Robyn was the first person to befriend me when I joined Google in 2010. We hit it off instantaneously upon discovering our mutual love for beautiful places, great food and even better wine. I was saddened when Robyn, my foodie partner in crime, and her husband moved from NYC to Dubai. Thankfully, I now live thousands of miles closer in London, making the journey there seem far less daunting. With Fall quickly approaching, I'm already planning a long weekend getaway. Read on to find out more about Robyn's experience and what makes Dubai such an amazing city!
Like David, I’ve always loved to travel. I look forward to each and every trip with the same enthusiasm that a first-time flyer might. After studying abroad in London in 2005, I knew I had to live outside of the US again in my lifetime. When the opportunity presented itself for my husband and I to move to Dubai in June 2013, we jumped at the chance. Even though we knew nothing about the city itself, we have adjusted easily and now can’t imagine life back in the USA!
What do I love about Dubai?
I love that it truly is the most diverse city where expats and locals mix in close proximity to one another. The expat population represents about 85% of the total population and people come from every corner of the Earth to experience all that Dubai has to offer. Since the majority of our friends here don’t have family close by, your friends truly become your family.
What could I do without?
The excess. Everything in Dubai is bigger, taller, shinier and faster which means they are expanding this city at an alarming rate. Sometimes I wish the road patterns would stay consistent instead of changing weekly to accommodate for new buildings and communities.
My perfect day in Dubai...
Without question, this day would have to fall in the December to March timeframe so it would be 80 and sunny with a slight chill in the air at night. I would wake up late, grab a latte and croissant at La Serre and head over to The Palace Hotel which has an incredible spa.
If I wasn't in Dubai...
I’d want to live in Singapore, because I’ve heard the expat culture is just as unique and the local food is supposed to be amazing. However, after a few years in the Middle East, I’m not sure I could handle another year without seasons!
Breakfast: I love Tom and Serg. It’s the perfect cafe culture that encourages you to linger all day or to just meet a friend for their famous Hangover Breakfast Wrap. Also, La Serre is known as one of the best boulangeries in Dubai - their bakery basket is to die for and the smoked salmon with soft scrambled eggs is creamy and delicious.
Brunch: Brunch is a bit of a different story in Dubai - it is known for being an over the top all day drinking affair with a buffet as far as the eye can see. Bubbalicious at the Westin is one of our favorites for the fresh raw bar and seafood, made to order Pad Thai station, and the wide selection of specialty drink bars (think: Pimm’s Cups, Bacardi Cannonballs and Tequila shooters). Grab a seat out on the patio from October through April for the full experience.
Lunch: During the work week, I frequent Urban Bistro for it’s fresh, market-driven menu with a fantastic three-course business lunch. With it’s free WiFi and fresh squeezed mocktails and juices, you can’t go wrong. Must haves: the Thai chicken salad, burger and sweet potato fries. Other favorites include Lime Tree Cafe and Zaroob for Lebanese street food that satisfies the craving for creamy hummus, cheesy manouches, and greasy, grilled shawarma.
Dinner: Dubai is known for bringing Western chains or hotspots to the locals and expats in the desert (yes, there are more Shake Shacks in the Middle East than in the US). One of the few original restaurants in Dubai is also one of the best: Le Petite Maison. It is truly a haven for foodies looking for French-influenced Mediterranean cuisine and innovative cocktails. The bar is constantly packed and reservations must be made a few weeks in advance. Must try items include: burrata with tomatoes and basil, grilled aubergine with mozzarella and pistou and a tomato martini to wash it all down.
Coffee: The coffee culture in Dubai is really starting to blossom but it’s nowhere near as advanced as NYC or London. The guys at Tom and Serg really know their way around espresso and Clinton Street Baking Company (from NYC) has brought the idea of bottomless high-quality filtered coffee to the region.
Cocktail: Definitely Le Petite Maison for the most innovative drinks around. However, the mocktail culture in Dubai is exceptionally strong given the Muslim population.
Hotel: Jumeirah Hotels is a luxury international hotel chain that originated in the Middle East, and it truly encompasses the local flavor and energy. Mina A'Salam and Al Qasr are two of our favorite hotels that anchor Madinat Jumeirah, which lies on Venice-inspired canals and is lined with restaurants from every culture.
Neighborhood: We live in Downtown Dubai and couldn’t love it more. It’s accessible to all corners of the city and has the best restaurants and cafes within walking distance on The Boulevard.
Tourist Attraction: Dubai is a city of superlatives. Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is a must-see. Grab drinks at At.mosphere, the bar at the top, and overlook the entire city at sunset. The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall, is right next door and has any store you could possibly imagine. Finally, I would highly recommend a desert safari at sunset as the dunes are spectacular when the light hits them just so. There are several companies (we like Arabian Adventures) who have experienced 4x4 drivers to take you on a heart-stopping, stomach-dropping tour of the dunes. From there, they drop you off at a desert camp complete with an Arabic BBQ and local entertainment. The ultimate desert experience!