Dubai14 things to do and see in Dubai and 4 not to do
In Dubai you walk always looking upwards. The circumstance is not due solely to the number of skyscrapers (New York, to say, has many more) but to the fact that the city is constantly changing. In conclusion, the urban landscape is constantly changing, pursuing ever more daring goals of grandeur. Suffice it to say that for 2020, the year in which Dubai will host the Expo, the inauguration of theIconic Tower, tower designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, which is said to be over a thousand meters high. A threshold never reached before that will make it the tallest building in the world to the detriment of that Burj Khalifa which, with its 829,8 meters since 2010, is the main city attraction. Therefore it is not wrong to say that futuristic architecture is the main figure of Dubai even if, alongside the hyper-technological city there is another more ancient and deeply linked to its customs. It is in fact from the combination of modernity and tradition that the charm of Dubai emanates. Here is ours #MustSeeList with the caveat that it is necessarily a partial list considering the almost embarrassing speed with which the city expands. Happy reading.
At the beginning we said that the combination of modernity and tradition is what makes Dubai so fascinating. Bastakiya, in the Bur Dubai area, is the proven proof of what has been said. The houses of this old district, in fact, are surmounted by a unique ventilation system that for centuries has guaranteed the cooling of the interiors in the face of temperatures that during the summer period (from April to November) exceeded - and still exceed - often 40 Celsius degrees. We are talking about "Wind towers", real engineering structures designed to channel downward currents of fresh air circulating from 15 meters upwards. An ante litteram air conditioning system with the particularity, however, that it does not require any electricity consumption. It is natural to make a comparison with the powerful air conditioners that refrigerate the rooms of hotels and private homes in Dubai at the cost of a considerable energy expenditure. Bastakiya, therefore, is the counterpart to Dubai's hyper-technological modernity but, nevertheless, participates equally in the city's tourist fortunes.. Hence its importance. Unmissable!
2 Dubai Museum
About 500 meters from Bastakiya there is theAl-Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai. As can be easily understood, it is a fortress to protect the city (or rather, to protect what then, in 1797, was the urban dimension of Dubai). Since 1971, however, Al-Fahidi Fort has housed the city museum, an unmissable stop to explore Dubai's past, before oil and tourism changed its economic and social coordinates. For example, fundamental details are discovered on the centuries-old ability to adapt to the desert, on the importance of water and oases, on shipbuilding, the collection of pearls, without obviously forgetting the deep relationship with Islam. In short, there are evident lines of fracture but also extraordinary continuities without which Dubai would not have become what it is today. To be seen!
Like any Arab city, Dubai is full of souks, characteristic and crowded markets where everything is sold: clothing, electronics, spices, vegetables and precious items. In the city there are several: some have been revisited in a modern way to keep them in step with the architectural evolution of the territory; others, on the other hand, have maintained a traditional layout and therefore represent an unmissable opportunity for a more authentic contact with the city and its inhabitants. The souk of Deira belongs to this second category, and it is famous above all for gold and spices. Jewelers one after the other sell unique pieces, gems and jewels at prices 20, sometimes 30% lower than the European average. The spice market, on the other hand, sees the presence of many chefs from all over the world that in the international dimension of Dubai find an important opportunity for professional growth. Not to be missed!
4 Dubai Frame
The transition from "Old Dubai" (the one, to be clear, on which we have focused so far) to "New Dubai" with its skyscrapers and artificial islands, from 2018 includes an intermediate stage at “Dubai Frame”. It is a glass and steel frame 150 meters high in a golden hue that precisely "frames" the urban landscape of the city. On the ground floor there is a museum that retraces the different stages of the transition from a fishing village to a metropolis, after which you take an elevator and cross a gallery with three-dimensional screens to finally arrive at the panoramic point that embraces the city skyline. Past, present and future in a single structure that, inaugurated at the beginning of 2018, aspires to large numbers. Those large numbers which, as pointed out by various analysts, are needed for Dubai to make a second and more decisive transition from the oil economy to the tourism one. For more information on the structure and how to visit, consult the Official site: www.dubaiframe.ae (English version available).
5 Burj Khalifa
Pending the inauguration of “The Tower” scheduled for 2020, the Burj Khalifa remains the most famous icon in Dubai. Let's talk about a building of 829 meters, divided into 163 floors, and with 57 elevators. Apartments, restaurants, swimming pools, clubs and even a luxury hotel owned by Giorgio Armani are the things that visitors find inside this landmark building of the "New Dubai" that has grown around Sheikh Zayed Road., one of the city's two thoroughfares (the other being Jumeriah Road which runs further south). At the foot of the skyscraper, however, Downtown Dubai has risen, a district where design, fashion and commerce are the masters. However, the visit to the Burj Khalifa does include one obligatory stop on floors 124, 125 and 148 where the observation decks are located from which to admire the futuristic city skyline. For more information see the Official site: www.burjkhalifa.ae (English version available).
