With its vertigo-inducing towers, bold and captivating architecture, upmarket shopping centres and riveting night life, you would be forgiven for reducing Dubai to mere clichés… But why not make the most of your trip and go intrepid? We have picked out our top 10 places to reveal another side of the Emirates.
In the Middle East, camels were once the main form of transport… But these days you’re more likely to catch sight of one at a camel racing course than cruising down the streets of this high-tech city. At the Dubai Camel Racing Club you will be witness to a very unusual spectacle because here you won’t see actual jockeys mounted on the camels, but rather little remote-controlled robots! This union between tradition and modernity is sure to be an entertaining sight.
There’s no doubt that Dubai’s bustling night scene is one of its principal drawcards. If you’re into trendy places and unconventional experiences, then head to Tr!beca Kitchen + Bar. This Manhattan-inspired bar offers organic cuisine, a slightly hipster atmosphere and out of control parties. If you’re game, you can try out your moves at the hip hop karaoke nights too!
Eventually you find yourself in the Bur Dubai neighbourhood, where the city’s roots are found. It’s a far cry from the sophisticated new neighbourhoods where the mantra seems to be that bigger is better. Here you’ll find a more local vibe, perfect for the morning after a night out. A trip to the Coffee Museum is just what the doctor ordered for an antidotal caffeine hit. Completely dedicated to the history of coffee, this unimposing museum welcomes you in for a taste session in a setting which is influenced by both Africa and the East. A touch of zen to punctuate your Dubai escape!
Get away from the hustle-bustle of the city centre and its skyscrapers by heading to Bastakiya, the heart of Dubai’s historic centre. Wandering around the earth houses and badgirs (otherwise known as “wind towers”, the original air conditioners!), it’s as if you had travelled back in time. You feel like you’ve come back as a sultan from the 18th century…during your stroll, stop by the Al-Fahidi fort, built in 1787 and now housing the Dubai Museum.
We often associate Dubai with beaches, but the city also boats a strait which is ideal for sailing. Hire an abra to discover Dubai from the water. An abra is a traditional type of wooden boat with a roof. You might even find the crossing of Dubai Creek is one of your highlights of the city!
If you and your travelling companions are clubbers at heart, Dubai will be sure to delight you! Soho Beach is a true night owl’s haven with its private beach, swimming pools and different musical genres. This is the place to be if you’re into feverish dancing with dips in the water to cool off. This is one pool party you’ll never forget!
Nightclubs not really your scene? If you want to see a good film, while enjoying the Middle-Eastern climate (even when night temperatures fall, they have blankets at the ready!), head to Vox Rooftop. Located on the roof of Galleria Mall, this open-air movie theatre offers a panoramic view over Dubai with the option of dining right there, comfortably settled in wide armchairs. The only risk is that you might spend more time looking at the star-lit sky than at the movie screen!
Here’s an idea which will be akin to heaven for petrolheads. In the Al Aweer neighbourhood, 35 kilometres from the centre of Dubai, you can come and discover a market selling used cars which you sure don’t see every day! Are you wondering why people make the trip there? Well because it’s home to numerous Rolls Royce, Bugatti, and Chevrolet Corvette. Not to mention the Fiskers which can be found in the shovelful. There’s something for all tastes and it’s a lot more exotic than your typical car showroom!
To all you lovers of culinary discoveries and markets in general, you are going to love the Waterfront Market! Although it doesn’t have the old-fashioned charm of the Deira Fish Market (closed in 2017), the brand new Waterfront Market still provides a fabulous variety of the aromas and flavours which characterise local cuisine. As you pass along the impressive stalls of fresh fish, exotic fruit and vegetables, and heady spices, you have just one question on your mind: What should I try for lunch today?
Have your camera handy, because the Sharjah bird market has an impressive array of brightly-coloured birds from every corner of the globe. Be sure to check out the live falcon section where they sell raptors and all the equipment needed to practise falconry which is a cultural tradition in the Emirate states.
Bird market - Sharjah Emirate, 20km from Dubai
Still got a bit of time to spare after all these excursions? Don’t miss the must-see monument of Dubai: The Burj Khalifa tower…
The Burj Khalifa tower will remain, at least for a few more years, the tallest building on the planet, with its spire extending 830 metres into the sky. From the 148th floor, you feel like you’re on top of the world, with your head in the clouds. The Emirates, the Persian Gulf, and the majestic desert stretch out at your feet. Enjoy the view…
Burj Khalifa - 1 Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard - Dubai