Doing Business in Dubai

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Dubai is a country that is very friendly to visitors. It’s great for tourists, as our many walking tours can attest. Doing Business in Dubai is also equally great. Starting up a business in Dubai can be hugely beneficial – you have a prime location in the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, access to a talented workforce and the attraction of working in a country with limited to no taxation. In this post, we’ll give you an overview of what’s involved in setting up a business in the UAE.

What type of company to open for doing business in Dubai ?

There are two main types of businesses that foreign investors and entrepreneurs can set up in Dubai – an LLC or a Freezone


For small business, an LLC (also referred to as a mainland company) is the most common and the easiest choice. With an LLC, you will only own 49% of the business. The other 51% will be owned by an Emirati national or a company that is wholly owned by Emirati nationals. And yes, Emirati partners are actually required to show their family book, to prove their heritage.

Through an LLC, the foreign investor will have the opportunity to obtain UAE residence visas for themselves, their family members and a certain number of employees.

There are multiple business setup consultancies within the UAE, who help with the paperwork and logistics of setting up a business in the country. These consultancies are often the best way to get connected with an Emirati sponsor. Most of them are likely to already have a list of Emiratis who they work with. In most cases, you will have to pay the Emirati partner an annual fee in return for their sponsorship. This fee will vary based on the sponsor, so feel free to ask around to see where you can find the rate that is right for you. Generally, the partner does not demand a percentage of your company’s profits, nor is he likely to involve himself in your business decisions. So in exchange for paying this annual sponsorship fee, you get 100% of the profits and a silent partner.

Other Requirements to setup an LLC:

Setting up an LLC also requires that you have a physical office. You will need to pay 5% of that space’s market rent to the government as part of your licensing cost, so be sure to factor that in when choosing a space. The office requirement exists even if you plan to work virtually from home. If that’s the case for you, a consultancy can help you find an appropriate office space to lease, in order to meet the licensing requirements.

We also recommend taking some time to fully think through the name of your LLC. There are certain rules you’ll need to follow. The name cannot reference God/Allah, cannot be obscene and cannot include parts of existing brand names. The name also needs to reflect the company’s business activity. So you can’t just choose a generic name. For instance, if you start a contracting company, the name will need to be along the lines of “‘XYZ’ Contracting”. Additionally, including certain words in your trade name, like ‘Emirates’, ‘Gulf’, ‘East’, ‘West’ or ‘International’ will lead to an additional license charge, so make sure you’re willing to pay that.

Is there a minimum capitol requirement to setup an LLC?

There is no minimum capital requirement to set up an LLC. However, there are costs associated with the initial set up of an LLC company. This number can vary drastically based on a variety of factors, including the name you choose, the rent of your office space, the agreement you make with your local sponsor, whether you are working with a business set-up consultancy and even the type of activity you are getting a license for. As an example, setting up an LLC to carry out General Trading could cost approximately AED 30,000, but it could be half that for a different business activity. In general, incorporating an LLC takes about 4-6 weeks.

Free Zone

Instead of setting up an LLC, foreign entrepreneurs also have the option of setting up a company in one of the UAE’s designated Free Zones. A Free Zone company is often an attractive option for foreign entrepreneurs. This is so because it does not require partnering with an Emirati sponsor. You can own 100% of your business. Through setting up a Free Zone company, you also have the option of obtaining residence visas for yourself, your family and a certain number of employees.

The Free Zones have a special tax, customs and imports regime. They are governed by their own framework of regulations (with the exception of UAE criminal law). Companies set up in a Free Zone receive 100% import and export tax exemptions, so this is a great option for any business involving the movement of goods in and out of the UAE. These companies also receive corporate tax exemption for up to 50 years.

There are more than 37 different Free Zones in the UAE, including some that are currently under construction. Each Free Zone centers on one or more particular business industries. If you want to set up a business in a particular Free Zone, your business activity needs to match the industry of that Free Zone.

Some of the most popular Free Zones are:

DMCC – Dubai Multi Commodities Centre – This is the UAE’s largest and fastest-growing Free Zone. It focuses on the trading of commodities like gold, diamonds, pearls and tea. Furthermore it also offers licenses for businesses trading in other goods.

