Dubai: dorrabay

What to do

Dhow Cruise Dinner

What could be more enchanting than dinner aboard a dhow as it slips silently along Dubai Cree​k by moonlight? Experience the simplicity of a bygone era – climb onboard one of these authentic wooden vessels for an intriguingly different view of the intertwining of traditional and modern Dubai.

Dubai Creek is a large saltwater shallow lagoon – the perfect setting for sightseeing Dubai’s skyline and heritage sites in an informal and relaxed ambience. With fully-conditioned lower decks and an open-air upper deck, the dhows are fully insured and meet safety standards set by UAE law.

Be welcomed aboard with Kahweh, the Arabic coffee, followed by a sumptuous international buffet dinner or BBQ. Enjoy this novel experience day or night, with a backdrop of music, belly dancing and the fascinating lights of Dubai Creek after dark.

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Desert Safari

Live like a Sheikh for the day and drive across the desert in an SUV with specialist ‘Desert Drivers’ for a rollercoaster ride over sand dunes. A ‘must’ for anyone visiting the United Arab Emirates, this day out is the most popular excursion in Dubai and will leave you with a host of fond memories to share with family and friends for years to come.

Various itineraries are available but all are along similar lines. Be picked up in a 4x4 and head out to the Dubai desert to experience the thrill of “dune bashing” as it’s known. There are photo stops aplenty as you zip across the sand on your way to your destination campsite, where you can enjoy a camel ride, sand boarding, henna tattoos and a delicious BBQ meal.

Watch belly dancers perform by starlight in front of the campfire and partake in shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe). Desert safaris are available through several operators, with variations in itinerary.

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Jumeirah Mosque

As its name suggests (‘Jumeirah’ means ‘beautiful’), this mosque is one of the most attractive in the region and certainly one of the most photographed in all of Dubai. This dominant city landmark was built in the medieval Fatimid tradition – its stone structure a tribute to modern Islamic architecture. It is also one of the largest sacred buildings in Dubai.

You must be a member of an organised tour to gain entry to this mosque, which is one of the few in the UAE that are open to non-Muslims. Take a stroll through the site at sunset or night-time to get a powerful sense of how spectacular the building is – be bathed in the shadows formed by its elegant formation and marvel at its striking design.

Visit the Jumeirah mosque for a true insight into Islam. (Open to non-Muslims for tours at 10.00am on most days other than Friday.)

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Big Bus Tour

This popular open-top tourist bus tour is the perfect introduction to Dubai, taking visitors on a journey to its most famous landmarks and charting the city’s rapid development from a small fishing village to a modern, vibrant metropolis.

The ‘hop-on, hop-off’ facility available on the ‘Day Tour’ makes visiting places of interest a breeze. Choose either a 24- or 48-hour ticket and enjoy free inclusions such as the Dhow River Cruise and Dubai Museum. Two daytime routes are available, both offering a recorded commentary in eight languages.

The ‘Night Tour’ is a fantastic showcase of illuminated Dubai and features a live guided commentary. See this sparkling city and its finest buildings in all their splendour in the perfectly warm evening air.

For spectacular sights and exhilarating experiences, hop aboard the Big Bus Tour – the safest and most relaxing way to discover this amazing city.

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Dubai is well-known for its vibrant, bustling street markets, known as ‘souks.’ All kinds of goods are bought, sold and exchanged at the markets, which are located on both banks of the creek. The majority, however, are in Deira.

The souks are generally open from 7am to 12pm and then 5pm to 7pm every day except Friday, when they are only open in the afternoon. An amazing variety of stalls can be found among the narrow streets, including the fish market selling an astonishing range of seafood, spice and dried fruit stalls, kitchenware, a treasure trove of gemstones, and a plethora of beautiful, multi-coloured textiles. Known as the “City of Gold”, Dubai offers an impressive choice of gold jewellery at reasonable prices.

One of Dubai’s greatest attractions, the souks are certainly worth a visit for their lively atmosphere, the eclectic variety of goods and the traditional way of doing business. It’s wise to visit in the late afternoon, when the weather is a little cooler.

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The old Bastakiya district is a glimpse of old Dubai in the days before electricity and air-conditioning, when the houses were cooled by wind towers, still in existence today. A bustling market is located within this ornate network of narrow lanes, which constitutes one of Dubai’s cultural centres.

One of the oldest residential areas in Dubai and soon to be developed further, this original old city dates back to the 1890s and is just 1% of the modern Dubai we see today. Distinctly Arabian architecture is much in evidence here, and the surrounding historic buildings are home to museums, galleries featuring local artists, restaurants and markets.

Ever popular with tourists, Bastakiya is a fascinating place for those interested in the history of Dubai.

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Dubai Museum

This symbolic museum is a ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in the social history of Dubai and the Emirates. The main museum in Dubai, it is housed in the restored Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai.

The idea behind the museum is to portray the traditional, everyday way of life within the Emirate during the pre-oil days, which it does expertly with colourful presentations, life-size figures and a centrepiece of a reconstructed souk complete with authentic sights and sounds. Also on display are local antiques and artefacts from as far back as 3000 BC.

A journey through the museum takes about an hour. Enjoy a peek into this amazing city before it became a skyscraper fortress in the desert, and see first-hand how it rapidly transformed from a poor pearling village into a modern metropolis.

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Atlantis Hotel on the Palm

Visit the incredible Aquaventure water park located on the manmade Jumeirah Palm – the largest and most exciting water park in the Middle East. With 42 acres of exhilarating roller-coasters, speed slides, rivers, rapids and tropical landscapes and even a private beach, there’s a little piece of paradise for all the family.

