Dubai is a beautiful paradise located near Iran on the Persian Gulf Coast. What was once vast spaces of dry, hot desert is now a popular tourist destination – for the rich, that is. The city was created in 1833, but it only really came to Western attention as a tourist destination in 2010. Taking the spot as the United Arab Emirates most popular city, it is home to a small percentage of locals, which make up around 2 million people, while the rest of the population is built on immigration. Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, Dubai is a vacation beacon for rich Westerners who want to experience the extravagant hotels, shopping metropolis and copious amounts of entertainment available at the right price. Dubai is situated on rich oil lands, which helped with the city’s expansion into the paradise it is today.
In just 10 small years, Dubai has been dubbed the world’s fastest growing metro city. The city has “grown exponentially, notching up growth of more than 100 per cent in key sectors” according to Emrites 24/7. This economic growth has not only led to the expansion of hotels, but for activities as well. Whether you’re looking to skydive, sit on a beach, take a helicopter tour – you name it – Dubai has it all. To further show you what we mean, here is a list of 15 places and you’ll only find in Dubai.
15. The Dubai Mall
The West Edmonton Mall or Mall of America are well known for their vast sizes, including not only shops but rock climbing walls and swimming pools, alike. This caught the eye of Emaar Properties who decided to create a giant mall of their own: the Mall of Dubai. Not only does it include the stereotypical shopping amenities, it’s also full of activities to enjoy that don’t involve walking around in circles finding the right store. The Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest shopping centers with 13 million square feet, 1200 retail stores, an aquarium, theme parks and an ice rink. Families can spend hours in the mall and not even notice it. There’s also a wide range of designer brands such as Stella McCartney, Versace, Burberry and Alexander McQueen.
14. Wild Wadi Water Park
Scoring a 4.5 stars, Wild Wadi Water Park is Dubai’s tenth best attraction, according to Trip Advisor. The park is “based off the tale of Juha, a known character from the Arabian folklore” and offers 30 rides and attractions, according to the park website. The park admission is expensive, which shouldn’t come to a surprise in Dubai, but includes many thrill seeking rides such as: Tantrum Alley and Burj Surj and the Wipeout and Riptide Flowriders. Wild Wadi Water Park welcomes all ages and encourages attendees to bring their GoPro cameras to capture the fun and excitement; which many have as seen by this YouTube video.
13. Burj Al Arab
This isn’t just a hotel – this is a once in a life time experience to live in complete luxury in one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. The hotel’s sail-ship styled building is an icon to Dubai and a common advertisement in many “Visit Dubai” ads. The hotel stands 1,050 ft tall making it the third tallest hotel in the UAE with 202 rooms total. Like many of Dubai’s land, Burj Al Arab is part of a man-made island in close proximity to the famous Jumeirah beach. Not a bad view to many, however, the pricing per night in this hotel may have you rethinking a trip. A basic suite can cost anywhere between $2000-$15,000 per night in the Burj Al Arab, making it the most expensive hotel in the world. No wonder it’s dubbed the “World’s Most Luxurious Hotel” and will most definitely live up to its name.
12. Dubai Marina
One can’t live in a place like Dubai without considering buying a boat (or yacht let’s be honest) to explore the beautiful open waters of the Persian Gulf Coast. Which is why a 4 miles long marina was built in the style of an artificial canal city. The vast Marina was inspired by Concord Pacific Place located in Vancouver, Canada but as per usual in UAE style, this Marina was modified for visual perfection. Dubai Marina is home to the infamous Dubai Marina Yacht Club located in Marina Mall. What can only be described as a canal like city, the Marina offers many walk-ways and elite boutiques for tourists to enjoy. Not only that, the marina is abundant with wildlife that often escape into the lake due to its proximity to the Persian Gulf.
11. Palm Jumeirah
An archipelago, by definition, is a group of small islands, which is exactly what Palm Jumeirah is – only with one catch – it’s 100 percent artificial. From satellite view Palm Jumeirah looks like what could easily be mistaken for an alien landing pad but it’s most easily described as a “palm tree of islands”. The construction of this archipelago began in June 2001 and finished by October 2008, effectively adding 323 miles to Dubai’s shoreline. In order to connect Palm Jumeriah to the rest of Dubai, a monorail was created which gives two-way travel between the islands and mainland Dubai. Most of Dubai’s luxury hotels are located within Palm Jumeirah. A helicopter service is also offered for those who wish to see the lavish man-made islands and Dubai desert.
10. Bollywood Parks
If you have the funds to take you’re entire family to Dubai, Bollywood Parks is a fun destination to check out. The theme park is (obviously) Bollywood themed which not only includes Indian styled architecture and rides but also a musical experience inspired by (you guessed it) Bollywood. The park was an instant hit opening in 2016 and earning 4.2 stars on Google Reviews. Such attractions includes 4-D interactive theatre ride, R.A One and 3-D rides such as Mumbai Chowk and Lagaan. Packaged deals are available with other popular Dubai attractions making it more affordable to bring the entire family and enjoy other amenities, as well.
