11 things you’ll love about Dubai

2018-04-09T18:03:19+00:0025 March 2015|11 things, Dubai, UAE|

Curious about dashing Dubai? Well, here’s a nice little list for you of things to do in the most famous city of the United Arab Emirates.

1. Travel from the past to the future in an abra

A not-to-be-missed experience in Dubai is crossing Al Khor (the Creek) in a water taxi, locally known as an abra. These traditional boats will take you from one side of the creek to the other in a matter of minutes – from the old souk to the business district. And the price? Only 1 dirham. In fact, if you only do one thing in Dubai, this is it.

Dubai things to do

2. See the sun set over the Arabian Desert

Long before Dubai’s futuristic skyline emerged, the desert was there. Spending time in the Arabian Desert is another experience I highly recommend. Next time, I want to wake up in it. In the meantime, sunset isn’t bad either.

Sunset in the desert, UAE

3. Dune bashing

While you’re in the desert, you may want to tempt fate by hastening across the dunes at dizzying speeds (not to mention dizzying angles) in a 4×4. I’ve done this twice: the rough-and-fast edition with the kids six years ago (they loved it, I had my eyes closed much of the time) and the slightly slower-and-tamer edition just last month (fine with me). Several companies offer this roller-coasting fun, we used Knight Tours.

You’re not really tempting fate, of course. The drivers are very experienced, so you’re not in any danger. It just feels like it.

Desert safari, UAE

4. Gawk at the world’s best hotel

See the fabled 7-star hotel Burj al-Arab from Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach. Psst… it isn’t really 7 stars, there’s no such category. But it’s good publicity, isn’t it? And Burj al-Arab could very possibly be the best 5-star hotel in the world. And the architecture – speaks for itself, doesn’t it…

Burj al-Arab seen from the beach

5. Friday Brunch

Indulge in that great Dubai tradition, Friday Brunch. It’s offered at numerous restaurants and hotels around town, including the Ritz-Carlton. The low-slung building on Jumeirah Beach is a nice contrast to the many skyscrapers. Facilities and surroundings aren’t too shabby either. Lovely place to linger.


6. On top of the world

Don’t miss seeing Dubai from the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It’s so high, it won’t even fit in the picture unless you’re very far away. Have a fear of heights? No worries, it’s so high up vertigo is no longer an issue.


7. Shopping

Even if you’re not keen on shopping, the malls of Dubai are attractions in themselves. You can ski, skate, visit a gigantic aquarium, and at Ibn Battuta Mall, you can even travel the world. Named after the great 14th century Arabian explorer, this shopping centre is divided into six courts, each representing Battuta’s travels in architecture and decor: there’s Imperial China, Ancient India, Persia and Egypt. Then you wander through a village in Tunisia and finish in Andalucia.


A cafe in Ancient Persia

8. Hit up Dubai’s elegant nightlife

Many restaurants become lounges and clubs after hours. It’s an easy transition, all you have to do is … well, stay. They’re elegant, but the atmosphere is relaxed. And just because Emirati women like to wear 10-inch heels doesn’t mean you have to. Self-confidence, not stilettos, I say.


9. See Bur Dubai and the old Bastakiya quarter

To get a glimpse of Dubai before oil visit Dubai Museum and wander the alleys of the Bastakiya quarter. Remember to look up and see the fascinating wind towers.


10. Cultural Heritage

While you’re in Bastakiya, have lunch (or brunch or dinner) at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where you’ll be served traditional Bedouin food and given the opportunity to discuss anything you want about Emirati culture, religion and society.

11. Visit the other emirates – and a World Heritage site, too.

What’s in a name? The UAE – what does it mean, exactly? In 1971, seven little emirates (principalities) joined forces and created the United Arab Emirates. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most famous of the seven. The others are Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Fujairah. See one – or see them all.

I’m nothing if not dedicated, so I’ve seen all seven. Dragged my daughters along, too, poor things. Of the five lesser known ones, we liked Fujairah the best, especially the fort. In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, you’ll also find the only World Heritage site in the UAE, the oasis at Al Ain.


 Have you been? What are your favourite Dubai things to do?

Disclosure: On this visit in Dubai, I was a guest of Emirates and Dubai Tourism. As ever, I retain full freedom to write whatever I want.

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  1. Kevin 25 March 2015 at 1802 - Reply

    Dune Bashing looks like a blast!!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1450 - Reply

      It is. Kinda 🙂

  2. Ingunn Elvekrok 25 March 2015 at 1827 - Reply

    You made me want to go!!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1451 - Reply

      Glad to hear it 🙂

  3. Leigh 25 March 2015 at 2236 - Reply

    I’ll try anything once including visiting Dubai. There’s plenty that looks awesome as long as I could manage the heat.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1452 - Reply

      You can even ski: on snow indoors – and on sand outdoors.

  4. Laurel 26 March 2015 at 1010 - Reply

    I really wish I would have visited the desert when I was there. The dunes look fantastic!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1452 - Reply

      I’m sure you’ll be in the neighborhood again soon enough, Laurel 🙂

  5. Corinne 28 March 2015 at 1120 - Reply

    Dune bashing out of Dubai was one of the funnest things we’ve done. My girls loved it!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1453 - Reply

      Mine too 🙂

  6. Marcia 29 March 2015 at 1405 - Reply

    Dubai and Abu Dhabi are on my list. I kick myself now because one of my cousins lived there for about 30 years and I always said I’d visit but never made it.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1453 - Reply

      Easier these days 🙂

  7. Marcia 29 March 2015 at 1412 - Reply

    Oh, and how easy is it to do all 7 emirates? How much time did it take you?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1458 - Reply

      We spent about 8 days in the UAE in total on that visit: one day in Abu Dhabi, one in Fujairah, and then Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah all on the same day. Especially Ajman didn’t get the time it (possibly) deserved. Also: easy to visit all. Hire a car, with or without a driver. It’s easy to get around, and traffic isn’t bad (except for the queues in Dubai).

  8. Neno 30 March 2015 at 1813 - Reply

    Hi Sophie,

    Dubai has been on my list for a long time, unfortunately something always gets in a way.

    If I go I will try to book at least one night in 7 stars hotel.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 April 2015 at 1500 - Reply

      I’d like to try Burj al-Arab, too – just for one night.

  9. Natalie 6 April 2015 at 0414 - Reply

    I have often thought about Dubai but I also want to see the large skyscrapers and outrageous shopping malls! 😉

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 May 2015 at 1938 - Reply

      Easy to do both 🙂

  10. Rahman @ Iran small Tours 12 April 2015 at 2205 - Reply

    Your photo of a cafe in ancient Persia is just like a replica of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan, Iran.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 May 2015 at 1938 - Reply

      Very interesting. Iran is on my list 🙂

  11. Aaron 17 April 2015 at 0105 - Reply

    Great post! Dubai hasn’t been on my list of places to go but this article makes me want to visit now!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 27 May 2015 at 1939 - Reply

      Happy to have swayed you 🙂

  12. Anirudh Singh 29 November 2015 at 1117 - Reply

    Dubai has always been on my list of places to Visit. I will make sure to do most of the things mentioned here.

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