Though few would believe it, Dubai is an important historical landmark of the Arabian Peninsula.
Bur Dubai houses many of the old souks as well as the Dubai Museum and Jumeirah Mosque. Out of town, the Rub al Khali desert and the Hajar mountains offer a true representation of the UAE before oil came to town, in addition to providing an exciting day out. Sport also draws many visitors to Dubai, and with its highly developed range of facilities, the Emirate hosts several world–renowned tournaments. Here is our pick of the ‘must-dos’ in Dubai.
AL BOOM DIVING
The Persian Gulf around Dubai is a real gem for diving: the shallow wrecks of Al Aqah and the colorful reefs of Oman’s Musandam coast offer some spectacular sights with few crowds.
To explore this rugged coastline you obviously need a professional and there are few who know these depths better than the instructors at Al Boom. Their customized 42 foot speedboat can whisk you off to almost anywhere along the coast. For further excursions a weekend trip can be customized; for example, a two day drive trip exploring the Musandam coast. Al Boom tailors excursions to your diving abilities and interests. It is the only dive operator to offer exclusive diving tours of the enormous Dubai Underwater Zoo, a perfect opportunity for those seeking a guaranteed shark encounter. If you are not familiar with diving then Al Boom offers full PADI courses for complete beginners with professional instructors and top dive brands.
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The 5.4 kilometers of race track offers a true VIP racing experience to guests who love the thrill of driving.
The facilities here rival those of a professional Formula 1 circuit; an ultra modern grandstand houses a race safety control room, a timekeeping room and a VIP suite. The track is also FIA sanctioned and claims to be the most modern and one of the most challenging in the world. The Dubai Autodrome offers several unique experiences for people who love to get behind the wheel; guests can drive an Audi R8 V10 supercar, an Audi S5 or a Subaru Impreza around the racetrack with instruction from a professional driving instructor. A full briefing from a professional track driver helps you navigate the corners of the track, the instructor will lead you through the right lines while the track’s computer systems monitor your performance. But for those seeking more of a Formula 1 experience the track has several single-seaters styled on the true F1 cars right down to the manual transmission.
General Executive: Hamish Brown
+971 4 367 8700
BEYOND THE DUNES
To go to the dunes beyond Dubai’s glittering skyline is to see something unique.
This desert is the heart of old Arabia, the origins of Dubai and an inspiration to many of the greatest explorers such as Freya Stark and Wilfred Thesinger. Beyond the Dunes is a company that specializes in making this experience as personalized and as privileged as possible. While guests are free to customize their excursions, Ahid, the company’s owner, recommends a full day of exploring the dunes in one of their luxury Hummers driven by an experienced guide. When evening comes, your guide will lay Arabian rugs on top of a sand dune from where you can watch the sunset, glass of champagne in hand. Following this, settle in the dusky dunes as your guide lays out cushions, lights candles and cooks a traditional meal of grilled meats, salad, hummus and unleavened bread. Once the embers have burned and dates have been served, your guide will escort you back along the highway to Dubai.
DUBAI AQUARIUM & UNDERWATER ZOO
Dubai loves to hold world records, and located in the heart of the world’s biggest mall they have put the world’s biggest aquarium, with the most diverse collection of aquatic life worldwide.
Dubai Aquarium is just as spectacular as records claim; vast walk–through tunnels and glass panels showcase the ocean floor and give guests full view of sharks, stingrays and other aquatic animals. The underwater zoo follows a three–stage journey of a raindrop falling into a Rainforest, crashing into the Rocky Shore before flowing into the Living Ocean. To experience this display more intimately, guests can swim amongst the sharks and other marine life held within this 10 million liter tank (see Al Boom Diving). Alternatively, guests can embark on a glass–bottomed boat tour.
Dubai’s most dignified world record, Burj Khalifa surpassed all expectations in becoming the world’s tallest building.
Naturally, the only way to experience the world’s tallest building is from the observation deck at the very top and to look down on the city a humbling 800 meters below. The journey here involves a high–speed elevator travelling at 10 meters per second, but once you are there it is worth lingering until dusk when the best views can be witnessed and even the clouds can sometimes pass below you.
+971 4 888 8124
Burj Khalifa, Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai
The Dubai Museum is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787 and was once the main landmark of Dubai, guarding the landward approach to the city.
