Dubai’s only independent record store is much beloved for bringing an eclectic and well-curated selection of vinyl releases to the city. The Flip Side is especially rewarding browsing territory, as the latest techno and house records share shelf space with reggae and soul classics, obscure disco beats and 12” releases by local labels. Owner Shadi Megallaa, who is a cornerstone of Dubai’s electronic music scene, regularly hosts live DJ sessions, music documentary screenings and production seminars at the store. As an all-round champion of analogue culture, Megallaa even has his own zine, No Budget, which he edits and produces together with a handful of like-minded creatives.
2. 3 Fils
Singaporean founder-chef Akmal Anuar’s intimate dining space is the new darling of the city’s serious foodie scene. Guided by a laid-back attitude – they welcome diners in flip-flops and don’t take reservations – 3 Fils is all about the quality and creativity of the Asian-inspired tapas on offer. Besides serving the best tuna in town, Anuar has his heart set on spreading the gospel of casual fine dining. “A lot of people are looking for homegrown concepts where the community can come and dine without the fuss and glam,” he says. Indeed, fans of 3 Fils swoon over the pared-back, frequently changing menu, often featuring bluefin maguro (tuna) and sea urchin that’s flown in fresh from Japan.
3. Cinema Akil
Since late 2018, Dubai’s cinephiles have had a new spiritual home: Cinema Akil, which started out as a series of pop-up screenings and now has a brick-and-mortar presence at Alserkal Avenue. Co-founder Butheina Kazim explains her motivation to bring the best independent films from all over the world to Dubai: “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the largest distributions of multiplexes per capita in the entire Middle East, but we don’t have anything dedicated to these kinds of films. I just thought that had to change. A city this rich in culture and diversity should have a cinema offering something equally rich and diverse.”
4. The Cartel
The Cartel, the brainchild of former architect and art curator May Barber, is the go-to address for avant-garde fashion in Dubai. The industrial-minimalist showroom located in Dubai Design District is an art gallery, fashion boutique and creative hangout all rolled into one. Specialising in wearable art, The Cartel provides a space for its fashion-forward clientele to pick up statement pieces by some of the world’s most innovative designers – including Gareth Pugh, Anne Sofie Madsen and Iris van Herpen – interspersed with items by local designers and the store’s in-house collection.
5. Drop Dubai
Among the small but growing band of third-wave coffee companies in Dubai, Drop Dubai stands out for a number of reasons. For starters, among its staff are a number of award-winning baristas, including international champions in disciplines ranging from latte art to coffee roasting. Furthermore, Drop Dubai’s founders, Ghanim Salah Al Qassim and Mahmood Al Khamis, regularly fly in coffee experts from all around the world in order to further train and inspire their in-house crew. The purist menu is free from sugary concoctions featuring whipped cream, flavourings or syrups. Instead, guests can choose and sample a range of single-origin beans from small-scale growers in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are brewed to absolute perfection.
Singapore Airlines flies to Dubai daily. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
SEE ALSO: Review: The Retreat Palm, Dubai
This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine