Top Rated Dubai’s Highlights & Tourist Attractions
Dubai is a land where fantasy is converted to reality everyday. The country is for all i.e for the budget traveler and for the rich and the famous. You can eat at a cafe and at the same time dine at the most luxurious branded restaurants. The places for each are clearly delimited. The place is shoppers paradise and one of the safest tourist destination. You can be rest assured that you can walk on the streets safetly without fear. Nightlife and beaches are second to none. The only thing is the weather during summer -april to sept. The rest of the months it is pleasant. The city spoils you with the good life. Come and enjoy the good times but do be within your limits.
We broke down some of the Top Rated Dubai’s Highlights & Tourist Attractions and got all the info so you have a better idea of every place and sightsighing. Scroll down to get all the info.
Set in a well-preserved fort, the Dubai museum, with its whimsical dioramas and fascinating displays, provides a comprehensive introduction to the city.
A visit to Dubai would be incomplete without a tour of this cleverly-planned museum. It offers a vivid picture of how Dubai has crammed into a third of a century what most cities achieve in several. Located near the creekside historic Bastakiya district, the museum is housed within and beneath one of the city’s oldest buildings, Al Fahidi Fort. It traces the city’s meteoric development from small desert settlement to centre of the Arabian world for commerce, finance and tourism. Visit here to gain a sensory insight into traditions past and present.
Top 10 Features when visiting the Dubai Museum
- Al Fahidi Fort
Al Fahidi Fort Originally built in 1787, this fort, with its magnificent watch tower, was constructed to defend the Emiratis against invasion. Renovated in 1971, it now serves as a city museum.
- Barasti Windtower House
Barasti Windtower House The fort’s courtyard houses a CBSBTUJ (date palm frond) home CFMPX and windtower cooling system, common in the region up to the 1950s.
- Bedouin Traditions Display
Bedouin Traditions Display A gallery displays the costumes, jewellery, weapons and tools of the Bedouin people. A holographic video presentation of a tribe performing the ceremonial sword dance, the Ardah, is hypnotic.
- Multimedia Presentation
Multimedia Presentation A 10-minute film presentation, with archive footage, explains the development of modern Dubai from 1960 onward. The film takes you through a pictorial tour of Dubai’s transformation over 40 years, decade-by-decade.
- Old Dubai Souq Dioramas
Old Dubai Souq Dioramas Holographic technology combined with waxwork figures, smells, sounds and archive footage transport you into the creekside souq of half a century ago.
- Islamic School Dioramas
Islamic School Dioramas Young Emiratis recite the lines of the Koran under the eye of their tutor in this reconstruction of a 1950’s school.
- Desert at Night Exhibitions
Desert at Night Exhibitions Learn how animals that live in the Arabian desert have adapted to cope with lack of water, extreme temperatures and shortage of food.
- Underwater Pearl Diving Exhibition
Underwater Pearl Diving Exhibition This gallery explains the techniques used by pearl divers who wore nose clips to descend to impossible depths.
- Archaeological Finds
Archaeological Finds Interesting artefacts from excavations of graves that date back to 3,000 BC, such as fine copper and alabaster objects and pottery, are on display.
- Wooden Dhow
Wooden Dhow A traditional Arab vessel, the dhow, is on show at the museum’s exit. For celestial navigation, sailors used the kamal, a device that determines latitude using the angle of the Pole Star the horizon.
Criss-crossed by abras (water taxis) and dhows (old wooden boats) each day, this waterway is Dubai’s lifeblood.
Dubai Creek, fed by the waters of the Arabian Gulf, is the lifeblood of old and new Dubai – a vibrant mix of the past and the present. The contrast of traditional wooden dhows being unloaded at the wharfage against stunning modern architecture, such as the glass dome-fronted Bank of Dubai (see p61) and the giant ball-topped Etisalat building, is fascinating. The two sides of the Creek are Deira (north) and Bur Dubai (south) and a walk along either is an enjoyable way to discover this multi-faceted city. Getting across the Creek is easy: the nearest bridge for cars is Maktoum Bridge but the cheapest and most authentic crossing has to be by abra .
Top 10 Features when visiting the Dubai Creek
- Abra Trips
Abras are flatbottomed, open-sided water taxis and are a breezy way to travel. Cram in with other passengers – the abras carry 40,000 people per day – and enjoy the great views.
The dhow is the traditional sailing vessel of the Emirates. These beautiful wooden boats are used for tourist rides as well as for trade.
