Dubai is fast becoming a must-see among tourists who want to be amazed at the pace of progress this Middle Eastern city is going through. Here are what you should know about what the city can offer to tourists.
See the Old Dubai
The Bastakiya District is the city’s historic home to many reconstructed traditional buildings. While information on the structures is slim, the atmosphere is very evocative.
Take a tour around "the 7-star hotel"
Burj al-Arab Hotel proclaims itself as the world’s only 7-star hotel in the world, but it is actually a 5-star deluxe hotel. Nevertheless, its sailboat-shaped building and exquisite ambiance is a must-see for every tourist. Entry to the hotel requires a reservation that would be confirmed at the entry gate although residents of adjacent Jumeirah hotels may be able to visit by arrangement.
You could also try booking a tour of the hotel itself; however these will not run when the hotel is full. A smart casual dress code is applied. If you are interested to book here, reservations are at least a month in advance.
Take a history and heritage tour
A visit in Dubai Museum, located on Al Ibn Abi Talib Road, provides an interesting look at the social history of the Emirate. Here you get to witness, complete with authentic sights and sounds, how a poor pearling village rose up to become a bustling metropolis that Dubai is now. Entry costs 3 AED. Meanwhile, Shindagha District is home of the open museums of the Heritage Village.
Visit the zoo
Dubai Zoo, located along Jumeirah Road, is an outdoor zoo near the beach. Plan the visit, though, because it can be really hot during the summer months. Entry costs 3 AED.
Buy gold, lots of gold
The Gold Souq is one of the most startling sights in the city, even if you are not interested in buying gold. Just looking at the abundance of gold items on every shop window is simply astonishing, checking out every detail and craftsmanship. Most of the gold is 22 carat quality and quite expensive, although the shopkeepers are prepared to bargain.
The items are sold by weight, together with a "making charge" added on top to cover the workmanship. It pays to go shopping armed with the current gold price and knowledge of the labor charges in order to hone th bargaining process.
Avoid "copy watches"
Expect some persistent hawkers along the Gold Souq to sell you fake watches. If you are not interested, simply ignore them and walk away.
Shop and awe
This city is a shopper’s paradise. Dubai’s malls are more than just shopping venue. They also offer amazing architecture and interiors. The Ibn Battuta Mall, for instance, has six courts designed according to the traditional architecture of China, India, Egypt, Persia, Tunisia, and Andalusia. Shopping hours in malls are from 9 am to 11 pm. Also, remember to haggle in souks, as discounts are almost always available even on high-end items. Prices in malls, however, are not negotiable.
Visit a mosque and understand Islam
The Jumeirah Mosque, located opposite Palm Strip Mall, is one of the few mosques that is open for non-Muslims. Tours run on Thursdays, which is followed by a question-and-answer session about Islam for those who want to know more about the world’s second largest religion.
Dubai has a lot of entertainment options, with a lot of music and sports events throughout the year. Most 3- to 5-star hotels have bars and nightclubs for those interested in the nightlife.
The city also has the Dubai Summer Surprises that aims to entertain visitors and residents during the hot summer months. World-class club DJs frequent Dubai’s nightclubs and many A-list musical celebrities are adding Dubai to their itinerary.
Soak under the sun
Dubai boasts of endless water-sport opportunities along its white sand beaches. However, do note that some water activities, like scuba diving, are severely affected by offshore construction work.
Bash the dunes
The desert dunes has a good use in Dubai: as a thrilling place to ride an SUV. Desert Safari offers a roller-coaster ride over the sand dunes while riding an SUV. You could also get an amazing view of the sunset from there, which ends with a lavish dinner complete with music and dancing.
Ski, on snow
We are not kidding. Mall of the Emirates is home to Ski Dubai, a huge indoor skiing venue that offers both skiing and snowboarding. All equipment is available for rent if you are a guest at the nearby hotel. Otherwise, you have to buy them, or better yet bring your own.
Get wild on water
Wild Wadi is a water amusement park that is loved by both locals and tourists alike, especially during the hot summer months. It has easy rides for the kids, as well as more thrilling slides for those who dare. It also has sports like water surfing.
Dubai has opulent golf course. You could also try playing golf Middle Eastern style, on the sand!
Be sensitive about Ramadan
Eating and drinking publicly during daylight hours is an offense during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan except in hotels and private beach areas.
Gays should be really careful
The official penalty for homosexual acts in the United Arab Emirates is death. Although this law is not much enforced, it is best to be careful. For instance, avoid flirting with other men in public. Discretion is the key. It is also important for men to wear a beard if you do not want to attract unwanted sexual attention from any Arab men.