9. Al Mamzar Park
Dubai’s amazing, sunny weather is accompanied by a harsh heat reaching an average of 97 °F everyday, making beach going a perfect and cheap activity. Spending time with family is also a popular virtue in Dubai, so it doesn’t come to a surprise that the country has invested in many beautiful parks and outdoor activities for families to enjoy together. One such park is Al Mamzar, a 106 hector wide beach land and popular destination for both locals and tourists. Located on the border of white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, Al Mamzar Park is one of the most popular destinations in Dubai. The park is perfect for biking, setting up a barbecue, or even swimming in a pool which is located directly beside the sea line. Food vendors can be found on the outskirts of the beach but if you’re looking for something a little fancier the Al Mamzar Park stretch hosts many fine dining options such as The Atlantic, Prime 68, and many more.
8. Dubai Museum
Dubai’s oldest building in existence is the Dubai Museum which has preserved since 1787. Located in the Al Fahidi Fort, the historical district, the museum is home to an arrangement of artefacts, paintings, and exhibits. Most of the museums collection dates back as far as 2,500 BC including, “a number of small wooden boats, with air-conditioning systems that provided cooling before pre-electricity times” according to RaynaTours’ review. In 2013 the museum beat its record for amount of visitors hosting 1 million that year. Many are impressed by the museum’s dedication to the preservation of artefacts and educating visitors.
7. Ski Dubai
One doesn’t usually associate a desert climate with winter activities, but when you live in the heat all year round you may wish to experience the other side. To accompany this way of thought, Ski Dubai was introduced into the Dubai Mall. The “resort”, if you will, is an 240,000 sq/ft man-made mountain which provides snow tubing, skiing, and snow boarding hills. Ski Dubai is located inside the Dubai Mall so don’t expect a Canadian mountain, but it does offer 5 hills (all at different difficulties) and three chair-lift systems. The mini ski resort is a part of the extravagance of the Dubai Mall helping attract customers due to its unusual environment. Claiming the spot as the third world’s largest indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai has received tremendous attention and great reviews.
For those looking to experience authentic Pakistani-Indian cuisine, Ravi is the place to go. It is one of Dubai’s longest standing restaurants and offers an array of homemade curries. The recent popularity of Dubai has allowed Ravi to expand its restaurant, adding an additional family area, allowing more seating to already busy lunch hour peak. Popular dishes include: chicken boti, mutton tika, daal and mutton kebab. The restaurant is famous for their breakfast dishes as it’s only open between 5:00am-2:30pm. Not only does Ravi provide homemade dishes it’s also very affordable for Dubai prices and is suggested by TimeOutDubai as the place to go if on a budget.
4. The World
Dubai successfully capitalised on man-made havens when they created Palm Jumeirah but that wasn’t their only successful go at it. The World, rightfully named after its design, began construction in 2003 and slowly made its way up from there. The archipelago is meant to represent our World and looks similar to Earth from air-plane view. The World isn’t fully finished its construction but the majority is open for tours. The World is technically a grouping of private islands which can be bought at a hefty prices by private buyers, but boat and helicopter tours are available. This archipelago will eventually be a thriving business sector and personal travel island for those with the financial resources.
3. Jumeirah Golf Estates
Jumeirah Golf Estates is a luxury sports club offering golf and tennis among other leisure activities. Located thirty minutes from central Dubai, the 131,00 sq/ft estate offers a once in a life time golf experience and is a well known host of popular golf stars such as European tour professional, Henrik Stenson, who is an avid attendee. Jumeriah Golf Estates also offers an assortment of dining options including a lounge cafe, fine dining, and a sports bar. The estate also caters to weddings, business parties, or any social occasion. The club is popular among locals and European travellers looking for a bit of home while on their travels.
2. Bastakiya (Old Dubai)
Now referred to as Old Dubai, Bastakiya offers a historic walk through of the early 19th century. The Bastakiya quarter was developed to allure wealthy Persian merchants to Dubai’s tax free land. It worked. Since 1890, Bastakiya claimed home to many who invested in the district’s Arabian architecture – a beauty to visit today. Many of these buildings include wind towers which created a pre-electric air conditioning system. The district holds at its center the Majlis Gallery, which showcases traditional Arab ceramics and furniture. An art collection can also be found at the VXA Gallery.
1. Dubai Miracle Garden
Last but not least is the beautiful maze of colorful flowers, named Dubai Miracle Garden. Opening its doors Valentine’s Day of 2013, the Miracle Garden has gained a great reputation among locals and tourists averaging 55,000 visits per week. Dubai Miracle Garden is also home to the Guinness World Record’s largest flower structure. The structure was built in the shape of an Emirates A380 aircraft and completely made out of flowers and other plant material. The flower installation took 200 crew members and 180 days to complete, but was definitely worth it as it put Dubai Miracle Garden on the map. Now the garden estate is a popular destination for couples looking for a cute and romantic date!