In a space of 24-hours, visitors to Dubai can
revel in the breathtaking scenery of rugged mountain ranges and majestic sand
dunes, dip their toes in the waters of the Gulf or just take in the beat of the
city. Dubai blends an ultra-modern way of life with the old-world charm of
Arabia. Here dusty villages and ancient houses sit beside luxurious residential
districts and ultra-modern shopping malls.
Dubai is both a
dynamic international business hub as well as a relaxing escape for the
visiting tourist. It is also a city where the sophistication of the 21st
century goes hand in hand with the simplicity of a bygone era. Whilst visitors
and residents are encouraged to enjoy an international lifestyle it is
important to appreciate the culture of Dubai which is deeply rooted in the
Islamic traditions of Arabia.
The traditional architecture of the AI Boom
Tourist Village forms a stately city landmark. Situated adjacent to Creek Park
it comprises of a 2,000 -seat banquet hall, coffee shop, restaurant, amusement
park, ornamental lake and marina with five cruise boats.Future plans for the
village include a five-star hotel built in the shape of a traditional sailing
dhow and self catering as well as fully-serviced chalets.
Built in 1912 by Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmouk, the
Al-Almadiya School in Deira was Dubai's first school. It has since been
restored with natural materials of gypsum, coral, shell, stone and sandalwood
as used in the original building.
Dubai’s three main excavation sites include Al
Ghusais, Al Sufooh and Jumeirah. The first two are graveyards dating back more
than 2,000 years while the Jumeirah site has revealed artefacts from the
seventh to the 15th centuries.
Dubai's first office building, Bait Al Wakeel dates
back to 1934 and was built by the late Sheikh Rashid at the edge of the Creek
near the abra (water taxi) landing in Bur Dubai. The building has been
completely restored and now houses a Maritime Museum.
Providing a tantalising glimpse of old Dubai is
the old Bastakiya district of Bur Dubai, with its narrow lanes and houses with
tall chimney-like structures called wind-towers. Before the advent of
air-conditioning, houses were cooled by air being channelled down the
wind-tower to the rooms below. Often strips of material or fine cloth were hung
from brackets lining the tower to offer additional breeze. Historically, the
city was famous for its mass of wind-towers which lined either side of the
Creek. The Bastakiya district has recently been renovated to include a museum,
cultural centre, restaurants and a heritage hotel with an art gallery.
In the nearby Shindagha district more than 30
traditional houses have been restored in an initiative to re-establish its
original character. The area features windtowers and quaint sikkas
Deira’s Benjaman’s House has been converted
into a museum of traditional architecture.Originally built in 1890, by a famous
merchant of the same name, Benjamaan House offers an insight into Gulf
Set on its own man-made island, projecting 280
metres into the Gulf and shaped like an normous billowing sail, Burj Al Arab is
a 321-metre high masterpiece of architecture.With 202 luxury duplex suites, a
restaurant at the very top and the most opulent interior décor, Burj Al Arab is
the tallest all-suite hotel in the world.
Located in the picturesque gardens in Deira,
the Burj Al Nahar is one of three watch-towers that guard the old city,
An impressive sight along the Creek near the
dhow wharf is a group of distinctive modern buildings which include the
Etisalat Tower, the Department of Economic Development, Dubai Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, the National Bank of Dubai headquarters, Dubai Creek
Tower and Twin Towers.
The Etisalat Tower is topped by a
telecommunications dome resembling a giant globe and is particularly striking
when illuminated at night. The Department of Economic Development is a
five-storey building with delicately designed window screens and massive,
decorated main doors.
By contrast, the neighbouring Dubai Chamber of
Commerce and Industry tower is a dramatic blue glass-faced structure, a symbol
of the emirate's prosperity and forward vision. Nearby is the Municipality
building, which manages to convey an impression of cool shade through the
clever use of water and screens, Most striking though is the headquarters of
the National Bank of Dubai building, home to the DTCM Head Office which, with
its use of polished steel and glass, produces a shimmering reflection of the
Creek on its curved facade, This eye-catching building, which was designed by
Carlos Ott, architect of the Bastille Opera House in Paris, is at its most
spectacular best at sunset.
Dominating Bani Yas Square in the heart of
Deira is Deira Tower with its distinctive circular 'cap'. As an early example
of the effort to blend modern architecture with older surroundings, Deira Tower
incorporates structural features designed to soften the impact of the harsh
summer climate on the occupants of the shops, offices and apartments within,
Dubai Creek is a natural sea-water inlet which
traverses through the centre of the city. Both historically and today the Creek
is a focal point for life in Dubai. A walk along its banks will evoke the
city's centuries-old trading traditions, The colour and bustle of the loading
and unloading of dhows, which still ply ancient trade routes to places as
distant as India and East Africa, captivates visitors.
The best way to see the Creek is from the water
itself. For a nominal sum, small water taxis called abras criss-cross the Creek
from the souqs (markets) of Deira to those on the Bur Dubai side. The abras may
also be hired and the boatmen will take visitors on a fascinating, hour-long
trip from the abra embarkation points to the mouth of Dubai Creek and inland to
the Maktoum Bridge, passing a number of the city's historic and modern
landmarks along the way.
On the Deira side, a broad and well-lit paved
promenade extends from the Corniche allowing for visitors to stroll along the
Arabian Gulf. On the Bur Dubai side, between Maktoum and Garhoud bridges, Creek
Park offers pleasant, paved walks and extensive landscaped public gardens.
