Home to over 200 nationalities, Dubai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and a true melting pot of cultural influences. Beyond the futuristic cityscape made up of sleek skyscrapers, contemporary architecture, and manmade archipelagos, Dubai has an open-minded and collaborative culture. For remote workers and digital nomads, that means it’s very easy to find community and network with other likeminded professionals.
In terms of lifestyle, Dubai plays host to art and cultural events and festivals throughout the year and there is never a lack of choice when it comes to finding restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and nightlife. Nature lovers can venture out on weekends into the Al Hajar Mountains, a 90-minute drive away from the city, or visit towns like Hatta which offer access to hiking trails.
Dubai’s thorough transportation system, complete with metros, buses, and cycling routes, makes it easy to get around and when it comes to finding a place to stay, there’s a dizzying variety to choose from—from sea-facing villas to high0rise apartments overlooking posh marinas. It’s also one of the world’s safest cities with very low crime rates. Dubai’s mission is to become the best city in the world to live in, so if you’re thinking of trying it out for yourself, you’ll need to consider the varied neighborhoods.
When it comes to choosing where to live, Dubai’s many neighborhoods offer something for every preference. There’s coastal Jumeirah, with its districts like Jumeirah 1 stretching all the way to Jumeirah 3, full of pretty villas, shopping malls, lovely parks, cafes, restaurants, and beaches. If you’d rather stay in a skyscraper with views of the Burj Khalifa, then Business Bay is a good choice. Or for canal views and access to a diverse food scene, rent an apartment in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Not far away, the Dubai Marina offers high-rise views, metro connectivity, and beach access.
With quiet streets, low-rise villas, beautiful parks, and a coastline dotted with beaches, Jumeirah is a neighborhood with character. Bright murals painted on walls in the area nod to the city's heritage. Whichever district you choose, whether it’s Jumeirah 1, close to the Etihad Museum and old Dubai, or Jumeirah 3, close to the Burj Al Arab Hotel and newer parts of town, the beach is never more than a 7 to 10-minute walk away. A 16-kilometer cycling track runs along Jumeirah Beach and connects to the Dubai Water Canal and other tracks in the city, so it’s easy to get around this neighborhood by bike only.
When you get hungry, delicious sliders, creamy shakes, fun community events, and a beachfront location are all great reasons to visit SALT, a homegrown burger chain and Casual harborside restaurant 3Fils serves some of the best Asian street food and sushi in the city. For date night—or whenever you’re craving Greek food—make a reservation at Taverna Greek Kitchen, located by the canals of Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
Weekends in Jumeirah are best spent at Kite Beach, wildly popular with the city’s beach lovers who you'll see sprawled out on the sandy beach, playing volleyball, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking in the Arabian Sea. After working up an appetite, you’ll find food trucks, cafes, and food stalls ready to provide. La Mer Beach in Jumeirah 1, with its quirky murals, waterpark, and choice of restaurants and cafes, is also popular. Health nuts can become regulars at Comptoir 102, which offers a menu full of healthy, plant-based dishes prepared from local and organic ingredients. Or, try plant-based cuisine in the lovely garden space at SEVA Tablewhere a wellness studio, mindfulness workshops, talks, and sessions keep the city’s wellness crowd coming back. Rattan furniture, indoor plants, and neutral colors make the cafe a calm space to work in.
For coworking in a spot with a trendy vibe and unbeatable beach views, head to The Daily at Rove La Mer and choose to work either indoors or on the beach terrace. The coffee is great, the Wi-Fi is fast, and it’s a good place to network with other remote workers. Otherwise head to A4 Space, a free coworking space with a cafe on nearby Alserkal Avenue to work remotely alongside other creatives. On a chill weekend, bring friends or a good book to Safa Park, where you’ll find picnicking families, groups practicing yoga, and pop-up markets. If the weather is nice, you can also go for a jog along the Dubai Water Canal that connects Jumeirah to Business Bay. The Etihad Museum is a striking example of contemporary architecture in Dubai where you can peek into the recent history of the UAE through exhibitions, photos, and screenings. If that piques your interest in the local art scene, make sure to also visit Alserkal Avenue, where you’ll find galleries, studios, boutiques, indie venues, and cafes housed in former warehouses.
Jumeirah Lakes Towers
Within the towering skyscrapers of Jumeirah Lake Towers (or JLT as it’s more commonly referred to) are modern apartments with lake views, favored by expats, cool coworking spaces, and a host of restaurants, bars, and fitness centers. This area is also ideal for those who want access to all the benefits of Dubai Marina—namely proximity to the beach and a multicultural crowd, while paying significantly lower rents.
