How not to be a tourist in Dubai.

I am what is known as an “anti-tourist”.

I’m someone who doesn’t do what all the other tourists do. Or maybe I’m just not very good at being a tourist. I’m the person who went to New York and didnt go up the Empire State Building, to Jasper and didn’t go on the Skytram, to Botswana and didn’t go on safari, to Paris and didn’t visit the Eiffel Tower.

So what leads me off the beaten path? Well, I’m the type of person who finds the everyday life, the hidden histories and the delightful obscurities in different countries more interesting than taking selfies in front of monuments. In New York I was side-tracked by street workouts, a combination of athletics, calisthenics and sport performed on street furniture in Manhattan. In Jasper I spent my hours sitting by Moose Lake, waiting for the animal for which it was named to make an appearance (I was eventually graced with the appearance of a mother and two calves). In Botswana my husband and I were spontaneously invited to a local family’s BBQ as we walked along by the Chobe River. In Paris, an unlimited Metro Pass and a healthy sense of adventure led me to Belleville, Paris’ working-class cosmopolitan neighbourhood, where the array of cultures is dizzying to say the least. You get the idea.

Should I be fortunate enough to visit Dubai, my time there would actually be planned with military precision, based on copious internet research of travel sites and a compilation of the top places to visit based on traveller recommendation. My tendency to distractibility aside, I am generally a very organised person. I would print out details of each attraction and plan a rigorus schedule to encompass them all.. But the truth is, I may well not get to see the Burj Khalifa, despite the fact that it is is on my bucket list. I probably would only see Jumeirah Mosque from a distance. The camels would, no doubt, trek across the sands without me and the Dubai Mall  would close without my custom.

As a self professed anti-tourist, I know that something else would catch my attention-some tempting local market or souk selling brightly coloured fabrics or aromatic spices, the lure of  taking a wooden abra across the emerald waters of the Creek. a waft of music from a warehouse, a glimpse of the intricately carved doors in Al Bastakiya, a gathering of people appraising Dubai’s up-and-coming street art, the tantalising smell of authentic Punjabi curry on Satwa Road-and my plans will disappear like dew in the desert. Dubai’s opulent facade, spectacular beaches and buildings and unrivalled shopping opportunities are undoubtedly what attracts thousands of visitors each year, but they are just the dazzle on the surface of the diamond that is Dubai.

What would I do for three nights in Dubai? I cannot say for sure, but I know it would be fabulous.

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