At the inland end of the Creek a large, shallow
lagoon has been created into a wildlife sanctuary and is a haven for migratory
shore birds. During the autumn migration upto 27,000 birds have been accounted
for at any point of time , most spectacular among which are the greater
flamingos which have made the Creek their permanent home.
The unique waterfront development, iconic resort-style
city is a must see. The Dubai Festival City is a place designed for the people
of Dubai and its increasing number of visitors. It will offer a wide range of
attractions including shops, restaurants and hotels as The Festival Centre,
situated on the curve of the Creek at the very heart of the City is the city's
'jewel in the crown'. With more than 400 shops, 70 restaurants and cafes, a
marina, festival square, the Festival Centre offers an unique and vibrant
setting where families and friends meet and relax. Additional attractions are a
Canal Walk with water taxis to ferry guests to the restaurants, cafes and
shops, a boulevard capturing the essence of Paris' Champs Elysee and a
waterfront souk embracing Dubai's heritage of Arabian art and crafts.
Housed inside the Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum
is an imposing building which is also a fascinating military museum. Built
around 1787, it once guarded the city's landward approaches and has served
variously as a palace, garrison and prison. Renovated for use as a museum in I
971, the building underwent further restoration with the addition of walk-in
galleries in 1995.
Colourful and evocative dioramas complete with
life-size figures and sound and lighting effects vividly depict everyday life
in Dubai during the pre-oil days. Galleries recreate several scenes from the
Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souq, date gardens as well as
desert and marine life.
One of the museum's most spectacular exhibits
portrays the underwater world of pearl-diving, accompanied by sets of pearl
merchants' weights, scales and sieves. Also on display are fine copper,
alabaster and pottery artefacts uncovered from 4,000year-old graves at Al
Ghusais (one of Dubai's archaeological sites).
Rising 39 floors above the city, the Dubai
World Trade Centre's office tower houses the regional head-quarters of many of
the world's largest corporations. Built in 1979, as the tallest building at the
time in the Middle East, it has an Arabian restaurant on the 37th floor with
stunning views of the Dubai skyline.
Situated nearby is the Dubai International
Convention and Exhibition Centre which hosts an active programme of
international trade fairs and exhibitions attracting exhibitors and visitors
frorn all round the world.
Located in Jumeirah, the Dubai Zoo is a popular
attraction, especially for families. Its modern facilities, though small,
houses many indigenous Arabian species, including the Arabian Wolf, which is no
longer found in the wild, Gordon's Wildcat and the world's only
captive-breeding colony of Socotra Cormorants. Featured in its large aviary are
regional birds of prey, while nine species of large cat and seven species of
primates are also on show, along with many Arabian mammals. The zoo will soon
relocate to a site near Mushrif Park and undergo re-development to display six
major habitats: Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabian desert, a Wadi Valley, Arabian
Coastal Desert, Asian Temperate Forest and the Himalayan hillside. The new zoo
will contain a biodiversity museum, breeding and conservation areas and a
well-equipped veterinary centre.
Towering above the Dubai skyline is the elegant
hotel-and-office complex of Emirates Towers. At 350 metres high, the office
tower is the tallest building in the Middle East and Europe, Primarily a
business hotel, Emirates Towers has every conceivable luxury for the travelling
A celebration of the ruling Maktoum family's
private racing stable, the Godolphin Gallery houses the world's finest
collection of horse-racing trophies. On display are the glittering trophies
received from the world's greatest races including the King George and Queen
Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, the Prix de I 'Arc de Triomphe, the Prince of Wales's
Stakes and the Dubai World Cup. A truly international experience, the gallery
incorporates interactive touchscreen consoles, action photographs, video
presentations and memorabilia, all depicting the first nine years of the
Godolphin racing stable. Adjacent to Nad AI Sheba racecourse, the gallery is
open from January to April and is a unique opportunity to share in one of
Dubai's most prestigious operations.
The visitor centre at the Gold and Diamond Park in Al
Quoz showcases the history of Arabian jewellery and also includes a guided tour
of the adjacent manufacturing plant.
Located near the mouth of the Creek, this
heritage site presents both a comprehensive insight into the emirate's maritime
past and a fine example of traditional Gulf architecture. Local potters and
weavers sell their handicrafts in a tented Bedouin village and camel rides are
Located in Deira and built in 1890, this house
was once owned by Dubai's most famous pearl merchant, Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmouk.
An excellent example of Dubai's vernacular architecture it was restored and
re-opened in 2000 and presents a vivid recreation of local period household
Described as the 'most comprehensive
resort in the world', Madinat Jumeirah is a beach resort with a difference, It
encompasses two hotels as well as guest houses, a vibrant souk, a theatre, an
incredible variety of restaurants, a spa and its own series of waterways served
by traditional abras (water taxis).
In white-washed rooms and central courtyard, an
old wind-tower house in Bastakiya is home to a delightful art gallery. Hosting
ten exhibitions of contemporary artists per year, the gallery complex also
provides a range of pottery, glass, fabrics, furniture and other desirable
Situated on the Bur Dubai side of the Creek near the
Ruler's Court, the Grand Mosque is one of Dubai's most distinguished landmarks.
With nine large domes boasting stained-glass panels and 45 small ones, it also
has the city's tallest minaret, measuring an incredible 70 metres in height.
Source : GoDubai