Dubai is one of the most popular emirates in the UAE and shares borders with the neighbouring emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and, to the south-east, Al Ain while looking out onto the Arabian Gulf. During a stay in Dubai, you’ll find a range of things to see and do, from visiting impressive museums and archaeological sites to making most of the multitude of shopping opportunities. Dubai is also a good destination for doing business.
Things to do in Dubai
Below are some of the best things to do in Dubai. It’s worth planning your days to pack as much as possible into this truly entertaining destination.
The Al Fahidi fort, located in Bur Dubai behind Al Fahidi St, houses Dubai Museum. The old fort building contains regular exhibits of weapons, traditional costumes and musical instruments and in the courtyard there are some examples of ‘arish huts and wooden boats. The underground section of the museum houses wonderfully lifelike exhibits of an ancient souk, a Quran school, typical Arabic households and an oasis. There is also a display on the desert by night with interesting local wildlife. A separate room is dedicated to lively exhibits of pearl diving and fishing. Archaeological finds are displayed near the shop.
See an archaeological site in Jumeirah
This affluent suburb to the south of Dubai city is the location of an important archaeological site dating back to the early Islamic period. Large houses built of beach rock (farush) covered with lime plaster have been excavated at Jumeirah by a team from the Dubai Museum. Based on a study of the pottery found at the site, Jumeirah seems to date back to the first two or three centuries of the Islamic era. [Jumeirah is, however, the only complete settlement with well-preserved architecture yet excavated from this important period. A selection of the finds from Jumeirah can be seen in Dubai Museum.
Heritage and Diving Village
Located next to Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoums’s House in Al Shindagha, the village features reconstructions of Dubai’s maritime past. Displays include a tented Bedouin village with traditional weapons, chests and household utensils. Shops sell handicrafts and camel and donkey rides are sometimes available. From time to time, there are also folk dancing and music performances. The village boasts a number of cafeterias and a seafood restaurant.
From the world’s biggest shopping mall to the intimacy of the souk, Dubai’s array of shopping opportunities is unparalleled in the Middle East.
Dubai showcases leading brands from around the world, with an increasing choice of fashion and jewellery imported from Europe and elsewhere to complement locally produced luxury goods. Expect to find a vast choice of beautiful carpets from across Asia; high-carat gold and exquisite precious stones, fine porcelain, fragrant perfumes and electrical goods, all at great prices: shoppers in Dubai benefit from the city`s tax-free shopping policies and low import duties, meaning much merchandise is available for less than in its country of origin.
The Dubai Mall, part of the Burj Dubai development, is theis the world’s biggest shopping mall; the Emirates Mall boasts the world`s largest indoor ski slope under its roof, and the spectacular Dubailand complex is adding another dimension to Dubai’s shopping and entertainment options.
Some of the shopping malls in Dubai are almost palace-like, notably on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek. The Wafi Mall The Village on Jumeirah Beach Road and the Twin Towers on Beniyas Road are just a few of the premier malls for luxury goods and designer labels. There’s also the BurJuman Centre, a vibrant luxury shopping destination which added 200 stores following a major redevelopment. The centre is packed with leading stores, including Saks 5th Avenue.
Meanwhile, the Deira district is a shopper's delight. The Deira City Centre shopping mall features 280 stores, a definitive ‘shop till you drop’ experience, whilst the Al Bustan and Abu Hail Shopping Centres, the Galleria and Hamarain Centre sell leading brands of fashion, watches, jewellery, sports goods and more all under one roof.
Dubai’s first shopping centre, Al Ghurair Centre, offers more than 350 stores selling fashion brands, exotic and traditional perfumes, consumer electronics and multiple dining options. Another eminent shopping area is the Jumeirah district, featuring an assortment of fashionable malls including Magrudy’s Shopping Mall, the Beach Centre, Markaz Al Jumeirah, the Town Centre and Jumeirah Plaza, whilst Lamcy Plaza offers plenty of fun for the family.
Just outside Dubai is the UAE’s second largest shopping centre, the Ibn Battuta Mall. There different themed shopping zonestake their design inspiration from China, India, Persia, Morocco and Egypt.
Dubai souks and markets
Dubai is also famous the world over for its souks. The Gold Souk sells high-carat gold jewellery, gold bars and bullion coins, plus dazzling necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Not far from the Gold Souk is the Spice Souk, where aromatic spices from all over the Middle East are brought together. For the best perfumes in Dubai, visit the Perfume Souk, which is just behind the Gold Souk and where you can buy thousands of delicious fragrances. Dubai is also one of the best places outside Iran to buy Persian carpets.
Worthy of special mention is the Dubai Shopping Festival, a month-long retail extravaganza that attracts millions of people each year. The festival often starts mid-January and there are bargains to be had on shopping and at hotels.
Business in Dubai
There are many perks when it comes to doing business in Dubai or starting a business here. These include:
- No corporate income taxes
- No foreign exchange controls
- Competitive labour, energy and real estate costs
All of these can attract overseas companies to set up their business in Dubai.