The Alternative Guide to Dubai for Alternative Fund Managers

Beyond the Brash and Bold: Exploring the Hidden Gems for Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Dubai is best known for being brash & bold – the city of Gold where even the police drive Lamborghinis & Abu Dhabi has a happiness police patrol giving out retail vouchers for good driving!

But behind the headlines is an eco-system of break the bank & cheap as chips activities fit for adventurers and curious fund managers. Here’s a few of our favourite places and things to do:

Half a day in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood will bring a new perspective for this City. Start at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, take a local Emirati meal & head on to XVA Gallery to see works by local artists. Remember to cross Dubai Creek on an Abra boat for just 1AED.  At some stage, you’ll also no doubt be in the DIFC part of downtown. Within Gate Avenue (where all the financial sector firms are located) there is often a free gallery showing photography or art works by GCC experts. Recently the photographs of world famous Iraqi snapper – Latif Ani – were on show detailing the unexpected wonders of Iraq in the 1950’s and 1960’s.           

Head to Hatam Al Tai or Shiraz Nights in the Deira neighbourhood for the best chicken shawarma (pita containing spit roasted chicken with pickles and garlic sauce, often served with spices). Don’t miss the Dubai Coffee Museum – coffee in all its forms & blends is a staple part of Arabic culture. In fact, let us know when you’re coming as our Dubai HQ is on board the QE2 Ship permanently docked in Deira so we can help out with guides & recommendations!        

Dubai’s public beaches are free so if you’re hotel hasn’t got its own – no problem. Water temperatures range from 22C to 33C depending on the season so it’s always a relaxing way to de-stress after a packed work schedule.

Many of you will already have tried the ubiquitous shopping malls and found that they are the cleanest and best smelling in the world, but the days of bargains are long gone and in fact many items are more expensive than in Europe or the USA. However, make sure to try Comptoir 102 or Georges of Dubai, both of which sell high quality products at very attractive prices. And if you are thinking of having some clothes made – head to Satwa armed with photos of what you’d like copied (think HK in the 1990’s) and a few days later your couture will be in your hotel room.

A word here about alcohol, a topic that most of us expats are all too happy to opine on! The variety & volume of bar and restaurant outlets now serving your favourite tipple is extraordinary for a Muslim country & prices, although high, are falling due to a recent tax reduction. However, convenience shops and supermarkets are not permitted to sell alcohol and a small chain of licensed shops are your best bet for take-away. Look up your nearest African & Eastern branch & remember your passport – some are spookily close to well known supermarkets and malls.    

Finally, for those of you alpha personalities with energy to burn, head to Skydive Dubai (it does what it says on the tin with high quality videos to prove you did it) or for the more sedate, head to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. To burn off some calories the Al Qudra 86km cycle track built in the desert outside Dubai is a personal favourite  shop onsite to hire all the kit you need.