WanderlustA concierge's guide to exclusive Dubai

Discover boutiques, cooking classes, and the historic Bastakiya Quarter

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For those in the know, Dubai is home to hundreds of exquisite, exclusive boutiques, ranging from sleek concept fashion outlets to award-winning culinary schools. Luckily, Asela Kumarasinghe, the concierge at Jumierah Al Qasr, is an expert at unearthing Dubai’s hidden gems. A resident of the city for almost two decades, he’s privy to some of Dubai’s best kept secrets, as well as some of the city’s premier attractions. We picked his brain for tips on Dubai’s ever-changing social scene, his favourite boutiques, and what you absolutely can not miss while you’re in town.

 

Shopping in Dubai

‘The city has changed so much since I first arrived in 2000. It took me two years to get familiar with Dubai. It’s a city blessed with all kinds of global fashion brands, to the point where if you name any brand, you should be able to find it here. The store’s interiors are all unique, while the service clients receive is second to none – they’re made to feel like royalty.’

‘In addition to big brand stores, Dubai has a wide variety of boutique options. You can find many little-known stores dotted around town: there’s F7 Design, located in the Design District, The Rack by Kachins on Al Wasal Road, Atelier Des Artistes in Box Park Dubai and Vesimi on Jumeirah Beach Road. Just to name a few.’

‘However, my favourite shop is the Cartel Showroom, located in Dubai’s Design District. The showroom is a sleek concept store featuring unique apparel by emerging local and international designers. Other highlights are the Culinary Boutique located on Jumeirah Beach Road, which provides world-class training and facilities for those pursuing cookery both as a career and a hobby. Or there’s the Assawan Spa at Burj al Arab Jumeirah, whose calming interior is reminiscent of bathing pools and hammams throughout the ancient Middle East.’

 

Dubai’s Top Things to Do

If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Dubai, it’s Madinat Jumeirah which has one of the most unique looks in the entire UAE, a miniature city that resembles a waterfront Arabian citadel. It’s a perfect spot for relaxing with a coffee, overlooking Dubai’s very own version of Venice.’

‘There’s also high tea at the Sky View Bar & Restaurant located on the 27th floor of Dubai’s iconic Burj al Arab Jumeirah; the incredible ‘dancing’ fountain of Dubai Mall; the unique experience of skiing in the desert at Ski Dubai; Dubai’s breathtaking new monument, Dubai Frame, the fairytale Miracle Gardens, and the historic Bastakiya Quarter, where you can indulge in local culture and traditional breakfast or lunch.’