9 Unique Things To Do In Dubai



Tue, 26 Jan 2016 - 12:08 GMT


Tue, 26 Jan 2016 - 12:08 GMT

For some people, holidays are all about soaking up the sunshine at a beach resort. Others seek unique and adventurous experiences that aren't necessarily what you'd call a typical holiday. If you're looking for something off the beaten path in Dubai, here are nine quirky and different things to try - hand-picked by Leen Ahmed, a former longtime resident of Dubai who's seen it all.

by Leen Ahmed

1. Stay at Atlantis the Palm’s underwater hotel room

Atlantis the Palm stands on Palm Jumeirah, an artificial palm-shaped archipelago, and features luxurious underwater suites that offer an intimate and romantic atmosphere. The suites include a lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views, and a bedroom where you wake up to splendid underwater views and the ancient ruins of the mythical lost city of Atlantis. Staying at this stunning hotel is extremely calming, as well as beautiful and exciting. It takes some time to get used to it, and it's a bit scary at first to be surrounded by fish and water. I was glad I tried it and it left me feeling calm, like I was one with nature. I highly recommended spending a night or two at this destination hotel for a very surreal experience.

Atlantis The Palm * Crescent Rd. * +971 4 426 2000 * atlantisthepalm.com 2. Explore the historic streets of Al Bastakiya

[caption id="attachment_435520" align="alignnone" width="620"]Al Bastakiya Al Bastakiya[/caption]

Go back in time with a cultural trip to Al Bastakiya. Explore this small restored enclave and get an insight into what the city's life used to be in the late nineteenth century. There is a bustling market every Saturday, cultural events throughout the year and a variety of exciting sites to see and explore, including Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai; Bait Al Wakeel, the city's first office building; and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where you can have a traditional meal or take a heritage tour.

3. Ski indoors at Dubai Mall

[caption id="attachment_435521" align="alignnone" width="620"]Dubai’s indoor ski resort Dubai’s indoor ski resort[/caption]

Dubai’s indoor ski resort at the Mall of the Emirates, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, covers 22,500 square meters and features a 60-meter mountain, five slopes (including a black run, a steep, difficult run used by advanced skiers) and kickers and rails, or specially-built jumps used for taking off in aerial maneuvers, where you can show off your tricks. There are also sled and toboggan runs, a climbing tower, a ski lift and the thrilling Snow Bullet, the world’s first indoor sub-zero zip line where you soar as high as 16 meters high above the skiers and slopes.

This is definitely recommended for families and everyone else, because there are so many activities for all levels. While the black run is for experts, there are lessons that will teach you to master the difficult course.

I tried the sled run, and it was fun and much faster than expected! The best part is that anyone can try it and no training is required. I had never experienced snow before and had zero idea of what to expect. However, the staff were very helpful, so I had no trouble adjusting and enjoying my time.

Mall of the Emirates * Al Barsha 1 * +971 4 409 9000 * malloftheemirates.com

4. Find unique keepsakes at the Antique Museum

[caption id="attachment_435522" align="alignnone" width="620"]Antique Museum Antique Museum[/caption]

Filled with anything and everything, the Antique Museum isn't really a museum but a maze of stores that occupies five basements measuring 65,000 square feet. Here you will find souvenir hunters shopping for decorative crafts, furniture, clothes, fridge magnets, and more at reasonable prices. Not all the goods are authentic, but there are some unique and eye-catching handmade products that are must-haves, like traditional dresses, perfumes, jewellery and colored sand art. I recommend oud perfume, which is strong, long-lasting and smells musky, rich and amazing.

Be sure to give haggling a go, but remember that a percentage of the profits are donated to charities. To explore this monster of a museum, make sure you have plenty of time, drink lots of water and take a flashlight with you for closer inspections of the souvenirs you want to take home.

A great shopping trip isn’t complete without a bit of downtime to enjoy drinks and a delicious meal. My personal favorite is Al Machboos, a traditional dish of rice, meat, onion and dried lemon that's especially tasty with yogurt and fresh juice.

At the end of the day, Dubai is a place to be experienced more than bought, and while this place offers beautiful and unique gifts, the best part is the scenery that makes you relive the old traditions.

Antique Museum * 12B, Al Quoz Industrial Area * +971 4 347 9935 * fakihonline.com

5. Mingle at Full Moon Desert Drumming

[caption id="attachment_435523" align="alignnone" width="620"]Full Moon Desert Drumming Full Moon Desert Drumming[/caption]

Organized by Dubai Drums, the Full Moon Desert Drumming sessions bring 250 people together from across Dubai to beat drums and enjoy a buffet dinner - including salads, shawarmas and butter chicken - under the beautiful night sky. When you’re not drumming, there is plenty of time to relax and mingle. You will be provided with instruments, and there will be a guide to show you exactly what you need to do - and when you need to do it.

Urban Tribe Events (Dubai Drums) * Al Quoz Industrial Area 4 * +971 4 347 4790 * dubaidrums.com

6. Stop and smell the roses at Dubai Miracle Garden

[caption id="attachment_435524" align="alignnone" width="620"]Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden[/caption]

The world’s biggest natural flower garden transforms part of Dubai’s desert landscape into a fresh and colorful garden filled with more than 45 million flowers. I expected to be overwhelmed by all the smells from all the different flowers, but I was delightfully surprised by the sweet and delicate scents of this garden. It was so refreshing.

You can expect to see traditional flowerbeds and topiary-style displays in shapes of hearts, stars or igloos. The flower displays change each season, ensuring repeat visitors will have new and exciting experiences. Personally, I would recommend going in the colder months, from late November to May, because otherwise the weather is hot and walking through the entire garden may prove difficult.

Dubai Miracle Garden * Al Barsha South 3, Barsha, Dubailand Area * +971 4 422 8902 * dubaimiraclegarden.com

7. Relax at the Chillout Ice Lounge

[caption id="attachment_435526" align="alignnone" width="620"]Chillout Ice Lounge Chillout Ice Lounge[/caption]

Want to escape Dubai’s heat? Visit Chillout Ice Lounge. It is the first ice lounge in the region and offers a range of warm or cold drinks, dining and incredible ice sculptures. You will be provided with a jacket and a pair of gloves to venture into the -6 degree venue as well as a welcome drink when you get inside. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re not a huge fan of the cold but want to experience this icy wonder, you might want to ask for an extra jacket and two pairs of gloves.

Chillout Ice Lounge * Times Square Ctr. - Sheikh Zayed Road * +971 4 341 8121 * chilloutindubai.com

8. Try a camel burger

[caption id="attachment_435525" align="alignnone" width="620"]camel burger camel burger[/caption]

While on holiday, some people like to try things that are not only unique, but tasty. If you’re one of those people, head over to Local House for burgers made out of camel meat. The Local House turns this tough meat - which happens to be free of fat and cholesterol - into soft patties served on a bun with fries or wedges and a green salad.

Local House Restaurant * House No 65, Bastakiya * +971 4 3540705

9. Play some camel polo

Carrying on the camel theme from above (and for those who prefer spending time with camels who are alive), why not try the Arabian twist on the traditional sport? Climb aboard a camel, grab a mallet and chase after a ball. You’re guaranteed a hilarious experience you'll remember forever.

Since polo is normally played on horseback, I didn't know what to expect when trying this game out. The camels are really tall, so it's difficult to reach and shoot the ball. Thankfully the camels are also well-trained, stay calm and move in whatever direction you guide them.

You can try camel polo at an array of different venues throughout Dubai. I'm 100% sure you won’t be able to experience this sport anywhere else in the world.



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