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Things to do

WHAT TO DO, SEE AND TRY

 Old Dubai

Wind tower in the Bastakiya district

Ship atop the Dubai Museum

  • Al Ahmadiya School, Deira. Built in 1912, this was Dubai’s first school and has now been nicely restored. It would be a stretch to call the exhibits of old reed pens and diplomas fascinating, but they’ve tried pretty hard, and if nothing else, the air-con and clean toilets may come in handy. Free entry.
  • Bastakiya District. One of the last remaining pockets of Old Dubai, home to many reconstructed buildings in the traditional style. While information on the structures is slim here (see the museum in preference), the atmosphere is very evocative and there are plenty of delightful art galleries and cafes to explore.
  • Dubai Museum, Al Ibn Abi Talib Road, ph: +971 (4) 353-1862. A must-see for anyone interested in the social history of the Emirate (and indeed the country). A visit starts at the al-Fahidi fort, which has a few examples of the traditional reed houses and other artifacts, but isn’t much to look at. The more interesting part is the modern extension built underneath the fort, showcasing Dubai’s history using the latest technology and culminating in a reconstructed souq from the pearling days, complete with authentic sights and sounds. It is quite fascinating to see the speed at which the transition from poor pearling village to modern metropolis occurred. Admission 3AED.
  • Jumeirah Mosque, Jumeirah Road, Jumeirah 1 (opposite Palm Strip Mall). Is the largest in the city, and a wonderful example of Islamic architecture. Built in the medieval Fatimid tradition with the interior decorated with elaborate Arabic calligraphy. It is one of few mosques in the city open for visits by non-Muslims, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding[69] conducts special tours for non-Muslims to help promote understanding of Islam. Guided tours are available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday beginning at 10AM, followed by a question-and-answer session. Located on Jumeirah Road, the mosque is an especially great place to visit in the evening when it’s dramatically illuminated by floodlights.
  • Shindagha District — Home to the open museums of the Heritage Village, and has the home of former Sheikh Rashid Al-Maktoum.
  • Souks — There are a number of nice souks, or markets, on both sides of the creek that are worth exploring. The spice souk is a good place to discover local ingredients, while souk Madinat Jumeirah is known for it’s traditional architecture.[70] Souks tend to specialize on a certain niche. Depending on which one you visit they sell everything from spices to crafts to very inexpensive tourist t-shirts.

Modern Dubai

The Burj al-Arab hotel seen from a nearby hotel.

Dubai Marina

Don’t miss Dubai’s overwhelming shopping malls

  • Burj Khalifa[71]. Until recently called Burj Dubai, at 828 metres and 160 floors this is the world’s tallest structure by a long shot, over 300m taller than the previous contender in Taipei. The observation deck at the 124th floor is the 2nd highest in the world after the Shanghai World Financial center. Already dominating the Dubai skyline, the newly opened tower houses nine hotels and a Las Vegas-inspired fountain system. The visitors’ entrance is located at the lower ground floor of Dubai Mall[72]. Although the tour is called At the Top be aware that it isn’t! Although the observation deck is the highest open deck in the world, at 452m it’s just over halfway up the tower itself. Console yourself with the knowledge that most of the rest of the tower consists of service areas and the view below looks suitably ant-like. Tickets cost Dhs 125 for a timed entry ticket, usually later the same day, or Dhs 400 if you do not want to wait. Tickets can sell out several days in advance, and it is advisable to book them online ahead of your visit.
  • The Dubai Fountain[73]. At 270m (900ft) in length and sporting a jet that shoots water up to 150m (500 ft), the Dubai Fountain is indeed the world’s largest dancing fountain and one with a very enticing display – a definite must see. The show starts every evening at the Burj Dubai Lake. Easy way to approach it is via the Dubai Mall.

Shows are every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 11pm on weekends. It’s the world’s largest dancing fountain with classical, Arabic and world music. About 1.5 million lumens of projected light and the spray heights of up to 150m/500 ft (22,000 gallons of airborne water).

