Dubai is one of the best tropical tourist destinations in the United Arab Emirates. This magnificent place is full of vast and beautiful deserts, which today, with high buildings, modern architecture, and luxurious shopping centers, has become one of the most important sites in the Middle East, and a port for trade and tourism. Many people travel to this city from all over the world for striking business deals, entertainment, and taking advantage of its natural attractions such as beautiful beaches and sunshine. In this guide, we will be focusing on the top 8 tourist attractions in Dubai.
You can find any kind of attraction you are interested in in this important tourist-commercial city. From towering high rises and large and glamorous shopping malls and beautiful beaches to fascinating aquariums that display the wonders of the underwater world. The cultural, historical, and traditional centers of this city showcase the cultural background of the native regions of the UAE alongside the rapidly advancing modernity of this place.
Top Sights and Attractions in Dubai
1) Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa is one of the most prominent structures as well as tourist attractions and sights in Dubai, which is known as the tallest skyscraper in the world and the most famous place in the city of Dubai, with a height of 829 meters. The construction of this tower started in 2004 and finished in 2010. Climbing this tall tower and seeing the views of Dubai city from the 124th floor (observation platform) of this giant structure has its own charms for every tourist.
From the top of this skyscraper, you can see the beautiful views of Dubai from a height much higher than usual. The high-speed elevator of this tower will take you up to the point where you can watch a view of the vast plains of the Emirates on one side and the ocean on the other side in a 360-degree tour. The view of the city of Dubai from the top of this building is so attractive that this tower often welcomes photographers at night who are very interested in capturing attractive images of this modern emirate.
In order to be able to go to the highest point of this tower, we recommend that you book the Burj Khalifa entrance ticket in time. Especially if you plan to visit the biggest skyscraper in the world for the weekend.
On the ground behind the Burj Khalifa, a beautiful promenade welcomes the tourists as well. This area has a lake with an amazing water fountain that shows attractive images of the play of light and water every day at certain times for many tourists who come to Burj Khalifa and its surrounding area. Burj Khalifa is located in the center of Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Street and its entrance is inside the Dubai Mall.
2) Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall is known as one of the best shopping centers in the world and among the top tourist attractions of Dubai. It is good to know that this large shopping center is also the entrance to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Aquarium.
If you are the kind of person that expects more from a mall than a collection of colorful shops, then this is the right place for you. Dubai Mall has an ice-skating rink, a playground, as well as a well-equipped cinema. With luxury stores and a variety of restaurants, shopping and dining in this unique mall never stops. You can be sure that upon entering this fascinating place, you will almost always see a variety of live music and fashion shows available.
If you are planning to travel to Dubai and shop at this unique shopping center, you should know that the most famous shopping festivals of Dubai Mall take place in winter during January and February and in summer during August and July. Dubai Mall is located in the center of Dubai, on Sheikh Zayed Highway.
3) Dubai Museum
Dubai Museum, which is known as one of the most visited tourist attractions of Dubai was established in 1971 in Fahidi Fort. Built in 1787 to defend the city, the fort has walls of traditional coral blocks held together with lime mortar. The top floor of this castle is supported by wooden beams and its roof is a combination of palm stems and plaster and soil mortar. Since this building is very old and strategic, it has long been used as the residence of rulers, and the location of government forces including prisons or barracks. This building was finally restored in 1971 and assigned to the Dubai Museum. This museum was renovated again in 1995 and is now known as the most important museum in Dubai.
At the entrance of this museum, the old map of the UAE is on public view, which shows the history of this land from the time of its formation until after the discovery of oil.
In the courtyard of this castle, you can see examples of traditional Emirati boats and houses built with palm leaves, along with the traditional windmills of this region. A collection of old military weapons can be seen in the right hall of this museum, while the musical instruments of this region can be seen in the left hall.
On the lower floor of this castle, the pictures of the traditional life of the people of the old Emirates, such as their way of fishing and the way of life of the desert dwellers, as well as the handmade pottery artifacts obtained from the excavation of the 3-4 thousand-year-old graves of the Al-Qasi ancient site, are exposed to the public. This museum is located on Fahidi street in the Fahidi area of Dubai.
The old neighborhood of Bastakia, which is adjacent to the Fahidi neighborhood and was built in the 19th century, was one of the famous places in Dubai and the residence of traders and financiers from Bastak (Hormozgan province in Iran), who were mainly traders of pearls and various textiles. Because of their free trade in Dubai, these merchants tended to reside in an area with easy access to the city.
Bastakia was built in the eastern area of Bur Dubai and the vicinity of Khor Dubai with walls covered with coral blocks and lime mortar. Fortunately, many of the walls of houses in this neighborhood, which have traditional windbreaks on top of them, are still completely intact. As you know, these wind deflectors, like the traditional wind deflectors of the desert regions of Iran, not only functioned as natural coolers but also served as a means of air conditioning.