- Waterfront Heritage
In the Shindagha area near the Creek mouth you will find the restored house and museum of the late ruler Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum and the Heritage and Diving Village, which showcases Arabian culture.
- Wharf Walk
It’s worth taking an amble alongside the colourful painted dhows moored on the Creek on Baniyas Road. They arrive each day from India, Iran and Oman. You can wander by and watch their interesting wares being unloaded.
- Bur Dubai Waterfront
The ruler’s Diwan and historic architecture of “Old Dubai” can be enjoyed from the Deira side of the Creek BCPWF : windtowers, minarets and the domes of the Grand Mosque.
- Bait Al Wakeel
Built in 1934, this was the Dubai office of the British East India Company. It has been completely restored and now houses a restaurant.
- The Diwan
With its modern white windtowers and imposing wrought-iron gates, the Diwan, or Ruler’s Office, is impressive.
- Creekside Park
A wonderful expanse of parkland, Creekside Park stretches along the water’s edge. Walk its length and enjoy the watery vistas or take a fun cable car ride from one side of the Creek to the other.
- Creek Cruises
Several tour operators offer creek cruises with buffet lunch or dinner and entertainment on traditional wooden sailing dhows. A sunset trip is a treat, especially if accompanied by live belly-dancing and Arabian music.
- Bateaux Dubai
An evening on the Creek aboard the sleek, glass-encased Bateaux Dubai is a luxurious way to enjoy the views. Fourcourse dinners, white table linen and live piano music make this a romantic indulgence.
The gypsum and coral courtyard houses in this quarter were constructed by Persian merchants who settled here in the last century.
The old and atmospheric Bastakiya quarter has benefited from extensive renovation work by Dubai Municipality. It gives a picturesque glimpse into the city’s past in sharp contrast to the futuristic architecture and audacious construction projects elsewhere. Traditional sand, stone, coral and gypsum windtower houses, with elegant courtyards, can be explored as you wander the maze of shady narrow streets and alleys. The buildings have been restored to their original state, with Arabesque windows, decorative gypsum panels and screens. This area is now home to art galleries, museums and atmospheric cafés.
Top 10 Features when visiting Bastakiya
- Bastakiya History
Bastak, in southern Iran, is the origin of the name Bastakiya. It was traders from Bastak who founded this area by the Creek in the early 1900s. Drawn by Dubai’s liberal tax policies, they settled here permanently.
- Traditional Architecture
The need to remain cool prompted the distinctive vernacular style of the windtower courtyard houses. Thick walls and narrow windows with intricate Arabesque designs are characteristic.
- Al Fahidi Fort
this Fort dates back to 1787. A sighting recorded in 1822 calls this “a square castellated building, with a tower at one angle… with three or four guns mounted”.
- Old City Wall
Restoration work of the original 200-year-old city wall has reinforced the importance of this section of the original city as a crucial defensive zone.
- Stamp & Coin Museum
Philately House hosts an exhibition of the history of post and currency in the UAE. It explores postal activities before the federation was born.
- Sheikh Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Established in 1999 to promote understanding of traditional Emirati culture and Islam, this centre offers walking tours, Arabic courses and cultural awareness programmes. The building is a stunning architectural example of a courtyard house.
- Majlis Gallery
Majlis means meeting place in Arabic and this bijou art gallery, with a central garden area, is constructed around a beautifully converted whitewashed Arabic house. Local Emirati and expat artists feature alongside original pottery, ceramics, crafts and jewellery.
- Basta Art Café
Set in a traditional courtyard of a Bastakiya house, Basta Art Café is a great spot to sit among flowering bougainvillea and enjoy lunch or a snack.
- XVA Gallery, Café & Hotel
Enjoy contemporary art in galleries off the shady courtyard of this restored traditional house. It also has a café and boutique hotel.
- Bastakiah Nights Restaurant
This restaurant’s Arabian atmosphere is best experienced after dusk. The restored building has been traditionally furnished. Enjoy Arabic and Emirati food inside or on the rooftop.
Not only is this mosque Dubai’s most beautiful, it’s the only mosque open to non-Muslims. A guided visit to learn about Islam and culture is a must.
Dubai’s culture is rooted in Islam, a fact that touches all aspects of everyday life. Virtually every neighbourhood has its own mosque, but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Jumeirah Mosque. This fine example of modern Islamic architecture was built in 1998. It is a dramatic sight set against blue skies and especially breathtaking at night, when it is lit up and its artistry is thrown into relief. Built of smooth white stone, the mosque, with its elaborately decorated twin minarets and majestic dome, is a city landmark and an important place of worship.
