16 wicked fun things to add to your winter wishlist in the UAE
The cooler climes mean camping, BBQs, and the return of our favourite attractions…
We don’t want to speak too soon, but it feels like summer is on its way out. You can safely stand outdoors in the mornings without taking an involuntary second shower (minus the water) and the breeze doesn’t feel like a practical prank. With all this evidence in front of us, we’d like to make an informed call, and say the winter season is on the way.
As we say goodbye to summer and hello to our favourite season in the UAE, here’s 15 wicked fun things to ensure you make the most of the winter.
Camp in the big wide outdoors of Hatta
Cooler temperatures mean more time that you can spend outdoors. There’s so much natural beauty to discover in the UAE, a major landmark of which is the region of Hatta. With majestic mountain ranges and breathtaking views of valleys, wadis and rare greenery, it’s the perfect place to pitch your tent, get a bonfire going and savour the weather, which of course, will be even cooler up there. Luckily for us, Hatta’s glamping experiences have now reopened. All you have to do is kick back and have a good time. Make your reservations here.
For more information, visit visithatta.com
Staycation amongst the dunes at Bab Al Shams
Located about an hour away from Dubai, just off the Al Qudra Road, Bab Al Shams is as picturesque of old-world desert charm as can be. This luxurious resort destination will transport you away to an oasis surrounded by endless dunes, nature reserves, man-made lakes and wildlife specific to this region, like gazelles and oryx. For the adventure junkies, the resort offers a whole host of exciting activities, like fat biking, desert safari, archery, horse riding, and more. It’s the complete desert experience.
Bab Al Shams, Al Qudra Road, Dubai, rates from Dhs1,500. Tel: (0)4 809 6100, babalshams.com/
Witness incredible views with a hot air balloon ride
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Not only is a hot air balloon the perfect date idea, but it is also a great way to appreciate the beauty of the desert, which we might miss when we’re right in the middle of it. Nothing can beat bird’s eye aerial views of not just the dunes and the wildlife that inhabits them, but also a spectacular sunrise. The winter is the time to enjoy every bit of it. Try Balloon Flights – Dubai’s newest hot air balloon experience which takes you to 4,000 feet in the air over the desert. Rates start from Dhs879.
Book via 04 208 7222, or purchase your tickets and get more information on balloonflights.ae
Get the complete family fun experience at Global Village Dubai
Everyone’s favourite family fun destination closes every year for summer before reopening as the cooler months roll around. This year is no different. Global Village Dubai is now back in action for a new season. As always, it will be open for six months, meaning you have half a year to shop, play and dine on delicacies from around the world. But there’s always something new going on – so multiple visits are a must.
Frolic among the flowers at Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden is one of Dubai’s most popular attractions. It is, after all, the world’s largest natural flower garden. It is quite the spectacle featuring 150 million flowers in full bloom spanning over 72,000 square metres. The colourful heart-shaped arches that we’ve all seen all over social media has once again become the backdrop for Instagram photoshoots galore.
Get up close and personal with nature at Dubai Safari Park
An outdoor space like no other, Dubai Safari Park gives you a chance to get up close and personal with an incredible variety of wildlife. The 119-hectare site houses 3,000 animals. 78 species of mammals, 50 types of reptiles, 111 kinds of birds, as well as amphibians and invertebrates. It’s divided into four different villages and offers numerous experiences for you to get into the field.
Take a seaward trip to Musandam
The mountainous peninsula of Musandam is all clear blue waters, dolphins and dhow trips. Those looking for history can head to the capital of Khasab for museum displays and forts that date back to the 17th century. Hop aboard a traditional dhow and sail through the majestic fjords, spotting the local pods of dolphins as you go. Companies like Musandam Sea Adventure offer full and half-day dhow cruises, or options to create multi-day packages for those looking to maximise their adventure time.