Why not fulfil the dream of a lifetime and visit another of the fabulous attractions at the Atlantis. Dolphin Bay is a 4.5 acre lush tropical setting featuring three vast lagoons where dolphins roam freely and visitors get the chance to meet these charismatic creatures through a range of interactions. Adults and children alike will be enthralled at these charming animals.

Day visits are available for both attractions, making this an ideal stop on your Dubai holiday.

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Afternoon Tea-Burj Al Arab

The ultimate place to enjoy a luxury tea, the Burj Al Arab hotel offers breath-taking views and a sumptuous seven course meal.

Take a seat in the Sky Bar and marvel at the panoramic views as a server brings you a dish of fresh berries and cream, accompanied by a glass of bubbling Champagne. After ordering from the extensive tea and coffee menu, you will be able to indulge in the starter of your choice.

Tuck into dishes from an impressive sailboat stand, where you will find a variety of sandwiches, various vol-au-vents and other filled savoury pastries. Freshly-baked scones and homemade preserves replace the first layer when the sandwiches are nothing but crumbs.

Two delicious panna cottas are accompanied with rich fruit cake, light carrot cake and two types of irresistibly crumbly shortbreads. The final layer of the sailboat is loaded with blackberry macarons, fudgy chocolate cake and fruit tarts – the perfect way to end an indulgent tea.

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Burj Khalifa

Begin your Dubai sightseeing trip with a visit to the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world.

This truly incredible skyscraper has surpassed limits and expectations in its tremendous grandeur. Burj Khalifa rises gracefully from the dusty desert and honours Dubai with a new glow. It is the centre of the world’s finest shopping, dining and entertainment.

The highlight of your trip will certainly be the spectacular panoramic view from the observation deck located at the very top of the skyscraper.

Your journey will commence on the ground level of the Dubai Mall. During your trip to the top, you will be able to learn more about the exotic history of Dubai and Burj Khalifa through a multi-media presentation.

Don’t forget to take home a souvenir of your unforgettable experience from one of two boutiques.

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Mall of the Emirates

One of the biggest and most spectacular malls in the world, the Mall of the Emirates includes the largest indoor family entertainment centre in the country and the largest indoor ski dome in the world.

This mall has attracted almost every household brand name you can imagine, including Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and Carrefour, as well as various famous designers, such as Guess, Zara and Lacoste.

Make sure you visit the trendy Rodeo Drive section, where you will find exclusive brands, such as DKNY, Ralph Lauren and Burberry.

The highlight of the mall is definitely the indoor ski dome featuring real snow and chairlifts. All the snowboarding, sledging and clothing are provided for you, so there is nothing holding you back.

To keep the kids entertained, there is a 14 screen cinema playing all the latest films, as well as a huge arcade which includes rides, a bowling alley and pool tables.

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Ibn Battuta Mall

A trip through this uniquely designed mall is almost like a journey across the world. Traverse the six courts which represent China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalucia as you replicate the adventure Ibn Battuta embarked on over six centuries ago.

Stroll through the China court to visit the mall’s largest electronics store, or wander through the India court to marvel at the classy boutiques. Stop by the Persia court to see the captivating dome which was hand-painted by a small group of talented artists.

Wander through pyramids, hieroglyphics and temples as you shop in the Egypt court, before experiencing the sensational aromas of the Tunisia court and visiting the lion fountain at the Andalucia court.

Much more than just a place to shop, the Ibn Battuta mall hosts an extensive array of events throughout the year. From traditional dancing, children’s plays, Ramadan celebrations and art exhibitions, there is always something exciting happening here.

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Dubai Mall

For a shopping spree unlike any other, head to the Dubai mall – the largest in the world which comprises more than 1,200 shops. With everything from books, confectionary and fashion to flowers, gold and electronics, anything and everything can be found here.

After a long morning of shopping, it’s time to discover the rest that Dubai Mall has to offer. Much more than a collection of shops, you will be surprised to discover that there is also an aquarium.

The aquarium allows you to experience the exotic wonders of aquatic life through two glass tunnels. Travelling through these, you will be treated to an exceptional underwater experience, complete with sharks, stingrays and a variety of other species.

If that isn’t enough, show off your skills at the Dubai ice rink, relax at watch a film at the Reel Cinema or explore the SEGA theme park, all located within the Dubai Mall.

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Dubai’s sports scene has been transformed dramatically since the early 1990s when the main sporting events of the country were football, horse racing and camel racing. In the past few years, Dubai has established itself as a great place for sports enthusiasts.

If you’re a fan of tennis, make sure you visit in February to see the annual Dubai Tennis Championships that have brought some of the biggest names in tennis to this Middle Eastern kingdom.

Camel racing in Dubai began as a traditional event during weddings and ceremonies. Today, it is regarded as one of the country’s most popular sports, with many races and competitions taking place each winter.

These are not the only sports available – there is so much to do in Dubai that you will be spoilt for choice. Head to an indoor ski slope for some speedy skiing, travel to the coast and try your hand at fishing or take the plunge and go bungee jumping.

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Boasting some of the region’s premier golf courses, Dubai was voted the world’s leading golf destination by the International Golf Tour Operators Association.

The courses are not only appealing for golfers – the breathtaking scenery and the spectacular designs of the club houses mean that they draw all kinds of tourists.

The Majlis course built in and around the dunes of the edgy of the city of Dubai has developed a reputation as one of the most challenging courses in the world. It features hundreds of indigenous species of flora and fauna, beautifully complemented by meandering fairways and seven fresh and saltwater lakes.

A combination of stunning visual design and challenging holes, the Faldo Course provides visitors with an exceptionally enjoyable golfing experience. This course features a natural valley running the length of the course as well as numerous trees and bunkers.

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