Luxury hotels, party hot spots, photoshoots atop a camel… here’s how to experience Dubai like an A-lister.
It’s no secret that Dubai is a bit of a celebrity stomping ground. From Hollywood royalty to British reality stars (and by that we mean pretty much the entire TOWIE cast) and global sports champs, you never know who you’re going to bump into down at The Dubai Mall.
Celeb-spotting is one of our favourite hobbies here at What’s On, and we spend a lot of time eagerly monitoring the Instagram feeds of some of our city’s VIP tourists.
After intensive research, we think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s on their Dubai bucket lists. Here are the top 10 things celebrities love to do when they visit Dubai.
1. Stay in the most lavish accommodation available
Why settle for a basic five-star hotel when Dubai has a ‘seven-star’ option? The Burj Al Arab is more than fit for a pop king, as Justin Bieber discovered during his stay this year (ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez is also rumoured to be a fan of the ultra-luxurious property).
Ocean-themed hotel Atlantis The Palm is another perennial favourite among celebs. It’s nice to see that even Steve Aoki had a mini freak-out when he spotted his fish-filled hotel room.
And here’s Made In Chelsea star Louise Thompson, pictured earlier this year. She told her Instagram followers she was recuperating from a wisdom tooth removal. We can think of worse places than Atlantis to spend the day on the couch eating ice cream and jelly…
2. Head out on a desert safari/stage a self-indulgent photoshoot
Um, were you even in Dubai if you didn’t pose for pictures in the dunes, clad in a red-and-white keffiyeh? Zac Efron shows us how it’s done.
Meanwhile, Joe Jonas gave us the perfect brooding sunset shot.
And here’s cricket star Kevin Pietersen, striking his best ‘pensive man in the desert’ pose.
3. Take a ride on a camel
Justin Bieber looked a little out of his comfort zone as he climbed aboard the desert-dwelling creature – but we do love how they have matching shirts. Also, points for staying hydrated.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, on the other hand, was clearly born to ride. He captioned this majestic snap: “All the King does is travel the world.”
4. Check out the Burj Khalifa
Ah, the obligatory Burj snap. What’s On was kind enough to help Mariah Carey out with hers when she was in town for the Dubai Jazz Festival earlier this year (though we didn’t quite manage to get the whole thing in – sorry, Mimi, rookie mistake).
Actresses Eva Longoria and Melanie Griffith and popstar Anastacia went for a slightly more creative angle, as you can see. Nice one, ladies!
5. Take a snap with the Burj Al Arab
Even if you can’t be like Biebs and land yourself an overnight stay, you can at least take an impressive selfie with the sail-shaped icon. Samuel L. Jackson demonstrates:
And here’s German goalkeeper Loris Karius acting nonchalant with the Burj as a backdrop.
6. Get the adrenaline pumping
Will Smith is a big fan of Dubai, and apparently one of his favourite things to do here is to leap out of a plane with Skydive Dubai.
“Dubai dreams the way I dream… when I landed I was like, ‘that’s how I would build a city if I was making a city’,” he told us when in Dubai last year. Aww, shucks.
Supermodel Bella Hadid also embraced the city’s thrills on her recent trip to Dubai, describing it as the “best skydive experience of my life”.
7. Hang out with Salt Bae
Dubai-based chef Nusret Gökçe shot to viral fame this year, thanks to his sensual sodium sprinklings – which also won him a number of high-profile fans. Leonardo DiCaprio was delighted to have his meat personally seasoned by the social media star when in Dubai earlier this year.
8. Hit up the hottest nightlife spots
The most popular A-lister haunt in Dubai? Definitely Jamaican restaurant Miss Lily’s. Book a table here and you never know who will end up sitting beside you – Rihanna was snapped here earlier this year:
And so was Bella Hadid, together with Dubai-based entrepreneur (and celebrity BFF) Carla DiBello.
9. Have a fancy meal at the world’s highest restaurant
At.Mosphere, located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, is another favourite dining spot among the rich and famous. Mariah Carey popped in for a sky-high meal:
And Will Smith enjoyed himself so much he went twice.
With Will Smith, the most charismatic, funny & kind man. No wonder millions around the world admire his talent and work 👏😊😍 It’s been a pleasure to be at your service and we are looking forward to see you again soon! Tel. +971 4 888 3804 #atmosphererestaurant #atmospheredubai #atmosphereburjkhalifa #atmospherelounge #dubai #dxb #celebrity
10. Hang out with the Emirates crew
When it’s time to go home, who do the celebs choose to fly with? Emirates, naturally. Here’s a jubilant Wyclef Jean making the most of the in-flight bar.
And here’s Back to the Future star Christopher Lloyd making some new friends.