Top 10 Features when visiting Jumeirah Mosque
With its vast central dome, this mosque is inspired by the Anatolian style. The exterior is decorated in geometric relief over the stonework.
Two minarets crown this mosque. The height of the tallest one – the highest point of the “House of Allah” – is determined by how far the call to prayer should be heard.
The attractive mihrab – the niche in the wall of this and every mosque that indicates the qibla, the direction one should face when praying – gives the impression of a door or a passage to Mecca.
The minbar is the pulpit from which the Imam (leader of prayer) stands to deliver the khutba (Friday sermon).
“Open Doors, Open Minds” Tour
The “Open Doors, Open Minds” interactive guided mosque tour run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, offers an opportunity to admire the subtle interior decoration and to gain insight into the Islamic religion.
Five Pillars of Islam
The “Five Pillars of Islam” are: Shahadah, the belief in the oneness of God; Salat, the five daily prayers; Zakat, alms-giving; Siyam, selfpurification and Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The adhan (call to prayer) rings out five times a day – all able Muslims must supplicate themselves to Allah by praying on a musalla (traditional mat).
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and other physical needs. This is a time for purification and to focus on Allah.
Every able-bodied Muslim is expected to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, once. Each year millions of Muslims from all over the globe do so to be forgiven of sins, to pray and to celebrate the glory of Allah.
Dubai may be cosmopolitan, but in keeping with mosque etiquette, you must dress conser– vatively to enter. No shorts or sleeveless tops for either gender; women must wear a headscarf. Remove your shoes before entering.
Burj Al Arab
This iconic, attentiongrabbing hotel is certainly a sight you cannot miss. It’s the world’s tallest, all-suite hotel building.
So recognisable that it instantly became an international symbol for modern Dubai, the Burj Al Arab (meaning “Arabian tower”), completed in 1999, is an exclusive all-suite hotel. With its helipad on the 28th floor and a restaurant seemingly suspended in mid-air, at a soaring 321 m (1,053 ft), it takes the trophy for being the world’s tallest all-suite hotel. Set on its own artificial island against the backdrop of the turquoise waters of the Gulf, it is dazzling white by day and rainbow-coloured by night when its façade is used as a canvas for spectacular light displays.
Top 10 Features when visiting Burj Al Arab
- Architectural Inspiration
The billowing sail of the traditional Arabian dhow was the inspiration for this contemporary architectural creation. Access is via the causeway Rolls Royces for guests or by helicopter.
- Exterior Architecture
The shore-facing façade of the Burj is covered by a stretched translucent fabric. This is Teflon-coated woven glass fibre. It is the first time such technology has been used in this way in any building worldwide.
- Design Details
The interior oozes with exotic opulence, from the shell-shaped reception desk to the goldleafed surfaces. The upholstery is a riot of patterns and geometric designs
- Interior Architecture
The vast gold columns and many layers of floors rising up from the lobby give a dizzying sensation.
- Fish Tanks
The lobby boasts two-storey high tropical aquaria, carefully main – tained by a dedicated in-house team.
The upper lobby is an airy space of marbles, mosaics and carpets in swirling patterns. There is an impressive multi-hued dancing fountain.
- Underwater Restaurant
Eating at Al Mahara is like taking a submarine voyage. Dine on fresh seafood and watch exotic fish glide by in the aquarium.
- Skyview Bar
This rooftop bar with its sky-high location offers spectacular vistas of the shimmering coastline. It is reached by an express panoramic lift. A must for cocktails at sunset
- Spa & Swimming Pool
On the 18th floor is the Assawan Spa, a fitness facility with soothing ocean views. The decor is reminiscent of baths used by ancient Middle Eastern civilizations.
The 202 duplex suites BCPWF are equipped with the latest remote technology, plus in-suite check-in and butlers. The two Royal Suites offer unsurpassed luxury, including a private cinema.
Madinat Jumeirah (Dubai)
Shop for handicrafts, dine at a waterfront restaurant, see theatre or sip a cocktail as you enjoy the sunset at this Arabian-themed souq, entertainment and hotel complex.
The spirit of old Arabia is the inspiration for Madinat Jumeirah, an extravagant complex located on the beachfront comprising two luxury hotels, Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam, and the exclusive Dar Al Masyaf, 29 traditional courtyard summer houses. The charm of the place lies in its detailed Arabian architectural styling – sand-coloured windtowers, arches, stairways and terraces – as well as its ingenious construction around a series of man-made waterways. As a result, navigation around the resort is Venetian-style, in old-fashioned abras. There is an Arabian-style souq, restaurants and bars.
