Tala Samman, founder and editor of MyFashDiary.com, knows a thing or two about the who’s who and the what’s what. As former editor of Style.com Arabia, this jet-setter, who calls Dubai home, is our perfect guide for all things fashionable, fun, and delicious to-do in this destination city of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has long been on my list of locales to visit, and I am thrilled to check out all the hidden gems through the savvy eyes of this stylish gal. Thanks Tala!

EAT

La Petite Maison - One of the hardest places to get a booking at, but for stylish people watching and good food, this is the place to be. Based in DIFC, Dubai’s Financial District, the restaurant attracts lawyers, bankers and a chic crowd. LPM has a sharing concept – make sure to order the burrata, truffle pasta and pain perdu.

Em Sherif - Quite a new restaurant in the city, but if you’re planning to go out for some good Arabic food, Em Sherif is a gorgeous restaurant in Downtown Dubai. Fancy, yet still serve the traditional Middle Eastern dishes. The ruler, Sheikh Mohammed is a regular.

Teatro – There seems to be a new restaurant opening up in Dubai every week, but this is a gem that any old school Dubai-an would know: Teatro. They serve some of the best sushi in town all the way to key Indian dishes. Dimly lit; perfect ambience; impeccable service; and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet their famous restaurant manager, Pat – one of the most hilarious characters.

Al Reef Bakery – The least of fanciest places in Dubai, but one of the best bakeries in the country. I’ve been picking up Lebanese Manakeesh from there since I was 8 years old. Incredibly simple, but the dough and ingredients are just perfect. Open 24 hours, so it also works out as an ideal post-night-out snack.

STAY

XVA Art Hotel – Being a boutique hotel fan, it’s very hard to find some in Dubai as the city is known for it’s grand luxurious hotels. This one is Dubai’s first boutique hotel based in the old town of Al Bastakiya. Away from all the glamour, but close to the Dubai Creek and souqs, I recommend this hotel if you want to go down the cultural route. They do exhibit gorgeous art throughout the property.

One & Only Royal Mirage Hotel – For some Arabian glamour, I love the One & Only Royal Mirage. It’s so gorgeous, that even people who live in Dubai book their staycations at Royal Mirage. Overlooking the beach, the hotel is romantic, breathtaking and is a resort in the midst of the city.

SHOP

s*uce – A quirky local boutique, with a curated selection of pieces from high end designers to emerging brands you’ve probably never heard of. s*uce started the culture of supporting up and coming labels in the region over 10 years ago, and still considered one of the leading boutiques. They now have specified stores alongside the main s*uce stores like s*uce On-Sea (beachwear), s*uce in the hood (casual wear) and s*uce gifts (where they have a gift vending machine).

Bambah – For Vintage finds, Bambah, a boutique in the heart of Jumeirah, is one to check out. Owned by an adorable young woman, Maha Abdulrasheed – the store is attached to the Zoo Concept (a unique lifestyle concept) and also stocks the Bambah label if you’re into fairytale feminine pieces – think bows and ball skirts!

Tig Tip: If you’re looking for luxury designers, Harvey Nichols and Boutique1 do have some of the best buys.

FROLIC

Eden - We have the sun all year round, so we love our beach parties. Eden feels like something you’d see in Mykonos, Ibiza and St Tropez – a white beach club with sun beds, cabanas, bungalows and brunch – and then turns into a full fledged beach party with headlining DJs regularly playing during the weekends.
Ripe Market - A Friday market, which happens weekly – Ripe Market is a lovely idea to spend a Friday morning. Yoga classes, music, organic food and food trucks – it’s a happening social plan for a weekend morning.

Kite Beach - Even though we’re spoilt with some of the best hotel beaches, if you want something a little more casual – Kite Beach is worth checking out to get some colour, play some volleyball and grab a bite at one of their local beach front restaurants. Salt Burger (a burger truck) is one to check out! That being said, they also have an incredible running track across the beach.

Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque - This is actually outside of Dubai, but within the UAE – Abu Dhabi to be exact (Remember Sex and the City’s movie?). One to add to your culture list – it really is one of the most beautiful Muslim architectures. You might recognise pictures from Rihanna and Gigi Hadid, the mosque is breathtaking, special and just beautifully made being constructed from marble, stone, crystals and ceramics. Make sure to dress conservatively if you’re planning to visit the mosque.