DAFZ – Dubai Airport Free Zone – This Free Zone offers three types of licenses – Trade (imports, exports, storage and distribution of goods), Service and Industry (light industrial activities, packaging and assembling).

DIFC – Dubai International Financial Center – This Free Zone focuses on banking, financial services, insurance, and wealth and asset management.

DSO – Dubai Silicon Oasis – This Free Zone focuses on companies operating in the tech space, including IT, telecom, engineering, software, biotech and green energy. Consulting companies can also operate here.

D3 – Dubai Design District – This is a trendy Free Zone dedicated to the design community, both established brands and start-ups.

Dubai Internet City – This Free Zone is for companies operating in the ICT space. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle have set up in this Free Zone.

twofour54 – Located in Abu Dhabi, this Free Zone is aimed at companies operating in the media space. It includes television, print and public relations companies.

Masdar City – This is another Free Zone located in Abu Dhabi. Its focus is on companies operating in the renewable energy space. Interestingly, the entire city was designed to run on solar power, making it a one of a kind spot.

Choosing the Right Freezone:

Choosing the right Free Zone company is important. The minimum capital requirement of your Free Zone company will depend on which Free Zone you choose. Setting up in twofour54, for instance, requires no capital requirement. On the other hand DMCC requires AED 50,000 per company and AED 10,000 per shareholder. Additionally, the name you can choose, the set up fees you have to pay and the time needed for incorporation will all depend on the Free Zone.

Dubai by Foot can help you get the lay of the land as you are deciding whether to launch your business in the UAE. If you contact us, we can arrange a private tour showing you some of your mainland and Free Zone options, to help you make the right decision for yourself and your business.

Marsa Al Seef – The Creek Dubai

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There’s a new cultural hotspot in Dubai! Marsa al Seef !

Marsa Al Seef, which stretches 1.8km along the Dubai Creek, has just opened its first phase to the public. The area borders the Al Fahidi Historical District. This a region of Dubai that’s very close to us here at Dubai by Foot. In fact, it’s the site of our most popular walking tour, which is our Old Dubai Tour. Furthermore, we use our tour as a chance to look at Dubai’s past and contextualize the Dubai that we see in the present.

Marsa Al Seef was designed along the same lines. The area has a strong cultural and historical component. Furthermore, there are galleries that sell Emirati artwork and boutiques where one can admire traditional dress. Visitors to the area will also have a chance to see examples of traditional Emirati occupations like pearl diving, fishing and boat building. The surrounding area has been designed with an interconnected waterway system. This allows visitors to also have the chance to glide across the water on wooden dhows, just as Dubai’s first traders once did. It’s like having a touch of Venice in the Middle East.

Further nods to the city’s past are also in the pipeline. The next phase of the project is set to incorporate an authentic souk. These souqs will be based off of the ones present in Dubai in the 1950s. The open-air market will be a chance for visitors to browse and purchase a variety of hand-made goods. Furthermore it will soon become a popular destination for tourists looking to bring home authentic, original souvenirs.

What to look out for in Marsa Al Seef?

Beyond this homage to the city’s past,  Al Seef has also been designed to fit into the city’s current image as a cosmopolitan hub. Along the waterfront promenade, one will find a selection of retail stores and cafés. Some of the options already open include a Lebanese-American restaurant (great for kebabs and dips like humuus), a high-end Italian gelato shop, and a homegrown community coffee house. When the project is complete, the area will be home to over 500 shops, galleries and eateries. Some of the restaurants in Al Seef are even being designed as floating restaurants. This will allow them to take advantage of the waterways surrounding the area. Another cool aspect of these waterways – if people want to avoid congestion on the roads, they can choose to arrive via water taxi, or even their own private yacht!

For visitors to Dubai, Al Seef’s cross-section of the old and new elements of the city make it a great place to stay. It offers the chance to truly experience the different aspects of the city. Luckily, there are to be three hotels in the district. Two of the hotels will be modern in design, and located in the more contemporary area of the district. The other hotel, however, will be a heritage hotel, located on the historical side and incorporating authentic Arabian hospitality.

Who is he developer for Marsa Al Seef?

The Al Seef district is being developed by Meraas. Their previous developments include The Beach at JBR and Citywalk. With that pedigree, Al Seef is set to be a top destination for anyone who wants to enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment in a unique and stylish locale.

