Written by root. Posted in FEATURES


Published on November 01, 2015 with No Comments

Look closely and you’ll see a city that is more than just skyscrapers.



Cities are packed full of fascinating stories, breathtaking scenes and hidden gems. Because of this, we often take that beauty for granted, forgetting to look around and take it all in. Every aspect of life can be unique, beautiful and surprising in its own way, but sometimes we need to take a fresh look from a unique perspective for us to truly appreciate it.

Dubai makes an excellent case study.

Pigeon-holed for too long as a desert-city-turned-decadent-playground, first time visitors may be forgiven to think Dubai is just skyscrapers and shopping. For many, the city’s landmarks are all too familiar; but when armed with a determination to seek out the novel and unique, Dubai’s everyday life can unfold and play out like a new storyboard.

Here, ten of the Middle East region’s best social media influencers, in association with Gulf Photo Plus, give a glimpse of Dubai like never before. From the rustic lanes of Bastakiya in Bur Dubai to the chic and funky Box Park along Al Wasl Road, the awe-inspiring iconic skyline of Sheikh Zayed Road to the vibrant Deira fish market, everyday Dubai scenes are given a microscopic twist. The results will make every guest to the city – and perhaps even the locals – re-examine their surroundings and appreciate more of life’s less-than-obvious intricacies.

The pop up malls of Boxpark

Shipping containers are turned into functional shops, making Dubai’s Boxpark a refreshing retail and dining option. This offbeat outdoor concept is often seen as a hip, modern setting that engages Dubai’s growing eclectic community. The aesthetics of its bright and funky containers – that come alive in the evenings – are often a crowd puller.

Rustic charm and history in Bastakiya

Dubbed by National Geographic as “Dubai’s most engaging neighbourhood”, the diminutive Bastakiya quarter is a mini maze of restored merchant houses, art galleries, cafes and boutique hotels. It was built in the late 19th century by wealthy pearl and textile traders from Bastak in southern Iran (hence the name).

The hustle and bustle of Deira fish market

It may be a tourist hotspot, but Deira has long defined the heart and soul of the locals. Housed in this large warehouse are two markets. The fruits and vegetables section is a kaleidoscope of colours, with fruits piled high amid exotic herbs and spices. The seafood section is a seeming cacophony of shouts and cries. Being among the fishmongers can be both dynamic and downright intimidating.


Peace at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Many may flock to see the stars of the sanctuary in winter – the pale pink flamingos. But among the mangroves, saline lagoons and tidal estuaries are two hides, or camouflage shelters, that allow visitors to catch a sight of more than 270 avian varieties that alight in Ras Al Khor. These include Broad-billed Sandpipers (July to April) and Greater Spotted Eagles (October to April).


Awesomeness over Sheikh Zayed Road

The main artery of the city is also the longest road in the Emirates, stretching from Al-Silah in Abu Dhabi before ending in Ras al-Khaimah at the Oman border. Sheikh Zayed Road is
considered Dubai’s iconic superhighway and is best enjoyed at night. Visitors wanting the best shot should head to Level 43 of Four Points Sheraton. Here, the Rooftop Lounge & Terrace offers a spectacular and panoramic 360 degree view of Dubai’s skyline.


The art enclave of Alserkal Avenue

Once a marble factory, this is now the hub for all things artsy and creative. Think galleries, coffee shops, furniture stores, photography art houses and yes, there’s even a classic car dealership. Considered the region’s densest arts districts, the artworks on display highlight artists from Muslim countries with shows that often border on the whimsical. And it helps too, that programmes are often exuberant, providing a great excuse to check out the neighbourhood.



Images are courtesy of Canon Middle East’s #ComeandSeeMyArabia campaign.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Dubai daily.

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