14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Dubai
To describe Dubai as "a city of the future" would be a serious understatement, for the United Arab Emirates' city of dubai is undergoing a boom in unparalleled scale and ambition. Like so many other Western cities, Dubai's population is exploding at a rapid pace, and it is estimated that by 2020 the city's population could reach 3.5 million.
The construction of skyscrapers, towers, and a seemingly unending city-wide renovation project demonstrate a sense of vision, enthusiasm, and ambition on the part of the local government. Dubai is truly a major international tourist destination, which of course means that you will find hotels in Dubai that cater to almost every traveller's taste and budget.
Not only does this city welcome international tourism, but this region of the world is undergoing an unprecedented degree of change. Dubai is a singular window to the Middle East, and now more than ever, is providing visitors with a unique understanding of the spirit of the countries that it is home to.
Discover the best places to visit in Dubai with our list of the top tourist attractions in Dubai.
The world's tallest building is more than 2,700 feet tall, high above the lit-up streets of Dubai. A visit here offers not only an excellent view over the city, but also some interesting sightseeing on the way to and from the top. For non-tourists, the view of the skyscraper and its surroundings can be accessed at the top of the wheel, where you can see most of Dubai in a single glance. Inside the Burj Khalifa there are many rooms of exhibits that attempt to give an impression of what life is like inside a skyscraper. If you want to experience the view for yourself, take a 30-minute ride in a lift to the top.
Explore the amazing world of arches, domes, and skyscrapers that makes up Dubai's impressive skyline. The world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, and the massive, bulbous Nakheel Tower, are among the most prominent landmarks in the country, but there are many other interesting sights and places to visit, too. Visit The Dubai Museum to learn about the region's modern history, its past as a port city, and discover a bit of the city's culture.
Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club is located on Dubai Creek, one of the many branches of the Persian Gulf. The course is quite long and the greens can be unruly, but the panoramic views over the creek and across to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai skyline offer a breath-taking perspective of Dubai. There is also a restaurant and bar.
Built in 2006, Jumeirah Mosque is not only a visitor attraction but also a key building in Dubai's revitalization drive. The mosque itself was modeled on the Ottoman-style Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which has become a significant tourist attraction and museum in Oman. Situated along one of the world's great superhighways, Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeirah Mosque, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, appears to float over the desert landscape. Indeed, the six-story building with its recessed, squat white form gives the impression of a futuristic moonscape. The mosque is home to a branch of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Interior visitors enter through the magnificent Diwan al-Fatih (Hall of Prosperity) featuring a large and striking chandelier of 300,000 flowers that is a wonderful example of Ionic architecture. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque also includes the new Sheikh Zayed Airport Terminal, which is by far the most futuristic and stylish building in the city. Its east facade, designed by American architect Steven Holl, is a double spiral rising up to a high point that is capped with a distinctive, black glass dome. When it is complete the tower will include a mosque, administrative offices, and a 500-room hotel with a pool and spa. Jumeirah Mosque, a key building in Dubai's revitalization drive, is the most important building of the city's Sheikh Zayed Road, which is named after former president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
It's difficult to think of a more magical place than the Palm Jumeirah. Comprising 265 artificial islands that stretch more than 4 km across the Gulf of Dubai, this "sculptural" Palm is the largest in the world, with its centerpiece being the world's tallest building, the Atlantis The Palm, rising more than 150 m into the air above the water. The Palm Jumeirah is a luxury development that is not for tourists, although residents can enjoy the beaches and the enormous selection of hotels, resorts, and golf courses.
The world's largest aquarium, located at the Dubai Mall, boasts 3 million liters of fresh water and the ability to house an astonishing 4000 fish and thousands of other animals. With ocean creatures as large as 70 feet and as small as a few ounces, as well as animals found in different parts of the world, from tropical rainforests to the arctic, it's not just a chance to see some amazing creatures but also to learn all about them. Visitors can get a tour of the aquarium from guides who take them underwater to a "stargazing room" where the sky can be seen through the same hole the whales use to see in through their blowholes, or under a 120-foot-long tunnel where hundreds of dolphins can be seen playing together in their natural environment. Families and children may be interested in feeding the sharks (they're fed every day at 1 pm) or in a water experience called, the ultimate, "hydroventure" that allows visitors to get into a pressurized submarine to see dolphins and explore the seas. There are separate entrances for men and women, although there is a single admission for the whole family. It's open 9 am to 11 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 12 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Visitors must be at least 6 years of age to enter. The aquarium is quite a distance from downtown Dubai, and it's not easy to get there by public transport (it's easier if you have a car), but it is a must see when in Dubai, or while visiting the city.
