As the biggest and most well known city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has a reputation for luxurious resorts and towering, modern skyscrapers. You can definitely find a slice of grandeur, but there are many other sides to Dubai that you may like to explore. This list sets out 8 neighbourhoods in Dubai that you may like to stay in while visiting this cosmopolitan city.
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1. Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is a man-made marina which accommodates a bustling enclave of tourist activity. You will find plenty of trendy and upscale restaurants, strategically located to offer an amazing view of Dubai’s skyscrapers across the water. Some of these eateries even offer dining atop a cruise on the marina, an experience that will surely be hard to top. Stay close to the Dubai Marina Walk for an easy starting point to explore the area, as this route is designed to bring tourists through cafes, shops, and open spaces where festivals and performances are commonly held.
2. Downtown Dubai
Downtown Dubai is perhaps what comes to most people’s minds when they think of this city. Here is where you’ll find the Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s incredible skyscraper, which stands at a staggering height of 2,722 feet (829.6 m) with 163 floors. In fact, this tower is so tall that its architects had to create a special metal structure around the building to channel the electricity from frequent lightning strikes safely down to the ground. Other highlights include the Dubai Mall, a record holder for the world’s largest shopping mall. Apart from over 1,000 stores, the Dubai Mall also houses numerous attractions dedicated to recreation and entertainment, such as multiplex cinemas, an Olympic size ice rink, and even a flight and a Formula 1 racing simulator. Over the top Downtown Dubai is guaranteed to exceed all your expectations!
3. Jumeirah Beach
If a beach holiday with plenty of activities, clean beaches, and the option of some vibrant night life is what you’re looking for, Jumeirah Beach is a prime option. Most of the resorts dotting the coastline have private beaches, ensuring that your sunbathing will not be interrupted by overcrowding. If you’re interested in more of an adrenaline rush, there is a whole array of water sports available, including waterskiing and windsurfing, as well as a giant water park (Wild Wadi Waterpark) in the vicinity. At night, take a stroll down to the various restaurants, beach clubs, and stylish bars to sample delicious local cuisine as well as international menus.
4. Bur Dubai
This historic district of Dubai houses some of the city’s most precious old buildings, museums, and religious sites. These include the Dubai Museum, the colourful Iranian Mosque, and a heritage village that encloses the old homes of Sheikhs from the past. To make the most of your time in Dubai, Bur Dubai is a great base for venturing out to look at handmade crafts, watch the boats go by, and try out local eateries. While this area may not be as modern and sophisticated as some of the other neighbourhoods in Dubai, you will get an authentic glimpse into the life of locals and traditional architecture as you wander around Bur Dubai.
On the other side of the Dubai Creek, and a ferry ride away from Bur Dubai is the Deira district is Deira. Like Bur Dubai, Deira still retains abundant Old World charm. While Bur Dubai is the stronghold of textile merchants, Deira houses the city’s gold, fish, and spice souks (marketplaces). However, Deira is becoming increasingly developed, and you will observe a fascinating juxtaposition of new and old – from traditional buildings to new commercial buildings with unusual designs. One of these is the endearingly named “Pregnant Lady,” which actually houses the National Bank of Dubai, so named because of its protruding, curved front.
6. Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
The Al Fahidi neighbourhood is said to best represent Dubai in the mid 19th century. The buildings in this area are typically constructed with traditional materials such as wood and stone, and situated in close proximity to create a labyrinth of alleys. You may also notice that many buildings still retain wind towers called “barjeel,” which served to channel wind into houses in the past for cooling purposes. This is just one example of how the Al Fahidi neighbourhood remains a whole world apart from the modernized downtown and resort towns catered to the rich and elite. Nowadays, some of the old buildings have been adapted into quaint cafes and artist’s workshops, making the neighbourhood an absolute delight to explore.
7. Al Quoz
Over the years, Al Quoz has grown into Dubai’s art and cultural district. A vibrant art scene has developed organically, with rotating performances and exhibitions from both local and international artists alike. Artists are not the only creative minds who have moved in. The area is also teeming with beautifully designed cafes and coffee houses, fitness studios, and an old warehouse that has been converted into a skate park. There’s always something new to be discovered in Al Quoz!
8. Palm Jumeirah
Arguably one of the world’s most famous man-made islands, the Palm Jumeirah bears the iconic shape of a palm tree. Unfortunately, visitors will need to book a helicopter or seaplane ride to actually see this amazing work of construction. Some of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels and beach resorts are located on these artificial islands, including the St. Regis and Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. As you may expect, being detached from the bustling mainland provides some serenity and privacy to guests – at a price!
Dubai: a city of extremes
Whether you are planning to splurge a little on a lavish resort, looking for a convenient base for your business trip, or on a mission to learn more about Dubai’s history and traditional culture, we hope this list has been useful in introducing a few of Dubai’s best neighbourhoods to stay in!
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