Who better to guide visitors to Dubai through the layers of the city than its residents? While Dubai’s five-star hotels, shopping centres and beaches tend to dominate the pages of most guidebooks, visitors who are limited to these destinations would leave with an unsatisfactory glimpse of the city.
These are the opening lines of Dubai’s latest guide book — Soul of Dubai Guide — launched by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Promising readers a peek into the little nooks and crannies of the city, the guidebook features the voices of 100 residents who recommend lesser known places.
From the chicken biryani at Karachi Darbar to Irani kebabs at the Special Ostadi in Bur Dubai, the guide is a collection of must-visit places.
“Within the hustle and bustle of the city lies a layer that is imbued with diverse cultural nuances, traditions and heritage that we would love for you to see. I am very happy that people from 200 different nationalities, that live and work in Dubai, feel as connected to the city and its roots as I do,” said Shaikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, in the foreword.
The book sets itself at the crossroads of new and old Dubai — presenting the best of both sides and what they have to offer visitors. Some of the recommended places include the numerous art galleries in Al Quoz, modest eateries like Bu Qtair and Al Mallah in Jumeirah, and archaeological sites like Majlis Ghorfat in Umm Al Sheif.
“A trip to Dubai is incomplete without a trip to the desert. There are a couple of options available — hire a four by four and head out by yourself, if you know what you’re doing, or take an organised trip with a tour operator, but try to find an authentic one. Belly dancing and shisha are not Emirati culture,” reads a section of the book.
Khalil Abdulwahid, manager of visual arts at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, says, “This book is from the people to the people. We want people to come and see Dubai through the eyes of people who live here. The city is growing extremely fast and we want people to connect with its soul.”
Mouza Al Abbar, an Emirati contributor featured in the book, says, “Dubai has a culture and heritage but the message is not being communicated to visitors. The way the city is marketed would have to change. In Dubai, you feel the energy. Everything’s running. That sets Dubai apart. You can find the new and modern here and if you want to you can also discover the traditional as well.”
Available in both Arabic and English, Soul of Dubai Guide will be available free to visitors and residents at cafes, art galleries, airport lounges, cultural institutions, embassies, and hotels, in addition to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing offices across the world. It can also be downloaded via the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority website www.dubaiculture.gov.ae
The launch of the Soul of Dubai Guide complements the addition of a new creative destination, Creekside, a contemporary cultural platform and café.
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