With posh, indulgent hotels and a burgeoning art scene, Dubai is a hot spot on the Middle Eastern landscape. Tack on world-class shopping and entertainment (in April alone, Train, Bruno Mars, and Metallica have all booked performance dates, while in May, Justin Bieber's show is already sold-out) and there's plenty to do for a weekend or longer. Here's what to pack...
Shopping Daze—With nearly year-round desert heat, think relatively modest clothing (while a modern metropolis, there are local Muslim sensibilities to be sensitive to) in a light and bright palette for day. This pair of starchy white jeans ($245) is a good base to build from. Add this jersey and taffeta tee ($190 by Carven) and a lightweight knit cardigan ($170 by Karen Millen) in a bright zippy yellow, in case of chilly A/Cs or stops in on more conservative locations.
Depending on your day's activity—strolling around one of Dubai's huge malls, perhaps—these gold wedges by Steve Madden ($99) give you lift with a sturdy heel. Add in an architectural element like this striking ring ($130) balanced by this softer pink Alexander McQueen scarf ($295, and can double as an easy head covering if needed). Then add a simple drawstring leather handbag ($162).
Arabian Nights—With swanky restaurants and a cosmopolitan vibe, go for romance with an edge in blush and black. This soft chiffon dress nails the look ($51) especially with its contrasting grosgrain straps. Accessorize with this black cashmere shawl, a steal at $155.93, and fashion-forward shark's tooth necklace ($180) with fun pink tassels, which pick up the hot hues in these flashy heels ($445 by L.K. Bennett). Finally, add a personal touch with this monogram leather clutch in goes-with-everything black ($128).
Desert Days—Pools, golf courses, and tennis courts (the court on Burj al Arab's helipad is unfortunately only for publicity stunts; check out the Dubai Tennis Stadium, a stop on the ATP tour instead) are in plentiful supply. Dress for action in yellow chinos ($210) and a slim gray polo ($48). A pair of casual loafers in blue suede ($195) and boxy Ray Ban aviators ($189) round out the preppy-meets-flashy look. And bring along these striped shorts to lounge around poolside ($125)
Night Owls—Dress up for nighttime drinks in this stylish dip-dyed poplin shirt in sea blue ($220) and airy cotton-linen blend pants by Vince in refreshing white ($215). Keep the rest clean and modern like this black Uniform Wares watch with sleek lines ($200) and sporty light gray brogues by Fred Perry ($135.64).
Where to Stay
If living like a sheikh is your bag, then you're in luck. As far as hotels go, Dubai is the tops. If you have funds to blow, the Al Maha Desert Resort in the middle of, you guessed it, swirling sands is a unique retreat. Or head to the famous fin-like Burj Al Arab, rising out of the water like a totem to fine living with a whopping seven-star rating. Both hotels will set you back about $1,000 a night or more.
For mere mortals, both Raffles Dubai (rates start from $300 up, with some specials offered online) and Grosvenor House with its two towers overlooking the Dubai Marina (around $300/night) are known for their top-notch service and accommodations without completely breaking the bank.
Further out, on the manmade "Palm Islands", the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (rates vary according to the season, but low prices in April started at $400/night) offers a gorgeous water-side setting and fabulous Ottoman Empire decor, along with three Turkish hammams housed in a gigantic 86,000 square feet spa.
Photo Credits: Women Day: Top Left: Karen Millen; Bottom Far Left: macys.com