If you’ve never visited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates before, you should definitely go to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and take the elevator to the world’s tallest observation deck. with an open-air terrace, and relax in the world’s tallest living room. Plus, visiting the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, home to the Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Fountain, Dubai Ice Rink, Dubai Opera and Ski Dubai, is a must for first-time visitors. . However, if you’ve traveled to this metropolis before, you’ll probably want to see other attractions and charms, and experience something new. Read on for the best things to do in Dubai, beyond the most visited sites in Downtown Dubai.
Take a walk at Expo 2020 Dubai
What was once a small fishing village along the Persian Gulf is today a large metropolis of over 3.3 million people. When oil was discovered in 1966, things changed. Quickly. The city’s first skyscraper, the Dubai World Trade Center, was built in 1979; in 1985, Dubai’s flagship airline, Emirates, was launched; and in 2010, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, was completed.
And now, in 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai, a global exhibition that celebrates innovation, culture and design, is operational after a long wait due to the pandemic. From now until the end of March, visitors can learn from 192 diverse nations, where each country has its own pavilion to showcase its best and brightest advancements in the fields of sustainability, mobility and opportunities. This is the first world exhibition ever to be held in the Middle East. Walk through the entrance gates and see Al Wasl Square, the centerpiece of the Expo, designed after the event’s jewel-shaped logo. Marvel at the Emirati flag, created to resemble falcon wings. See one of the daily shows. Taste multicultural dishes, from haute cuisine to street food. Allow yourself several hours to explore, understand everything, alongside an international crowd.
Good to know: Emirates, which serves 158 airports in 84 countries, is a major partner and official airline of Expo 2020. The world’s largest international airline is offering business class travelers free tickets to Expo 2020 as well as than a ride to the event. Other perks include gourmet in-flight dining, luxurious amenities, fully reclining seats for comfort and rest, and access to the Emirates Business Class lounge.
Learn more about Emirati culture
For a once in a lifetime experience, visit the non-profit organization Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) to learn more about Emirati culture, food and traditions. Located in the historic Al Fahidi district of Bur Dubai, visitors will have the opportunity to learn how food is prepared and served in an Emirati hostel before sampling the usual cuisine and coffee.
You sit on multi-colored Bedouin-style rugs and pillows and meaningfully engage with a host, asking as many questions as you like. Next, your friendly guide will take you on a detailed walking tour of the Old Quarter, highlighting the design features of the buildings. For example, small windows are for bedrooms and large doors have smaller doors cut to minimize sand penetration inside living spaces. The buildings were built close enough to each other to allow the blowers to lower the temperature.
Good to know: Make sure you buy your ticket in advance as the space fills up quickly. The atmosphere is open and welcoming, so feel free to join in the discussions with your host.
Go on a desert wildlife safari
Platinum Heritage, an eco-prospect luxury safari company, will take you to the Dubai Desert, where you can explore the distinct flora and fauna of the inimitable and vast Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. You’ll drive around in a 1950s Land Rover in search of wildlife like Arabian Oryx and sand foxes. Then you will enjoy a falcon demonstration, dine on traditional Emirati cuisine (sambousek, ouzi, camel meat, kebabs), listen to conventional drums and meet a herd of amiable camels.
Good to know: If you want to extend the experience, you can book an overnight stay with breakfast and a hot air balloon flight for the next day.
Enhance yourself with espresso
Emirati innovator and entrepreneur Al Mallouhi, who believes coffee is sacred, has created something special at The Espresso Lab, located in the Design District. The “coffee chefs” trained here have won prestigious awards at the 2015 and 2016 UAE Barista Championships, as well as the 2016 Latte Art and Brewers Cup Championships.
Good to know: Menu items include espresso, with or without milk; Fika; cold drip; Affogato (espresso with ice cream); Catuai; or TEL (served with an orange slice). No matter what you order, take out sugar or espresso is not available.
Take photos from different points of view
Around the city there are many perfect spots to capture the Dubai skyline and enjoy panoramic views. After all, capturing some of the most famous buildings in the UAE’s most populous city, like the Burj Khalifa; The marina torch; Almas Tower; Atlantis, the palm; or the Burj Al Arab — is best done from a distance to provide perspective.
Dubai Frame tells the story of old Dubai to the north and new Dubai to the south. The London Project, a botanical wonderland with a fun and inventive cocktail program, is located at the foot of the Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest observation wheel. Both places offer a breathtaking view of the harbor. The View at The Palm offers visitors a 360-degree view of the famous Palm Jumeriah, a series of man-made palm-shaped archipelagos.
Good to know: For sweeping views of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Creek, book a stay at the stylish SLS Dubai, one of the city’s tallest hotels at 75 floors. You can see the famous skyline from your well-appointed accommodations, from the rooftop infinity pools, or from the public spaces woven throughout the hotel. The nighttime views from the restaurants, Carna or Fi’lia, as well as from the bar, S Bar, are unmatched.