Marina Mall is the largest indoor shopping mall in the United Arab Emirates. It is located in Dubai Marina, the world's most fashionable residential and commercial district. Within its 2.2 km² of retail space are more than 200 shops, restaurants and service facilities. It is owned and operated by MSC Sultan, the regional economic development authority. Established in 2008, Marina Mall is Dubai's most glamorous center for the arts. It boasts premier shows by world-class performers and a wide selection of restaurants, bars and a luxury cinema. The mall features an amphitheater that can accommodate up to 5,000 spectators. In addition to its entertainment, Marina Mall also houses the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dubai Airport Hotel, the Mercedes-Benz Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and two business-focused offices, the European Union and the World Trade Center. In the latest addition to Dubai's list of landmarks is the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. Standing 1,000 feet (302 meters) tall, Burj Khalifa, by the design of Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, opened to the public in April 2009. The other exciting, high-end development, The Address Downtown Dubai, is scheduled to open in 2012.
Al Fahidi Fort
Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1883, is the oldest fort in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Situated in the centre of the city, it has become a symbol of the country's history, being the main fort where the flag of the Emirate was first hoisted in 1971. This was the first step towards the unification of the states of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A series of indoor and outdoor displays allow visitors to see the original buildings as they would have been during the 1883-1921 period. Examples include an education room, a prison, a fire station, a lavatory, barracks, classrooms, a cafe, a museum of the Emir's medals and memorabilia, and living quarters for the inhabitants. Al Fahidi Fort also includes a gift shop and tours are conducted in English.
Wild Wadi Water Park
Dubai is made up of a network of artificial islands linked by bridges across the Persian Gulf, and is where the Dubai Creek Waterway cuts across the isle of Bur Dubai. Wild Wadi Water Park is located at the eastern end of Dubai Creek, a 2-km-long canal that is a vital shipping waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and is renowned for its diverse ecosystem and expanse. The water park was created in 2008 to help relieve some of the stress in Dubai, and has a series of water attractions for kids and adults alike. These include a 3.5-km-long wave pool; a 1,900 m long lazy river; a 1,200 m racing river; and a variety of other water attractions, including splashpads, baby slide, and a ‘slide-into-the-lake’. Also of interest in Dubai are the wonderful Burj Al Arab and the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa.
Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a famous public park in the heart of Dubai. Part of the Emirates Hills development, it's one of the city's top-level attractions. It has attractive glass and colored lights to transform this leafy oasis into an enchanted landscape of waterfalls, fountains and rockeries. Situated on an island by the water, the park also has a 600-foot-long esplanade stretching over the Persian Gulf. Within this glass-enclosed environment, visitors can find a small zoo, children's entertainment area, visitor's centre and an interactive multimedia station that includes a 15-meter long beach-themed ride. The park is also a venue for a number of major exhibitions that go on display, including Children of the World, where visitors can explore the eight diverse cultures that make up the UAE. Also on offer is the country's permanent collections, which include Indian artifacts, coins, and ancient Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist artifacts. A highlight of the park is the wave-like bay fountain, illuminated at night to make it the venue of Dubai's largest party, Nightfall.
Dubai Opera House
Dubai is home to a major opera house, The Dubai Opera House, which opened in November 2009. It is the largest single-venue opera house in the Middle East, with a stage space measuring 4,330 square meters. It also has the largest dance hall in the Middle East with a capacity of 5,500 people. Also in the city is the Festival City complex which hosts the first Middle East International Children's Festival, a showcase of dance and musical performances, and the A'Salam Festival, which attracts young Arab and international artists.
Dubai is the only city that sits on an island surrounded by water and is a major cruise port. Besides a number of luxury and boutique cruise ships calling regularly, Dubai is home to two of the world's most recognizable cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's own Explorer of the Seas and Princess Cruises' Vista of the Seas. The Dubai Marina, also known as the Dubai Waterfront, features an elegant yacht marina, some of the most attractive boutique hotel chains in the world and beautiful jade-colored man-made islands. If you prefer to be on land, the Burj Al Arab is the tallest hotel in the world and offers expansive views of the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
The Jumeirah brand has a reputation for creating innovative leisure resorts that are also conveniently located on Dubai's seven major offshore islands. Although Jumeirah Beach is one of the newer additions, it has already established a reputation for its clean and tidy beaches and lazy summer evenings. There is much to do in this new city-within-a-city. Swim, sunbathe, water-ski, snorkel, and fish at one of the 12 different beaches scattered around the island. If you prefer to keep your feet on the sand, take a cable car to the higher-altitude hills that encircle the city and take in the views. There are also many places to buy souvenirs. Getting to Jumeirah Beach is easy, as it is on the Palm Jumeirah, where there is a boat terminal. From the terminal, visitors can reach the resort by boat from Dubai or Sharjah in about 40 minutes.
Now famous for the iconic Burj al Arab hotel, Dubai, situated at the head of the Dubai Creek in the South of the city, is in reality a blend of traditional Arab and Moorish architecture with the ability to dazzle. Its cultural heritage dates back to the 4th century, when the city was founded by the merchant who founded the Arabic nation, Mohammed Ibn Abdul Qays, and the rich cultural heritage is on display in this elegant mosque. Designed to be easily accessible to worshippers, the mosque is located at the end of Al Arabia Lane, on the ground floor of the ornate Dar Al Attar Hotel. Visit the mosque at any time in the day, although during prayer time, it's best to be at prayer times as there are no services or conversation. Most visitors will be of the 'quiet and observe' type.