The DWW Insiders’ Guide to Dubai, Presented by Watchonista
With the start of Dubai Watch Week just a few days away, watch aficionados from across the globe are carefully stashing their beloved timepieces into slick watch rolls for a trip to the beating heart of the UAE. In preparation for our own journey to the City of Gold, Watchonista spoke to some show insiders who navigate this city like it’s their own playground to give us some fresh and funky tips on how to vibe with Dubai.
Your tour guides for this out-of-this-world adventure aren’t just watch geeks; they’re also the ultimate Dubai treasure hunters: Director General of Dubai Watch Week, Hind Seddiqi; watch industry legend and the founder of MB&F, Max Büsser; Jacopo Corvo, the Milan-based owner of GMT, Italy’s premier retailer for high-end independent watch brands; the model, influencer, entrepreneur, luxury media veteran, and proprietor of Kats Bling, Katia Jundi; and last but certainly not least, the man behind @arabwatchguide, Hassan Akhras.
These folks don’t just know Dubai; they practically ARE Dubai. So, it’s not terribly surprising their recommendations include those sweet, secret spots you’d usually miss on a regular business trip. We’re talking top-notch eateries, mind-blowing shisha spots, and art galleries with work so contemporary that it’s practically from the future.
So, buckle up, people, because it’s time to rock this town with the true Dubai insiders!
An architectural masterpiece and a compelling symbol of innovation and creativity in the heart of Dubai, Hind insists that the Museum of the Future is a “must-visit” for anyone exploring the city. The museum represents the United Arab Emirate’s dedication to shaping the future by showcasing the UAE’s commitment to cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking design. It all starts with the museum’s exterior, which is a work of art unto itself, and continues inside, where you’ll find exhibitions and installations that delve into various aspects of future technology, innovation, and sustainability.
Hind also recommends having at least one meat at GAIA, an elegant taverna featuring authentic Greek cuisine and providing an exceptional dining experience, saying: “You can never go wrong with GAIA.”
Plus, since it’s located in the heart of the DIFC, where Dubai Watch Week takes place, GAIA won’t take you far from the show as you embark on a culinary jaunt through the Mediterranean.
In the middle of “Little India” in the Karama part of old Dubai, you will probably be the only non-Indian trying the incredible dosa and vegetarian thali at Sangeetha. But, here, the luxury is where it should be: On your plate.
If you’re looking to cool off, Max recommends a visit to the Nessnass or Sunset beaches along the Jumeirah shoreline, adding: “Go for a night swim at the Umm Suqeim Night Swimming Beach, which [along with Nessnass and Sunset] is now lit up after nightfall. The young and young at heart love it.”
(Editor’s Note: Jacopo Corvo, another of our insiders, also cited these locations as some of the best beach spots in Dubai, so you should definitely check it out.)
Max also recommends something truly exclusive: “If you want to learn how to drive in the desert, contact Marc-Antoine Abadie of Drive & Dive.”
One of the nicest guys Max has ever met, as well as someone who loves to share his passion for the desert, Marco (as he is known) will have you driving up and down dunes you didn’t think drivable. And when the sun goes down, he can organize a delicious barbecue right there among the dunes. One caveat: You have to bring your own car, as Marco does not rent. He is also booked very far in advance, so plan accordingly.
He doesn’t have a website, but you can book your adventure with Marco via his email.
Perched along the beautiful shores of the Arabian Gulf, Shimmers by the Beach at Mina A'Salam Hotel is a picturesque haven where luxury meets nature. This charming beachfront venue offers an unforgettable experience of sipping sunset drinks and enjoying shisha with your toes dipped in the golden sand.
For a change of pace and a culinary adventure, Katia recommends Reif Sushi in the up-and-coming Dubai Hills Estate. This unassuming gem is perfect for those who appreciate the art of sushi in a casual and welcoming setting. Chef Reif Othman, known for his innovative approach to Japanese cuisine, has created a sushi haven like no other.
Dubai’s cultural landscape is a treasure trove of art, design, and culinary innovation, and Alserkal Avenue is the epicenter of this creative movement. What was once a storage compound is now a vibrant hub for art galleries, design studios, and original food concepts. Jacopo especially appreciates this formerly industrial space’s transformation into a playground for the avant-garde.
Jacopo’s next rec reflects his appreciation for the city’s historical roots and culinary diversity: Al Ustad, an unassuming eatery offering everything from succulent kebabs to aromatic rice dishes, Al Ustad’s menu is a testament to the enduring flavors of Persian cuisine, transporting you to the heart of Iran (despite you never leaving Dubai’s historic Al Fahidi neighborhood). Plus, Al Ustad’s no-frills, traditional ambiance lets the food take center stage.
Nestled in the heart of Downtown Dubai within the Pullman Hotel, the speakeasy and restaurant Honeycomb allows you to immerse yourself in the best of electronic music as you savor a fusion of global flavors, offering a fusion of electronic music culture, vinyl-only DJ sets, and outstanding cocktails.
Need a spot to let loose, relax, and chill with friends? Then check out the Brass Monkey. Nestled in the scenic Blue Waters area, Brass Monkey is Hassan’s top pick for a casual and fun night out with friends because you can enjoy a night filled with bowling, good drinks, and delectable dinners, all in a dynamic and social environment.
For the outdoorsy souls who seek adventure and a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, Hassan’s final recommendation is the Daman I Lodges at Hatta Resort Area. Located only an hour and a half from Dubai, Hatta delivers an invigorating weekend getaway by offering activities like cycling through picturesque landscapes, hiking up the hills, and embracing your adventurous spirit. It’s a perfect escape for those who want to reconnect with nature after the great (but busy) Dubai Watch Week.