Dubai Attractions (Do's and Don'ts)
Everyone has heard of Dubai, the imposing city that rises in the desert of the United Arab Emirates, just a few hours from Abu Dhabi. A flashy and unique city that boasts not only breathtaking skyscrapers, but also a fascinating cultural history.
In this guide we will see which monuments and attractions to visit, tips on how to relax or have fun during your stay and what behaviour to avoid. In short, everything you need to know about the best way to visit Dubai, whether you are on holiday or on a business trip.
What to do in Dubai
Between ancient buildings, futuristic skyscrapers, luxury hotels, beaches and entertainment venues, Dubai is certainly a city with attractions for all tastes. Here are a few tips on how to fully enjoy your stay in this city with a dual soul, ancient and modern.
Visiting ancient Dubai
To immerse oneself in the more traditional and authentic soul of Dubai, the first place to see is undoubtedly the Al Bastakiya district, whose buildings tell of the city’s cultural past and smell of history.
A visit to the typical oriental markets, the souks, is not to be missed. Even without buying anything, it’s worth getting lost in these exotically flavoured malls of antiquity, where people haggle (negotiating is part of the culture) for jewellery, gold, souvenirs and multi-coloured spices.
One of the places not to be missed is definitely the Jumeirah Mosque. The large mosque is the only one open to non-Muslim visitors and therefore a popular destination. Built of white stone, it exudes all the charm of A Thousand and One Nights that makes it one of the most beautiful in the Arab Emirates.
The Al-Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in Dubai, built in 1797, and houses the Dubai Museum: mandatory for history buffs or if you want to learn more about the city.
Visiting modern Dubai
The Dubai Frame is an enormous architectural installation in the shape of a frame that stands out in the middle of the desert: this singular work symbolises the union of the modern and ancient city.
Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building, at 830 m high: the Burj Khalifa. Going to Dubai and not climbing the Burj Khalifa is a bit like going to New York and not climbing the Empire State Building. From the top you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama, stretching as far as the eye can see over the entire city.
The Burj Al Arab is one of Dubai’s most iconic skyscrapers: its distinctive architecture, reminiscent of a ship’s sail, has become a true symbol of the city.
Dubai Marina, a lively and pulsating district that spreads out over an artificial canal on which one travels by water bus. It is full of bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping centres, numerous services and promenades suitable for everyone.
Dubai Fountain, with spectacular water choreographies and a riot of lights and colours. Several shows take place during the day, but you’d better hurry to get a seat as many people crowd around this attraction to watch the impressive spectacle.
The Dubai Mall, located in the Burj Khalifa, is the largest shopping mall in the world. Lavishly decorated and sumptuous, in addition to countless shops it even houses a skating rink.
Mall of the Emirates: another of the many malls worth visiting. It houses more than 600 shops, 100 bars and restaurants, and the first Middle East theme park, including a 400-metre ski slope.
Where to relax or have fun
A trip to Dubai is worth the ticket if only because of the visits to the numerous points of interest, many of which have already been listed above. But if you stay for more days, there are several exciting activities that might be of interest. Let’s take a look at some suggestions to enrich your tour of Dubai.
Take a desert safari: if you are interested in natural landscapes, this is an experience that will not leave you indifferent. In Dubai, either on your own or with a guide, you can enjoy a variety of activities: whizzing through the dunes in a 4×4, or ploughing through them on a camel (or on a quad bike, if you prefer).
Jumeirah Beach: a clean, wide beach, located within Dubai Marina, offers an enchanting view of the Dubai skyline. Jumeirah Beach is one of the few where there are no clothing restrictions, so you can sunbathe and relax without worries. The only thing to remember: Friday is a day of prayer and therefore access is not allowed.
Attend a performance at the Dubai Opera House. A futuristically designed building located opposite the Burj Khalifa, it hosts performances of various kinds: concerts, plays, ballets and family shows.
Things not to do
When we travel to faraway places we inevitably end up encountering (or meeting) a culture different from our own. The pleasure of travelling is basically also this: getting to know different customs, traditions, ways of thinking.
Cultural exchange and the resulting enrichment are the most beautiful aspects of travelling. But there are rules to be aware of: here are some tips to avoid making a bad impression and to make sure your visit is uneventful.
Do not post anything on social media if your photos include people. Photographing them without their consent is considered a crime, so be careful that they don’t end up in your photos.
Don’t drink outside bars: drinking outside bars is strictly forbidden; you need a licence to do so. Do not use aggressive gestures and avoid excessive outpourings of affection in public places, these are rules you should always keep in mind.
During Ramadan it is a good rule not to eat in public, but in any case keep in mind that restaurants will mostly be closed until the evening.
Do not dress inappropriately. It is not illegal, but respect for cultures is still an important value to pursue. In general, therefore, it is best to avoid wearing inappropriate clothing.
When entering mosques, however, wearing appropriate clothes becomes absolutely compulsory. Even on some beaches, it is forbidden to leave excessive portions of bare skin, so it is best to check the rules before you go sunbathing.
Why visit Dubai?
Dubai offers so much to different palates. There are those who love to wander the ancient streets and let themselves be transported to bygone eras and will therefore adore the oldest parts of the city. There are those who cannot resist the allure of the Orient and will adore the wonderful mosques.
There are those who have a soft spot for modern architecture and will be enchanted by its imposing skyscrapers. There are those, on the other hand, who want to experience the city, and will surely find what they are looking for in luxury restaurants, countless shops, skydives and desert tours.
In short, Dubai is a multifaceted city, suspended between past and present, to be experienced with enthusiasm and respecting its fascinating traditions.