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Get to Know: Gina Johnson, LUXE Dubai Editor

October 28, 2020

A slick, mega-rich oasis of R&R, sun, sand, shopping and spa, Dubai has been home for Gina Johnson since 2004. Our founding editor for LUXE Dubai shares some of her latest and greatest city finds, most memorable trips and what's next on her bucket list. 

Where are you from, originally?

Sydney, Australia, but I'm a long-time expat – having lived and worked for most of my life in Asia, the UK, and the Middle East.

How did you first get to Dubai, and what made you stay?

I arrived in Dubai in 2004 amidst the gold rush years where anything seemed possible and much of it was. I stayed for the climate, the flourishing media industry, and the miso-marinated black cod at Zuma.

Gina Johnson Dubai Res Editor

(Photo: Courtesy of Gina Johnson)

How long have you been with LUXE?

Fifteen fabulous years.

Where do you live in Dubai?

I live on Palm Jumeirah. It's a man-made island, shaped like a palm tree, visible from space. I know – very Dubai.

What’s the absolute best thing about living in Dubai?

Dubai is a show-stopping metropolis with all the luxury trappings of the most salubrious cities in the world. But scratch the surface and you'll find it thriving with local artisans and unique cultural experiences. You can be shopping for customised kicks at Dubai Mall in the morning and within an hour be polishing up your falconry skills at a 225-square-kilometre conservation reserve in the middle of the desert.

Your top five favourite places in Dubai?

  • One & Only Royal Mirage, Dubai. It's old school, lovely-lawned appeal charms the pants off me every time. And the private boat shuttle across to its sister hotel on Palm Jumeirah is a favourite party trick when you have guests to impress.
  • Dubai Opera. The design, the acoustics, the location... there's no better place to get your Bach on.
  • Comptoir 102. For easy, breezy macrobiotic goodness with a side serve of French boho fashion and furniture.
  • Zuma for the black cod. Coya for the cocktails.
  • Weekends away at the sublime Alila Jabal Akhdar in Oman.

Comptoir 102 Dubai

(Photo: @comptoir102/Instagram)

What's the biggest tourist trap in your city?

The knock-off stores in Karama.

Your best trip ever?

A tour of New Zealand's luxury lodges which are next level, and still relatively undiscovered from a global traveller's perspective. I also spent one life-transforming week at lo-fi luxe wellness retreat Aro Ha, just outside of Queenstown, learning Acroyoga and hiking some of the world's most beautiful wilderness trails.

And the worst?

I got Delhi belly on a trip to India last summer which wasn't fun.

Absolute favourite place in the world?

New York in the fall.

What’s next on your bucket list?

Iceland. I've been planning a road trip with friends who live in Reykjavik so we hope to make it happen next year.

Finally, why do you love to travel? 

For the stories – to hear them, live them, and pass them onto others. And more recently, a growing interest in sustainable luxury.

Pick up a copy of the LUXE Dubai Guide to get more of Gina's insider tips!

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