Malls across the city host special events and offer discounts galore
Get ready to shop until you drop. Then dust yourself off and do it all again.
The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is the ultimate in retail therapy, with stores all over the city – from markets to malls – all getting in on the act by serving up a wide variety of pocket-friendly deals.
From huge discounts to fantastic competitions and prizes, there are plenty of good times in store.
While your feet may end up aching from your treks around the aisles, your purse will never feel better.
Usually taking place over December and January, events in the past have included a 12-hour New Year mega sale, outdoor markets at Burj Park and a host of fashion shows.
Every weekend during the month-long extravaganza is marked with the kind of firework display you’d expect at an Olympic-closing ceremony. Shopping is a big deal here, of course.
Whenever it ends, we start counting the days until the next edition. Various venues throughout Dubai. www.visitdubai.com.
Watch The Sun Rise in Fujairah
Head to the UAE’s East coast and get up early to see this amazing sight With a magnificent mountainous backdrop (rather than stretches of desert) and a coastline looking onto the Gulf of Oman (rather than the Arabian Gulf), Fujairah can feel like it is a world away from the rest of the UAE, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
But it is just a short hour or two away from the big cities and can provide a stunning getaway, packed with stunning sights and awesome adventures, without even having to dig out your passport. One of the highlights of any trip to Fujairah is a chance to go snorkelling. It is not unusual to see turtles, rays and enormous schools of fish during a voyage beneath the sea. Al Boom Diving Centre is a good choice if you are ready to go in at the deep end.
Cap off your UAE escape by taking in an incredible sunrise. Perch yourself on the sands of one of the emirate’s beautiful beaches and watch a natural wonder at work. Al Boom Diving Centre, Le Méridien Al Aqah, Fujairah, www.alboomdiving.com (09 204 4925).
See Where it all started at Shindagha
See where the ruling family of Dubai lived and where the city came from History lovers can trace the roots of modern-day Dubai back to this eye catching district. It is here that the bustling city that we see today was born.
The-then ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, lived in the area from 1912 to 1958, with his residence since transformed into a museum.
Situated on the shores of the Creek, a visit to Shindagha Historical District feels like taking a trip back in time. Marvel at the coral-clad houses, traditional wind towers and attractions such as the Heritage and Diving Museum and the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, which displays a fascinating collection of stamps, coins and archive photographs of Dubai through the 20th century.
Once you’ve had a blast with the past, sit back and relax on the waterfront or in a cosy café, as dhows and abras sail on by. This is very much Dubai, but maybe not quite as you know it. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House: Dhs3 (adults), Dhs1 (kids under six). Sat-Thu 8am-8.30pm, Fri 3pm-9.30pm. Al Shindagha, Bur Dubai (04 393 7139).
The go-to place for independent cinema, art, photography and designers
Go on a culture trail in one of Dubai’s coolest districts. Alserkal Avenue may have only been on the map for a decade, but it has fast become the artistic hub of the city and is still evolving.
It is here, nestled away in Al Quoz, that local and international artists alike can unleash their creativity to its fullest. Events, exhibitions, concerts and lectures are held throughout the year, putting fresh and established talent alike in the limelight.
A wide variety of galleries, art spaces, music venues and vibrant cafés line the culturally-rich area. Whether you want to check out contemporary paintings or catch a photography exhibition, you’ll find something that caters to your taste.
Intriguing spots to check out include Green Art Gallery, showcasing modern Arab art from across the Middle East, Gulf Photo Plus, Dubai’s only dedicated photography centre and The Odd Piece, which is crammed with antique and modern furniture.
Why just watch others do it when you can get behind the wheel yourself
Think you can go through the gears like Lewis Hamilton or tear down a straight in the style of Sebastian Vettel? Well, no, of course you can’t. But even though you are not on the road to F1 glory, that doesn’t mean you can’t satisfy your need for speed here in the UAE.
Yas Marina Circuit is fuelling the dreams of petrol heads all over the land by offering the chance for drivers to put a Formula 3000 car through its paces (middle picture). For motor sport fans, it really doesn’t get any better than hurtling down an F1 track.
Over in Dubai, you can also get plenty of thrills and spills at the Dubai Autodrome (top and bottom pictures). Get on track for a high-octane experience by getting behind the wheel of a fantastic fleet of racing machines, including a McLaren Sprint, a Lotus or an Audi and a super-sleek Formula DXB. It’s time to live life in the fast lane. Dubai Autodrome: Motor City, Dubai, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8745). Yas Marina Circuit: Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, www.yasmarinacircuit.com (02 659 9800).