Explore the mangroves at Al Zorah Natural Reserve
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This lesser-known ecosystem is made up of a tidal creek and a lush mangrove forest home to a rich variety of birdlife. Natural greenery is not that much of a common sight here, but this hidden gem is every nature lover’s dream. Mangroves are an important element of the coastline in this part of the world and you can spot nearly 60 species of birds, including the Greater Flamingo and a number of egrets and herons. If the sight of serene waters isn’t quite enough for you, and some adrenaline is the fix, you can also participate in water sports like windsurfing and kayaking.
Get festive in Winter Garden at Habtoor City
Habtoor Palace Dubai welcomes you into the festive season with the grand return of its Winter Garden. The much-loved winter garden is back this November with a number of pop-up restaurants and a host of activities the whole family can enjoy paired with live entertainment, fun attractions and more. Tickets to the Winter Garden cost Dhs25 per person. In return, you will receive a food and beverage voucher for the same amount which you can use to spend at the food stalls inside the garden. You will need to book your tickets on the Loyal by AHG app.
Winter Garden, Habtoor Palace, Al Habtoor City, Dubai. Open now, 4pm to 12am daily. @wintergardendubai
Visit this gorgeous winter pop-up in Al Ain
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Located in the Qasr Al Muwaiji, Le Pre is a gorgeous pop-up surrounded by plants, and will definitely win a spot on your ‘Gram. Inside, you can pick from pizza, burgers, coffee and cake or you can dine in the casual fine dining space with a menu of international, handcrafted dishes. On special occasions, there will be live music and entertainment. Read more here.
Get grilling at outdoor barbecues
Now is the time to get those grilling stands, dad polos and Reebok trainers out: It’s barbecue season. With lovely weather, the outdoor barbecue experience will be that much more enjoyable and you can get your meats and your corn on the cob and all that good stuff and have a gala food time. There are plenty of spots in the country for an outdoor barbecue including a number of parks, but if you want to put some distance between you and the cityscape, head to Khorfakkan, Kalba and even Al Qudra.
Warm your soul with some hotpot
The hotpot experience is built for the winter, with hot soup loaded up with delicious meats, vegetables and other ingredients of your choice. It’s quite a communal experience, really, shared between a large group of people with love and memories on the side. Since the beginning of time, soup has been a comfort food, and if that doesn’t scream winter vibes, we don’t know what does. Head over to one of the many hotpot restaurants in the city and beyond to get your hotpot fix.
Sip on a festive latte (and other fall/winter-themed drinks)
Jones the grocer is coming out with a solid contender – a gingerbread latte. The limited edition drink is available till the end of the year, and flaunts a recipe featuring gingerbread syrup, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, garnished with gingerbread biscuit and including a special touch of honey cake crumble dusted on top. Delicious.
Grab a bite at a food truck at Last Exit
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A food truck park of sorts, Last Exit is one of those places you go to for a road trip that won’t kill the joy. There are many locations in and outside the city and they all feature meals on wheels of an impressive variety. The themed concept is open to the public round the clock, so you can indulge in some street food whenever your heart desires.
Indulge (truly) in some Turkey Takeaway from Duck Hook
Duck Hook’s massive Turkey Takeaway is just what you need to truly get into the festive spirit without leaving the house or putting in the hours of work. They’ve got all the typical bits and bobs – a lot of turkey, cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes, sausage rolls, carrots, gravy and all that – and it is truly delicious. Every single part of it. You may need a nap afterwards.
Beachside breakfast-ing in style at Koko Bay
Popular West Beach hotspot Koko Bay is usually synonymous with sundowners but it also has a great beachside breakfast offering. Enjoy Koko Bay-inspired breakfast dishes such as Asian omelette with kai pad krawpow served with custard baos, the Koko Bay full English, brioche French toast, Koko nut pancakes infused with lemongrass infused maple syrup and the Amazonica acai bowl. Bag a seat outside for those epic Dubai Marina skyline views.