How to Visit Dubai on a Budget

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Dubai, the city of dreams is a must visit destination for any travel enthusiast. It is a model city where modernization has taken place while keeping its heritage and traditions intact.

It’s also a city that has a reputation for being expensive – and with the city’s luxury hotels, fabulous shopping malls and gourmet dining spots, that could very well end up being the case. However, Dubai is certainly still within reach of those travelling on a budget. If you are visiting Dubai and looking to save some money, here are some of the best ways to do it.

Plane Tickets | Dubai on a Budget

As a general rule, it’s always best to try and book your tickets a few months in advance. This will help you get the best rates. Since Dubai is such a popular tourist destination, many airlines offer special promotions, so try and keep an eye out for those. For example, Etihad keeps a running list of special fares on its website and the Emirates website constantly shows the featured fares for flights from your country. Budget airlines, such as Fly Dubai can offer even more great deals.  Choosing one of the UAE’s local airlines can give you access to special tourist offers and discounts in Dubai, allowing for even more savings. For instance, if you visit Dubai before the end of August and show your Emirates boarding pass at certain dining establishments and spas, you are eligible for a discount of up to 40% off your bill.

Hotel Booking | Dubai on a Budget

Dubai’s most famous hotel is probably the Burj Al Arab, which is so luxurious people claim it was awarded 7 stars. However, there is a plethora of reasonably priced hotels available to the budget-conscious traveller. We have a run-down of our favorite budget hotels here.

Another great option for someone looking to save is to rent an Airbnb. Dubai has a thriving real estate market and there are plenty of gorgeous apartments out there. Airbnb provides the owners of those apartments the opportunity to rent them out to tourists, often for a cheaper per-night fee than they would pay at a hotel. If you don’t require a lot of amenities, Airbnb can provide you with cheap, comfortable housing for your stay.

And if you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Dubai on a budget, you’ll find that tourist traffic tends to be lower in the hot summer months and Holy Month of Ramadan. Because of this, hotels and airlines often give out special discounts to those visiting at this time.

Travelling within the city | Dubai on a Budget

If you intend to travel around Dubai, it is in your best interest to get an RTA NOL card. The best option for tourists is the red card or silver card which you can get for AED 6 and AED 25 respectively. The silver card is the best option in the long run as it can be used in all public transport services running within Dubai, from RTA buses to metros, trams and even water taxis. You can learn more about the Dubai Metro here.

In general, taxis are cheaper in Dubai compared to prices in other parts of the world. However, it is certainly not a low cost way of getting around, especially when you consider traffic in the city. A taxi ride will cost you a minimum of 12 AED, no matter how short the distance. If public transport if available, the budget traveller should strongly consider that alternative – especially since the public transport system in Dubai is so well maintained

Food | Dubai on a Budget

For food, you need to consider two things – what you are eating and where you are going to eat it. European, American and Japanese food tends to be on the higher end of the price scale, whereas you can get Arabic and Indian food for very low prices (if you know where to go!).

Furthermore, different areas of the city tend to operate at different price ranges. For low-cost food, Bur Dubai and Deira are your best bet. There, you will find a number of budget restaurants.

Some of our favorite reasonably priced restaurants are:

Al-Ustad Special Kebab: This is a very old restaurant, located in Dubai’s historical district (near where we do our Old Dubai Walking Tours). They serve amazing Iranian food and some of the best kebabs in Dubai.

Delhi Darbar: This restaurant serves Mughlai cuisine – food that was developed in Medieval India at the center of the Mughal Empire.  There are several branches around Dubai (and worldwide). We’re fans of the chicken tikka masala and the biryani.

Arz Lebanon: As you can tell from the name, this restaurant serves Lebanese food. The falafel here is phenomenal, with a crisp exterior and flavorful interior. This restaurant also has several branches across Dubai.

Sightseeing in Dubai on a Budget:

Some sightseeing areas of Dubai require a hefty entrance fee, but there are plenty that do not. Here are some fun free and low-cost things to do in Dubai as a tourist.


Bastakiya is known as the heritage hub of Dubai. It is home to the Dubai Museum (AED 3 entry) and various examples of ancestral homes. The area also has a strong cultural vibe, with beautiful street art and trendy coffee shops dotting the area. We’ve written more about the attractions of Bastakiya here.

Souqs :

For those who love to bargain and shop, the Souqs – ranging from Gold Souq, Spice Souq, Perfume Souq to Textile Souq – are a must visit. While bargaining make sure to quote for around half the price that the shop keepers are asking and start negotiations from there to get cheapest rates. The gold, spice and perfume souqs are on the Deira side, which you can access via a fun abra ride across the Dubai Creek for only AED 1. Not only is it convenient, it’s a great way to explore the area.

Dubai Mall:

Okay, we see you raising your eyes. Why has a shopping mall been listed as a low-cost place to visit in Dubai? Well, entrance to the mall is free and there is plenty to see inside without paying a thing. Make sure to get photos of the massive dinosaur skeleton, the marine life visible from the outside at the Dubai Aquarium and the beautiful light-and-water shows. Our self-guided tour of Dubai Mall will take you to all the highlights.


