Unusual things to do in Dubai

Dubai is well known as a destinations of enormous shopping malls and impossibly luxurious resorts. Of course you could spend a whole holiday wandering the shopping centres or spending your time in a seven-star hotel, but Dubai actually has a lot more to offer if you get out and explore. A vibrant metropolis in the middle of the desert, there are quite a few unexpected activities that can be great fun whether you’re travelling as a family or as a couple. Here’s a list of some of our favourite unusual things to do in the Emirate.

Visit the souks

Heading to the malls is one of Dubai holidaymakers’ most popular pastimes and it can be fun to browse the designer stores and boutiques, but this isn’t the only way to go shopping in Dubai. In fact if you are looking for a great cultural experience as well as the chance to haggle with the locals, it is well worth visiting the traditional city markets, known as souks.

There are a number of souks located throughout Dubai, but probably the most famous is the Gold Souk. With an enormous selection of gold jewellery and souvenirs, this is a lovely place to spend a few hours. Nearby is the Spice Souk – a real treat for the senses even if you have no intention of buying anything.

Hire a car and explore the UAE

Not many people who visit Dubai take the opportunity to take in any of the other sections of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but if you do it can be a rich and fascinating experience. Beyond the big cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, many of the Emirates are relaxed, quiet and filled with historical intrigue.

Driving from the centre of Dubai to Emirates including Sharjah and Ajman takes less than an hour, and even the cultured Fujairah on the opposite coast can be easily reached in under two hours. That means the other Emirates are far more accessible than you might imagine.

Desert safari

Dubai is very close to enormous sand dunes where it’s possible to enjoy a whole range of sports including dune bashing in custom buggies and desert safaris on camels. This is a chance to experience a different side of Dubai – you can even book a traditional Arabian barbecue as a part of the day’s activities.

Abra across the creek

If you’re looking to visit the historical section of the city, there’s no better way than to take an abra ride across the Dubai Creek. The cost is minimal and it’s a far more interesting way to experience travel in the city than braving the traffic jam across the highway. Abras are the traditional wooden boats that locals use to cross the creek – choose these in favour of the tourist boats which are relatively soulless in comparison. Once you’ve reached the other side you can explore the historic souks and the narrow streets of old Dubai.

Go skiing

Going skiing might not be your first thought in the middle of the desert but Ski Dubai offers the largest indoor snow zone in the world. Based at the Mall of the Emirates you can take skiing or snowboarding lessons or just get stuck in if you’re already experienced on the snow slopes. There is a total of five runs to choose from, perfect for everyone from beginners to experts and there’s a range of great après ski options too!

Get a bird’s eye view of skyscrapers

Dubai is a city that’s famous for its skyscraper skyline, but nothing is anything like the Burj Khalifa. It’s literally twice as tall as any other building in the city – head to the observation deck on the 148th floor and you can enjoy a bird’s eye view over some of the tallest buildings in the world; that’s impressive.

Article provided by Oliver Williams, an independent content writer who consulted with Penguin Car Hire, a supplier of car hire in the UAE, to produce this piece.