Now that phase one is open, we recommend heading on out to experience what the location has to offer. And if you’ve finished one of our walking tours of the neighboring Al Fahidi District, we might just head over to Al Seef with you!

Famous Places to Visit in the UAE

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When people think of the UAE, they automatically think of Dubai – the skyscrapers, the hotels, the shopping malls, the souqs. It is easy to forget that Dubai is just one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE – and that it’s easy for visitors to Dubai to make a trip to any one of these emirates in order to see these amazing attractions outside Dubai. After you have gone on a tour of Dubai, why not look further and see what the other emirates have to offer?

Here, we offer a list of some of the best attractions outside Dubai in the UAE:

Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.  Furthermore, it is one of the world’s largest mosques and features over 1000 domes, the world’s largest hand-knitted carpet and one of the world’s largest chandeliers. The entire surrounding area is breathtaking as well, as the mosque is surrounded by reflective pools that add to the site’s peace and beauty. We recommend checking out the 5pm sunset tour. If you arrive at 4:30, you’ll have a chance to take some gorgeous photos at dusk, before the tour starts.

Check out our guide to mosque dress codes here.

Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace is a hotel, but it has also become a landmark in its own right. It is beautifully designed, with the building’s colors chosen to reflect the different shades of sand found in the Arabian Desert. The sense of luxury is prevalent in the building’s interiors, with gold, mother of pearl and crystal all incorporated. Whether you want to marvel at the shimmering chandeliers, wander the lush gardens, witness the unique evening lighting scheme or take tea in one of the cafés, the Emirates Palace is a great place to bask in true luxury and hospitality.

Ferrari World

Yes, this is a Ferrari themed amusement park. It is located on Yas Island, in Abu Dhabi. furthermore, this park is home to the world’s fastest roller-coaster, Formula Rossa, which reaches 100 km/hr in only two seconds. It’s so fast, riders are required to wear safety goggles! Beyond the thrilling racing rides, there are also more sedate options, including virtual history tours, educational movies and driving simulators. There’s even the option to do some shopping and pick up some Ferrari branded merchandise to take home. It’s a great option if you are looking for something fun to do in Abu Dhabi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a 24,000 sq km museum, set to open in November of 2017. It is part of collaboration with the famous Louvre in Paris, so art lovers can expect a similar level of quality to be on display. In particular, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will focus on bridging the divide between Eastern and Western art. We don’t have the final list of the museum’s catalogue yet, but it has been confirmed to include works by Da Vinci, Matisse, Van Gogh and Monet.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, which will be home to various other museums and cultural attractions as well. Furthermore, it’s shaping up to be a great visiting spot for tourists interested in arts and culture.

Jebel Hafeet

 Jebel Hafeet is one of the highest mountain peaks within the UAE. It’s known for the incredible fossil discoveries that have been made in the area. Over 500 ancient burial tombs, dating back over 5000 years, have been found in the foothills of this mountain. This mountain is a popular tourist site because it is relatively easy for visitors to access by car or even bicycle. Onece you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views.


Sharjah Arts Museum

With the Louvre Abu Dhabi about to open up, some might wonder why they should visit the Sharjah Arts Museum. However, this state-of the-art facility has a rich collection of works that would be of interest to any art aficionado. The collection is spread over 72 galleries. What makes it particularly unique is the museum’s focus on art that reflects the Arab World. You’ll find 18th century paintings done by travellers to the Middle East, representing the foreign perspective of the land. And you’ll also find contemporary artwork by local artists, showing how they see their homeland. The Sharjah Arts Museum is a great way to remember the breadth of perspective in art and is one of the must visit attractions outside Dubai.

Central Market

The Sharjah Central Market is a shopping center known for the wide variety of merchandise on display. The upper floors have a souq-like atmosphere, selling carpets, gold, perfumes and other exotic offerings.  The market also sells cotemporary merchandise like toys and electronics. The exterior of the central market is quite eye-catching on its own. It’s done up with intricately patterned blue tiles, earning it the colloquial name of the Blue Souk.