Dubai is home to beautiful beaches with clean sand and clear seas, including Kite Beach and Jumeirah Beach. Both offer fun options for tourists. If you are on a budget, why not head over to Kite Beach to marvel at the talented kite-surfers on the water? Or take a selfie with the Burj Al Arab in the background at Jumeirah Beach? Either way, you can enjoy sun, sand and surf without breaking your budget.

JBR The Walk:

This is a beautiful promenade to walk along, in one of Dubai’s most trendy areas. We love car watching here- you can see some really flashy vehicles. We talk more about The Walk in our self-guided tour of JBR Marina.

Walking Tours:

Dubai by Foot offers amazing walking tours that suit the budget of the conscious traveller. Because we don’t have the extra cost of hiring transportation, we are able to offer tours at a low cost. The Old Dubai tour is only 88 AED for a 2 hour tour! We also offer a no upfront cost, name-your-price tour on the second and fourth Thursday of every month in the off-peak season. You can learn more about the tours on our schedule here.

Other Deals:

Dubai by Foot is constantly working with partner organizations to bring you discounted deals. We’re constantly updating this page, so be sure to keep checking it out.

A trip to Dubai doesn’t have to break your budget. With a bit of smart planning, you can enjoy a great stay in the city for a low cost. And if you decide to use your savings to do a bit of extra shopping, well, we won’t judge you for that.

Dubai Parks and Resorts

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Dubai Parks & Resorts opened their gates in 2016 as the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region’s first and largest integrated resort and theme park destination. The Dubai Parks and Resorts complex consists of over 100 rides and attractions, 3 theme parks, 1 water park, 1 Grand Entrance Plaza, and 1 four-star hotel. This blog will provide useful information for prospective guests who are planning their visit to the wonderful theme parks such as description of each park, how to get to the Dubai Parks and Resorts, ticket prices, offers and discounts and park timings.



Legoland is ideal for families with children of ages 2 through 12 and of course for all Lego enthusiasts in the world. This seventh Legoland of the world is first of its kind in our region, so easily accessible from a major airport and home to over 40 attractions and rides all themed around our favorite little colored building bricks. Miniland has its own lego Burj Khalifa, Dubai Metro, Burj Al Arab and Cayan Tower!


Legoland Waterpark 

Legoland Waterpark is one of a kind waterpark in the world – it is entirely themed around Legos and is especially great for families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. Even the lazy river in this park has opportunities to build legos on our floats! With boundless creativity, splash of color and vibrance, this park is the perfect way to cool-off after a day at the Dubai Parks and Resorts. There is a shop that sells swim gear and a place to rent towels and lockers as well.


Motiongate is our personal favorite because firstly its apt for our age (ahem! We’ll let you guess what our age group may be), and secondly because its themed after Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies. Featuring the maximum roller coasters of all the parks her and some of the best animation and live characters and performances, this park is like nterland fantasyland via DreamWorks! From Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Shrek to the Hunger Games, this park will satiate your appetite for thrill and how! Lets just say you might learn how to train that dragon after all.

Bollywood Park 

High time Bollywood got its own namesake park! This is the first park in the entire world solely dedicated to Bollywood, its dreams, its music and beats and its famous movies. For Bollywood lovers of all ages, this park mainly has live performances and attractions based on famous movies such as Don, Ra-One, Lagaan, and Mughal-E-Azam. Of the rides, our favorite was the Sholay ride where we got to assist Veeru and Jai on their mission to defeat the infamous Gabbar Singh.

There is a restaurant and night club Rock On that has live performances and can also be accessed without a park ticket. The Jaan-E-Jigar show is a larger than life opera experience live dance show which requires tickets of its own and is a not-to-miss experience in the Raj Mahal Theater.


When you arrive at the Dubai Parks and Resorts, you are welcomed by a large expanse of flowing river, stunning Frech – village architecture and music and an ambience that gets you in the holiday mood at once. This is Riverland, the face of the Parks, front, open, grand entrance plaza with 50 food and beverage and retail outlets, a river boat ride experience of its own and live music, jazz festival and concerts.

Lapita Hotel

Lapita Hotel is a 4-star hotel managed by Marriott on location. It is ideal for those who want to get the maximum out of their Dubai Parks and Resorts experience. Generally speaking it takes 3 full days to experience the entire complex completely. So the highlight of your Dubai trip is to see thrills on roller coasters and hang out with characters from Hollywood and Bollywood, then you might consider staying at this lavish and conveniently located hotel.

How to get to Dubai Parks & Resorts?

Dubai Parks and Resorts are located roughly 50-minute drive from the Dubai International Airport (DXB). Off of Sheikh Zayed Road near the Dubai Outlet Village Mall. An average taxi/Uber ride costs AED 125-130 one way from the airport to the Parks.

There is also a complimentary shuttle available, which operates, on the first-come-first-served basis only since the capacity of the bus is maximum 40 guests. Please see schedule below. We recommend calling 800-AMAZING (2629464) to re-confirm before you plan on taking the shuttle.

How much does a ticket to Dubai Parks & Resorts cost?

Children under the age of 3 are free. Tickets online are cheaper than at the gates by 11-14% approximately. So if you are planning to go, best to buy online.

For the more popular rides for which the lines may run long, you can buy a Q-Fast Pass at the gate and have faster access without waiting around so much.

For discounted tickets that include a car ride to these fantastic rides, check out our pages on Deals & Discounts.