JLT stands just across Sheikh Zayed Road from Dubai Marina and is an easy walk or metro stop away. The metro also offers convenient public transportation to get around Dubai. JBR Beach with its running track, beach volleyball court, outdoor gym, and beachfront restaurants is a 10-minute drive or 30-minute walk away. For a game of golf with friends, good food, and drinks in a relaxed casual setting, visit Topgolf Dubai. For serious golfers or private golf lessons, visit the Montgomerie Golf Club.
A highlight of staying in JLT is the vibrant food scene in the neighborhood. You’ll discover plenty of little hole-in-the-wall places serving everything from Iranian to Sri Lankan fare. For Asian street food, visit Nara Pan Asian and if you’re craving succulent Iranian kebabs, Farsi is a good choice. The many pubs and bars in JLT often host stand-up comedy, jazz, and open-mic nights. Follow the Comedy Kix club page for event announcements.
At Couqley French Bistro and Bar nibble on a cheese platter and sip on quality wines, or try French delicacies such as foie gras and escargot. There’s no better place in JLT for cocktails and dinner than NOLA Eatery and Social House, but the garden terrace is always busy, so make reservations. For good coffee, people-watching, and light healthy meals while you work remotely, head to 1762 JLT Stripped.
Perfectly located between the old and new neighborhoods of Dubai, Business Bay is great for those who want to be in the heart of all the action in Dubai. You’ll never run out of options when it comes to dining, nightlife, entertainment, and shopping. Tourist attractions such as the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Frame, and the Museum of the Future are all a stroll or a few minutes drive away. This neighborhood is well-connected to the rest of Dubai by metro. Business Bay is also home to plenty of cafes and coworking spaces such as Unbox Community and Calyp Business Bay which offer various membership packages suited to the needs of remote professionals.
In Business Bay, you’ll find the whole world is represented in the cuisine. Try Palestinian street food at Mama’esh, where it’s hard to go wrong with the fatayer (pies) or manaesh (flatbreads). Not only can you get delicious pizza at, Pizza Express Live, but it’s also a popular spot for open mic nights and jam sessions. For a special night out, you can enjoy North American-style food and remarkable skyline views at the stylish Weslodge Saloon or book tickets to an opera, concert, or live performance at the boat-shaped Dubai Opera.
Art lovers in Business Bay can look towards the Dubai Design District for art galleries and boutiques or visit the Museum of the Future to learn about the UAE’s most ambitious project. On the weekends, get your shopping done at The Dubai Mall or head out for a peaceful morning at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, popular with the city’s birdwatchers to see pink-legged flamingoes, egrets, herons, and ospreys.
With a bustling waterfront promenade, cosmopolitan crowd, and high-rise apartments that offer unbeatable water views, Dubai Marina is popular with expats in the city for good reason. It’s a pleasant 10 to 30-minute walk (or a five-minute drive) to JBR Beach and it’s well connected to other parts of the city by metro. When you’re living in the Marina, you have plenty of time to work on your tan, eat, shop, and maybe hop on a jet ski once in a while.
There are endless options when it comes to restaurants, from budget takeaway places to swanky dining options at luxury hotels. Entertainment, shopping, dining, and nightlife on Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island are all within a few minutes drive. Kick back with beers, enjoy a barbecue, or jump into the clear waters of the Arabian Sea on a yacht tour departing from Dubai Marina. Escape the crowds of the popular beaches at Sufouh Beach, sometimes referred to as Secret Beach by those in the know.
Italians in Dubai highly recommend the pizza and gelato at Massimo’s Italian Restaurant where al fresco tables offer romantic canal views, but you can also find seriously good Levantine food and impeccable service at Awani in JBR. When you’re in the marina, the seafood cravings are bound to hit and when they do, you can go to The Maine Oyster Bar and Grill, an award-winning seaside brasserie. To pick up your specialty coffee, gourmet chocolate, and baked goods, make your way to Depachika Food Hall in Palm Jumeirah.
If you’re looking for places to work from, there are plenty of options – from beachfront cafes in Jumeirah Beach Residence and cafes along the Dubai Marina promenade to co-working spaces complete with social spaces and in-house cafes, such as One Business Center in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, a metro stop away.
- 4 Best Destinations in the Middle East for Remote Work
- How Muay Thai Boxing Changed My Life as a Digital Nomad
- 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Bali
This story was originally published in May 2022.