  • Burj al-Arab hotel [74]. For a real glimpse into “how the other half lives”, (self-proclaimed as the only 7 star hotel in the world), afternoon tea, or cocktails, may be an interesting experience. Entry to the hotel requires a reservation which will be confirmed at the entry gate, although residents of adjacent Jumeirah hotels may be able to visit by arrangement. Other tourists may occasionally be able to book tours of the hotel itself, however these will not run when the hotel is full. A “very smart casual” dress code applies. Reservations are usually required about a month in advance for a room, but a few days will generally suffice for a meal.
  • Dubai Marina. Established 2003. The construction of the Marina was inspired by development False Creek in Vancouver (Canada). One of the newer and more popular areas of Modern Dubai, both with residents and tourists. It offers numerous features such as a phenomenal skyline, world class hotels, a fabulous beach, a mall, and 2 different walkways (The Walk and Marina Walk) with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. Marina Walk is right on the “Marina water”, and there are many yachts there. You can rent a yacht for a cruise around the area or you can simply dine on a dhow cruise Dubai. The Walk has a nice open market run from October till May, every Fridays and Saturdays at daylight.
  • Dubai Water Canal Dubai water canal is a new tourist attraction unveiled in Dubai on November 9th November 2016, which is another golden feather in cap of Dubai’s history. The 3.2-kilometre-long canal serves as the final segment of the Dubai Creek extension, terminating in the Arabian Gulf via Al Safa, Al Wasl and Jumeirah 2. The opening of the canal opens up new possibilities in marine transport, connecting the historic areas of Deira and Bur Dubai through the extended waterway of Dubai Creek, Business Bay and Dubai Water Canal. There are 3 pedestrian bridges created across different areas of canal in order for the public to watch the beauty of canal and its artificial waterfall with its full essence.The waterfalls automatically stop and give way to marine transport when it pass across it. Dubai water canal is now one of the favourite sailing areas in the city. You can experience cruising through this canal by booking a rental service or by using a RTA water taxi.
  • Palm Islands. The three largest artificial islands in the world are located just off the coast of Dubai; a major urban development to add a significant amount of upscale beachfront property to the area. Each of the islands is shaped like a palm leaf, with a trunk connected to the mainland, fronds extending from the trunk, and a crescent (a breakwater encircling the trunk and fronds). Of the three planned, the Palm Jumeirah, at 5km square and near Dubai Marina, is the only one yet open, connected to the mainland by a freeway bridge and a monorail and sporting marinas, luxury resorts, and upscale shopping areas.

Do

Ski Dubai

Dubai Creek Cruise

Fossils in a cliff face near Dubai.

China Pavilion in Global Village, Dubai

  • Beaches and sea. There are endless water-sport opportunities as Dubai has some of the whitest and sandiest beaches in the world. Ocean temperatures range from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer, there are few wave breaks and the strong winds can make swimming difficult. The water is also very salty so many prefer to use their hotel swimming pool. Diving activities have been severely affected by offshore construction work for the Palms and The World; consequently, long boat trips are necessary to reach wreck sites. Alternatively, one can make the 90 minute road journey to the East coast Emirate of Fujairah or the Sharjah enclave, Khor Fakkan, for top class diving on coral reefs supporting extensive marine life.
  • Natural Outdoors. Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting, and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the emirate of Dubai, which extends into Hatta – the difficulty is in knowing where to find them! There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes – Weekenduae is a blog that freely shares ideas, routes and plans for weekend adventures with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos.
  • Parks. Al Safa Park is one of the oldest in Dubai. It’s a favorite for sports enthusiasts, and many visitors enjoy playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Children love playing games in the video arcade, or riding the ferris wheel and bumper cars. The park even has a maze to wander through. Barbeques and picnic areas are available for those who want to make a day of it.
  • Camel Races. The Camel Race Track is one of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. Not only can you watch the races, but you’ll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. Vendors sell everything from beads to rugs and blankets, so you can purchase souvenirs. Madinat Jumeirah is also known as Jumeirah City, and is a complex of residential neighborhoods, two luxury hotels, and a shopping mall.
  • Water Sports. Thrill seeking water excitement. Banana boat ride and parasailing and many other water sports activities.
  • Desert Safari or Dune Bashing. Dubai is well known of its desert safari Dubai and extreme adventure sports in the desert. The most popular extreme adventure tour is called the dune bashing. Dune Bashing uses different things like 4X4 Safari Jeeps, Sand Boards, Quad Bikes and Dune Buggies. Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist Desert Drivers. The drivers will take you for a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a lavish dinner with music and dance to complete the atmosphere. You may want to stay clear of the dune-bashing if you know that you get carsick easily. They have recently added a Hummer H3 to the roster, which costs a bit more but is worth the money like featured by MTDubai. Another option would be renting/buying a 4×4 and joining the many growing 4×4 clubs in the UAE, which are varied and each carry their own different flavour: ad4x4, uaeoffroaders [75], arabianoffroader [76], me4x4 [77], emarat4x4 [78], etc. They offer a free learning experience for all newcomers with scheduled weekly trips to suit all levels of driving skills, some of them have over 2,000 members from many nationalities.
  • Fishing. Enjoy deep sea fishing in the middle of the Dubai Sea. Fishing in Dubai allows to find some of popular fishes including queen fish, snappers, tuna, cobia, emperor, Spanish mackerel and barracuda fishes.

