Long before the massive shopping malls reigned over the commercial life of Dubai, merchants off-loaded and carted their goods at the souqs. A visit to the Spice Souq and Gold Souq at the mouth of Dubai Creek will give you a glimpse of how trade was done in the olden days.
Feel free to haggle like the locals do and reward yourself with a 22K gold necklace at a bargain price. Spices may be available at the supermarket, but the fragrant odors of freshly picked cinnamon and nutmeg wafting in the air as you walk along narrow alleys will tempt you nonetheless as you explore these markets
The market opposite the Satwa Mosque is known for its rows of textile shops. Raw silk and pashmina are sometimes offered at discount prices; you can always practice your haggling skills until the shop owner agrees to your price.
Tailors also ply their trade within this souq. The story of buying your fabric and wearing it a few hours later will be a good one to tell your friends after your excursion.
Mall of the Emirates
With a retail space of around 220,000 square meters (2.4 million square feet), the Mall of the Emirates is one of the largest malls in the Middle East. It has 520 international stores – including the largest Carrefour hypermarket in all of Dubai – plus 14 multiplex cinemas, a 500-seater community theater, and three hotels to accommodate visitors.
While many of these amenities are also available in other Dubai malls, what really makes the Mall of the Emirates a unique tourist destination is Ski Dubai, the largest indoor ski resort in the world.
Ski Dubai features the Ice Park where real (albeit man-made) snow falls. Children and adults can build snowmen, explore icy caverns, and ride on a bobsled all year round.
Overlooking the park are man-made slopes of different heights and gradients, with five runs, the longest of which extends up to 400 meters. The summit is 85 meters above the ground.
Ski Dubai is perfect for skiers and snowboarders eager to try their skills in this man-made mountain resort.
Palm Jumeirah Islands
The Palm Jumeirah is an engineering marvel. Out of the sea, the rocks and sand were used to create an island that resembles a palm tree with 16 fronds.
Today, the Palm Jumeirah is the largest artificial island in the world. The island is not only seen as a Dubai icon but also a real estate venture of grand proportions. Although the private homes in the island are off-limits to tourists – unless, of course, you are invited by a homeowner – you can always book at one of the hotels in the island and experience stepping foot on one of the greatest man-made wonders of the modern age.
Burj Al Khalifa
A desert gem of a city such as Dubai requires a fitting landmark. Neither a seven-star hotel inspired by a sailboat nor the biggest artificial island patterned from a palm tree will suffice. No, it has to be the most attention-catching monolith imaginable.
To fulfill this requirement, Dubai created Burj Khalifa. Completed in 2010, it is now the tallest man-made structure in the world.
Standing at 2,717 feet, Burj Khalifa has 163 floors used for homes and offices. It also features a state-of-the-art Las Vegas-inspired fountain that shoots jets of water to the sound of music.
One of the main attractions of Burj Khalifa is its observation deck. Located on the skyscraper’s 124th floor, the deck is currently to be the highest in the world. It is often jampacked with tourists, so advanced online reservations must be made for a timed, panoramic view of the city.
Deira is the old city center of Dubai. Largely ignored after the building boom near the coast, attractions in Deira are few and far between.
Nonetheless, it is here where you will find the Al Ahmadiya School. Built in 1912, it is the first school in Dubai and is considered a cultural site. Al Ahmadiya School doesn’t accept students anymore, but it displays a rich exhibit of reed pens, diplomas, and images from Dubai’s not-so-distant-but-oh-so-different past.