Page 31 - West Dorset Living Dec:Jan 2019
P. 31

     THE ARTS & CULTURE
Architecturally speaking, Dubai is a real pioneer, but underneath all the expanses of glazing and skyscrapers, it is also a cultural hub. Whilst its sister state Sharjah
is more widely known for its arts scene, Dubai is really developing its offering. If you really love your art, you
can actually stay in a hotel with its own gallery - the
XVA Art Hotel. The inspired owner, Mona Hauser, has created 14 unique and individual guest rooms which showcase architectural and cultural motifs of the region. The hotel is located in the heart of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the oldest community in Dubai. Unique for its Persian architectural heritage, the mystery of its traditional maze-like alleyways and proximity to the Creek, Al Fahidi is viewed as one of the most important heritage sites in Dubai.
HISTORY AND DISCOVERY
We all think we know Dubai - the sail of the Burj al
Arab and the unequalled titanic Burj Khalifa being the archetypal images, but Dubai also has a historic Old Town. The heritage area of Bastakiya belies this history, full of courtyards, wind towers, and narrow alleyways ripe for exploration. Merchants from Iran settled in this area
in the 1900s, and they built houses sophisticated for the time, including towers that funnelled breezes down into the buildings in an early form of air-conditioning.
A short boat trip will take you to the aromatic spice souk, brimming with bags of spices, incense and rose petals stacked outside each stall, then onto the largest gold market in Arabia, where precious metals and jewels dazzle and beguile.
FANTASTIC FEASTS
As well as the wealth of cultural reasons to visit Dubai during Ramadan, the gourmand can also delight in the increased catering available in the evenings to celebrate Iftar. Iftar is the breaking of the fast and begins at sundown - these feasts are about generosity and flavour and hotels throughout the state will delight their guests with vast offerings of Emirati dishes alongside Western classics. It's a visual feast too with the gentle sparkle of traditional Arabic silver coffee pots and coffee cups and platters of Arabic food.
ULTIMATE LUXURY
Dubai does luxury with aplomb and FIVE Palm Jumeriah Hotel is the perfect place to indulge in five star decadence. Set on the world-famous Palm Jumeirah island, the hotel aims to capture the buzzing vibes of this vibrant city and is a prime example of just how Dubai excels in the luxury stakes. Even a gold Lamborghini parked outside the front doors couldn’t pull the focus from its swirling golden pillars and expanses of glass
- it really is a remarkable hotel, complete with easy access for the beach and a rooftop bar with a view over the glittering marina. Guests range from sport
stars to celebrities, partygoers to those just looking for a beautiful place to bask in the sun. Every guest will find amazing food, unrivalled views and a buzzing atmosphere.
EXPANDING HORIZONS
How many of us actually take the time to really understand each other’s belief systems before we pass judgement? The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is the perfect place to visit if you have questions about the Islamic faith - the passionate
team behind the centre are keen to help debunk misconceptions and open up their faith to be observed by all - sharing information on worship and inviting visitors to sit down to an Emirati feast together. The Jumeirah Mosque is also a must-visit on your trip - being the only mosque in Dubai that welcomes non-Muslim guests six days a week. One of the most beautiful landmarks in Dubai, the Mosque is large enough to hold up to 1,200 worshippers.
PERFECT WEATHER
Sometimes we just need a getaway with the guarantee
of sunshine - and May-June is a fabulous time to visit Dubai. Cloudless skies and a bone-warming dry heat, the early summer is the best time to visit before the humidity of the high summer months hits.
NOMADIC REVERIES
As well as getting a taste of Old Dubai, you can experience how the nomadic tribes-people lived and still survive today with a desert excursion. Platinum Heritage Tours help guest step back in time and experience Ramadan in Dubai as it was 50 years ago. Journey through the sands on an open pick-up truck before dining under the stars in a Bedouin tent.
DISCOVER THE REAL DUBAI...
If you’ve come to Dubai for the party, you can still find
it. But during Ramadan you can also find something
else - a sense of what makes the Emirati who they are. Communities come together, minds refocused on religion and family life, and they are thrilled to share this with others - go ahead and discover it for yourself.
TRAVELLING NOTES
FLY You can fly to Dubai from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh with Emirates - find out more at emirates.com/uk‎
XVA ART GALLERY HOTEL xvahotel.com, rates start from £56 per room.
FIVE PALM JUMERIAH experiencefive.com, rates start from £128 per room.
SHEIKH MOHAMMED CENTRE FOR CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING cultures.ae
PLATINUM HERITAGE platinum-heritage.com
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