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Black Book: Dubai

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The evolving Dubai skyline. Photograph by Thomas Kurmeier—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Brazil-born Marian Reitman, the chief concierge at Four Seasons’ 237-room hotel on Jumeirah Beach, loves Dubai’s split personality: “You can go super local and live simply, but at night if you want to dress up and go out to fancy restaurants you can.” With her connections, that is. Here is Reitman’s advice for a perfect trip.

Mariana Reitman, Chief concierge at Four Seasons’ Jumeirah BeachCourtesy of Four Seasons
Courtesy of Four Seasons

 

Local restaurant

Reem Al Bawadi is the only place I send my guests for very authentic food. They have two locations, one very close to the hotel and another in the marina. It’s a simple place but nicely done; the decoration is very Arabic. I tell my guests to order the kibbeh nayeh, a tartare of beef or lamb. You can also smoke shisha there, the best way to end an authentic meal.

Under the radar

The Jumaa and Obaid Bin Thani House is a very cute calligraphy museum in an old house from 1916, back when Dubai had only 2,000 people. The architecture is traditional and very lovely, and the Arabian writings and famous poems inside are beautiful.

Desert activity

UAE-CAMEL-DESERT-NATURE-TOURISM KARIM SAHIB—AFP/Getty Images

Just outside the city, there’s a nature reserve in the desert, and Platinum Heritage does a tour I love called Bedouin Breakfast, which is a wildlife safar in open Land Roverts, so you can see many animals. You’ll also meet a Bedouin, who talks about local history. It’s great to do in the morning before the sun gets too hot.

Royal thrill

A member of the Bahraini team is picture KARIM SAHIB AFP/Getty Images

Not a lot of people know that Sheik Mohammed and his son are skydivers. Everyone talks about skydiving at the Palm but there’s a great facility in the middle of the desert called Inflight Dubai, where you can train in an indoor skydiving simulator. The technology is unbelievable; there are only two or three like it in the world.

Best beach

United Arab Emirates’ Cities & LandmarksViews of the Burj Al Arab hotel from Kite BeachLuis Davilla—Getty Images

My favorite beach is Kite Beach, named for its kite surfers. It’s the only beach with surfing in Dubai, and there’s a school called Surf Dubai. It offers classes for kids and adults. There are also great views of the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel.

Locals’ secret

Near Kite Beach, SALT is a food truck that sells burgers. You can find out where it is by following it on Instagram using @FindSalt. It attracts a great mix of people: in bikinis, in working clothes, even the Sheik goes there sometimes.

Side trip

United Arab Emirates. Fujairah. Sandy BeachMarka UIG via Getty Images

Fujairah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It’s a lovely area that’s an hour’s drive and sits on the Gulf of Oman. The sea is nice, and the water is incredibly clean. It’s where many locals go to get away.

Toughest dinner reservation

Coya is the place to be. It’s a Peruvian restaurant near the Four Seasons ,and the food is stunning. I go for whatever fresh fish it has, the spicy beef, and salted Peruvian corn. The ambiance is like a chic grandma’s house, and there are big jars of infused pisco.

Best room in the house

I have a thing for the Presidential Suite. When you enter you have so much light because the walls are all glass. There’s this huge balcony with a view the sea that [gives] this sense of freedom. The decor is very classy and light at the same time, with lots of crystals, but not in an exaggerated way. The bed is turned to the sea as well.

What to avoid

Visiting during Ramadan, when it’s usually very hot and the restrictions can pose some limitations on activities and dining. It’s also pointless to visit areas under development, such as Motor City and Dubai Land.

MORE: The $10,000 day: Live like a Sheikh in the UAE’s biggest city.

A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline ‘See Dubai in a Day.’

Local restaurant

Reem Al Bawadi is the only place I send my guests for very authentic food. They have two locations, one very close to the hotel and another in the marina. It’s a simple place but nicely done; the decoration is very Arabic. I tell my guests to order the kibbeh nayeh, a tartare of beef or lamb. You can also smoke shisha there, the best way to end an authentic meal.

Under the radar

The Jumaa and Obaid Bin Thani House is a very cute calligraphy museum in an old house from 1916, back when Dubai had only 2,000 people. The architecture is traditional and very lovely, and the Arabian writings and famous poems inside are beautiful.

Desert activity

Just outside the city, there’s a nature reserve in the desert, and Platinum Heritage does a tour I love called Bedouin Breakfast, which is a wildlife safar in open Land Roverts, so you can see many animals. You’ll also meet a Bedouin, who talks about local history. It’s great to do in the morning before the sun gets too hot.

Royal thrill

Not a lot of people know that Sheik Mohammed and his son are skydivers. Everyone talks about skydiving at the Palm but there’s a great facility in the middle of the desert called Inflight Dubai, where you can train in an indoor skydiving simulator. The technology is unbelievable; there are only two or three like it in the world.

Best beach

Views of the Burj Al Arab hotel from Kite Beach

My favorite beach is Kite Beach, named for its kite surfers. It’s the only beach with surfing in Dubai, and there’s a school called Surf Dubai. It offers classes for kids and adults. There are also great views of the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel.

Locals’ secret

Near Kite Beach, SALT is a food truck that sells burgers. You can find out where it is by following it on Instagram using @FindSalt. It attracts a great mix of people: in bikinis, in working clothes, even the Sheik goes there sometimes.

Side trip

Fujairah is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It’s a lovely area that’s an hour’s drive and sits on the Gulf of Oman. The sea is nice, and the water is incredibly clean. It’s where many locals go to get away.

Toughest dinner reservation

Coya is the place to be. It’s a Peruvian restaurant near the Four Seasons ,and the food is stunning. I go for whatever fresh fish it has, the spicy beef, and salted Peruvian corn. The ambiance is like a chic grandma’s house, and there are big jars of infused pisco.

Best room in the house

I have a thing for the Presidential Suite. When you enter you have so much light because the walls are all glass. There’s this huge balcony with a view the sea that [gives] this sense of freedom. The decor is very classy and light at the same time, with lots of crystals, but not in an exaggerated way. The bed is turned to the sea as well.

What to avoid

Visiting during Ramadan, when it’s usually very hot and the restrictions can pose some limitations on activities and dining. It’s also pointless to visit areas under development, such as Motor City and Dubai Land.

 

MORE: The $10,000 day: Live like a Sheikh in the UAE’s biggest city.

A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline ‘See Dubai in a Day.’