For a long time, including the years during which I was living there, the images that my mind paired with Dubai, involved sandy dunes and dusty rooftops, a burning sun, gigantic glass buildings, luxury sport cars on endless highways, the sound of drums and prayers, a cultural melting-pot, fancy yachts and shades of gold, all in a cloudy and fragrant shisha halo. Sounds cliché? Well, that is how it is like 🙂 but that is only the background, to which, according to our own experience, more personal images would add up. Dubai was my residence for 3 years before moving to Bangkok, and I just flew back there for the first time after relocating. Before the trip, I was very curious to see if my impressions of the city would change, because I know that for the past few years: I have changed.
Call it youth or soul searching, but controversially, in this country where rules deter, I partied much, I wasted a lot (myself, time, money) and luckily one day I woke up and decided not to find excuses to numb myself, going from a less bling and blinding, to a more meaningful life! This blog post is to shed light on places that helped me go through this transition plus some newer additions to the Dubai greener lifestyle, as recommended by my “local” besties there.
There is no moral to the story…. but if there was one, it would be: no matter where you live, you have the choice to create the environment that will help you grow in the best positive and nurturing way.

(one of the artwork pieces at La Mer) 

Illuminations Center
“Dubai’s 1st & Premiere Center for Holistic Healing, Mental Well-Being & Personal Growth”.
Before moving on to the food-related venues, this is one place I wanted to talk about. Illuminations is a wellness, yoga & meditation center, but above all, a great meeting point between holistic practitioners and novices, a place where I always felt good and welcome to practice and build inner strength.

Illuminations Center, 409, Fortune Executive Towers, Cluster T, Plot T1, Jumeirah Lake Towers
(outside Dubai Marina Metro)

Also check:
Life’n one, Street 27B, Jumeirah 1, Jumeirah Beach Road
(behind Magrudy’s Bookstore & Jumeirah Centre)

Cafés & Restaurants

As options are many, I wanted to highlight particular venues per main areas of Dubai:

1 – The Beach, JBR: Almaz by Momo 

Even without advertising a “healthy” cuisine, Middle-eastern food, when using fresh ingredients, is a great option to load on some superfood and vegetables: fattoush salad, hummus, falafel, tabouleh… and you got yourself a vegan feast there!
Plus, when we arrive in a country, the first food we want to experience is local food, right?
Well, Almaz by Momo is in fact a Northern African restaurant, so you will find Moroccan dishes such as pastilla or mechoui, but also, a wide variety of Middle-eastern food with my favorite staples on the picture below.

Almaz by Momo, The Beach “Mall”, JBR
(one of the restaurants along the beach stretch, on the far left when facing the sea)

Also check:
Leopold’s of London, The Beach “Mall, JBR 
(also one of the restaurants along the beach stretch, but on the far right when facing the sea)

2 – Dubai Marina: Baker & Spice 

A very European-style deli, offering products from the farms and markets of the UAE. Mainly organic, I never doubted on the freshness of their products, nor their creativity in their innovative recipes where east meets west!
You can create your own plate combining home-made salads displayed in big salad bowls, freshly baked tarts, breads, pastries and more. They have several branches but I always found that one super relaxing on a week-end. Go down for a healthy breakfast, sitting by their breezy outdoor tables facing the marina, with a good cup of coffee. A great way to start the day.

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Baker & Spice, Marina Promenade, by Attessa Tower
(On the Marina Promenade, not far from Sofitel JBR)

Also check:
Bateel, Marina Walk, below Al Mesk Tower
(Note: you HAVE TO try their dates!) 

3 – Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT): The Fit Food Kitchen 

If you are in Dubai for tourism purposes, you might not spend much time in JLT (as they call it: Dubai Marina’s “ugly sister”) but I lived there a couple of months and I have to say that their options in F&B were a lot more to my liking than the ones on Marina (which I found for the most very touristic and mainstream).
The Fit Food Kitchen was one place I was glad to discover. Their motto includes: “a healthier body” and living “a happier life”! Their menu includes healthy breakfasts, salads, wraps, burgers and main courses. Great after a work-out or run around the Lakes.

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The Fit Food Kitchen,  Shop 22-24, Cluster J2, Ground Level, Jumeirah Lake Towers

Also check:
77 Veggie Boutique, Tiffany Tower, Cluster W, Lake Level, Jumeirah Lake Towers
Pineapple Express, Almas Tower Level 1, Jumeirah Lake Towers 

4- The Greens: Arrows & Sparrows 

In this residential community (indeed very green!), you will find some peace & quiet. If you are a golfer, you might hang out around there at the Address Montgomerie Hotel & Golf, and why not stopping by for lunch in the neighbourhood? Arrows & Sparrows is a casual concept, that serves healthy all-day breakfast (açai bowls, avocado on toast, smoothie bowls…) as well as lunch and dinner, with a kid-friendly menu. They have great baristas and a passion to cook.

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Arrows & Sparrows, G04, Emaar Business Park, Building 4, The Greens

5 – The Palm: The Retreat Palm Dubai (M Gallery) 

My health-freak friend (she knows who she is!) highly recommended me this place so you could go with your eyes closed!
This hotel is part of the M Gallery by Sofitel “Serenity” signature hotel collection, and Dubai’s first holistic wellbeing resort. Unlike most hotels in the region, you won’t be greeted with arabic coffee and dates, but a much healthier beverage and on a top: a welcoming scent.
They have several F&B options, and besides, I think the whole trip to the Palm is a relaxing journey  you don’t want to miss during your travel in the UAE.

