10 things to do in Dubai

From desert to skyscrapers


November 2016

0 min read

From diverse shopping experience sin the largest malls in the world or an ancient market entirely dedicated to gold, here are 10 experiences to make the most of the bustling, multi ethnic and extremely luxurious Dubai, the city of records.


Today Dubai has reached almost mythical proportions, with record breaking constructions, grand events (from sport to art) and a reputation as a hedonistic destination for luxury holiday makers. The the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. With constructions and improvements happening almost daily, thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Dubai, and the fact that the city will host the World Expo 2020, this unbelievable corner of the Gulf is a definite must see.


Looking to make Dubai the number one spot on your travel bucket list? Here are 10 things to do once you get there.

The Burj Khalifa 

A city of records, Dubai had to be the home of the It is the tallest structure in the world, standing at 829.8 metres. Burj Khalifa raises into the sky defining the already vertically impressive skyline of the city. Make sure to enjoy a view of the surrounding area from its observation deck. But don’t limit yourselves to looking up, the tower is surrounded by an 11 hectares park designed on the symmetries of the desert flower, Hymenocallis. Here water features, gardens, palm lined walkways, and flowering trees are a contemporary oasis in the desert.


Mall of the Emirates 

As well as luxury hotels and the fames man made archipelago stretching into the sea outside the city, Dubai is known for its malls, and first amongst them all is the Mall of the Emirates. This multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants and cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. Wow. The mall also hosts cultural activities, as it hosts the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre as well as the Magic planet (a definite destination if you’re travelling with kids), but perhaps the most surprising feature of the Mall of the Emirates is Ski Dubai, is a large indoor skiing facility (the first indoor ski slope in the Middle East and the world’s larges indoor ski park) offering snowboarding, ski lessons, children’s play area and cafe.


Desert Safari

Though the azure waters of the Persian Gulf are one of the identifying features of Dubai, its impossible to forget that you’re actually in the desert. Make sure to experience the wonders of the desert with guided 4×4 tours, quad bikes or even camel trekking across the dunes and take in the wonders of the colours, smells and general atmosphere of the Arabian Desert.

Dining in Dubai

Food is a big deal in Dubai, with all sorts of cuisines and eateries available for all budgets. Make sure to indulge in traditional street cuisine for succulent shawarmas (like kebab but authentic) or delicious hummus and falafels in the Deira district, but Dubai is especially a place for fine dining. The city plays host to a number of internationally renowned restaurant outposts, from Nobu to Bice (Milan’s most sought after Tuscan traditional restaurant) and Buddha Bar, but there are some truly unique experiences to be had. Head to the Madinat Jumeriah’s Pierchic, set on a decked pier jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, offering a romantic atmosphere and some of Dubai’s finest seafood. Choose the famous “submarine” restaurant headed by Nathan Outlaw (in the Jumeriah Burj Al Arab), for a once in a lifetime experience, or if utter romanticism is your thing then you’ll be pressed to find a more romantic option than Burj Al Arab’s private island beach, where the “restaurant” is actually just a table and chairs set on the sand overlooking the sail like tower glistening in the sunset. Dubai takes its food seriously and from the 23rd February to 11th March 2017 an international food festival will take place in the city. 


Jumeirah Mosque

Though a hedonistic holiday destination Dubai is a Muslim country, with its traditions and culture. Thus while lying in the beach or perusing the stores in the many Malls or even enjoying a drink in one of the many luxury hotels, you’ll hear the muezzin’s call to prayer. When in Dubai pay homage to its culture by visiting the Jumeirah Mosque. Built in the Fatimid style starting in 1976, this is the most photographed mosque in all of Dubai. Its also the only one opened to non Muslims visitors. To truly understand the cultures and tradition of this new yet ancient land make sure to stop by The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for a comprehensive overview of Emirates culture.

Deira Gold Souq

Indulge in a spot of shopping outside the many malls in a traditional market. Dubai Gold Souk is located in the heart of Dubai’s commercial business district in Deira. With over 300 retailers that trade almost exclusively in jewellery. Retailers in the souk include both well established stores and smaller artisanal treasures. For the jewellery fiends amongst you, the mind boggles at the thought that according to some estimates, approximately 10 tons of gold is present at any given time in the souk.


Burj Al Arab and Jumeriah beach

The Burj al-Arab (Tower of the Arabs) remains one of the emblems of the Dubai Skyline. The fourth tallest hotel in the world, the tower is built on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore of the beach connected to the mainland by a winding bridge. While a visit to the hotel is a must, especially for a fine dining evening in their “underwater restaurant”, the view of the sail like tower from the Jumeriah beach at sunset is an extraordinary experience, and the perfect location for the ultimate Instagram snap.

Old Dubai: Forts and Souks

Between the record breaking skyscrapers, the man made archipelagos, fountains, gardens and luxurious marinas, you can find the remanence of “old Dubai”. The early history of Dubai is not very well documented, but archaeological discoveries suggest that small fishing communities lived along the coast of the Arabian Gulf (modern Dubai) over 4000 years ago.  Artefacts dating back to the third millennium B.C have been unearthed in Dubai’s main archaeological sites in Al Sufoh and Jumeirah, and collated in the Dubai Museum, previously the Al Fahidi Fort, on the Dubai Creek. Historically, the creek divided the city into two main sections – Deira and Bur Dubai. It was along the Bur Dubai creek area that members of the Bani Yas tribe first settled in the 19th century, establishing the Al Maktoum dynasty in the city, and from here trade and Dubai’s pearling industry, which formed the main sector of the city’s economy, prior to the invention of cultured pearls (and the discovery of oil). Dotted around Dubai are other historic buildings and sites that offer a glimpse of a bygone era such as the Sheikh Saeed’s House, the Bastakiya and the Deira Spice Souq.

Dubai Design District

In a view to reproduce the bubbling creativity of quarters like Shoreditch in London and the Meatpacking District in New York, Dubai have created their very own artistic hub, in their very own style, of course. The Dubai Design District, known as d3, is a purpose-built community dedicated to promoting and nurturing emerging local talent and providing a creative home to established international design, luxury and fashion brands. Designed and built in 3 phases, D3 includes residential, hospitality, retail and office spaces, designed by the prestigious architecture studio Foster and Partners. The final phase is due for completion in 2021.


The World 

4.0 kilometres off the coast of Dubai, lies an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map. The 300 islands which make up The World, originally conceived by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, began to be developed in 2003, but up to today, only a small number of them have been developed. Nevertheless, its a magnificent spectacle to take in, especially as part of a helicopter tour of Dubai.