6 Dubai Fountain
At the foot of the Burj Khalifa, which we have just talked about, and the Dubai Mall, which we will talk about in the next point, there is an artificial lake. Inside, a giant luminous fountain was installed, which soon became one of the main attractions of the city. The jets of water, in fact, can reach 150 meters in height. A show made even more beautiful by the play of light and music (from Arab to Western pop) that accompanies the performances of the fountain. Obviously the evening hours (from 18.00 to 23.00) are the most suitable to fully enjoy the show, although the fountain is also in operation during the day (from 13.00 to 13.30) with a variation of half an hour forward to Friday, a traditional day of meditation and prayer for Muslims. As for the perspective from which to watch the show of the Dubai Fountain the alternatives are different: one is the observation point on the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa; the other is the same lake where the fountain is installed (so large that it is navigable, as you can see from the photo); finally the lakefront (Waterfront Promenade) with the caution, however, in this case, to move with a little advance to have a satisfactory view. Finally, two curiosities: the first is that the Dubai Fountain was built by the same American company in charge of building the fountain outside the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas; the second, however, is that the fountain was chosen, in 2016, for the launch of the Expo 2020 logo which, as mentioned at the beginning, will take place in Dubai. To be seen!
7 Dubai Mall
Opened in the 2008, the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by number of stores. In reality it is even simplistic to consider it "only" a shopping center, since for visitors the experience goes far beyond shopping and catering. We refer mainly to the Dubai Aquarium inside the structure (see photo). It is a gigantic aquarium, with very high windows that support the weight of thousands of liters of water, in which about 30.000 marine species live in captivity, including many rays and sharks. The latter undoubtedly represent the main attraction, to the point that a cage has been inaugurated in which non-expert divers in complete safety can (almost) come into contact with the animals. Cage or not, the Dubai aquarium, inside the largest Dubai Mall, is one of the many things to do and see in the city also designed for the little ones. The family tourism, in fact, it represents a an important segment for the city destined to grow further in the coming years. For more information see i sites: thedubaimall.com and thedubaiaquarium.com (English version available for both).
8 Jumeirah Mosque
There are several mosques in Dubai. Only one, however, is open to the non-Muslim public except, of course, on Fridays, the traditional day of prayer for the faithful. We are talking about the Jumeirah Mosque, which can be visited thanks to the precious contribution of the Schiekh Mohammed Center for Culture Understanding (SCCU). This association carries out various initiatives in the area all aimed at cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the Western and Islamic worlds (including the guided tour of Bastakiya, see the first point). No reservations are required to visit the Jumeirah Mosque. Just show up before nine in the morning (from Saturday to Thursday) in front of the main entrance, to be then catapulted into environments radically different from those we are normally used to. Mostly, environments with attention to the smallest detail: from the gardens, to the columns that support the imposing limestone dome, to the stained glass windows that embellish the different rooms that make up the building. For more information on the range of activities conducted by the "SCCU" consult the place: cultures.ae (English version available).
9 Burj Al Arab
Some have written about the Burj Al Arab (transl. "Arab Tower") and in an age where the medium is often the message it didn't take long for the hotel to become the destination. And, indeed, the Burj Al Arab is much more than a luxury hotel in Dubai. Rather, it is an experience in itself, extended over the years, even to those who, while not staying in one of its 202 suites, want to eat or have a drink in one of the hotel's restaurants or bars. All the others, on the other hand, must be content with admiring this from the outside.hotel with a futuristic design that recalls the sails of a boat. But that's not all because to the audacity of the forms we must add the fact that the building (321 meters high) was built on an artificial island off the equally luxurious Jumeirah Beach. Since its inauguration in 1999, the Burj Al Arab has somewhat become the “programmatic manifesto” of the new Dubai, guaranteeing international visibility also to the other hotels that insist close to the Jumeirah beach. For more information see the place: www.burj-al-arab.com.
10 Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is a neighborhood born in the early 00s and is located about 25 kilometers south of Downtown Dubai. The "ingredients" are the same as in the other residential areas of the new town: futuristic buildings, luxury, shops, restaurants, commercial activities and an infinity of other services available to tourists and residents. The latter are mainly Westerners ("expats") who in Dubai Marina find everything they need to feel "at home" in some way. Suffice it to say that the promenade is simply called "The Walk", as is the beach "The Beach". Beach that alternates stretches in concession to other free ones, with the only contraindication that in the free ones it is forbidden to use an umbrella. Do not miss the Dubai Marina Mall, a shopping center that together with the shops and clubs of the Promendae catalyses the bulk of the social life of the district. Not far away, one of Dubai's most visionary projects, the artificial island of Palm Jumeirah (in the shape of a palm tree) which houses numerous dream villas and the futuristic Hotel Atlantis. To be seen!
