Dubai is renowned for its blend of futuristic infrastructure and centuries-old traditions: Glittering towers rise up behind stone mosques, and visitors explore the city through a maze of streets or by riding the metro through the sky. Today, we look at the top ten things to do in Dubai, taking in both the old and the new.
The Burj Khalifa is the most impressive structure in Dubai’s trailblazing skyline, as well as the tallest building in the world. Visitors can look out across the city from two observation decks: One has telescopes that allow visitors to glimpse into Dubai’s past, simulating images of the city as it stood 35 years ago.
2. Hot air balloon trips
Gliding above the Dubai desert in a hot air balloon is a particularly unforgettable highlight. Flights depart at sunrise, providing spectacular views over the sand dunes, dotted with sparkling oases and wandering wildlife.
3. The Dubai Museum
The Dubai Museum is fittingly set in the city’s oldest surviving building: the Al Fahidi Fort. Fishing boats recall the hundreds of years during which Dubai made its wealth from pearl harvesting, while illuminated dioramas tell the story of everyday life.
4. Hindu Temple
From the Al Fahidi Fort it’s a short stroll to this complex, the only place of worship for the city’s Hindu community. Devotees bring fragrant flowers and fresh coconuts to its temples, creating a sweet scent that drifts throughout the complex.
5. Jumeirah Open Beach
Jumeirah Open Beach is the city’s original public beach, and remains one of its most frequented today. The beach’s proximity to the small malls on Beach Road make it an ideal location for an afternoon’s relaxation in the sun, with a regular supply of thirst-quenching refreshments easily accessible.
6. The Dubai Mall
With over 1,200 shops, as well as a vast aquarium and an Olympic-sized ice rink, the Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping centre. Visitors can browse through designer boutiques including Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan, purchase gourmet treats at Godiva, and pick up bottles of pure oud from a number of retailers.
7. Camel rides
Journeying across the dunes of Dubai on camelback gives visitors a rare opportunity to see the desert as its first settlers did. The most luxurious rides include an evening meal, usually featuring authentic Emirati dishes such as tender goat chops, eaten under the cover of handmade tents beneath the starry night sky.
If you are looking for a rather more energetic way to enjoy the dunes, sandboarding may be an ideal option. This immensely popular activity is easier than snowboarding, and lets you experience the thrill of the slopes on the sun-baked sands of Dubai.
This restaurant features an opulent Arabic interior, with ornate fabric draped across the ceiling and glossy marble flooring underfoot. Its lavish décor matches the indulgent Lebanese menu, with generous platters of mezze and grilled, succulent meats coming highly recommended.
10. Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
Dubai is celebrated for its place in the United Arab Emirates’ art scene, and this gallery is one of its most boundary-pushing venues. It represents emerging artists from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia and North Africa, working in mediums including sculpture, video, paint and photography.
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