There are large numbers of companies offering fishing boats like Dubai Dhow. The advanced and modern fishing boats are the most upgraded luxury vessels that have accommodation rooms along with the required things to make the stay comfortable and convenient in the ship. Modern and latest infrastructure with innovative fishing equipments doubles the adventure of fishing from the bottom of the sea.

  • Deep Sea Fishing [79] is also hosted by professional skippers whose services are offered by the boats and charters one hires. These professional skippers guide and help in capturing desired target in easy and safe manner. The boats are well equipped with life jackets, flares, first aid facilities and all precautionary measures for the utmost protection of the travelers. Professional fishermen and captains of the boat are assigned to the people to ensure complete safety. Staff is fully trained, ethically aware of the needs of the travelers and available to keep sharp eye on weather condition and atmosphere for safety measures.

Dubai is actually a place for water freaks and the people who like to explore the nature from the lap of the sea. Bottom fishing and trolling both options can be availed for preying the fish. Bottom fishing is about to attract a variety of fish by using bait like squids by stopping the boat in the middle of the sea. Trolling is done to catch big fish by using trolling lures or plastic fish as bait.

  • Ski [80]. Dubai now has its own snow skiing centre. Located in the new Mall of the Emirates (MOE), on the Sheikh Zayed Road, it offers both skiing and snowboarding. The slope is quite large for an indoor area. All equipment is available for hire. Although it is -4°C inside, you don’t need to bring a jacket because they supply pretty much everything except gloves and a hat (which you can buy right there). A 2 hour pass costs Dhs180 plus Dhs20 for a locker.
  • Wild Wadi [81]. Wild Wadi Park is the perfect place for the entire family to spend a day as well as being a great way to beat the heat and enjoy the day away from the bustle of the city. Located close to the hotels and resorts of Jumeriah Beach, the park has water rides, slides, and a lagoon that’s hidden away. You’ll enjoy waterfalls, out of the way swimming holes, and a tidal pool.
  • Desert Motorcycle Tours [82]. Big Red Motorsports specializes in Desert Motorcycle / Dirt Bike and Dune Buggy Tours. Located at the foot of Big Red (Dubai’s greatest dune) there is no better location to experience the vast desert of the UAE. Expect thrills and adventure. Dune Buggy suitable for all. Motorcycle tour requires some skill. No licence needed.
  • Yacht Charter. Chartering on the Arabian Sea in Dubai has become lure for huge range of tourists from all over the world. Yacht chartering in Dubai provides tourists complete package of travelling along enchanting coastline of Dubai.

Many yacht charters companies allow you to get facilitated from chartering experience. One can choose from multiple options like luxury yachts, speed racing yachts and many more. Each yacht differs from others with different features. The yachts are available in various sizes and capacities according to needs of people. For water sport activities, yacht charters are equipped with all needed modern technology and safety measures. Professional skippers and crew members accompany you throughout all chartering experience for instructions and guidance.

  • Dubai Creek Cruise/Ride. The Dubai creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures. You can book a ride on the creek with a dinner cruise or even rent a private boat to take you on a hour long ride up and down the creek.
  • Dubai International Boat ShowLuxury Yacht Charter in Dubai is trending hot in Dubai. If you love to cruise on the sea and sailing on the waves and enjoy time away from the land you will never want to miss out the Dubai International Boat Show happens in Dubai. For more details http://www.boatshowdubai.com
  • Dubai Pre- Owned boat show : If you are passionate about Yachts and Boats, block your calendar for the Dubai pre-owned boat show. The event provides a unique platform for buyers and prospective sellers from all over the GCC to come together. The event is happening in the Dubai Creek Marina which has the capacity to display boats of up to 147ft on land and in water. You can see a wide range of boats for sale ranging from small tender boats to super yachts.
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