In addition to the Dubai Mall aquarium (see point 7), those who want to see a shark up close have another alternative: the Aquaventure, the water park inside the Hotel Atlantis, which we mentioned earlier. Not only sharks, in truth: there is also an area dedicated to dolphins with which it is possible to interact, obviously in compliance with the provisions of the organization. It's not over, because there are slides of all shapes and sizes, a artificial river and even one equipped beach with umbrellas, sunbeds and deck chairs. In short, fun for all ages, guaranteed all year round. For more information see the Official site: www.atlantisthepalm.com.
12 Ski Dubai
A ski resort in a very hot city, with temperatures that for many months of the year are stable above 40 ° C. Strange, huh? And instead Ski Dubai not only is it active since 2005 but it didn't take long to become one of the main attractions of the city. 5 slopes, a four-seater chairlift, an area with penguins (sic!) And a snow park of over 4000 square meters for the fun of adults and children. Without forgetting that you do not have to bring ski equipment, the rental of which is included in the cost of the ticket. But that's not all, because Ski Dubai is one with the Mall of Emirates, a giant shopping mall with shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. In short, a temple of shopping and entertainment with an eye, as we have already pointed out, to family tourism. For more information see the place: www.skidxb.com.
13 Legoland Dubai
Are you a fan of Lego? Are your children? Are you going to treat yourself to a holiday with the whole family? Well then Dubai is undoubtedly the right place for you. In fact, in the city there is a beautiful Legoland park which, in addition to being the first ever built in the Persian Gulf, is also one of the largest in the world. A fantastic place where the little ones can have fun among roller coasters, mini-cars and, of course, an infinity of buildings. Do not miss Miniland with the scale reproduction of the Burj Khalifa and other iconic buildings that draw the Dubai skyline. For more information see the place: www.legoland.com/dubai.
14 Navigate the Creek and Dubai Water Canal
The Creek is the waterway that laps the old city of Dubai. Old city but far from dull, as it continues to be teeming with people and exchanges. The abra, Dubai's traditional boat, is the preferred means of sailing on the Creek. An experience that has always been highly appreciated by visitors, confirming what was said at the beginning on the mix of tradition and modernity as an "ingredient" at the base of Dubai's tourist success. Getting on an abra is not difficult. There are several rest stops along the Creek and the wait is never too long. It's not over, because it is also possible to enjoy a boat ride on the Dubai Water Canal, the artificial canal that, crossing the Sheikh Zayed Road artery and the Jumeirah area, connects the Creek to the waters of the Persian Gulf. Not to be missed!
1 Don't eat in public during Ramadan
Ramadan is a very heartfelt holiday in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Persian Gulf region. It is the month in which Muslims fast from the first light of dawn until a certain time after sunset. Obviously, tourists and foreigners are exempt from the practice as long as they respect the ban in public. In other words, you can have your food brought to your room, or have meals inside your home, but you cannot eat, drink and smoke on the street. Even chewing gum can give rise to grievances. Therefore, it is better to inform yourself in advance about when Ramadan falls and to act accordingly. It must be said, however, that some of the above behaviors are frowned upon in the rest of the year as well. Being caught drinking (with reference to alcohol) or smoking outside the premises and areas where it is expressly permitted, can have unpleasant consequences: from the sanction of a fine to, in more serious cases, the police arrest.
2 Do not take repeat photos
Dubai is a city that offers a lot of visual stimuli. There are many things that deserve to be immortalized and nothing, or almost nothing, prohibits doing so (obviously we are talking about images that do not offend the sense of decorum of the premises). We must be careful "how" though. If the photo you intend to take includes people, as well as landscapes and architectural details, it is a good idea to ask for consent first. Not doing so can lead to recriminations and problems. Avivsati.
3 Avoid public effusions
Kissing (even just on the cheek) or holding hands are considered bad behaviors to engage in public. So best to avoid.
4 Do not wear skimpy clothing
There are situations in which tight-fitting dresses and more or less generous necklines are permitted behaviors (private parties, clubs, more or less exclusive pools). There are other situations, however, in which even just wearing a Bermuda shorts or a short-sleeved shirt can be a problem (for example entering the mosque). Therefore, caution and a minimum of circumspection are required. What we tend to take for granted may in fact not be.