Al Bidyah Mosque

 The Al Bidyah mosque is not as glamorous as some of the other mosques in the area; in fact, it is actually made out of mud bricks. This mosque is the oldest one in the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a great insight into what early worship looked like in the country. The area surrounding this mosque was revealed to have a massive Islamic graveyard, including a tomb with artifacts dating back to 1000 BC.

Heritage Village

 The Heritage Village of Fujairah shows what life was like in the ancient times of Fujairah. Here, you’ll find models of traditional homes and examples of ancient tools that will show you what early life was like in this desert city. The Heritage Village is also near the Fujairah Fort, which is the oldest fort in the UAE. In addition to being a place of defense, this fort was also once home to the ruling family, which certainly makes it a point of interest for anyone who wishes to experience more of the UAE’s history. And if you’d like to know more, Fujairah Museum is located just to the south, and showcases ancient weaponry from the Silver and Bronze Age.

Ras Al Khaimah

Hajar Mountains

Hajar Mountains are a beautiful mountain range in the eastern part of the UAE. It is the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula. Furthermore, it is home to stunning vistas, winding trails and charming villages, making it a great spot for a road trip. The area is home to a variety of flora and fauna as well, so it is a great place to do some hiking and bird watching. There is plenty of different scenery on offer, from craggy mountain faces to picturesque wadis. If you’re an adventurous tourist looking to explore, this mountain range should definitely be on your list.


The UAE is a fascinating country. There’s something interesting to see, do or explore in every corner. We hope you found this list of attractions outside Dubai to be helpful. Furthermore, we hope they show you a well-rounded view of all the UAE has to offer.

If you would like to visit any of these amazing sites which lie outside Dubai, feel free to email us for a private tour.

Dhow Cruise on the Marina

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What is a Dhow?

A Dhow is a traditional Arab sea-trading vessel usually made of durable wood. Dhows have been innate part of the Emirati history. The trade of pearls, spices and gold were the largest sources of income for the UAE for many years in the past. When in Dubai, you can see that traditional dhows are still sailing into the Dubai Creek. They trade spices and textiles with Iran and other neighboring countries in the Gulf region. They are often parked on the Diera side of the Dubai Creek in Old Dubai and can be seen up close on our Old Dubai Walking Tour.

In Dubai, you can experience a Dhow from the inside, on an orchestrated Dhow Cruise on the Dubai Marina. The Dhow is parked in the waters of the Dubai Marina which is lined on both sides with some of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. The Dhow itself sparkles with lights in the dark as it slowly treads the quite waters. If you are into night-time photography, there are some very good photo opportunities on this cruise.

Dhow Cruise Dubai Marina General Itinerary:

The Dhow has a capacity of 200 guests. The Dhow Cruise features a buffet dinner as well. After being picked up from your hotel, you are brought to the JBR end of the Dubai Marina to board the Dhow. Typically the Dhow sails around 8:30PM but these times change subject to weather and the Holy month of Ramadan. When on the Dhow you are seated along with other guests and offered a soft drink and some snacks. The lower deck of the Dhow is fully air-conditioned and hence comfortable for guests throughout the year.


After the Dhow sails, the buffet dinner opens. Also there are live performances such as Tanoura dance. The sail time is usually 90 minutes to 2 hours. The dinner is usually Indian food with some selections of Arabic cuisine. The Dhow is a pleasant experience for those who are looking for an evening activity in Dubai. It allows people to wind-down, chill out and look out at the lovely Dubai skyline.

While Dhow Cruise on the Marina is a popular tourist activity in Dubai, in the past, it has received mixed reviews from guests. While the sail times are pre-determined, sometimes the Dhow is delayed in its start time. There is no live commentary or guided tour when on the Dhow. Therefore sometimes it is difficult to learn about the route, or the buildings and attractions built on the Dubai Marina.

What is the Best Time to Go on a Dhow Cruise?

The Dhow experience can be most enjoyable if you are in a large private group of your own. It is also best suited in the prime winter weather of December through February. During these months you can stand out on the upper deck and soak in the views in the cool Dubai breeze.

Expo 2020 – Dubai by Foot

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If you’ve visited Dubai Airport recently, you may have seen some signs – “Proud Hosts of Expo 2020”. This might lead people to wonder – what exactly is World Expo 2020? And why should I care about it? In this post, we’ll answer some of the common questions tourists might have about the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai, and tell you why you should get excited about this incredible event.