Families with kids should consider visiting Legoland and Legoland Waterpark in the same day. Active adults can easily do any two parks in a day.

What is the best time to visit Dubai Parks and Resort?

While the months of September through March bring the best weather in this region, know that summer should not a deterrent for you. There are approximately 70 cooling stations throughout Dubai Parks and Resorts and many rides and attractions are indoors.

Park timings and visiting hours change in Ramadan, for the summer and for the peak winter months. We recommend you check online at or call 800-AMAZING before planning your visit for the most updated information on timings, ticket prices and offers.

What next at Dubai Parks and Resorts?

Coming soon to this complex of Amazing-ness, is the famous Six Flags Dubai and even Dubai very own Legoland Hotel! So be sure to plan your next trip to Dubai Parks and Resorts in 2019!

Mosque Dress Code For Tourists

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Here is the mosque dress code when visiting the Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai or the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi:

 If you are visiting a mosque especially the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, you need to have a more conservative dress code. For men and women, your legs and arms need to be covered – no shorts or skirts above the ankle. Additionally, your clothes should not be tight fitting – this is not the place for yoga pants! Try and ensure the fabric of your clothes is opaque as well, as see-through garments are inappropriate in a religious environment. Female visitors to the mosque will be asked to cover their hair; however, a headscarf will be provided to them upon entry. As a side note, you will be asked to remove your shoes.

Traditional Emirati Clothing

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Dubai is one of the most glamorous cities in the world. A simple stroll outside shows a world that looks like a runway, with couture clothing and designer accessories abound. Many tourists who visit Dubai make it a point to do some shopping, whether it’s purchasing threads from a fast fashion outlet or buying a handmade adornment for their arm.

In the midst of all this glitz and glam, there remains the traditional clothing of the UAE, which many local people wear to this day. These garments are steeped in history and provide a keen insight into the culture of the region.  In this post, we’ll give you an overview of the traditional clothes of the UAE.

Traditional Emirati Clothing for Men


The kandura (also referred to as a thobe) is a long-sleeved, ankle length garment. It resembles a loose-fitting robe or a long shirt. It is most commonly found in white (all the better to fight the sun’s rays!). Furthermore, it also comes in beige, yellow, lavender and blue, particularly in the winter season. Different countries in the Gulf have their own twist on this traditional dress. In the UAE, for example, the kandura has no collar and often has embroidery on the sleeves.


The ghutra is a cloth headdress that Emirati men wear. Traditionally, it served a dual purpose of protecting the desert dwellers from both the sun and the sandstorms. The conventional ghutra for Emirati men is white. However, the current fashions have been influenced by the traditions of neighboring Gulf states as well. Today, you’ll also see Emiratis wearing ghutras in a red and white chequered pattern, inspired by the style in neighboring Saudi Arabia. The ghutra is held in place by the agal, a black cord that wraps around the head.

Traditional Emirati Clothing for Women


The traditional dress of a UAE woman is the abaya. It is important to note that the abaya is not really a dress. Instead it can be more accurately compared to a thin, flowing cloak that covers the body. Underneath, women wear their clothes (and in fact, often choose western-inspired styles, like jeans). That is part of the reason that the abaya is black. It allows the wearer to don brightly colored hues underneath, without revealing their inner garments to the public eye. Traditional abayas are plain black. Many modern styles incorporate embellishments and embroidery on the dark fabric, which adds a contemporary twist to the look.


The Hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women. It usually covers their hair, ears and neck. Hijab is colloquially a catch-all term to describe the various styles of head coverings for Gulf women. Hijab actually refers to a specific form of head wrap. One of the most popular styles of head covering in the UAE is the shayla, which consists of a long, rectangular scarf that crosses over the shoulder.

EMIRATES WOMAN PICTURES – photo credit “Emirates Woman”


In the Gulf, a burqua is a type of facemask. This differs from the burqua in other parts of the world, which refers to a head-to-toe covering garment. The mask is designed to cover a part of the woman’s forehead and upper lip, in a manner that resembles a horizontal H shape. At first glance, these burquas look like they are made of metal, but they are in fact made of metallic cloth. Generally, burquas tend to worn by members of the older generation, with it not being as popular a style among the youth of the country.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the above items as a souvenir, we recommend visiting the Textile Souq, where you can find a lot of beautiful designs for great prices. Our Old Dubai Tour tour will give you a guide to this area and teach you the history behind the clothing of these ancient desert dwellers.

What should tourists wear when visiting the UAE?

There tends to be a lot of confusion regarding what is appropriate for tourists to wear when visiting the UAE. In general, there is no need for tourists to cover their hair when visiting the UAE. Despite some sensational news headlines, the dress codes are quite relaxed as well. Authorities only ask people to cover up in cases of highly immodest outfits. You can still wear shorts or a skirt an inch above the knee, or tops that bare your arms. Just try to keep in mind the amount of overall skin you are showing. For example, if you are showing your legs, try to wear a more modest top.


Deals and Discounts | Dubai By Foot

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Deals and Discounts on Dubai Attractions

 It’s no surprise that Dubai can sometimes be an expensive place to visit, especially because there are so many things to see here. There’s no reason why you should skip seeing places you’ve dreamed of because the cost of admission will take a big bite out of your budget. We’ve hunted down multiple ways to save money visiting some of the top sites so that you can take Dubai to the fullest without busting your budget. We frequently introduce new deals and discounts, so make sure to check this page regularly.