The architectural decorations of this area are completely different from the traditional architecture of the UAE. But the narrow streets of this neighborhood show the ancient history and a time beyond the history of old Dubai.
One of the most important art galleries in Dubai, Majles Gallery, which usually hosts the best works of art and artists from all over the world, is located in this area. In this gallery, you can see attractive models of Arabic ceramics and tools used in wind towers. Another gallery named XVA Gallery with a collection of contemporary artwork is located in one of the historical buildings of this neighborhood. As mentioned before, Bestakia is located in Bur Dubai and Fahidi neighborhood.
5) The House of Sheikh Zayed Al-Maktoum
Sheikh Zayed Al-Maktoum was the ruler of Dubai from 1921 to 1958 and is the grandfather of the current ruler of the UAE. His former residence has been renovated and is now one of the museums of Dubai and a unique example of Arabic architecture.
The main building of this house was designed and built by Sheikh Zayed’s father in 1896 so that he could monitor the activities of his ships from the balconies and pavilions overlooking the sea. Although the original porches are sadly gone, the house was rebuilt on the same site as the original model, with a combination of carved teak doors, latticed windows, and stucco windbreaks decorated with floral and geometric motifs. This house, like most houses suitable for the desert climate, has 30 rooms around a central courtyard with raised windbreaks.
Inside the museum, there is an exhibition of historical images and documents along with old photographs from the years 1948 to 1953 of Dubai. A part of this museum is dedicated to images of seafaring, fishing, pearl hunting, and boat building. In this building, writings, old coins, maps, and stamps are kept representing the process of development for the UAE. Next to this building, there is the house of Sheikh Obaid bin Thani, whose traditional interior has been restored. Sheikh Zayed Al-Maktoum Museum is located on Al Khaleej Road in Dubai.
6) Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek or Khor Dubai divides this city into two parts, Deira in the north and Bur Dubai in the south. As it appears from the history of the city, this area is considered an influential and powerful element in the growth of the city of Dubai, because the first thing that attracts immigrants to this area is fishing and pearl hunting in the Dubai estuary. Although the modern era of Dubai city is more relevant to the previous settlement of Bani Yas in this area, the existence of small villages and their presence on the edge of the Dubai estuary dates back to 4000 years ago.
The Customs House, which used to load ships, is located along the shores of the Dubai estuary, north of the Al Maktoum Bridge, and its nearly 100-year-old barges are still used for small trade across the Gulf. You can witness the loading and unloading of cargo from these barges in this area. Most of the sailors invite the tourists who come to this area to visit the inside of the barges which can be a great way to get to know the traditional seafaring lifestyle of the people in this area.
Ships usually go to Kuwait, Iran, Oman, India, and the Horn of Africa for trade from this port. This area is actually a remaining part of the traditional economy of the UAE, which is still in progress.
Another attraction of this area is the ride on traditional barges that transport tourists to the other side of Dubai Creek as a pleasure ride. If you like, you can board a small wooden boat called Abra and go to Deira beach from Khor Dubai dock.
7) Jumeirah Mosque
Many believe that Jumeirah Mosque is the most beautiful mosque in Dubai. This mosque is one of the notable works of Islamic architecture and an exact copy of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, but 8 times bigger. The Jumeirah Mosque was built in the middle of the Fatimid caliphate and has two minarets with delicate stone decorations, which are very beautiful and spectacular to watch especially at night when they are illuminated with floodlights.
It is good to know that Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Cultural Center organizes tours that include cultural programs, Arabic language classes, and religious lectures in this mosque every day except Fridays at 10 am, in order to introduce Islamic culture to the public. This mosque is located on Jumeirah Highway.
Last but not least on the list of top tourist attractions in Dubai are Deira markets which are located in the north of the Dubai estuary where each corridor represents the nationalities that live and trade in Dubai. As you watch the old barges being loaded on the beach, you can see the hotels, banks, and modern buildings of Dubai in the background as well.
Deira Gold Market is known as the largest gold market in the world. You can also buy any kind of spice you can think of from the Deira spice market. You can buy packages of coriander, cumin, paprika, saffron, sumac, and thyme, as well as all kinds of rose water and incense from the Deira spice market.
If you are very interested in local markets, we recommend that you do not miss Deira Fish Market. Although this market is more of a hangout for locals than tourists, it is a fascinating experience for seafood lovers.
If you are interested in experiencing the cultural works of different regions, don’t miss two notable architectural works in this area. The first one is the house of an Iranian pearl merchant, which was built in 1890 as well as where Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook (known as the Emirati pearl merchant) lived. The second sight is Al-Hamdiyah School which is the oldest school in Dubai that was built in 1912 and has now become a popular museum and is placed among the top tourist attractions of Dubai.