Top row: (L to R) Rubab Zahra, Byron and Shelvin Kraemer, David Blacklaws; bottom row (L to R) Ritu Puri, Abdulla Ali, Bruce Soares Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai is a haven for summer activities. As part of the latest #DubaiDestinations campaign, Brand Dubai — the creative arm of the Government of Dubai’s Media Office — has launched ‘Find Your Summer Hobby’, a guide with a handy list of Dubai hotspots offering a range of activities. From gyms, padel academies, surfing and diving centres, to performing arts studios, photography schools and cultural centres, the list is a mix of sports and creative activities that one can pursue. Gulf News spoke to some residents in Dubai who have found ‘Find Your Summer Hobby’ a wonderful opportunity to follow their passions and hobbies.

Stand up paddle (SUP): Hooked to it

British expatriate David Blacklaws has fallen in love with stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding. Blacklaws, an IT professional, said he was addicted to this adventure sport. “Water sports and outdoor activity are important and integral parts of my life. When I arrived in Dubai, a close friend introduced me to stand-up paddle boarding in 2018 and I have been hooked on to this sport ever since,” said Blacklaws.

He said his first SUP session was held at Kite Beach with the stunning Burj Al Arab and the Dubai city skyline in the backdrop. “Since my introduction to the sport, I’ve joined several groups in the UAE and relished any opportunity to take to the waters. What started as a casual hobby has grown into a regular sport. I regularly help new paddlers brave the water for their first SUP sessions or enjoy longer-distance paddles with close friends. My aim is to participate in competitive multi-disciplinary events featuring SUP and other endurance activities in a single race.”

Blacklaws added that Kite Beach is a great location — almost purpose-built for those who enjoy SUP. “There are several shops nearby where boards and paddles can be rented and parking is usually easy to find.” He said he practises almost all year around. “Some days in summer, it can be a little too warm, even before sunrise, but for most of the year, it is an accessible sport.”

Padel tennis: In love with the sport

British expatriate Ritu Puri is a passionate padel tennis player and she has found a platform in Dubai to pursue this hobby. She has built a community of other padel tennis players and together they have found a bigger footing to pursue their love for the sport. “As a keen sports enthusiast since childhood, I took part in competitive sports in India and was also a part of social and club sports in the United Kingdom. I started playing padel tennis in the summer of 2020 and immediately fell in love with the sport. This sport is the fastest growing in the world and people of all ages can enjoy it.”

Puri said she met more than 500 people in the last two years who created a strong and diverse community of players. “We have people from more than 60 nationalities playing with us. This can happen only in Dubai. For me, padel is a unique glue that binds the diverse UAE community together.”

One-handed golf

Shelvin Kraemer, a South African expatriate in Dubai, plays golf as a hobby at Jumeirah Golf Estates and at the Emirates Golf Club. He also played for the South African Disabled Golf Association (SADGA) in South Africa. The 43 year old suffers from a life-long condition called hemiplegia which he developed following a car crash when he was 18. It left him paralysed on the left side of his body.

“Dubai has so many great options for golf lovers to pursue the sport,” Kraemer said. “I had some golf lessons at the old Nad Al Sheba Golf Club. I am particularly proud of the fact that I live in the UAE and there are plenty of opportunities for people of determination to follow a sport. For example, the EDGA is going to give a massive push to get disabled golf going in the UAE and it will be a great opportunity for people of determination in the UAE to pursue golf,” said Kraemer, who plays golf one-handed.

He added: “I played golf with some severely disabled kids in South Africa and it changed their lives. Hope to do the same here in the UAE.”


Indian expatriate Bruce Soares, an entrepreneur, is a keen biker. His favourite biking hot spots in the UAE are Ras Al Khaimah mountains, Jabal Jais, Shawka wadis and deserts. “Dubai and the UAE have amazing places to bike. I must say that the UAE is a biker’s paradise,” Soares said. He added that he always loved biking, even as a teenager. “I am so glad I am able to live my dream, passion and hobby to the fullest here in Dubai. What is more, I have met so many like-minded people like me and together we ride in the wadis on weekends. Rain or shine, we hit the roads every weekend to live our passion to the fullest.”

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Dentist who does stand-up comedy

Abdulla Ali, an Emirati dentist by day is a stand-up comedian by night. Thanks to Dubai and its opportunities for people to live their dreams, Ali, who goes by the stage name ‘Abz Ali’, is able to follow his dream in UAE. Ali has been performing gigs in the region for a decade now. He performs in various locations in UAE, including the Coca-Cola Arena, PubG Lounge and Bar, Social Distrikt, Miss Wangs and Phileas Fogg.

Ali said Dubai is the destination for people to pursue their hobbies. “There are enough locations and venues offering something for everybody. So find your hobby and go for it.”

Pottery as a creative pursuit

American expatriate Sophie Ziai loves pottery and she has gifted her creations to friends and family. “I go to the Mud House. I have a monthly membership there whereby I can use the studio. I get the clay from them and pick my wheel to make my creations. I always wanted to do pottery, but never had the opportunity. Last year, my friend had a pass to attend a pottery session. I went with her and that’s how it all started here. I fell in love with this instantly and I have been hooked on to my hobby. If I had not gone with my friend that day, I would not have discovered this creative pursuit,” Ziai said.

Sophie Ziai
Sophie likes to gift her creations to friends and family Image Credit: Supplied

Ziai has created dinnerware and several mugs at the Mud House.

Calligraphy as a hobby

Pakistani expatriate Rubab Zahra loves the creative arts. She has found many avenues to express her talent and learn new ones in Dubai — calligraphy being one. “I love calligraphy. It is one of my hobbies. Dubai is a haven for creative pursuits. I took several courses in calligraphy and was able to take my hobby to a whole new level. I am an art teacher now. I don’t think I would have ever grown this much had I been in any other city. Dubai is a great place for hobbyists to grow,” Zahra said.