Welcome to Out of Office, Who What Wear UK’s chic travel guide that provides you with the most stylish take on any destination by tapping creatives who know where to stay, what to eat, and importantly, which items to pack. This month, Joy Ejaria, Who What Wear UK’s social media editor, shares tips for a fun family getaway to Dubai.
“If you have any preconceived notions of Dubai, I’m here to wipe them away, because that’s exactly what my recent trip to the metropolis did to me. For a city still under construction, Dubai has a lot to offer tourists. True, it’s hardly a hidden holiday gem, but what makes it great is that it has been built with luxury in mind; when you think of that word, Dubai is probably one of the first destinations that comes to mind. But apart from that, forget what you’ve seen or heard.
“When I told people I was heading to Dubai for a luxury family holiday, many looked at me confused. Dubai? With kids? Yes, it’s no secret Dubai has a lot to offer adults, but there’s also loads for kids to enjoy, from a visit to Aquaventure Dubai (the biggest waterpark in the world) to a trip to the Museum of the Future, where futuristic innovations blow their minds. Adrenaline-seekers can also book a trip to the famous Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building—there’s a theme here) or head into the desert for dune bashing.”
“I wanted to kickstart the trip with some TLC, so I booked a much-needed massage at Nikki Spa at Nikki Beach. It was very much what the doctor ordered after a seven-hour flight from London, as when the masseuse’s hands touched my back, I fell asleep. The only thing that got me up and out of my slumber was the thought of food. Nikki Beach is synonymous with partying, but our off-peak visit (we went at the end of August) meant the kids could tag along for a delicious lunch at the adult-only beach club (I’d recommend the truffle pizza).
“The temperature reached 42ºC during our stay, so visiting Aquaventure turned out to be a great idea. We spent an entire day there—literally from open to close—and even with our fast-track access, we barely covered all the rides. I’m far from a thrill seeker, so you won’t catch me sliding down Leap of Faith (a vertical-drop slide that takes you through a tunnel submerged in a shark-filled tank), but my daughter loved it.”
“I get stressed when it comes to packing for a holiday. There’s much to consider; the trip’s length, the weather and every planned activity. When packing for Dubai, I found it more stressful than usual, because it’s essentially a combined city break and beach holiday. Throw in the incredibly high temperatures and modest dressing expectations, I greatly appreciated the 30kg Emirates luggage allowance.
“Despite what I read online about malls, restaurants and hotels asking customers to dress modestly, they were accommodating. I wore a midi skirt with a waistcoat that showed my arms to Dubai Mall and cleavage-showing dresses to dinner with no issues. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Gold Souk were the only places where covering up was necessary. Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, the mosque provided visitors with garments to cover up. However, this has changed; visitors are now encouraged to buy an abaya (which covers the body from head to toe) in the mall adjacent to the mosque. For those not wanting to make a purchase, all genders must arrive with their arms and legs covered, avoiding transparent or tight-fitting clothing. Women are given a head-covering before entry.”
“I wouldn’t be a true Who What Wear editor if I didn’t include a spot of shopping during my trip. My naive mind thought Westfield in London encompassed pretty much everything the world had to offer in terms of shopping malls, but my visit to the 5.9 million sqft Dubai Mall proved otherwise. Honestly, I don’t think I even covered 10% of the grounds, and the place had me spoilt for choice with luxury stores like Chanel, Saint Laurent and Loewe, plus classic favourites like Sephora and Zara. Shoe lovers like myself will thoroughly enjoy visiting Level Shoes—I know I did. I spotted so many 2024 shoe trends already on offer during my browse, and I was like a kid in a candy store walking around the different concessions, eyeing the designer shoes and bags I wanted to bring home. (Spoiler alert: I returned with The Row‘s super-coveted Zip-Up Ankle Boots).”
“My family and I were truly spoilt for choice when eating in Dubai; whatever cuisine we fancied was just a spoonful away, and I ate my weight in carbs. But one of the best meals we had was at Jun’s Dubai, a fine dining restaurant headed by chef Kelvin Cheung. The menu, which promised simplicity in presentation and massive flavour, delivered just that. Every meal was carefully thought through and made with locally sourced ingredients that fused recipes from around the world, thanks to Chef Cheung’s Chinese heritage and Canadian-American upbringing. I highly recommend the rainbow heirloom carrots served with sourdough bread.
“Another noteworthy food moment was dinner at Michelin-star Dai Pai Dong at Rosewood Abu Dhabi—more on that below. The casual dress code didn’t stop us from dressing to the nines and heading to the basement of the hotel for some family bonding over delicious authentic Cantonese cuisine. It still pains me that we didn’t experience the Sunday Yum Cha Brunch, as we had heard such good things about it.”
“We fancied a bit of tranquillity during our holiday, so we booked a taxi and took the two-hour drive to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Everything about the trip was perfect—from our visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (the architecture will leave your jaw on the floor) to our luxurious stay at Rosewood Abu Dhabi. Our trip to Abu Dhabi was only 24-hours long, but spending the night at Rosewood meant we could do all of our favourite things: shopping, eating and relaxing.”