Now its labyrinth of galleries host scenes from the Dubai Creek before the discovery of oil. Satellite photographs show how Dubai has risen from the desert and galleries depict the Emirate’s previous life, with scenes of souks, date gardens and marine life. An interesting exhibit pays homage to the pearl diving that used to be commonplace in the creek.
+971 4 353 1862
Al Fahidi Fort, Bastakiya, Bur Dubai
SHEIKH MOHAMMED CENTRE FOR CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was founded by its namesake to promote cultural understanding of the UAE’s customs, history and religion.
Come here for an Emirati breakfast or lunch and chat to your host who can then take you for a tour of the ancient alleyways of Bur Dubai. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre will also give tours of the Grand Jumeirah Mosque, a unique chance for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to see its beautiful Islamic geometry and domed roof. Book ahead for private tours.
GOLF IN DUBAI
In just 20 years Dubai has become acclaimed as one of the world’s top golfing destinations. Here is a selection of the top courses to try your swing.
EMIRATES GOLF CLUB
The Dubai Desert Classic Tournament began at the Emirates Golf Club, and it is still hosted there 19 years later. Completed in 1989, it is the oldest club in Dubai and, therefore, the most mature, making it particularly pleasurable to wander among its fairways and lakes. The clubhouse has long symbolized prestigious golfing in Dubai; designed to represent a Bedouin tent it houses the well known Le Classique restaurant, a beautiful combination of cuisine and location, where you can relax after a round of golf.
DUBAI CREEK GOLF CLUB
Beautifully designed, the par 71 Dubai Creek Golf Course is a pleasure to play. Date and palm trees line artificial lakes, and manicured fairways slope gently down to Dubai Creek.
The two closing holes, however, bring a thrilling finale to any game played here with the creek guarding the entire left side of the fairway. While the 17th can be conquered with some smart play, the 18th requires two well struck shots to find the putting surface in regulation figures.
This championship course was meticulously designed by its namesake Colin Montgomerie. Players here have the freedom of 265 acres, of which half is turf and a third is landscaped garden, and there are also 81 large bunkers and 14 lakes.
The Montgomerie Golf Course is complemented by the five-star Address Hotel—set right in the center of the grounds and featuring just 21 rooms—and the Dubai Creek Golf Academy with excellent tuition and a nine-hole, par 3 course that is ideal for beginners and experts alike to test their skills.
+971 4 390 5600
The Montgomerie Dubai, Emirates Hills, P.O. Box 36700
DUBAI POLO AND EQUESTRIAN CLUB
Polo, almost since its birth, has been associated with prestige and class, and recently Dubai has been paying homage to the sport of kings.
Hosting world class Polo tournaments such as the Dubai Polo World Cup on beautiful grounds, and attracting all the associated glamour and sophistication, Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club is certainly the most elite venue. Even if you are completely new to polo, Dubai’s only Hurlingham Polo Association–qualified coach, Steve Thompson, can teach everything you need to know to win a match. The three–day course combines horsemanship and tactics, and culminates in a team match so you can truly experience the thrill of galloping flat–out across the polo field and beating your opponent. Watching the game is, however, almost as enthralling as playing it, so on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday between October and April, go to the private Desert Palm Polo Club to drink tea on the hotel’s terrace while watching this exhilarating sport.
+971 50 887 9847
Arabian Ranches, P.O. Box 7477
Director of Marina Operations: Stuart Burke
Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, as well as offering a top golfing venue and marina, also operates two fully crewed charter yachts from its marina.
The 32–foot Hatters sport fishing vessel is designed for day cruises and fishing trips. Both captain and crew are extremely experienced on the coastal waters of the Gulf and, with their knowledge of these waters, avid sports fishermen can expect to find tuna, kingfish, barracuda, queen fish and sailfish in a single trip.
Why else would you go to Dubai other than to ski? Ski Dubai is effectively a giant fridge located in the Mall of Emirates, where it stands as quite an engineering achievement – its builders obviously wanting to prove that you can ski in the desert.
Ski or snowboard down five different runs of varying difficulty or alternatively simply soak in the atmosphere of the 32,000-squarefoot Snow Park, a fantasy land of spruce trees and alpine lodges where children can toboggan down the hills, build snowmen or wander around the interactive snow cavern.
+971 4 409 4000
Mall of the Emirates, Interchange 4, Sheikh Zayed Road