 What is Expo 2020?

Expo 2020 can be seen as a type of “World Fair,” showcasing the best innovations that mankind has to offer. It will consist of a series of pavilions connected by common themes that apply to all of humanity. The Expo provides a platform for the world’s best and brightest to display their most creative and ingenious ideas. For example, Expo 2015 included inventions like solar trees and energy-saving elevators.

When is Expo 2020?

World Expo 2020 is set to open on October 20th, 2020 and close on April 10th, 2021.

Where is Expo 2020 held?

Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai. Specifically, the Expo site is in Dubai South, which is close to Al Maktoum International Airport. The site itself will cover an area of almost 4.5 square kilometers.

How was Dubai chosen as the site for Expo 2020?

To get the privilege of hosting this event, Dubai was required to submit a bid. In this bid, the head of the Expo 2020 committee highlighted Dubai’s strong infrastructure, its residents’ support of the bid and the city’s commitment to making this expo an extraordinary one. Happily, Dubai was successful, receiving 116 out of 164 votes. The announcement of the win caused fireworks to go up by the Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed announced a holiday for educational institutions in the city.

How do I get to the Expo 2020 Dubai site?

If you’re a visitor, the best way of getting to the Expo 2020 site will be via the Dubai Metro. Currently, the Dubai Metro line is being extended to reach the Expo 2020 site. This extension is referred to as Route 2020, and it will link to the Dubai Metro Red Line. Furthermore, the Expo 2020 site metro station is set to be the biggest and most eco-friendly station in the Dubai Metro network, capable of handing an incredible 46,000 passengers per hour.

Nervous about potentially having to ride the metro? Don’t worry about it – the Dubai Metro is super easy to use. We’ve written a guide about it here.

 If you would prefer to drive, the government is set to build over 30,000 parking spaces at the fringe of the Expo 2020 site, making it accessible by car as well.

What is the theme for Expo 2020 Dubai?

Expo 2020 centers on the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” This links back to three main ideas – “Opportunity”, ”Mobility” and  “Sustainability”, which will drive the Exhibition displays.

What will people see at the Expo 2020 Dubai site?

The Expo 2020 site has a lot of really cool features. The plaza will be encased by a dome. At night, that dome will serve as a 360 degree screen, projecting a series of images both on the inside and the outside. Inside the dome, you’ll find the pavilions as well as features like fountains, parks and waterfalls. The dome is partially open at the top, so there’s no need to worry about the arena feeling stale.

Each participating country will have its own pavilion at the exhibition, with every pavilion featuring inventions and innovations hailing from that country. Even the UAE will have its own specialized pavilion, done up in an outline of a falcon. There will also be specialized pavilions focusing on the three main themes –  sustainability, mobility and opportunity,

I won’t be in Dubai when #Expo2020 is taking place! Can I still check out the site afterwards?

Fortunately, a good part of the Expo 2020 site will remain up even after the Expo has officially ended. For instance, the UAE pavilion, with its falcon design, will remain unchanged from what it was during the Expo, and the plaza dome will continue to grow a lush garden within its sphere. Other buildings will remain up, but will undergo a renovation inside. For instance, the Sustainability Pavilion will be transformed into a center for child and scientific education. More than being a strictly business space, the District 2020 area will be more of a community hub more than a strictly business space, making it a welcome area for visitors.

Will Dubai by Foot be offering a tour of the #Expo2020 site?

 It’s a bit early to plan a tour of a site that hasn’t finished construction yet, but we have definite plans to add the exciting District 2020 area to our collection of Dubai tours.

Expo 2020 is a perfect fit for a city like Dubai, with its focus on building connections, encouraging innovation and promoting sustainability. Furthermore, we’re incredibly excited for the upcoming Expo, and feel that it will be an extraordinary experience for visitors. We’ve already started the countdown!

Dubai Landmarks

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Iconic and Famous Buildings in Dubai

Dubai is known for its incredible skyline of towering skyscrapers, many of which are record-breakers in some form or the other. Most of these skyscrapers feature distinctive architectural features to make them stand out against the already impressive crowd. Any visitor to Dubai with a passing interest in architecture (or even someone who just likes landmarks that look cool) will be impressed by what the city has to offer. Here, we have given a list of the top ten skyscrapers in Dubai.

