Australian-born Jessica Kahawaty  is considered Middle Eastern royalty: she's hosted Project Runway, is the ambassador of IWC for the Middle East, a top model and also an international human rights lawyer. She's now based in Dubai, and knows the city like no one else.

Below, Jessica talks us through some of Dubai's biggest and best highlights:  

Best coffee shops 

1. The sum of us 

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

I love how they make everything from scratch – they even bake their own bread. It has such a wholesome vibe; it’s definitely one of my favourite spots to go with my mum.
Burj Al Salam 6th St, Dubai
thesumofusdubai.com

2. % Arabica

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

The owner actually bought the coffee farm in Hawaii, and now has access to the best Japanese roasting machines in the world. The coffee is literally roasted on the spot, and they only have 9 locations worldwide, two of which are in Dubai.
Several locations, Dubai 
arabicacoffe.com 

3. Seven Fortunes

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This coffee hotspot has such an urban feel and is my go-to for any daytime meetings and catch-ups.  
Street 26,Al Quoz Industrial Area 4, Dubai
sevenfortunes.com

Best brunch spots:

1.Comptoir 102

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

It's a trendy furniture store, café and fashion boutique all in one.  They have incredible juices, almond milk mixes and daily healthy food dishes. 
102 Beach Rd Jumeirah 1, Dubai
comptoir102.com

2. La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This is your ideal weekend brunch spot. The menu consists of delicious breads and pastries. Crowd favourite? The almond croissant - it's my absolute favourite.  
Vida Hotel, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown, Dubai
 laserre.eu 

3. Jumeirah Al Qasr

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This is brunch on steroids. It expands across three different rooms with cuisines ranging from South America, Asia and the Middle East. The desserts are also out of this world with a big selection of ice creams, pastries and fondues. Warning: come with an empty stomach. 
Al Sufouh Road, Dubai 
jumeriah.com

Best lunch spots:

1. La Petite Maison

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

French cuisine is one of my favourites and LPM has the best appetizers and desserts in town. The crème brulée and paid perdu are ridiculously mouth-watering. 
Gate Village No, 8, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai 
lpmlondon.uk/dubai

2. Em Sherif

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

The restaurant has no menu - instead, they'll just continue to bring food out to your table.  Ideal for a big group of friends and if you love all things Mediterranean.  

3. Zuma

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This is my go-to for Japanese when guests are in town. With a pumping bar, cool music, and all-round cool vibe; makes Zuma one of the trendiest places in town.  
Gate Village 06, Podium Level, Al Sa'ada St.، DIFC, Dubai   
zumarestaurant.com

Best dinner spots:

1. Nusr-et

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

Home to the "salt bae" chef, Nusr-Et is one of the best steakhouses in the world. After indulging in a piece of meat, make sure you finish off with the baklava with ice-cream - It's worth it. 
Restaurant Village, Near Four Seasons Hotel، Jumeirah Road, Dubai  
nusr-et.com

2. Thiptara

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

With opulent views of Dubai Opera, water foundation and the Burj Kjalida, makes this restaurant a truly magical dining experience by the water.
The Palace Downtown Dubai,Downtown Dubai, Dubai  
theaddress.com

3. Coya

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This South American restaurant is famous for their exotic dishes, live bands and a secret private members area.
Restaurant Village Four Seasons Resort Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai  coyarestaurant.com/dubai

Best hotel picks:

1. Address Boulevard 

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This Downtown hotspot has an inner city but also the feeling of being in a luxurious home. It's really a resort within the city with 2 incredible pools, great food and lots of palm trees. 
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard Road, Dubai
theaddress.com

2. Four Seasons Hotel, Jumeirah

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai 

If you're after a resort vibe, this is for you. It's right on the water and has a very relaxed ambience throughout the property. Rent a mini cabana on the beach and sip on fresh coconut water to really submerge yourself in the holiday zone. 
 Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 2, Dubai 
fourseasons.com/dubaijb

3. One & Only, The Palm

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This resort is at the end of the palm so there is nothing but the horizon in sight. The travel time from the airport or getting downtown can be a little timely - but once you reach the One&Only, it's totally worth it. I suggest catching a boat as your means of transport. 

Best places to shop: 

1. Dubai Mall

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

Here is your one-stop-shop for all designers like Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, and Louis Vuitton. It also has a great variety of independent cafes for an afternoon delight like Angelina, Fachon, and Armani café being the crowd favourites.
Financial Centre Road، Downtown Dubai, Dubai 
thedubaimall.com

2. BySymphony

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

Located inside Fashion Avenue at Dubai Mall, this gorgeous boutique is filled with regional and local designers including All Things, Mochi, Bouguessa, Madiyah Al Sharqi and Okhtein.

The best art galleries: 

1. Art Sawa

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

Home to a beautiful variety of international and contemporary artworks. It hosts a series of educational programs, which fosters interaction between the public and art. 
Gate # 8,Gate Village, Al Sa'ada St, Dubai
artsawa.com

2. Ayyam Gallery 

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

This is one of the leading arts organisations in Dubai, with lots of international collaborative projects and non-profit arts programmes. It features some of my favourite artists like Athier and Samia Halaby. 

3. Opera Gallery

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai

Opera Gallery is one of the biggest galleries with a wide variety of art from modern to post-war and contemporary. You'll see everyone from Banksy to Yue Minjun. 
Gate Village 03 Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai  
operagallery.com

instagram.com/jessicaKahawaty 

Luxurious Middle East: A model’s guide to Dubai