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Uncommon guides: See Dubai in a whole new way

Meet the new travel guide that gets to the soul of the city

Travelling is expensive, but it doesn’t seem to be a luxury reserved for established adults any more.

Travel is the new BMW. The new “getting your first mortgage” or “I’ve been working for five years for this promotion”. According to most studies, travel is now a more important pursuit to people aged 25-35 than the more classic goals of college- job-masters-marriage-kids-picket fence.

As travel writer Christina Lavingia explains, “Travelling is expensive, but it doesn’t seem to be a luxury reserved for established adults any more.”

And she’s right — according to UN estimates, millennial travellers, despite not being the most moneyed generation, are responsible for $185 billion in tourism spend in 2017, and they make up a surprising 20 per cent of all international travellers.

Travelling is expensive, but it doesn’t seem to be a luxury reserved for established adults any more.

So if the travel game has changed, that means travel guides need to change too. Enter Uncommon, a set of travel books specifically aimed at the quirky traveller. Forget where to find ATMs and whether anyone speaks your native language — Uncommon guides are about the essence and soul of a location. if you want to get at the heart of the community you’re visiting, if you want to really understand both the natives and the immigrants that make up a city, to get into the nitty gritty of not just what they eat but how — these are the travel guides for you.

So far, six books have been produced, including guides for London, Cairo, Malta, Algiers, Stockholm and Dubai. But, unsurprisingly for those of us who live and love here, Dubai proved to need a second edition, Uncommon Dubai+, to explain the hidden byways and the incredible mesh of the dozens of cultures that make up the hubbub and clamour that is this strange, delightful city.

Uncommon Dubai+ invites its readers to weave through insights on the tradition of camel racing, archaeological finds of crocodiles in the desert, the uncanny urban corridors of superhighways, architectural artefacts in danger of erasure, the imagined communities of barbershops, the communal traces of ad-hoc cricket pitches and the resilience of the urban fox,” explains commissioning editor Sharmeen Inayat.

Contributors to the book are from all walks of life: food blogger Sally Prosser, visual artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, academic Maryam Mudhafar, writer Joobin Bekhrad and more — all curated by architect and Dubai resident Inayat.

Pick up a copy, use it, love it, discover the bits of Dubai you’ve never seen, and then place it lovingly on your coffee table as a keepsake.

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