Almas Tower

Almas Tower is also known as Diamond Tower. It is a flagship building in the Jumeirah Lake Towers area of Dubai. The building is home to the Dubai Multi Commodities Center and includes facilities for the region’s rich gemstone industry – particularly, pearls, cultivated from the Arabian Gulf, and diamonds. This is the reason for the buildings colloquial name. In fact, the podium where the diamond exchange takes place was designed to resemble the triangular facets of a cut diamond. Security for the building is intense, due to the nature of the work carried out inside. You can still take some beautiful exterior shots.

Cayan Tower

The official name for this building is Cayan Tower. However, you’ll still find people referring to it by its previous name, Infinity Tower, or by its colloquial name, Twisting Tower. No matter what you call it, the fact remains that this is one of the most architecturally unique skyscrapers in Dubai. The building was designed to twist at a 90 degree angle, so the entire structure resembles a helix.  You’ll often see tourists looking to take a photo with the building – it’s that striking. Another interesting fact is that the building is also environmentally sustainable – the architects carefully placed the rooms in the structure in order to prevent overheating. It’s a great example of sustainability and style.

Princess Tower

Princess Tower is the second tallest skyscraper in Dubai and the 24th tallest building in the world. What is more, up until 2015, it additionally held the distinction of being the tallest residential building in the world as well. The tower is named ‘Princess’ because the roof resembles a crown placed atop the building. It’s located in the same area as Cayan Tower, so if you’re doing an architectural tour, you can easily fit both into your itinerary.

Cayan Tower and Princess Tower are two stops on our self-guided tour of JBR/Dubai Marina.


If you’ve ever enjoyed the Little Mermaid, you’ll adore this luxury hotel resort. For one, it is located on the Palm, a man-made island shaped like a palm tree. That’s pretty interesting on its own. However, when you reach the hotel itself, you’ll truly feel that you’ve stepped into an oceanic paradise. The hotel itself resembles a palace, with turrets and sweeping arches. Inside, you’ll find a combination of Moorish architecture with a distinctly nautical twist – think twisting spires embossed with a fish-scale pattern. The hotel is definitely worth a visit to see the cross between of whimsy and tradition.

 Burj Al Arab

The hotel is world-famous for a good reason. It’s resembles a majestic sail rising up from the beautiful blue water. Inside the hotel, you’ll witness the height of luxury, from the luxurious dancing fountain to the rainbow atrium. However, entrance to the hotel is restricted. We’ve written a guide to how to get inside the Burj Al Arab here, but if you don’t want to go that route, you can still take gorgeous photographs of the hotel exterior. For the best photos, we recommend heading out to Kite Beach, where you can get sun, sand and structure in one shot.

 JW Marriott Marquis

This hotel in Dubai boasts a unique architectural feature. The shapes of the twin towers were inspired by that of the date palm. Consequently, the building has ‘fronds’ that ‘grow’ out of the structure, creating an interesting textural look against the Dubai skyline.

Burj Khalifa

This is one of the most famous skyscrapers in both Dubai and the world.  At a staggering 830 meters in height, the Burj Khalifa is, quite simply, the tallest building in the world. In fact, it’s a bit of a challenge to get a photograph that encapsulates the entire thing! The spiraling design of the building is inspired by Islamic architecture, especially the Great Mosque of Samarra. The Mosque is an ancient Iraqi monument that was built in the 9th century. If you’re hoping to check out the view from the top, our guide to visiting the Burj Khalifa will tell you everything you need to know.

The Address Hotel

This is a luxury hotel situated in Downtown Dubai, just minutes away from the Burj Khalifa. The skyscraper is about 300m tall. It follows the Art Deco style architecture and includes many luxury amenities. However, the hotel is probably most famous for being the site of a 2015 blaze on New Year’s Eve. The Downtown Dubai area is the site of an annual fireworks show, every New Year’s Eve. The pyrotechnics are extraordinarily impressive, and usually millions of people watch the show live or on television. In this case, however, an electrical short caused the building to catch fire, meaning that viewers were left to see the broadcast of the blazing building with the bursting of fireworks behind it. Thankfully, there were no fatalities from the incident, so the incident can simply be taken as an interesting bit of Dubai’s modern history.