For more information on enjoying Dubai on a limited budget see our post Guide to Dubai on a Budget on how to stretch your money as much as possible!


Below are our combo-tour packages at discounted prices. If you are a private group, please do email us and we will come up with the best possible offers for you.

Feel free to drop us an email on if you want our bests deals and discounts for other Dubai attractions. Also don’t forget to check our Dubai Tour Packages page for more Offers.


Why Choose a Walking Tour with Dubai By Foot?

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At Dubai By Foot, we bring over 15 years of tour guiding experience to the table (or shall we say to the walking tours!). We have done our research and our guides are trained as the city’s best ambassadors, historians, art lovers, and story-tellers. Most of all, we love Dubai and we love showing this wonderful city to our guests. Furthermore, our passion for this city is contagious and it will leave you energized.

Walking Tours, Best Dubai walking tour

Dubai By Foot is one of the Top 10 Tour Company Dubai, for Walking Tours

What to expect while on The Best Dubai Walking Tour?

* When you walk with us you get the real scoop. We share history, stories of the past and present, urban legends and fun facts.

* You see the attractions up-close-and-personal, and really get a feel for the city. We are unique in our style and in the design of our tours. We are also flexible and willing to tailor the walk according to your interests.

* You get to interact with the real people of Dubai. These people make the city what it is – a melting pot of cultures. We encourage you to ask questions and engage with the shopkeepers, vendors, cooks and servers. This will allow you to find out their story and how they fit into this amazing culture of tolerance.

* The devil is in the detail – there are so many small structures, architectural nuances, art installations, design elements, historical significances that only our walking tours can capture. It would be a shame for you to come to Dubai and miss these small wonderful things about our city that might get over-shadowed by the mega-structures surrounding us.

*We are affordable, 100% personalized and the most extensive in our offering of private tours for schools, educational instituters, universities, corporates etc. We can also arrange tours in Spanish, German, Chinese or other languages. In addition to the above we can also design very specific  tours, such as architecture, art, food, business opportunities, and so on as per guest requirements.

Come fall in love with Dubai with us!

Want to join us on our signature Old Dubai Tour ? Shoot us an email on and let us know of your interest. We’ll be happy to schedule any walking tour as per your interests and group requirements.


Why Choose a Walking Tour of Dubai?

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See Dubai Up-Close | Dubai Walking Tour

By choosing a walking tour of Dubai, you can see the details of the city up close. Instead of just viewing the big monuments, you can traverse the heart of the city. Our Dubai walking tour gives you to a chance to really soak up the atmosphere and feel the energy of the local crowds. Whether you’re stopping over for a day, or planning a longer visit, we believe a walking tour is the best way to truly experience the city.

The narrow streets of Old Dubai are perfect to explore with a walking tour. We offer a variety of tours, including food tours, art tours and a tour of the historic Al Fahidi District


Stay fit on your trip

Dubai is famed for the amazing variety of food on offer. Whether you’re munching on falafel from a street vendor or tasting a gold-leaf cupcake from a boutique bakery, it’s pretty easy to gain a few extra pounds while in the city. By choosing a walking tour of Dubai, you’ll have an engaging way to keep your fitness levels up – so you can treat yourself later. We encourage you to wear your fit bits on our tour and track your steps!

Want to indulge while staying active? Our Food Tour of Dubai is a walking tour with plenty of stops to try a variety of different cuisines.


Meet new people

There’s no such thing as assigned seating on a walking tour. Instead, you can easily mingle with anyone else walking with you. This makes it a lot easier to meet new travel companions from different backgrounds. Feel free to strike up a conversation with someone around you – you never know where you might find a new friend.


Take Better Photos

Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to take a decent photo from a moving vehicle? By choosing a walking tour of Dubai, you can easily adjust your position, lock the focus and watch the light. Plus, you can always request your guide to take a group photo – no need to rely on selfies.



Heritage Attractions of Dubai

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“Our Union stems from our heritage…the Spirit of the Union paired vision with work, hence cultivating success.” – HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Introduction to Dubai History

The most beautiful, picturesque and tourist-worthy sights in Dubai are its historical attractions, many of which are set around the natural seawater inlet, the Dubai Creek. To understand how Dubai has come to be the trade center of the world, a visit to these heritage attractions are an eye-opening and humbling experience. In addition to their setting against sea water their old, preserved architecture, their style and feel all enhance their charm and aura.

Most importantly, the historical stories that situate them help us understand how this nation has emerged. Furthermore, these stories shed light on the landmarks in its development and the perseverance of its people. In this blog, we will read about the main heritage attractions of Dubai, their highlights and their modern day relevance. Of course, the best way to experience these are to actually walk through them with our expert guides during our signature Old Dubai & Souk Walking Tour. The primary heritage attractions in Dubai can be clubbed together based on their location:

Al Fahidi District ♦ Al Souk Al Kabeer (Bur Dubai) ♦ Al-Shindagha Historical District ♦ Historical Souks District ♦ Al-Ahmadiya Historical District ♦ Jumeirah Mosque

Together, these heritage attractions play host to traditional art and architecture in addition to many different museums, forts, traditional markets (souks), traditional boats (abras), traditional Emirati cuisines and loads of cultural references. A look at the history of this desert town makes you admire its modern day developments even more.

