Nine iconic attractions no tourist or resident should miss
Burj Khalifa Whether taking in the world’s tallest building from the ground (on the bridge between Souk Al Bahar and The Dubai Mall – professional snappers with special lenses will take your picture with the enormous structure) or from the At The Top observation deck on the 124th floor, the Burj K is a must-see for all. Tip: Book your tickets in advance online to save a mighty sum. If you really want to impress friends back home, you can also dine at the world’s highest restaurant, At.Mosphere, just one floor below. Dhs100 advance booking, Dhs400 at the venue. Entry from The Dubai Mall, www.burjkhalifa.ae (04 888 8124).
The Dubai Fountain Shooting jets of water up to 150m (500ft) into the air, the world’s largest dancing fountain was designed by WET, the creators of the famous Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. Set to the strains of Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Con te Partiro’ (Time to Say Goodbye), award-winning Swahili track ‘Baba Yetu’ and top-selling Arabian dance piece ‘Shik Shak Shok’, the fountains leap to life at 1pm and 1.30pm in the afternoon, and then every 30 minutes between 6pm and 11pm Sunday to Wednesday, with an extra show at 11.30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There are now also lake rides available on traditional abras between 5.45pm and 11.30pm, for Dhs65 per person. Free. The Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar, www.thedubaimall.com (800 38224 6255).
Dubai Creek From the city’s newest attractions to one of its oldest, the Dubai Creek has served as a lifeline for the community for centuries. An integral part of the city’s maritime trade (which has been going on for a staggering 7,000 years – and who said Dubai has no history?) the Creek is still bustling with imports and exports today, with enormous, colourful wooden dhows carrying everything from cooking oils to cars. A stroll along the Bur Dubai side will take you past the Ruler’s Court and into the textile souk, from where you can part with Dhs1 to pop on an abra and cross over the water to the gold and spice souks in Deira. Alternatively, hire an abra for a private trip up and down the length of the channel. Dhs100 for one hour. Bur Dubai and Deira (no number).
Dubai Museum Housed by the old Al Fahidi Fort, a structure that dates back to 1787 (making it the oldest building in Dubai), the museum was opened in 1971. Wandering through the exhibitions, visitors (of which there were more than a million in 2013) get a sense of the traditional ways of life for the ancestors of many UAE nationals. Diorama depict scenes of home life and industry, while there are also collections of jewellery, tools and even old-fashioned water tanks to take in. Dhs3 adults, Dhs1 under sixes. Open Sat-Thu 8.30am-8.30pm. Bur Dubai (04 353 1862).
Madinat Jumeirah An enormous five-star resort that encompasses the uber-luxurious Al Qasr and Mina A’Salam hotels, the Madinat, as it is often called, is designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town (‘Madinat’ means ‘city’), with its sandy-hued exterior and mock wind towers. A maze of corridors with kiosks selling trinkets and souvenirs lend the effect of a souk, but the complex also houses a huge number of fantastic restaurants and bars – many of which boast beautiful views of the shoreline and neighbouring Burj Al Arab. As such, it’s a popular hangout for both tourists and residents. Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com (04 366 8888).
Jumeirah Mosque A landmark in the city and the only mosque in Dubai that is open to the public six days a week, Jumeirah Mosque welcomes non-Muslim visitors to learn about Emirati culture and Islam. Community outreach programme The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding hosts visits to the religious centre, and though reservations aren’t essential, you will need to dress modestly. Free. Sat-Thu from 10am. Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 353 6666).
Fish markets No trip to old Dubai would be complete without a quick whizz around the Shindagha fish market, where vendors sell fresh seafood from dawn onwards. Also worth checking out is the brand new fish market in Jumeirah, opened earlier this year by the Dubai Government. Shindagha fish market, near Deira Gold Souk (no number). Jumeirah fish market, 8d Street, behind Jumeirah Beach Road (no number).
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo See the world’s largest collection of sand tiger sharks from behind the world’s largest acrylic panel inside The Dubai Mall. Tickets allow visitors to stroll through the aquarium tunnel and explore the upstairs marine displays, which features creatures including spider crabs, rays, sea stars and even penguins. From Dhs70 (adults), Dhs55 (under 12s). The Dubai Mall, www.thedubaiaquarium.com (04 448 5200).
Dubai’s dinosaur A 155 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton has recently taken up residence in The Dubai Mall. Discovered in 2008 in America’s Dana Quarry in Wyoming, the bones of this amphicoelias brontodiplodocus (try saying that fast – or at all) were found almost completely intact, and now stand 25ft high and 85ft long in the mall’s entrance. Free. The Dubai Mall, www.thedubaimall.com (800 38224 6255).