Top 10 Features when visiting Madinat Jumeirah (Dubai)
- Souq Madinat Jumeirah
This souq is a beautifully recreated Arabian marketplace and as it is airconditioned, is a delightful place to browse. On sale are Arabian handicrafts, carpets and curios, all, however, at tourist prices.
- Madinat Amphitheatre
Built around a lagoon, this multi-purpose amphitheatre seats over 1,000 people. It is designed in the style of an old fortress. The encircling citadel houses shops and restaurants.
- Madinat Theatre
Host to the Dubai International Film Festival, the Madinat Theatre – a 442-seat luxury venue – has provided this previously rather culturestarved city with a lively programme of opera, ballet, comedy and film.
- Central Plaza: live music
Follow the meandering paths through the souq past open-fronted shops and galleries to the central plaza, where you’ll find A’Rukn – a street café with an Arabic twist – the perfect place to enjoy coffee and sample shisha.
- Al Qasr Hotel
Al Qasr MFGU is designed to reflect a Sheikh’s summer residence. An opulent hotel, this quieter part of the whole complex is surrounded by water on a virtual island.
- Mina A’Salam Hotel
Built in the style of a mythical Arabian city, this sea-facing hotel is home to lively eating and drinking venues. All the rooms and suites have balconies.
- Talise Spa
Relaxation is taken seriously in this tranquil oasis. The spa has 26 treatment rooms located on island clusters so you arrive by BCSB. Each treatment is described as “person-centric”.
- Arabian Waterways
There’s no doubt that the beautifully designed labyrinthine canals with BCSBT BCPWF are magical and romantic. Only in the desert of Dubai could such a fantastic resort rise.
- Canal-side Eating
Many of the restaurants and bars have large terraces overlooking the tranquil waterways, making alfresco dining a delight thanks to Dubai’s reliable sunshine. Zheng He’s terrace is particularly charming.
This is one of Dubai’s most eclectic music venues MFGU where you can dine and dance. It is a stylish jazz bar and offers a rare chance to listen to great live jazz, blues and R&B.
Bargain for gold, perfume, spices and textiles, or simply take in the heady atmosphere of Dubai’s souqs.
Shopping in Dubai is a shopaholic’s dream – there’s almost nothing you can’t buy here – but away from the air-conditioned marble-floored shopping malls is another experience: the souqs. Many of these, such as the gold, textile and spice souqs clustered beside the Creek, date back to Dubai’s beginnings as a palm-fringed trading port. Exploring these through their warren-like alleyways is a delight and a visit to the UAE would be incomplete without spending time in at least some of these fascinating bazaars. Generally, each type of stall, be it spices, crafts, perfumes or clothing, are located close together, making it easy to spot a good deal. Bring cash and keep in mind that bargaining is expected.
Top 10 Features when visiting Dubai Souqs
- Deira Gold Souq
This souq gleams with gold, silver and gems. Prices are competitive; dealers come in from around the globe and strict regulations are followed.
- Deira Spice Souq
This tiny souq is a sensory delight. You can buy aromatic frankincense and myrrh (with charcoal burners for them), plus an array of spices such as cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Iranian saffron is good value, too.
- Deira Perfume Souq
Fascinating shops sell heavy exotic scents like jasmine, oudh, amber and rose and will also mix individual “signature scents”. Traditional Arabian attars are for sale alongside Western brands.
- Deira Covered Souq
The Deira Covered Souq feels more Indian than Arabic, with a great medley of merchandise on offer including colourful and interesting textiles, spices, kitchenware, clothes and henna being hawked.
- Naif Rd Souq, Deira
A kitsch faux desert fort houses this traditional-style souq. You can find everything from cheap clothes and fake designerwear to children’s toys and trinkets.
- Bur Dubai Covered Souq
Beautifully restored, this creekside souq is covered by an arched pergola. It makes for an atmospheric walkway lined with money lenders and little stalls.
- Bur Dubai Textile Souq
Be warned, a visit here may prompt a visit to a tailor. Wonderful fabrics of every texture and colour imaginable from all over the world – silks, satins, brocades, linens and more.
- Karama “Souq”
This souq offers all kinds of “copy” items, especially watches and handbags. The quality of much of the merchandise, although fake, is astonishingly good.
- Satwa “Souq”
This bustling street is a great place to rummage for cheaper products, such as fabrics, household items and electronics, as well as majlis cushion sets.
- Dubai Fish Souq
Hammour, a local fish, is worth a buy. Here you can also barter for fresh barracuda, giant crab, lobster and other shellfish.