The info-graphic below will help you understand the location of most of the heritage attractions with reference to the always mesmerizing Dubai Creek, which offers stunning views of Bur Dubai and Deira (the two Dubai districts the Creek separates).


 Bird’s Eye View of the Main Attractions Around the Dubai Creek:

  1. Gold Souk
  2. Spice Souk
  3. Dubai Creek
  4. Dubai Heritage Village
  5. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House
  6. Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai (Old Textile Souk)
  7. Dubai Musuem
  8. Al Fahidi District

 Description & Highlights of the Heritage Attractions of Dubai

I. Al Fahidi District

Built in 1859, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood initially was the residential area of wealthy merchants. Till date, their homes are preserved to showcase the traditional Arabic home architecture with their wind-catching Barjeel. Each narrow alley in this unique district features a trip down the historical life that bustled through these characteristic streets. This is a popular stop for tourists owing to its many art cafes, restaurants, boutique hotels, and its very own Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU).

The Al Fahidi Neighborhood is a not-to-miss destination of Dubai – this is where the Dubai Museum, the famous Coffee Museum, and the Ruler’s Divan are also located. The Dubai Museum will help you travel back in time with its almost-real-life displays of what Arab life was like in the past from traditional crafts, traditional occupations such as pearl diving, to traditional clothing. In merely 45 minutes to an hour you can walk through the museum comfortably and soak in rich Emirati history.

The Coffee Museum is very popular among tourists as it features the coffee making and drinking traditions of not just the UAE but also from other parts of the world. You can also enjoy a cup of coffee with some dates inside the café and get refreshed and energized for the rest of your day of sightseeing. The Alserkal Cultural Foundation art gallery and café combo is quintessentially set up inside the winding streets of the Al Fahidi District. Furthermore, the food is exquisite, the ambience mesmerizing and the masterful artwork by local Emirati artists and other burgeoning talents from the Arab world make this center and the Make Art Café a perfect stopover destination.

II. Al Souk Al Kabeer (Bur Dubai)

Al Souk Al Kabeer was a community marketplace in Bur Dubai. It consists of the neighboring districts of Meena Bazaar (the old textile souk) and the adjacent Dubai Creek. On sale here are pashminas, carpets, harem pants, embroidered purses and sequined slippers. It also houses the Grand Mosque of Dubai. The Bur Dubai Grand Mosque, originally built in 1850, is the oldest mosque in Dubai. Furthermore,It boasts of Dubai’s tallest minaret at 70 meters height. A minaret is a tower from which the call to prayer is broadcast. The Grand Mosque features a Persian-style architecture of blue mosaic, domes in addition to its sand-colored façade.

The Dubai Creek offers a spectacular waterfront scenery for Dubai with the abras (motorized water taxis), sifting people back and forth between Bur Dubai and Deira, traditional restaurants such as Bayt Al Wakeel, sunset Dhow cruises and much more. It is interesting to note here that Bayt Al Wakeel was the first office building in Dubai. HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum led the efforts to dredge the creek to widen and deepen it. This Creek expansion became instrumental in positioning Dubai as a major port city in the Middle East. In addition to the waterfront of the Creek itself, the Dubai Creek Park, and the Dubai Creek The Golf Club offer many more choices of activities and fine dining.

III. Al-Shindagha Historical District

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House was the official residence of the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Saaed (1912-1958). He was the grandfather of the present Ruler H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum . The house is located on the Shindagha end of the Dubai Creek, and is a repository of old photographs, coins, stamps in addition to important documents. Earlier, Sheikh Saeed’s House performed many different roles in addition to being the Ruler’s residence. It was the political seat of the government, official meetings, and a place for important gatherings.

Heritage Village, at the opening of the Creek, is a space for artisans, potters and weavers to display their handicrafts. The old Diving Village is currently being renovated in an ambitious plan to transform the Shindagha Historical District into a cultural epicenter to preserve Dubai’s Heritage.

IV. Historical Souks District

Across the Dubai Creek, on the Deira side, is the famous Spice Souk. The Spice Souk features large open displays of spices, dried fruits, and nuts such as saffron, vanilla, zaatar, and agarwood. You can even smell some refreshing menthol. As you walk past the Spice Souk, within a short distance, you find yourself in the Gold Souk.

Dubai is famous for its Gold Souk. Most visitors come here out of curiosity and eagerness to purchase some very high quality gold jewelry at very fair prices. The styles of jewelry offer a range from Western modern designs to traditional eastern sets. You can find pearls and precious stones here. Furthermore the helpful shopkeepers can help you choose something from their vast choices of ingots to intricate jewelry designs. The elaborate displays of gold are a sight in themselves.

V. Al-Ahmadiya Historical District

Al – Ahmadiya School, housed in the Al-Ahmadiya Historical District, was the oldest school of Dubai, established in 1912, in Deira. In 1994, the Dubai Government restored the school by converting it to a historical museum. The museum sheds lights on the passion and emphasis on the sciences,. Furthermore it gives insights into educational efforts centered around Dubai’s traditional society. Even though resources were scarce, the efforts of traders and philanthropists helped keep up the high standard of education at the school.

