from The Telegraph, February 15, 2017
I’d heard a lot about Dubai before I first visited and couldn’t wait to go. I was last there in December and was once again reminded of how the city has been built entirely over sand and turned into a place with so many iconic and world-famous attractions. I’m especially drawn to the sand dunes. I love driving around and exploring them by dune buggy.
I did a lot of training while I was there, every morning running 10 miles along the beach near the Burj Al Arab (00971 4 301 7777; jumeirah.com). There are a lot of good, well-marked footpaths all around the city, so it’s easy to track how far you’ve gone.
Anything special I should pack?
Apart from swimming gear, you’d be wise to take a safety helmet. It might come in useful when you’re thrown around on those crazy drives over the dunes.
What do you miss most when away?
The charm and friendliness of the people and Dubai’s relaxed and easy-going lifestyle. Also, there’s a huge number of things you can do in terms of activities, from water sports and sandboarding in the desert to shopping in the city’s souks; you can always find whatever it is that takes your fancy. I also love the food. I’m always having to watch what I eat and stay healthy while training, and it’s a huge convenience for me that all the meat is halal.
What’s the first thing you do on arrival?
I love to go swimming and hang out by the pool – so no running, just chilling.
Where’s the best place to stay?
The Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel (00971 4 366 8888; jumeirah.com), which is really amazing. It opened in December and overlooks a beach and the majestic, sail-like tower of the Burj Al Arab hotel, which you can see from some of the rooms. The decor is beautiful, with an authentic Arabian feel, and the bedrooms are impressively luxurious with marble floors.
Where would you meet friends for a drink?
I’m not really a nightlife person but there are lots of places to go for a drink and relax. One of the best that I’ve been to recently is the 360° bar at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel (00971 4 406 8741; jumeirah.com). It’s set over the sea, jutting out from the harbour, and you have to go on a buggy ride along a boardwalk to get there. It’s certainly novel.
Where is the best place for lunch?
There’s a Jamaican restaurant called Miss Lily’s (00971 4 354 4074; misslilys.com) where the food is fantastic. They do some amazing spicy chicken dishes, which I love. I also enjoy going there because it’s so relaxed and laid-back.
And where would you go for dinner?
Rockfish (00971 4 432 3232; jumeirah.com) is a great seafood restaurant serving some excellent dishes. Any of the restaurants along Jumeirah Beach are good for an atmospheric night out.
Where would you take a first-time visitor?
Definitely to the Burj Khalifa (00971 4 366 1688; burjkhalifa.ae), the tallest building in the world, which is just incredible. I’d also take them to the Mall of the Emirates (00971 4 409 9000; malloftheemirates.com). You won’t see a shopping mall like that anywhere else in the world, in terms of the sheer number and variety of the shops. There are also some excellent theatre productions and various waterparks, where I’d like to take my children one day.
What should I avoid?
Nothing, really. There is so much to discover in Dubai.
And what should I bring home?
Splash out on some diamond jewellery. I remember getting some very nice pieces for Tania, my wife.
Public transport or taxi?
Taxi. They’re easy to get and not that expensive. I’d also recommend using Uber.
Manbag or money belt?
Neither. Dubai is a safe place and I never came across anything to worry about.
Anywhere that isn’t your kind of town?
Not really – although I wasn’t sure, before I first visited, that Dubai would be my kind of place. I expected it to be more like a desert, with not a huge amount to do. But everyone had told me how great it was and I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. It turned out to be this big, modern city, completely different to what I had been expecting. I’ll go back.
Sir Mo Farah CBE offers a personal tour of Dubai in a new video featuring a 360-degree virtual run through the city. See visitdubai.com for further information.
Interview by Soo Kim
This article was from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.