Spotlight on Dubai
10 January 2017
Dubai is so much more than a Middle Eastern stopover on the way to Australia or the Far East. A fascinating city where East mingles with West, Dubai is now an established and thriving destination in its own right. Scratch the surface of the shiny skyscrapers, to see past the big-name retailers and world-class dining, and you will find that this emirate city has much more to offer visitors – not least its year round sunshine.
Did you know?
- The emirate of Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- The city of Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- In 2020, Dubai will host the World Expo – billed as the “greatest show on earth”. During the year of the Expo, Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors.
- The United Arab Emirates’ currency is the Arab Emirate Dirham. The writing on the front of the dirham notes is in Arabic and in English on the reverse.
When to visit Dubai
- The shopping in Dubai is fantastic all year round but the Dubai shopping year starts on a high with the Dubai Shopping Festival, which runs for most of January. As well as special promotional events, discounts and offers in the shops, you can expect street entertainers, special events, and evening fireworks.
- In March, Dubai plays host to the biggest sporting and social occasion on the Dubai calendar, the US$30m Dubai World Cup. Race day is the culmination of the racing season, which runs November to March and is held at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse.
- In November, petrol heads can delight in the Dubai Motor Festival – with more shopping, entertainment and fireworks to accompany the motor shows.
- Whatever time of year you chose to visit Dubai, you can expect plentiful sunshine and warmth. Temperatures reach a peak through the months of June, July, August and September when they are in the high 30s˚C (90˚F ). November and December are very pleasant as the temperature dips into the mid- 20s˚C (70˚F) and even in January and February, you can expect temperatures to be in the low 20s˚C (high 60s˚F).
Sights to see in Dubai
- Admire the view from the world’s tallest building. Completed in 2010, the Burj Khalifa stands at 828 metres, or 163 floors, high. Visitors can gaze over the sky-high views from the 148th or 122nd
- For a slightly different take on Dubai, hire a water taxi or a wooden dhow and cruise down Dubai Creek to enjoy a more laid-back old-world-charm view of the city.
- Dubai is famous for its shopping, and we recommend spending some time at its souks. From the atmospheric Spice Souk, Fabric Souk and Gold Souk in Deira, to the modern Bur Dubai indoor souk these vibrant marketplaces are a must-see.
- Dubai’s shopping malls are equally impressive. In addition to international stores and exclusive boutiques, Mall of Emirates has one of the world’s largest indoor ski slopes and The Dubai Mall is home to an ice-skating rink and an aquarium!
- Explore Dubai’s history and culture by visiting the Dubai Museum, which is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort. This impressive sand-coloured fort stands on the south of Dubai Creek and dates from the 18th
- Wander around the narrow lanes of the historic Bastakia Quarter. It’s crowded with pretty sand-coloured houses that are now filled with craft shops, courtyard cafes, small museums and art galleries.
Try something a little different...
- Go dune bashing. For a few hours of high-octane fun, take a 4x4 tour into the desert and live a driving experience like no other!
- Cool off by spending the day at a waterpark. For a family day out whizzing down corkscrew chutes or unwinding on lazy rivers try the Aquaventure Waterpark, part of the Atlantis The Palm resort, or the Sinbad-themed Wild Wadi Waterpark.
- Delve a little deeper into Dubai’s past. Make a visit to the historical and impressive Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum's House or the evocative surroundings of the Heritage Village that was built in 1997 in the Al Shindagha neighbourhood of the city.
- There’s nothing quite like experiencing Dubai from the water. Serious sailors should head to the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club but for thrills and spills try a Rib Ride or speedboat cruise on the Persian gulf for photogenic views of the distinctive Atlantis The Palm and Burj Al-Arab hotels.
- Wind it back a notch at Ras Al Khor. A trip to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary at the far end of Dubai Creek is well worth the effort during the winter months. You’ll be treated to the sounds of the more than 30,000 birds that have migrated to this dark mangrove forest from West Asian and African countries, including the unmistakable sounds of so many pink flamingos.
- Watch the camel racing. Venture out into the desert to witness a version of this old Dubai tradition at the Al Marmoum Racetrack.
A taste of Dubai
- In food, as in everything else, Dubai is a city of contrasts. You can eat Indian street food for just a few dirhams or choose from some of the most exquisite fine dining restaurants in the world.
- For an unforgettable dining experience under the stars, take a tour into the desert and stay overnight at a Bedouin camp. Tours usually include belly dancing and other entertainment alongside the authentic cuisine.
- Al Mahara, the signature restaurant of the Burj Al Arab specialises in fresh seafood and is one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. You are taken by “submarine” (a simulation ride) to the dining area which has a huge floor-to-ceiling aquarium full of fish.
- Explore a different side of Dubai by going on a culinary tour through Dubai’s backstreets, exploring, tasting, and photographing as you go.
- Dine with a breathtaking view. Burj Khalifa’s restaurant, Atmosphere, is located on its 122nd floor and offers international cuisine, private dining options and a luxurious lounge.
- Take a traditional Emirati breakfast or lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the Al Fahidi Historic District, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Dubai. As you eat, you can chat with an Emirati host about UAE culture, customs and religion.
For more ideas about what to do in Dubai, when to go or where to stay, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor.