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15 Things to do in UAE

Posted by Rezmin Fayaz on 21/11/2015
Destination of the Week: Dubai

UAE is a magnificently diverse nation which obviously has it all – modern signature attractions, cultural sophistication, and astounding natural scenery. With wide possibilities for sightseeing, fun and leisure, one of the best things that make this country the most visited destination in the Middle East is its variety. In fact, it will be a tough task to create a compact itinerary with all of the Emirati staples. So use this list to plan your must-dos in the UAE. 

#1 See Dubai’s Unrivaled Skyline

at the top burj khalifa

Unarguably the best-known city not only in the UAE but also in the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai’s skyline enriched with refined architecture and striking Arabian charm is a spectacle unto itself. And the best way to appreciate it is from the top. Enjoy a 360 degree view of the whole city from the observatory on the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa or go even higher to its terrace on the 148th floor. You can also go on a seaplane or helicopter sightseeing tour to relish all of Dubai from a vantage point like no other.

#2 Shop at Gold Souk 

gold souk

Dubai’s popular Gold Souk may be well known to many through the ubiquitous images seen in numerous travel websites and travel magazines. But its real allure and dazzle should be seen to be believed. Spend an evening searching for some real gems at Gold Souk. Locals and tourists love shopping for rare and beautiful jewelry finds from hundreds of shops here piled high with gold, platinum and precious stone studded ornaments of varied designs and shapes. Even if you don’t plan to shop, you should definitely check out this shimmering place to get fascinated by the age-old shopping and trading traditions of the region.

#3 Go on a dhow Cruise along the Dubai Creek

Dhow Cruise

Flowing right through the heart of Dubai, the Dubai Creek is where you can experience the real essence of the city, and the very best way to do is it with an abra ride or a dinner dhow cruise. Originally used for pearl farming and fishing during pre-oil era, dhows are now a great source to enjoy the beautiful views of Dubai Creek which sets stage for a staggering fit of old and new architectures.

#4 Take a Trip to Hatta


Intrigued to know how the life was like for Emiratis several centuries before? Take a trip to Hatta’s beautifully restored 16th century heritage village with a fort, fresh water canal called falaj, and not less than 30 Barasti or traditional style dwelling places. Unspoiled tranquility, refreshing mountain pools, engaging cultural activities, and the backdrop of mesmerizing Hajjar Mountains are a few of other delights in store for you in Hatta, about 150 kilometers away from Dubai.

#5 Tour the Cultural Attractions of Sharjah


The emirate of Sharjah may not be as flamboyant or large as its immediate neighbor, Dubai, but it looms vast on its cultural attractions. Chosen by the UNESCO as the Arab World’s Cultural Capital, Sharjah boasts of a hard-to-ignore charm and is full of history and character. Dig a little deeper with a tour to its many museums, mosques, and markets – mainly Sharjah Arts Museum, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah Heritage Area, and Central Market. Add a dash of fun and thrill to your Sharjah trip with a visit to Al Qasba whose focal point is the giant Eye of the Emirates.

#6 Marvel at the Stunning Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

This masterpiece of contemporary Islamic architecture is one of the most visited points of interest in the capital city of Abu Dhabi. A vision in white, the sprawling mosque with a capacity to hold 40,000 worshippers at a time is the largest of its kind in the country. Not to mention, a compelling mix of sights await you here, from chandeliers gilded in 24 k gold and embellished with Austrian Swarovski crystal to the world’s largest hand-crafted carpet to several mind boggling pools and about 100 domes supported by over 1,000 pillars. 

#7 Wildlife Viewing at Sir Bani Yas Island

Sir Bani Yas Island

When in UAE, spending a day at Sir Bani Yas Island would be an inspiring and memorable tour for wildlife lovers. Visit here to catch a glimpse of several endangered species of animals including cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, Arabian Oryx, gazelles, and turtles, as they freely roam the lands of the Arabian Wildlife Park. Once the much beloved retreat of the UAE’s late ruler – HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the island with its pristine natural beauty has now blossomed into one of the UAE’s most respected wildlife reserves.

#8 Visit an Amusement Park

Aquaventure Waterpark

Visiting theme parks scattered across the nation will provide a great addition to your UAE travel itinerary, if you’re vacationing with your little ones or even wish to pamper your inner kid. From Dubai’s Wild Wadi and Atlantis Aquaventure to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Water World and Ferrari World to Iceland Park in Ras Al Khaimah and Dreamland Water Park in Umm Al Quwain, UAE has some of the world’s best theme parks with an outstanding collection of rides, slides, and gaming attractions.

#9 Go Mall Hopping

Dubai Mall

Almost every prominent city in UAE has big shopping malls, which not only satiates the desires of shopaholics but also anyone seeking finest in dining, adventure, and entertainment. Besides leaving you spellbound with its vast size, stunning architecture and infinite retail offerings, these malls also introduce you to the pulsating lifestyle of affluent and well-heeled. Dubai is home to some of the UAE’s best shopping malls, including Ibn Batutta Mall and Dubai Mall, which is the world’s largest shopping mall.

#10 Get up Close and Personal with the Desert

Desert Safari Dubai

A trip to unspoiled stretches of dunes within Dubai’s Al Awir or Liwa, Empty Quarter surprisingly embodies all that visitors usually tend to imagine UAE’s desert lacks – great fun, thrill and adventure. Irrespective of number of days you plan to vacation in UAE, go on a desert safari which enchants you with a combination of nail-biting adventure, bewitching desert vistas, great food, and most significantly, unique cultural experiences.

#11 Enjoy Skiing

ski dubai snow park

Skiing in a place with year-round sunshine! This might be hard to believe but it’s 100% true. Ski Dubai inside Mall of the Emirates has a huge snow park, slopes for skiing and snowboarding, snow bullet, a ski school, and even snow penguins. So what more you need for a genuine skiing experience?

#12 Attend a Camel Racing Festival

Camel Racing Festival

Camels are an inherent part of the Emirati’s long standing classic heritage. Make your way down to Al Marmoom Camel Racetrack – placed off the Dubai – Al Ain Road – to attend the camel racing festival which is mainly organized to venerate the region’s rich traditions. Held weekly during the months from September to April, the camel race held here uses robotic jockeys instead of small children as jockeys. Thanks to the ban imposed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2002.

#13 Take a Drive up to Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet

If it appeals to you to take an adrenaline-pumping ride high up into the mountains, then a drive along the winding roads of Jebel Hafeet, which is the UAE’s second largest peak at a height of 4,000 feet, is the way to go. Nestled on the outskirts of Al Ain, this mountainous route will take you past some of the region’s most spectacular vistas.

#14 Sample Culinary Delights from across the World

The good news for foodies visiting UAE is that they get to taste culinary delights from around the world. Expatriates calling UAE their home for several decades means dining in this fascinating country is truly a multi-cultural experience. Obviously, it has something to appease every mood, taste, and pocket. Whether you wish to dine with a view at an upmarket restaurant within Burj Al Arab, Dubai or Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, or try local specialties or even something totally exotic like fusion cuisines, the place will spoil you with its gastronomic choices seen in incredible copiousness.

#15 Visit Beaches

Jumeirah Beach Hotel Dubai

UAE boasts some of the world’s best-kept beaches, with many of them bearing the sought-after ‘Blue Flag’ label, symbolizing coastal excellence. Whether it’s for a laid-back excursion or a dose of Arabian sunlight or to indulge in water sport activities, a trip to UAE’s beaches – mainly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman and Fujairah – guarantees to provide you with fun and memorable moments.

This list is by no means the only things to do in UAE. You’ll find an incredible assortment of things to do while your vacation here, from taking a wonder bus or Big Bus tour to going on a heritage tour around Bastakiya Quarter to visiting Al Ain – the Garden City of UAE to exploring scenic wonders of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. So apply for a Dubai visa to come and experience for yourself why UAE is a remarkable holiday spot with something for everyone.