Beckoning visitors since 2004, Madinat Jumeirah resembles a historic Arabian town. A mini city in the heart of modern Dubai, its charming architecture complete with traditional wind-catchers is reminiscent of ancient Arabia. Overlooking a private beach, this resort complex hosts hotels, summer houses, restaurants and an indoor souq.
Best known for its meandering waterways with Emirati-style wooden gondolas ferrying tourists across the scenic complex, it also offers uninterrupted views of the iconic Burj Al Arab. Not just a tourist attraction, it also transforms into a huge art gallery for the region’s biggest annual art fair, Art Dubai.
Visitors are recommended to make their way to Madinat Jumeirah and get lost in the alleyways decorated with ornate lanterns, carved wood and stores packed with souvenirs. However, there’s more than the seemingly kitsch shopping for both long-time residents and tourists to experience. We’ll take you through an evening of culture, art, and gastronomy at Madinat Jumeirah:
5:30 PM – Folly
Looking beyond the exotic spice dealers and expensive oud merchants, lies a whole other side of this buzzing heritage souq. Skip the abra tour and head over to Folly, a famed restaurant and bar. Following a narrow flight of stairs, the rooftop bar is a delightful discovery. Away from the buzzing crowds, this romantic setting offers bird’s eye views of the spectacular sites like the Ain Dubai.
The drinks have been cleverly crafted with locally produced seasonal herbs and fruits. They are not only utterly delicious but also inventive and refreshing. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back and this is possibly one of the most scenic spots at sunset. Although it is possible to spend hours on the rooftop, there are other gems to discover.
7:30 PM – ToDA (Theatre of Digital Art)
Next on the agenda is a 60-minute Meditation and Sound Healing at Theatre of Digital Art (ToDA). Spread over 1,800 sqm, this is a unique art, education, and multi-media entertainment hub that is a permanent fixture at Madinat Jumeirah. They are utilizing a combination of pioneering technologies and clever storytelling to deliver interactive art, culture, and science experiences for all ages.
Away from the stress of life this immersive experience will help you completely switch off as you learn to work with your breath. Accompanied with a visual show of images displayed across the theatre, the instructor guides you in tandem with the beats of the instruments. This meditation is truly an emotional journey and no matter how prepared you may think you are; this experience is like no other.
8:45 PM – Taverna
After a mindful reset, it’s time for a well-deserved dinner. Madinat Jumeirah is the original epicentre for Dubai’s culinary offerings that includes everything from classic Italian to wholesome British. Whether you fancy tapas or tacos, this gastronomic haven has it all.
Taverna Greek Kitchen is a fantastic choice. Overlooking the vibrant waterfront promenade the outdoor terrace is buzzing and alive, while the inside is cosy, with whitewashed walls, neutral tones, and accents of tarnished copper.
The kitchen serves generous portions of family-style sharing dishes. The smoked aubergine, Greek feta puree, and tzatziki are creamy and luxurious. The pillowy bread is the perfect way to scoop up the cold mezzes. The crunchy and refreshing Horiatiki salad consisting of tomatoes, onions, olives tossed in olive and oregano is a must-try. The star dish is the lamb shoulder so perfectly tender that it melts in your mouth. It is served with couscous and oven-roasted potatoes. For a winning end to a fantastic meal end with a platter of loukoumades. These traditional Greek dough balls are drizzled with thyme, honey, and walnuts.
Once a spot reserved for tourists, Madinat Jumeirah now has that convivial neighbourhood-type feeling for everyone to experience.
– Saira Malik
Images courtesy of Madinat Jumeirah