15% of the population is actually from here), but yes, if you live in Dubai, you do have a special style. Many women have their head covered, and often the visual effect is amazing: elegant and extremely feminine. Many girls wear floor-length cardigans to protect themselves from the sudden temperature changes, or from the air conditioning. Long skirts and layers are also common during the day. The night can be very elegant, and high heels are a must.
Sleek Style Finally in Dubai
I had been to Dubai just once before, 8 years ago. What struck me this time was the change in style, both architecturally and for interior design. Gone are the tacky embellishments, the excessive gold or the overstatements. More and more buildings look less Arab and more international: in my opinion, the overall taste is really improving, especially the new restaurants and villas.
Restaurants and Villas
The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center), for example, with its art galleries, restaurants and sleek looks, looks like it could be in any big European or American city. Zuma (n.88 of the best restaurants in the world according to the San Pellegrino guide) and Cipriani, to name just two restaurants, are based here, and worth the trip.
And what about the incredible villas? Emirate Hills , “the Beverly Hills of Dubai”, features some stunning modern architecture. Apparently, the most expensive villa in Dubai is owned by a European banker – see the photos below.