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The Retreat Palm Dubai, (by Sofitel) East Crescent, The Palm Jumeirah 

6 – Al Quoz: Wild & The Moon 

Wild & The Moon is already one of my favorite spots in Paris, and they are in Dubai too (yay!). It is the perfect concept to cater for the visitors and regulars of this Dubai artsy district called Alserkal Avenue. An industrial area in Al Quoz turned into a cool hang-out with art galleries and hipster cafes in the heart of Dubai.
You will find there some delicious hot beverages, organic cold-pressed juices and healthy, gluten-free food and snacks.

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Wild & The Moon, Unit H 77, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8,

Also check:
Tom & Serg, 15A Street, Al-Joud Center, Al Quoz
(Near ACE Hardware)

7 – Umm Suqueim: The Surf CafĂ©

For the past years, I have to say that Dubai has picked up a very chilled vibe which was missing. Dubai beach front has indeed seen some cool & trendy cafés pop out, and The Surf Café is certainly one of the first you should check out. Breakfast, ceviches, seafood…etc. This cafe offers fresh and satisfying meals in a laid-back yet polished environment.

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The Surf Café, Jumeirah Beach Road ,Umm Suqeim 2
(Near Umm Suqeim Park Emarat Petrol Station) 

Also check:
Poke poke, Jumeirah Beach Rd, Umm Suqeim 2

8 – Jumeirah 1: Comptoir 102 

If you are sensitive to design and style, Comptoir 102 will probably seduce you at first sight! It is a concept store with edgy furniture, stylish jewellery and more, and in terms of F&B, they promote “real food for every day life”. They serve  sugar-free, dairy-free, raw, vegan and gluten free options to bring harmony between body, soul and the environment.

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Comptoir 102, 102 Beach Rd Jumeirah 1 – Dubai, UAE

9 – Dubai International Financial District (DIFC) : The Açai Spot 

The very popular amazonian açai berry has become more and more available worldwide including in Dubai. At the Açai Spot, it is the star on the menu! You can pick from their already conceived options or create your own, but also, for something savoury, they have several options such as a kale salad or avocado sandwich. If you are passing by this business district for meetings or just to visit, that is a perfect pit stop to recharge.

The Açai Spot, DIFC, Gate Building Precinct 5, Level 2, Unit 55

10 – Downtown: The Social House 

If shopping is part of your agenda while in Dubai, chances are you will be passing by the Dubai Mall. Although massive shopping malls tend to get me dizzy and are not my favorite options for a relaxing meal, there is one place that I quite liked (and close to the exit leading to the famous fountains) called the Social House.
They have a great combination of Asian and Western dishes, with pleasant service.

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The Social House, Lower Ground Floor, The Dubai Mall 

11 – Sheikh Zayed Road: Organic Foods & Café 

Besides the store that you don’t want to miss (it is THE organic store reference in the UAE), they also have options for quick & easy refreshments and food on the go or for week-end brunches.
In their stores, besides food, they also carry a wide range of household products, cosmetics, skin care, etc. The best place to shop in Dubai!

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Organic Foods & Café, Sheikh Zayed Road (Next to Oasis Center)
They have several outlets (see locations here)

12 – Order in? 

Some days we just want to stay in and if you are looking for something healthy, the options below are my best references:

Kcal
Bringing the world optimal wellness through good, wholesome and healthy food. Specialized in meal plans (and watching your calories intake) but you can order per single meals too. 

Appetite
Simple with fresh, good quality ingredients, specialized in office food delivery, executive lunches and corporate catering. You also find their packaged meals (I love their salads) in Spinneys and Waitrose supermakets. 

Just salad
Various sizes, predesigned selection or create your own, Just Salad intially started in New York and has made its way to the Dubai healthy scene years ago. The plus: they have re-usable bowls to fight against plastic waste. 

Zaatar w Zeit
Widely available across the UAE, this joint specialises in middle-eastern casual & fresh food, perfect for a breakfast, lunch or later meal on the go. Their labneh: I found it excellent!

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I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing time in Dubai!
And if this looks like a place you’d like to check, this was taken at Al Maha Resort.

One thought on “DUBAI: LESS BLING, MORE GREEN!”
  1. >> Here are some further spots thanks to my friends still living in Dubai (thank you girls!) :
    – Super Natural Kitchen (Dubai Mall): https://www.snkitchen.com
    – Poke Poke (Umm Suqeim 2) : http://pokepoke.com
    – Eat clean app: they have a vast selection of good and healthy spots in Dubai that deliver such as Br8 kitchen and Poke and co: https://eatcleanme.com
    – La Serre, Downtown: https://www.facebook.com/LaSerreDubai/
    – Nafoorah (tabouleh, fatoush and hummus): https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/jumeirah-emirates-towers/restaurants_bars/al-nafoorah/
    – Cycle bistro, Motor city (paleo): http://thecyclebistro.com
    – The Farm, Al Barari: https://www.thefarmdubai.ae
    – Barsalata: https://barsalata.com

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