Emirates Tower Hotels

The Emirates Towers Hotel is sometimes called Emirates Tower Two – because the hotel is in fact made up of two buildings. The glass-and-steel buildings resemble a triangular prism, with the two buildings mirroring each other. Thanks to their location in Dubai’s Financial District, the atrium of this building is a popular place to do business. In terms of Dubai skyscrapers, this is actually one of the older ones on the list- the towers were completed in 2000. This just goes to show how far back Dubai’s commitment to fine architectural design goes.

Dubai Frame

The last structure on our list is a bit different. For one, it’s not a skyscraper. It’s a towering structure that resembles a picture frame. For the other, it is not yet complete, although it is due to open to the public before the end of the year. Once complete, visitors will be able to see Old Dubai from one side and New Dubai from the other. And if the view piques your interest – Dubai by Foot offers walking tours of both.


Dubai is home to a variety of gorgeous skyscrapers that push the boundaries of architecture while paying homage to the roots of Islamic architecture. They truly encapsulate the heart of the city. So make sure to try and photograph the skyline when you visit Dubai.



Shopping in Dubai | Dubai by Foot

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Where to Shop in Dubai, Best Shopping Deals and Amazing Sales | Dubai Shopping Guide

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise. It’s home to one of the largest malls in the world, has multiple shopping complexes and even has its own dedicated shopping festival. With all of these options, it can be hard to know where to even start if you’re looking to do some retail therapy.

Here is a list of the some of the options available to the shoppers of Dubai:

Malls | Dubai Shopping Guide

Dubai Mall

This is the big one – in fact, it’s one of the biggest in the world, and definitely one of the most famous. Beyond the luxury brands and fast fashion, you’ll also find a dinosaur skeleton, a massive aquarium and a beautiful fountain with an evening light show. If you’re visiting for the first time and looking to explore, we recommend our self guided tour of Dubai Mall, which takes you to the various attractions and some of the more unique stores in the mall.

Mall of the Emirates

This is another of Dubai’s most popular malls. It has plenty of excellent stores, but it is perhaps most famous for its indoor ski park, which allows shoppers to take a break by taking to the slopes. Even if you don’t know how to ski, you can still partake in the experience and simply enjoying the indoor snow. Other attractions at this mall include a bowling alley and an arcade.


Located in Bur Dubai, the older part of Dubai, this mall did not always make the list of must-see shopping destinations in Dubai. However, this mall just underwent a massive expansion and makeover. Now it boasts trendy stores on par with those found in Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. If your hotel is by the older part of Dubai, this mall is a great option for your shopping needs. And if you’re taking one of our tours of the historic parts of Dubai, Burjuman Mall is within easy reach, making it a great stop to wind down afterwards.

Dubai Marina Mall

Dubai Marina Mall boasts a prime location in the glamorous Dubai Marina area. It’s a bit smaller compared to the other malls in Dubai, but it is every bit as chic (and a lot more manageable to explore). This mall is particularly child friendly – one of our favorite offerings is a miniature train that goes around the mall. And for the adults, the mall is adjacent to some of the hottest clubs and restaurants in Dubai.

Dragon Mart

Dragon Mart is massive. While it lacks the multiple floors of many other malls, it makes up for it thanks to its high square meter area. This mall in particular is focused on goods brought in from China and other parts of Asia. There are great deals to be had there on everything from clothes to furniture to electronics, all for comparatively lower prices.

The Outlet Village Mall

This mall is a contrast to some of the glitzier offerings in Dubai. It’s definitely luxurious, but with a design scheme that mimics the look of a European village. It has a much more relaxed vibe. The mall is known particularly for its selection of deeply discounted designer goods. There is no better place to get a pair of cheap Jimmy Choo kicks or a Tommy Hilfiger polo. The mall is located a bit away from the main parts of the city – however, it is appealingly located near Dubai Parks and Resorts, making it a great stop after spending the day at the park.