VI. Jumeirah Mosque

The Jumeirah Mosque is one of the few mosques in the UAE that is open for public visits. It is the locus for the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding’s “Open Doors – Open Minds” program. In order to help build cross-cultural ties and understanding, the Jumeirah Mosque is open to non-Muslims as well. It is built in the Fatimi style of architecture with its two minarets standing tall and proud. A visit to this landmark mosque is a unique opportunity to learn about Islam, and the Emirati culture. Visits also feature water, dates, Arabic coffee and traditional pastries. Modest attire is recommended out of respect for the local cultural norms.

The mission of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority ( is:

“To enrich the cultural scene by maintaining a sustainable cultural ecosystem while preserving the Emirati Heritage and nurturing talents to enhance cultural diversity and social cohesion”.

Aligning with this mission, the Heritage attractions of Dubai are all well maintained. These attractions bring their own significance and charm to the modern day developments around them.

Even Meraas, a large development group in Dubai is presently working on a new project called Al Seef. It is located right on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek where most of the Heritage Attractions are situated. This project aims at transforming the old heart of Dubai to enjoy a new atmosphere of cafes, restaurants and shops. Furthermore the shows, events and cultural activities here attract people from all over to the original historic waterfront. This is where fishermen, pearl-divers, weavers and tradesmen once came together. This respect and pride towards Emirati history and culture makes Dubai an ideal platform for diverse cultural exchange and innovation, both in the Middle East, in the Arab World, and also globally.


In the words of the wise late Sheikh Zayed, “A nation without a past is a nation without a present or a future. Thanks to God, our nation has a flourishing civilization, deep rooted in this land for many centuries. These roots will always flourish and bloom in the glorious present of our nation and in its anticipated future.”


Traditional Emirati Food

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Dubai is a food lover’s paradise. The huge influx of expatriates means that one can find cuisine from every part of the globe here – spicy Indian curries, tender Iranian kebabs, rich Italian pastas and more. In the midst of all this, one might even forget the local delicacies the emirate has to offer. You’ll find plenty of Levantine dishes on offer here, including hummus, a smooth dip made of chickpeas and sesame paste, and shawarma, a sandwich made with meat that has been roasted on a spit. However, the traditional Emirati food is its own unique cuisine that pays tribute to the area’s geography, climate and culture. In this post, we will provide a guide to the country’s traditional food and help you figure out what traditional food to eat when in Dubai.

To experience the variety of cuisine Dubai has to offer, check out one of our food tours!

Introduction to the Traditional Emirati Food

Traditional Emirati meals focused on meat from animals such as camels and goats, or fish caught from the Arabian Sea. Today, you’ll see dishes prepared with chicken as well, but the local populace’s access to chicken only really occurred after the oil boom. Before that, the ancient Emiratis would cook indigenous birds such as Houbara bustards.

The ancestors of the local Dubai community, known as Bedouins, were people who travelled across the desert. Because of this, many of the meals incorporate complex carbohydrates, in order to provide the travellers with energy. Most of the dishes have delicate flavoring of spices like turmeric, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon. These are spices that hail from India, indicating the influence that trade with Indian merchants had on their cuisine.

To learn more about life in Dubai before the oil boom, check out one of our Old Dubai Walking Tours

Main Meals

For a main course, one-pot dishes tended to be the most popular option for those who dwelled in Old Dubai. This is because they reduced the number of dishes to wash (important in a desert climate) and simplified the food’s transportation (useful for people who were often travelling). If you want to eat a traditional, local meal in Dubai, some good menu options to try are:


Harees is one of the most popular Emirati dishes and is frequently served at weddings in addition to religious holidays. It’s preparation involves cooking meat together with wheat in a pot, along with a generous dash of salt. The mixture is cooked until the meat melts into the wheat, and the combination is thickened over coals. The final result is very moreish.


Thereed is a rich and comforting stew, similar to a Moroccan tagine. The stew combines succulent meat with a selection of slow-roasted vegetables – potatoes, tomatoes, marrow and pumpkin. What makes it unique, however, is the addition of the thin Emirati flatbread known as rigag. The bread is generally placed at the bottom of the dish, with the stew layered on top of it. This allows for the flavors of the stew to really sink in.


This is a rice dish made with meat or fish, similar to an Indian biryani. What really sets it apart is the fragrant combination of spices used to flavor it – turmeric, cumin, cardamom and saffron, to name a few. The secret ingredient is the addition of a dried lemon, known as loomy. It provides a brightness and a zest that really makes the dish.


Over the years, the Emiratis have developed a great collection of desserts and sweet. Our favorite traditional Emirati desserts are:


This is probably the most popular traditional Emirati dessert. It consists of small deep-fried dumplings, that are then soaked in a sweet, sticky date syrup known as dibbs. These little things are addictive and an absolute must-try.


This is a dish made from vermicelli noodles and eggs. The mixture is cooked with sugar and spices, to create a salty-sweet dish that brilliantly combines the crunchiness of the noodles with the fluffiness of the eggs. This dish is sometimes had for breakfast as well (at least it has protein!).

Where to go

Of course, we would be remiss in telling you about what traditional food to eat in the UAE with telling you where to go to find traditional food.

