Hola Rovers,

My name is Marcos and I’m writing to you to share all my favourite places in Zabeel, a cool up-and-coming neighbourhood next to Rove Downtown Dubai.

I recently left Barcelona to start a new and exciting life in Dubai, and haven’t looked back since. I love the vibrancy and fast-paced lifestyle of the city and can’t wait to explore further – there is always something new to discover here.

I stayed at Rove Downtown Dubai for a few weeks until I got my bearings, situated in the heart of the commercial district and a stone’s throw from The Dubai Mall, DIFC and Gate Village galleries; it was the perfect jump off point for an urban adventure.

As a fitness fanatic, I enjoyed working out in the hotels 24 hour techno-gym. While I was there a fellow Rover told me all about the Za’abeel sports scene and I was happy to discover that the neighbourhood offered lots of indoor and outdoor sporting venues such as football pitches, running tracks and basketball courts.

It has taken me a while to get used to the weekends here compared to Spain, but I’ve now settled into a new schedule. Bright and early on Friday mornings, my friends and I head for a fully loaded brunch at The Daily at Rove Downtown Dubai to kick off the weekend. This trendy foodie spot has become a morning ritual and I just can’t live without their weekend brunch – The Bench. This breakfast-to-lunch favourite has something of a reputation in Dubai as a weekend “must do” and the vast spread of sandwiches, cold cuts and salads do not disappointment. Wash it down with a refreshing iced coffee and you are ready for the afternoon ahead!

The Daily is a convenient neighbourhood hang-out and thanks to the free Wi-Fi and freshly ground coffee, I’ll often head here after work with my laptop to catch up on mails and grab a bite.

From there, we usually jump in a quick cab to Zabeel Park and take to the jogging tracks. Nothing beats running in the open air surrounded by nature. The outer perimeter is approximately 2km in distance, so depending on what we polished off at breakfast, we’ll usually aim to do at least two rounds. 

I’m told that in the winter months the park hosts Ripe Food & Craft Market. This is one of the best markets in town to pick up fresh organic fruit and veggies, along with gluten-free breads and much more – I’m looking forward to stocking up on plenty of healthy treats to fill my fridge! The local crafts and artisan stalls are also the perfect place to pick up something original and make for excellent gifts. 

In the evenings, I’ll usually meet my friends in DIFC. This buzzy, happening part of town is packed with great places to eat and relax and is also home to Gate Village, a district filled with some of the city’s best art galleries. There is something for everyone here from heritage photography to modern art exhibitions. XVA Gallery and RIRA Gallery are a couple of my regular spots and located just a 15-minute walk away from Rove Downtown Dubai. Often I’ll head to ARTSPACE, a contemporary gallery dedicated to showcasing Middle Eastern art and talent by the likes of Alfred Basbous and Khalid Zaki.

On Saturdays you’ll usually find me at Al Wasl Sports Club in Zabeel. This huge sports venue offers plenty to keep me busy, from basketball courts to swimming pools and athletic tracks. I’m a big football fan (and lifelong Real Madrid supporter) and never one to turn down the opportunity for a game. With top of the range facilities, the Football Academy at the club puts on tournaments and lessons for all age groups, starting at U-11 teams.

Along with my Spanish friends and a couple of work colleagues, we have recently started our own team and play on the indoor pitch, which is divided into three sections for five-a-side. There are also intensive training classes three times a week with professional Brazilian coaches – I’m hoping to sign up ASAP. Once we’ve worked on our skills and upped our practicing, we’re planning on booking in a match against another UAE team through the academy. Watch out Ronaldo!

That’s all from me Rovers. I hope you enjoy Zabeel as much as I do.

Marcos