Dubai

Places of Interest

The city of Dubai embraces its namesake creek, dividing it into two halves. The main sightseeing circuit in Dubai is split between Bur Dubai and Deira which lie on opposite sides of the water, and the gently curving Dubai Creek is an attraction in itself. You will have plenty of opportunities for some brilliant views of the city from the water: gleaming skyscrapers on one side, and old trading dhows on the other.

Deira's many attractions include the historic quarter of Bastakia, as well as old souks and covered marketplaces. Wandering along the alleys, you can explore the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. The Dubai Museum is housed within the beautifully restored Al Fahidi Fort, and is a must-see for first time visitors to Dubai. Built in 1799 to defend the city against invasion, it has served as both palace and prison and the museum's collection includes life-size figures and galleries depicting Arab houses, mosques, date gardens, desert and marine life.

On the Bur Dubai side, Heritage Village, located in the Shindagah area, is a family destination where you can watch potters, weavers and artisans at their crafts. The adjoining Diving Village offers a cultural microcosm of pearl diving and fishing. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, a museum restored from the house of Dubai's former ruler and dating back to the late 1800s, is within the same complex. With its unusual layered rooms and authentic wind towers, Sheikh Saeed's House showcases regional architecture at its best.

If you drive west from the city centre, you will reach the popular suburb of Jumeirah, home to some of Dubai's finest luxury hotels and resorts, unspoilt stretches of sunny beaches and water sports complexes. In Jumeirah is the Grand Mosque, re-built in 1998, with the city's tallest minaret, nine large domes and 45 small domes - a distinguished landmark and an important place of worship.

About 115 Km south east of Dubai, in the heart of the rocky Hatta Mountains, is the 3000 year old Hatta Village, an important historical site for the region. The two towers overlooking the village used to be defense fortresses against hostile invaders, and during a relaxed day at the Village, you can visit the Houses of Traditional Handicrafts and Palm Products, The Castle Centre, and the 200 year old Sharia Mosque.

In contrast to the traditional attractions of Dubai and the surrounding areas, the city boasts world-class business and leisure facilities.

Best Buys and Bargains

Dubai is a veritable shopper's paradise! Whether it is for gold, electronics, carpets, spices, textiles or more.

The city is one of the largest retail gold markets in the world, selling everything from ingots to intricately hand crafted jewellery, and bargaining is welcomed almost everywhere. The Gold Souk area in Deira has glittering street-front stores and hides dozens of alleys housing smaller shops. The newly built Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road is an attraction for serious jewellery shoppers.

The city is also home to some of the Middle East region's most prestigious shopping malls, boutiques and department stores that house retailers of haute couture, hi-tech electronics, home furnishings and accessories or traditional Arabic crafts. Dubai is famous for offering top international brands at unbelievably reasonable prices.

The larger shopping mall complexes also house cinema theatres, food courts, entertainment centers and play areas for children, allowing for complete family shopping experiences.

Choose to browse through the older markets and the narrow walkways located in the Meena Bazaar, Karama and Naif areas, dedicated to inexpensive reproductions of international brands; leather goods and textiles; computer and electrical accessories and Arabic perfumes.

Most shopping venues and cultural destinations sell a range of gifts and souvenirs representing Dubai: The Seven Sands of the UAE, traditional Bedouin jewellery, sand art, packaged dates and date products, Arabic sweets, wooden crafts and palm leaf handicrafts.

Seasonal Highlights

Dubai has a very eventful social calendar. With international sporting events, shopping and entertainment festivals, music and cultural programmes held at various indoor and outdoor venues all year around.

Varying from the world's richest horse race - The Dubai World Cup, and international jazz festivals, to the home grown Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai also hosts regionally significant exhibitions and trade shows on a regular basis.

While the actual dates of many important events are timed to match the season, the Lunar calendar and the holy month of Ramadan change from year to year. The chart below provides a guideline to the city's many events:

  • January - The Dubai Marathon, Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai International Jazz Festival, Emirates Cup Traditional Dhow Sailing Race, Dubai International Sailing Week Regatta
  • February - The Dubai Terry Fox Run, Dubai Tennis Championships
  • March - Dubai Desert Golf Classic, Dubai World Cup, Dubai International Kite Surfing Challenge
  • April - International Jewellery exhibition
  • May - Local and international events
  • June - Dubai Summer Surprises, UAE National Sailing Championship
  • July - Dubai Summer Surprises
  • August - Dubai Summer Surprises
  • September - Gulf IT Exhibition (GITEX), Local and international events (Dubai, the City that Cares festival)
  • October - UAE Desert Challenge
  • November - Horse racing season, Dubai Traditional Dhow Sailing Race
  • December - Rugby 7s, Dubai Air Show, Dubai Grand Prix, National Day celebrations

Rest and Recreation

Dubai is an exciting year round destination that offers unlimited opportunities for rest and recreation, be it a walk through a lush green family park, an adventurous day in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, or a pampering session at one of the many health spas.

Beaches: Some of Dubai's beaches are attached to private hotels, where, for a small fee, you can spend the day on the sand and in the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Other beaches and waterfronts - the Corniche and the Creek - are free for public access, and feature a range of water sports offered by several operators.

Desert safaris: One of Dubai's most popular tourist attractions is the desert safari: a unique experience that combines an adventurous 4WD car ride over sand dunes with camels, belly dancers, henna designers, falconers, and a barbecue dinner by starlight. Other attractions include sand skiing, sand boarding, sand karting and 4WD desert driving

Fishing: The warmth and shelter of the Gulf attract a large variety of fish, and several local companies provide full and half day trips to the best fishing waters about 12Km offshore from the mainland.

Golf: Dubai has the unique distinction of being the only golfing centre in the world to host major international tournaments on both the European and Asian PGA circuits. Visiting golfers can choose from various clubs and courses, each of championship quality and presenting a different type of challenge.

Treatments and therapies: Dubai is home to an extraordinary number of spas and wellness clinics, ranging from internationally renowned brands to ancient Chinese and Indian holistic treatments.

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