From the wealthiest to the backpackers, Dubai is on the list of every traveler. The city has a reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous but it welcomes even the budget traveler with the open arms. We don’t say it, the millions of tourists who visit the Dubai every year vouch for the city’s warmth and hospitality.
Dubai has everything a tourist looks for in a destination, but it’s up to us how we enjoy the city. While many tourists use their Dubai Visa to see the city on a superficial level, the best way to explore the emirate is like how a local would do.
Don’t think that’s possible in the short trip you’ve planned? Well, here’s how you do it.
Revisit the history
The museums and the historical places are of immense significance for a city as they help in understanding the roots of the place. To connect with the history of Dubai and appreciate its exponential rise to the top, it is imperative to visit the famous Dubai museum housed in the oldest fort of the city- the Al Fahidi fort. The Dubai museum is one of the best museums of the Middle East and is built in a way that it almost transports you to the Bedouin era when Dubai was no more than a small fishing village.
In addition, visit the Bastakiya quarters- Dubai’s oldest neighborhood, beautifully preserved for the tourists to get an insight into the past of Dubai. Also visit the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s house- once an official residence of the ruler of Dubai, today one of the best museums of the city housing rare documents, pictures and artifacts that speak volumes about the rise of Dubai.
Understand the culture
The best way to appreciate a place is to understand its culture and traditions. While you can get the best insight about Dubai if you have a local friend, another great option for tourist is the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. You’ve to book the appointment in advance, but the place is every minute worth of your time. The ambiance of a wind tower house, the surroundings of the oldest neighborhood of Dubai- The Bastakiya quarters, and a sumptuous cultural meal while enjoying an insightful conversation about the Islamic culture, Arabic customs and the history of Dubai; what better way of understanding the culture can you ask for?
Travel in Public transport
To know the essence of a city, it is imperative to understand the regular life of the people, and what better way than the public transport. While commuting through public transport can be quite a pain in many cities, the transport system in Dubai is one of the best in the world. The Dubai metro that runs throughout the city is a record-breaking feat in itself. These driverless metro trains use the most advanced technology and were built in a record span of just 18 months. The bus and cab transport are also very well streamlined and frequent. Cost wise, private cabs cost more starting with a minimum of 10Dirhams. Take a pass for Dubai metro and you can literally travel across the length and breadth of the city in the least time and expenditure, that too in the comfort of the fully air conditioned metro train.
Shop at the right places
A city that has 3 of the biggest malls ever made across the globe along with a plethora of other great malls, a city that holds one of the world’s biggest shopping festivals every year, and a city that literally breathes shopping in every street; it is very hard to suggest where to shop from.
But for the tourists who believe that the essence of a city lies in its local markets, we suggest shopping at the souks of Dubai (souk is the Arabic translation for the word market) is the best option. Dubai is full of the world-famous souks that are going on since centuries and still continuing in the same manner. Popular souks like the gold souk, spice souk, textile souk, perfume souk and many more local places that not only spoil you for choice but also allow you to bargain to your heart’s content. The vibrancy, energy and the messy environment of these congested markets give you the feel of real Dubai shopping. These souks are an excellent place to carry out your people watching hobby too.
Relish the cultural meals
While Dubai is a city that offers you the best of world cuisine across all price ranges, it is also extremely rich with its cultural Arabic cuisine. While in Dubai, take a break from the easily available Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Japanese, Lebanese, European, Chinese and a plethora of other types of cuisine available, and taste the Emirati cuisine.
It is not only rich, flavorful and extremely different; it also uses some of the rarest ingredients, hardly used anywhere else in the world. Stuffed Camel, for example, is a fine delicacy of the Emirati cuisine and it is hardly available anywhere else in the world, even if it is, the taste is unmatched. Some of the other must try dishes are Al Harees, Shawarma, Al Machboos, and hummus.
- While in Dubai, one thing that you must shop for are the locally grown dates and saffron from the spice market. They are simply the best.
- For tourists looking for staying longer and considering volunteering opportunities, Dubai has a lot of them in areas of animal rescue, helping laborers and working with disabled children.
- Dubai observes Fridays and Saturdays as weekend so Thursday and Friday nights are the most sought after here.
- There are many advanced ways of traveling from bur Dubai to Deira, but the best way to experience the travel is via the traditional ‘Abra ride’. They are the most ancient ways to cross the Dubai creek and cost just Dhs1.
- Dubai boasts of many free sights and attractions and there are many cost effective and social ways to visit them including the Big Bus Tour.
- Learning some local words such as Shukhran (thank you), Marhaba (hello), Assalam Alaikum (may peace be upon you) can help you break the ice and get friendly with the locals sooner than you think. Don’t forget to add your gracious smile to it.