dubai things to do
Middle East,  Travel

Best Things To Do In Dubai

Dubai may be known for its luxury shopping, but it also has plenty of culture, nature and history. Here’s my guide to exploring this surprising city.

Dubai has it all – serene desert landscapes, world-class shopping and old Arabian markets.

Here are the best things to do in Dubai:

1. Alserkal Avenue – an artsy compound

Alserkal Avenue

Head for Alserkal Avenue – a compound full of warehouses that have been re-made into shops, galleries and cafes.

The first gallery at Alserkal opened in 2008. Others gradually followed and an expansion in 2015 doubled its square footage to some 500,000.

Alserkal Avenue is now a mix of industrial, business and creative spaces, housing some 60 cultural venues. During Ramadan it  hosts month-long exhibits, events and workshops.

Stop for lunch at the chic Wild & the Moon, a food and juice bar that launched as a superfood cantina in Paris before expanding to Dubai. The decor is minimalist with high ceilings, exposed pipes and hanging potted plants.

I recommend a creamy latte and a magic budwig bowl that’s a mouthwatering mix of ground almonds, spirulina and banana. It’s indulgent, refreshing and vegan. A perfect light yet nourishing power lunch for a hot afternoon.

Wild and Moon, Dubai

Wild and Moon, Dubai

eL Seed’s studio is nestled in a warehouse nearby. eL Seed is a French-Tunisian artist. His work is bright, colorful murals that play with classical Arabic calligraphy in a decidedly modern way.

el seed, Dubai

Nearby, The Junction is a 158-seat theater that puts on plays like A Streetcar Named Desire and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. An old-fashioned popcorn machine stands at the entrance and the walls are decorated with bright theater posters.

Also check out The Jam Jar, a community arts space aims to boost art appreciation in the UAE, and regularly hosts workshops, youth programs and events.

And although Alserkal is creating a buzz with the city’s art lovers, it feels like a hidden gem tucked between rows of warehouses. In a city full of dizzying luxury and record-breaking shopping malls, it’s also proof there’s more to Dubai than the stereotypes.

For more about exploring a city’s hidden gems, read 29 Practical Tips for Slow Travel.

41 Comments

  • Tara Runs the World

    Thanks for the post! I am trying to decide if I should go somewhere in Morocco or visit Dubai this December. Both are appealing in different ways. I recently heard from someone that went to Dubai that they have more than shopping to offer. Some of those overnight camping trips in the desert look cool. Have you done that?

  • Green Global Trek

    We have never been to Dubai and it is good to know that there is a whole hipster area of blossoming art galleries and art culture. When and if we do get there, we will be sure to check it out. Thanks for the list of places at the end of your post!

    Peta

    • Dee

      I’m glad you liked it, Peta! It’s such a different and unique side to the city and I hope you’ll get to visit there someday.

  • Zara

    Thanks for the information. A week trip must be a good choice for a traveller to Dubai. All popular places are nearby and this is what I like the most. You can enjoy your full time without wasting much on travel.

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