1. Go to the beach
The Kite Beach, Jumeirah Public Beach, Jumeirah Beach Park, Marina Beach- options are limitless here and each beach has something else to offer. You catch a great view for Burj Al Arab from Jumeirah Public Beach and Jumeirah Beach Park. If you wanna see the newest, latest attraction Ain Dubai- majestic observation wheel (obviously world’s largest), you gotta visit the Marina Beach, close to “The Walk” at Jumeirah Beach Residence. Beacher here are really nice, with tons of pretty shells to pick and all the necessary facilities. A day at the beach- you can’t go wrong with that!
2. Go to an Arabic Soukh also known as Bazaar
There are many of them so you can choose the one that interests you most. And you don’t even have to buy annything, just going there is an experience alone! Soaking in the atmosphere, inhaling beautiful, exotic scents, enjoying the hustle and bustle of a lively market place- so worth it! You can visit the Textile Soukh, the Gold Soukh or the Spice Soukh. I picked the last one because I recently discovered the joy of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. It smells great when you walk around and you wish you could stay forever, surrounded by colourful, aromatic spices from all over the globe- the kinds you’ve never seen before and had no idea they existed. But, beware of locals. They get carried away sometimes, trying to sell you stuff, they will surround you, yell at you and throw an “original” pashmina (cashmere) shawls on your shoulders, just to get your attention. That happened to me as soon as I walked into the area, and I guess they think once you touched it, it’s yours and you just have to buy it! I was like- no thank you, threw it back and walked away. You can’t let them trick you. But don’t worry, they are really friendly and nice too, when you try to haggle and get a better price. Trust me! They really enjoy bargaining, it’s a cultural thing plus it’s fun for them to get that kind of interaction! Sometimes they will go from 10 AED to 5 AED just because you asked them nicely. Remember, haggling is customary here, it’s the whole point of being at the bazaar, so don’t be shy and try it! If not for the better price, then for the thrill of it!
3. Dig into Dubai’s history
Dubai might seem like the youngest and most modern of cities, but if you take a closer look you might find some interesting historical parts of it too. First I advise to go to the Dubai Museum. It’s only 3 AED for a ticket. Here you will learn about the simple beginning of the city. It started as a place where people were fishing, diving for pearls and travelling through the desert in search of water, like the Bedouins trying to find green oasis. In short- life was rough here, but then the oil came and changed the game. After discovering the natural resources came the technological boom. You can read about the time when wise leaders (emirs) used the oil money, not for their own greed, but to improve living conditions for their people and to develop the cities of UAE into what they are today.
After reading about the history in the Dubai Museum (should take around 40 mins, it’s pretty tiny) you get to actually see it all. A few minutes walk will take you into the historical district called Al Fahidi, also known as Al Bastakiya. You will notice it right away, by the famous wind towers called Barjeel. This technology which can be described as old-school air conditioning system is as old as the Ancient Egypt (that’s where it originates from). The tower catches every piece of breeze and makes the air come swirling down into the rooms. I was surprised to discover that this part of the city is pretty deserted, so you will not find a lot of people here. But that only adds to this place’s magic! You can stroll around historical houses and enjoy the extraordinary atmosphere. As opposed to lavish and luxurious city center, this is a very humble, simple Dubai- reminder of another era and how the beginnings are always tough. Also, there’s a lot of nice places to hang out at- quiet cafes, restaurants with traditional food, art galleries. Let’s not forget the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding with offers paid tours or the Sheikh Saeed House which is now a museum. It is one the original residences of the ruling family, admission fee is only 3 AED.
4. Go to Dubai Mall
Even if you don’t like shopping- you will love this one! This mall has much more to offer that just buying things you don’t really need. Well, no wonder! Since it’s the biggest shopping mall in the world (Dubai has a lot of Guinness World Records). Here you can watch a variety of sea life, different species collected from around this region of the world in the world’s biggest (again!) fish tank. Also, you can admire some seriously cool works of art like “the Waterfall” sculpture with divers falling from an actual waterfall. It’s fun to explore the mall no matter if you’re loaded with money or if you just wanna stroll around doing some window shopping.
5. Go hunting for sculptures around the Downtown
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard circling around the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa is a perfect spot to stroll on a sunny day (which is everyday in here). You will spot birds looking like bananas, big pink snails climbing palm trees, blue turtles walking around pavement. You can see all that crazy, funny, creative art and very interesting architecture- The Dubai Opera building, Burj Khalifa and more. But my favourite thing here is a sculpture called “Together” by a Syrian artist Lutfi Romhein.