Dubai does not need any introduction. It is a favorite of the world when it comes to ultra modern architectures, luxury accommodations, sumptuous eateries and exceptional shopping experiences. But what most of them miss out is the fact that Dubai has a rich and well preserved cultural heritage as well.
Here’s a list of the best cultural attractions in Dubai to get the essence of the culture of the city.
1. Dubai Museum
Located in Old Dubai inside the Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai museum is one of the most influential ways to understand the rich history and cultural heritage of Dubai. Just like the other place, the Dubai museum too is beautifully maintained and it’s a treat to go around the place. It transports you back in the Bedouin era when fishing was the only occupation of the village. The museum lets the visitors take a peek into the past of the entire country of UAE and its growth.
2. Dubai Heritage Village
This village can be termed as a part museum and part amusement park, but offers a plethora of information about the city’s cultural and historical past. It has fun and entertaining settings that easily offer a lot of information about the city’s culture without boring the visitors. An interesting place for kids and adults alike, the Dubai Heritage Village takes you to a tour of traditional old homes used in the Bedouin era, the dresses worn by them during that time and the food they ate. It’s a sharp contrast from today’s modern Dubai, but this fact lets you appreciate the bygone era even more.
3. Jumeirah Mosque
One of the most famous Dubai cultural attractions and highly photographed mosques in the city, the Jumeirah mosque is a beautiful and a scared worship place for the Muslims. Built into the scared Fatimid style architecture, the mosque holds special importance or the tourists as it is one of the very few mosques that allow Non- Muslims to enter. It is one of the most beautiful landmarks of Dubai that looks spectacular, especially at night when it is illuminated with lights all around. The mosque is built from white stone and is a visual and cultural treat for every visitor. Six days a week guided tour is organized for visitors to help them understand the history and cultural importance of the Islamic religion.
4.Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum’s House
The former residence of the Al Maktoum family- the rulers of Dubai, the Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum’s House witnesses visitors all around the year as it brilliantly houses the details of Dubai’s political and social history. A detailed visit to the Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum’s House will give you an insight about the ancient coins, maps, historical documents, details of the Al Makhtoum family and old marine life of Dubai which formed the base of the present contemporary Dubai. One trip to the Sheikh Saeed al-Maktoum’s House will give you great insights about the traditional social Dubai life and the foresightedness of its rulers that has made Dubai a thriving tourist hub.
5. Bastakiya District
Interested in seeing how Dubai looked like 100 years ago when these sky high architectures were not even imagined? Come to the Bastakiya district for a tour of the past. Here, you can find a mix of the original buildings along with the new ones that are reconstructed in the old traditional style to give the same feel of the bygone era. There is also a museum for better understanding of the history, but the best way to soak in the 100 year old feel of the place is to take a stroll around the area on foot, discovering, relishing, and inspiring you with the simplistic yet intelligent lifestyle of the Bedouins.
6.The Abra ride- Dubai’s traditional Water taxis
Long ago when the Dubai creek was the major trade port for Bedouins and the only means to travel to the two ends of the city- Bur Dubai and Diera; the Abra rides were the only means of transport. Even today, Abra remains the cheapest and the fastest way to see the beauty of Dubai creek with sky high buildings on the backdrop. Offering a startling contrast between the New and the old Dubai, these Abra taxis can take you from one end to the other for as low as Dhs1 and now has four main stations.
7. Traditional Souks of Dubai
Markets are called ‘souks’ in Dubai and traditional souks of Dubai offer great insight to the cultural understanding of the city. The textile souk also known as the Bur Dubai souk or the old souk is one of the oldest souks of the city. It houses a colossal range of fabrics, clothing lines, footwear, and offers some exciting souvenirs for the tourists. You can find many tailors sitting there, ready to give you your perfect fit garment.
The traditional Spice souk of Dubai, located in the Al Ras area of Diera is a vibrant array of colors and the most exotic spices in the world. The setup of the shops is still primarily traditional and the aroma you get here can tantalize your taste buds irresistibly. As you move from shop to shop, you are sure to find the best range of spices from all over the world here, predominantly from the Middles Eastern areas. The spices give you a great insight of the culinary intellect and skills of the Arab community.
Situated right next to the Spice souk is the world famous Gold souk of Dubai. It is one of the very few places in the world where you’ll see 22 and 24 karat gold hanging in its full glitter in simple street side shops and not caged in the air conditioned showrooms. These small stall type shops are crammed with glittering gold earrings, necklaces, rings and almost every possible design made of gold. Here you would get to see the different shades of gold too, like pink, green, yellow, white etc.…
Bargaining around the marked prices is also a part of tradition in such souks. Visiting these souks should be done with ample amount of time and not in hurry if you really want to soak in its vibrancy.
With a diverse variety of people living in the city, it’s amazing to see the harmony which surrounds the city of Dubai. Even with 85% expats population, the city is able to beautifully preserve its culture and cultural attractions. Dubai is a living example of adapting to the changes of the modern world while being firmly attached to its roots.