City Walk by Meeras

City Walk by Meeras is not technically a shopping mall. Instead, it’s more like an “urban shopping destination.” It consists of a collection of stores connected by European-style streets. The stores here are super trendy, even by Dubai standards. So shopping at City Walk by Meeras is a definitely fun evening out. As you walk, you can enjoy the vista of the Dubai skyline in the background and take a break for some al-fresco dining.  Because of the wide-open space and eye-catching street features, City Walk is a great place for selfies as well. Some of our favorite places at City Walk by Meeras are

The Green Planet:

The green planet is a tropical bio-dome, in a shopping complex, in a desert city. Nevertheless, it authentically recreates the experience of stepping into a jungle. The gorgeous flora and fauna – of which there are over 3000 varieties – provide a great way for visitors to connect with nature, while still enjoying the comforts of an indoor setting

Hub Zero:

Hub Zero is a gaming attraction designed for enthusiasts and first-timers alike. Many of the games have an interactive component. You don’t just shoot lasers at a screen, you play laser tag with friends over a two level battle zone. With the incorporation of 3D and virtual reality technology, and the chance to compete with your friends beside you, Hub Zero is a great spot to bring out your inner adventurer.

Mattel Play! Town:

This attraction is a fun experience for kids aged 2-10. The fun characters are used to build worlds that develop a child’s reasoning and social skills – a perfect mix of education and entertainment.

Farzi Café:

Indian cuisine can often be viewed as ‘street food’ – something delicious but not exactly en-vogue. Farzi Café aims to change that, by combining the techniques of molecular gastronomy with the traditions of Indian cooking, to create a unique dining experience.

Walnut Grove:

Walnut Grove is a South African café and bakery that caters to young and old alike. The family-friendly joint is particularly known for its fresh coffee (with cute coffee art) and delicious cakes  (we recommend their colorful rainbow cake for a treat that tastes as good as it looks).


Sales in Dubai are a frequent occurrence, as retailers like to encourage people to wander around their stores. If you want to try to time your visit with a major sale, there are several weekends that tend to have discounts across the board. In particular, the first week of December corresponds with the UAE’s National Day, so there tends to be major sales around that date. The timing is perfect for some Christmas shopping.

Other major sales happen around the time of Eid. Eid Al Adha, which takes place near the end of summer, tends to attract massive discounts, as the timing also corresponds with back-to-school season. It’s a great time to pick up a backpack for your little one, or an autumn outfit for yourself.

Festivals | Dubai Shopping Guide

In celebration of Dubai’s shopping spirit, the city also hosts a variety of shopping festivals – special seasons wherein malls and stores across Dubai host special promotions and crazy discounts. The two biggest ones are:

Dubai Shopping Festival

The Dubai Shopping Festival lasts for about one month and usually takes place in January of the year. Every mall participates in the shopping festival. In addition to the promotions happening at the stores, the malls often host special events such as dance shows. Even if you don’t want to shop, you can have a great time just wandering around.

One of the most popular events is a seasonal affair known as Global Village. It does not take place in a mall, but instead consists of a series of outdoor pavilions. Each pavilion is designed to represent a certain country and one can usually find pavilions focusing on India, China, Thailand, Egypt, Russia and a host of foreign countries. Within these pavilions, one will find a selection of small shops selling wares local to each country. If you want a Persian rug or a Japanese anime doll, this is the place to get it. It’s definitely a unique experience and one we recommend to anyone who loves chopping and culture.

Dubai Summer Surprises

Dubai Summer Surprises takes place for six weeks starting in July. Retailers offer mass discounts during this period, while other attractions in Dubai also offer their own discounts. Dubai Summer Surprises is also particular great for children. The event’s mascot is a colorful character called Modesh. There are multiple shows and games aimed at entertaining children during this time.

Dubai is definitely a shopper’s paradise. There are plenty of options for those who want to go shopping in Dubai. Even if you can’t make the festivals, you’ll always find plenty of sales and offers designed to tempt you. Shopping is a huge part of everyday life in Dubai. So when you visit, make sure to take a stroll in one of the malls or shopping destinations. This is one of the best ways to experience a huge aspect of the city’s social scene.

If you want a quick tour of the Dubai Mall or Old Dubai and its souks, do try out our Downtown Dubai Walking Tour and our Old Dubai Walking Tours

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.