Have a stroll along Kite Beach
Places to eat, a dedicated jogging track, sporting activities and kites
If you are looking for more than a lazy day soaking up the sun on the sands, then you could do a lot worst than pay a flying visit to Kite Beach.
As the name of the stretch suggests, you will see plenty of kites soaring up into the skies at this family-friendly spot in Umm Suqiem. The beach is lined with a raft of watersport activities, too, so this is a brilliant place to go if you are in the mood for a bit of adventure.
Whether you want to crash against the waves or just watch others exert themselves while you top up your tan, this is an afternoon well spent.
There are plenty of eateries lining the beach, too, so make sure you pack your phone with your beach towel and sun lotion, as you won’t want to miss out on Instragram-worthy snaps with the best photobomber in town in the background. We’re talking about the Burj Al Arab. Umm Suqeim, just off Jumeirah Beach Road, near Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai.
Because the world’s tallest building obviously has amazing views
Don’t look down! No, actually, please do, as long as you have a head for heights.
The awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa still stands proud as the tallest building in the entire world – hanging up by the clouds an incredible 828 metres above the ground. The iconic landmark opened in January 2010, six years after work begun on the history-making project. Visitors can not only marvel at the glittering sight from ground level, they can take a look down on the world from inside Burj Khalifa itself.
As befitting the world’s largest building, you can enjoy majestic views from the world’s highest observation deck, 555 metres (that’s a dizzying 1,821 feet) up in the air on the 148th floor of the 160 floor skyscraper.
For a different experience (and still pretty high up to be fair) you can gaze out from the 125th floor deck, a mere 456 metres high.
Or you could stop off at floor 122 and visit aptly-named At.mosphere (pictured top), where you can enjoy classy European food along with amazing views from the world’s highest restaurant. Dhs125 (At the Top tour on level 124 and 125), Dh350 (level 148 and level 124, 125). Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, www.burjkhalifa.ae.
Chill out a the beach club by day and party to superstar DJs by night
A chilled-out beach club by day, Zero Gravity turns into one of the hottest and most exciting nightspots in the Middle East once the evening hits.
While the sun is out, you can while away your afternoon by lying back on the beach or by the pool and soaking up views of rolling waves and bright blue skies (with the odd descending skydiver from nearby SkyDive Dubai to look out for, too). If you’re hungry, you could take advantage of a private beach cabana barbecue where you can rustle up your own steak and burgers. The regular menu is pretty good, too.
Then you can dance the night away inside the swish two-level club or head outdoors for one of the most raucous atmospheres around, in the company of some of the most fun-loving clubbing creatures of the night. The sprawling venue has welcomed some of the most popular DJs in the world in recent years, including turntable titan Roger Sanchez, electronic music maestro Martin Solveig and Big Beat legend Fatboy Slim.
Even if you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, there will be nothing to hold you back once you hit Zero Gravity. Open Sun, Mon, Wed 10am-9pm; Tue 9am-3am; Thu 10am-3am; Fri-Sat 8am-3am. Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai Marina, 0-gravity.ae (04 399 0009).
Cycle at Al Qudra
A scenic 86km track in the Dubai desert that provides a real workout
This is one pleace to put your pedal to the metal in the Dubai desert.
Close to 100km long, Al Qudra Cycle Track offers cyclists lots of room to explore. The track offers amazing views of Dubai’s desert dunes, while if you keep your eyes open you may even spot the odd bit of wildlife along the way.
The route has a 50km loop, as well as an 18km stretch along Al Qudra Road (just past Arabian Ranches), known as The Stick. Both are popular with seasoned cyclists and novices alike and are regularly used by club bikers, too.
The track is lined with resting stations and there is a café and a shop at the opposite end of the track to The Stick, so if you’re starting from there, it’s advisable to bring enough water and snacks for the long haul. If you love to keep fit while enjoying stunning views of the Dubai landscape, it is time to get on your bike and head down to Al Qudra.
If you get up early enough, there’s even a chance to ride off into one of the best sunsets in the UAE. Al Qudra Cycle Track, past Arabian Ranches, Dubai.
Walk along Abu Dhabi Corniche
The perfect place to take a stroll and breath in some sea air
They say the best things in life are free. Well, it’s not always true, a brand new Ferrari will set you back a fair bit and they are pretty cool. But if your mode of transport is walking, there are few more picturesque strolls to be had then along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche. The beautiful Corniche stretches out over an impressive eight kilometres of perfectly manicured waterfront, lined with cute cafés and restaurants, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways and the Corniche Beach, which is a perfect spot to sit back and relax and soak up the sun after a leisurely walk.
You will probably want to stop a few times along the way to get some snaps as this really is one of the most picture perfect routes in the whole of the UAE. The Corniche, Abu Dhabi.