Our top picks for restaurants that serve the local food of the UAE are:

Seven Sands

This restaurant is named after the seven emirates. Located in the trendy JBR area, it boasts striking décor in a bold Arabian aesthetic – great for any selfies you want to take.  It also has a great variety of non-alcoholic drinks – try the date frappé (not exactly traditional, but still delicious)

Al Fanar

This restaurant has multiple branches in the UAE. You can find it in Festival City Mall, Town Center Mall and Jumeirah Road.  Its extensive reach is a marker of just how good the food is, and furthermore the plethora of Emirati diners behind its doors just highlights it. The décor is meant to mimic the inside of a traditional Emirati house, which provides a great ambiance.

Arabian Tea House

This eatery boasts a prime location in Dubai’s historic Al Fahidi district. When it comes to tradition, it’s hard to get a more authentic ambiance. The restaurant offers a combination of local Emirati fare, pan-Arabian favorites and even a few continental options such as pasta, which makes it a great option for tourists.

Karak and Rigag

This is a budget-friendly option. Try coming here for some luqaimat served with karak (strong tea). You can further more find a selection of Arabic breads, which you can have plain or with fillings like cheese or potato chips. Not the most traditional, but a great way to try some modernized versions of the old favorites.

We hope you find our guide to traditional Emirati food in Dubai helpful. If you want more recommendations on what to eat when in Dubai, leave us a comment and we’ll help you out. Alternatively, why not try one of our food tours to have an experienced guide walk you through the different cuisines of the United Arab Emirates?


Best Dubai Hotel Suggestions

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Dubai is known as a tourist destination. So, naturally, it is home to variety of hotels to suit every budget. In addition to the beachfront properties with access to sea and shore and the towering skyscrapers located in the heart of the city; budget hotels located in the older parts of the city are also available. Below, we’ve given a quick rundown of some of our favorite hotels in Dubai.

Budget Hotel List | Best Dubai Hotel

Landmark Grand Deira

This Dubai hotel is great for people who want to explore the city’s historic districts, while staying in a modern hotel. The rooms here are lovely and spacious and come with complimentary WiFi. However, the hotel’s main advantage lies in its location by the glistening waters of the Dubai Creek and the bustling souqs where you can haggle for gold, textiles, perfumes and spices. The hotel is also relatively close to the airport, making it a popular destination for business travellers as well.

City MAX Hotel, Bur Dubai:

The rooms at CityMax hotel are bright and friendly – a welcoming place to lay your head after a long day exploring the city (not to mention, the rooms are even wheel-chair accessible!). This hotel offers great breakfast, perfect for filling you up before you head out to explore for the day. It’s a short trip from this hotel to Dubai’s popular historical district, where you can see ancient houses, wander around the Dubai Museum and catch a ride on the traditional wooden abra boat.

Our Historical Dubai Tour will guide you throughout this area and provide you with interesting facts about the region’s heritage.  

Marco Polo Deira Dubai

The Marco Polo Deira is located within walking distance to two Dubai metro stations. For travellers looking to save money, we recommend looking for a hotel in Dubai with easy access to public transport – the money you save by avoiding cabs quickly adds up. The Marco Polo Deira takes it a step further by offering a free daily shuttle to one of Dubai’s beautiful beaches. This hotel is also close to the souqs and the Dubai Creek, and it offers free High Speed Internet Access to guests.

Our Historical Dubai Tour will guide you throughout the souks and provide you with interesting facts about the region’s heritage.  

Mark Inn Hotel Deira

Mark Inn Hotel Deira a 2 star hotel in the galaxy of Hotels in Dubai but it dwells in light and excels in service above it’s greater stars to meet your expectation and value for your money.

It is located in Deira near Baniyas Metro Station and is 15 minutes away from Dubai International Airport -1.

It has 52 rooms elegantly decorated with 24 hour room service and complimentary WIFI.

Ibis al Rigga

This is another hotel located in the historical district, with views of the Dubai Creek and access to the modern and traditional shopping areas of the city. It is only 10 minutes away from Dubai Airport, making it a popular option for business travellers as well and it is just quick walk to Al Rigga metro Station. If you’re looking to while away some time at the hotel, Ibis offers several options, from a fitness center (all the better to burn away the ‘tourist ten’) and a 24 lounge café.

Mid Range Hotel List | Best Dubai Hotel

Hayatt Regency Dubai

This hotel is a bit pricier than others in Deira –  however, you’ll find that thanks to its location, it is cheaper than other 5 star hotels in the city. Therefore, it’s the perfect option for someone looking to experience a luxury stay in a less-expensive location. It’s situated by the Creek’s cornice, providing a beautiful spot for an evening promenade near the city’s cultural locale.

The Oberoi Dubai

The Oberoi is a beautiful luxury hotel situated in Downtown Dubai. Its prime location in Downtown Dubai allows its guests a gorgeous view of Dubai’s most famous landmark, the Burj Khalifa. The hotel is also conveniently located in near the world-famous Dubai Mall, which offers a variety of dining and entertainment options. Within the hotel, guests can bask in luxury furnishings including hand-woven rugs and specially commissioned artwork.

Shangrila Hotel

Shagri-La means paradise and this Dubai hotel is certainly that! It is situated in the bustling Downtown Dubai district, but the hotel itself feels like an oasis of peace. It features a plethora of gourmet dining options, a luxury spa and beautifully appointed rooms.

