Spur of the moment picnics are easy to accommodate in Dubai, with an abundance of picturesque and shaded spots to roll out the picnic rug, and restaurants happy to cater to dining out in the great outdoors with delicious menus.
At 47.5 hectares, Zabeel Park is one of Dubai’s favourite picnicking spots. Time your visit to coincide with the Ripe Markets, held every Friday morning, from October to May. A favourite foodie haunt, the markets are bursting with fresh, local produce as well as a smorgasbord of locally-owned and operated food stalls, with offerings varying from wood-fired-oven pizza and pulled beef and kale burritos to Japanese custard buns and a very good vegan coconut milk ice-cream. When you have selected your lunch, choose your location: the shaded lawn, outdoor seating, or the amphitheatre.
Fancy a picnic by the pool? Vida Hotel’s Urban Picnic Friday brunch offers a more upmarket take on outdoor dining, with the international restaurant 3in1 putting a gourmet twist on lunchtime staples, pairing them with summery refreshments. Cosy up on a poolside cabana built for two and enjoy fresh oysters and prawns, barbecued steaks and burgers, and filled baguettes. Pool access is included, in case you fancy a lazy paddle in the shallows after lunch.
A spontaneous beach picnic is made, well, spontaneous, thanks to the accommodating gourmet-to-go menu at Eat Greek Kouzina. The restaurant’s Picnic by Eat Greek includes freshly grilled meat on skewers, tempting side dishes and dessert, all packaged up into a handy wicker-print picnic box. Like a Greek bento box, the trays inside are portioned to keep gyros hot and tzatziki cool. Convey your feast to JBR’s silky sands and watch all-day sky divers in action, or wander over to the walkway seating and enjoy the evening entertainment, with a rotating roster of musicians and street performers on weekends.
In addition to their a la carte menu, British eatery Reform Social & Grill offers a British picnic on its lakeside green lawns. The Royal Family Picnic is designed for two, with each couple handed a picnic blanket, cushions, and a wicker basket stuffed with a lunch fit for the Queen. Finger rolls, a ploughman’s selection of cold cuts and chutneys and salads are followed by scones with clotted cream and jam, and fresh strawberries. A bit sunny out by the lake? Add a jug of refreshing berry and citrus juice.
Just a short drive from Dubai’s city centre, the Al Qudra Lakes is a manmade oasis hidden in the white sand flats, perfect for a private, out-of-town picnic. Pack the cooler (the little deli there doesn’t do much beyond smoothies and coffee) and picnic while observing the wildlife – falcons, eagles, ducks, swans and the pastel pink flamingos that gather to fish during the winter. During twilight, native impalas also venture to the water’s edge for a drink. Cyclists can take advantage of the pristine cycling track, with road and sand bikes available for rental on-site. Stretching 84km, it claims to be the longest designated cycling road in the Middle East.
Dubai-Al Ain Rd, Saih Al Salam Desert