Le Royal Meridian Beach Resort & Spa

Dubai is home to some beautiful beaches. If you want to ensure that your stay provides you with access to them, you can’t go wrong with Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, situated by the sparkling blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. Furthermore, the hotel is located right across the luxury beachfront promenade JBR the Walk, which combines beach views with trendy shopping and dining outlets. It’s great for someone looking to experience both the beach and the city.

Roda Al Murooj

This Downtown Dubai hotel has a relaxed vibe, with a temperature controlled outdoor-pool and some of the friendliest staff in the business. It also boasts a great central location in Downtown Dubai. What is more, it’s an easy walk to the metro, allowing guests the freedom to explore beyond the city’s hub.

Splurge Hotels List | Best Dubai Hotel

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab is one of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai and in the world. It’s one of the most eye-catching buildings on the Dubai skyline, shaped like a sail rising up from the sea. Inside, it’s even more phenomenal, with gorgeous fountains, a rainbow atrium and the finest in furnishings. The hotel is also home to some of the city’s trendiest bars and most exclusive dining experiences. Your stay at the Burj Al Arab would be the epitome of luxury. Expect amenities such as personal butlers, chauffer-driven Rolls-Royce rides and discreet in-suite check-ins. You need not worry about hordes of wandering tourists looking to take photos. Entrance to the Burj Al Arab is by appointment only.

One & Only Royal Mirage Hotel

Located in the Dubai Marina, the One & Only is aptly named. You are unlikely to find a hotel like it anywhere in the world. The hotel is reminiscent of an opulent palace, with lush gardens and towering architecture. One of the hotel’s major attractions is the variety of restaurants on offer – mouth-watering Mediterranean, elegant European, exotic Moroccan and fresh seafood grill.

Come with us on a culinary adventure onto the streets of Dubai. Our Dubai Food Tour will guide you through the different cuisines in this region from Falafel to Samosas to Camel Milk Icecream!

Jumeirah Dar al Masyaf – Madinat Jumeirah

This Dubai hotel is a particular favourite for families, thanks to its unlimited access to the Wild Wadi water park. The park ensures fun for the families, but it is hardly the hotel’s only amenity. It boasts a private beach and the option of renting luxury ‘summerhouses’ done in the Arabian Majlis style. The hotel is also only steps away from Souk Madinant Jumeirah. This modern Souk offers a shopping experience which combines the atmosphere of a traditional Arabian souk with the amenities of the modern world (like air-conditioning and luxury brands!).


Raffles Dubai is home to some of the largest rooms and suites in Dubai. It is situated near Wafi Mall, which is known for its Egyptian styling (Raffles itself is shaped like a pyramid). The hotel is a short drive to Downtown Dubai. Furthermore, the slight distance from the hub allows for some lovely views of the Dubai skyline.

Address Dubai Marina

This Dubai hotel overlooks the beautiful Dubai Marina, allowing guests to enjoy the glistening waters and the gliding sailboats. Furthermore, the trendy area is home to night lounges, upscale shops and fine dining establishments. What is more, the hotel itself it connected to the lovely Dubai Marina Mall, ensuring that guests always have a place to wander (and shop!)

Atlantis the Palm

As you may have guessed from the name, Atlantis the Palm is located on the world famous “Palm Island”. This island is shaped like the fronds of a palm tree. The entire hotel follows an aquatic theme, with a giant aquarium, world-renowned water park, beach club and dolphin cove as just some of the hotel’s attractions. In addition, the hotel is home to over 21 restaurants. We are particularly fond of the seafood offerings, as the hotel’s location off the coastline ensures that the catch is always fresh.

The various attraction within Atlantis are as follows:

Aquaventure Water Park: From water slides to shark safaris aquaventure has it all. It has received the “World Travel Award” and is considered middle east’s leading Water Park.

Dolphin Bay: The Dolphin Bay allows for a fun encounter with Dolphins. You can click photos as well as  swim and scuba diving with them.

The Lost Chamber: Enjoy Hourly Myth Tours and Aquatheatre Shows and discover the lost world of Atlantis.

Nasimi Beach: Dine by the Beach or Party at night, Nasimi Beach Restaurant is one of Dubai’s Hottest Clubs. Furthermore, enjoy cuisine ranging from Grilled Sea Food to Lamb Koftas to Fresh Sushi.

Adding to the above Atlantis The Palm has over 21 world renowned restaurants like Kaleidoscope, Saffron, Asia Republic, Bread Street, Plato’s etc. These restaurants offer a wide array of cuisine ranging from Fresh Seafood, to mouth watering pastries and funky cocktails.

Atlantis is located at the tip of the Jumeirah Palm Island. In addition to offering an unparalleled view of the Dubai Coastline it offers a mesmerizing view of the Arabian Ocean. It is one of the top holiday Resorts in the Middle East for adults and children alike.

If you are looking for this adventure to add lifelong memories to your Dubai Trip, check out our tour packages page and deals and deals and discounts blog


Whichever hotel you decide to stay in Dubai, you are bound to experience the Arabian hospitality that makes the city such a popular tourist destination. Whether you splurge or save, you’ll never feel more welcomed.