Remarkable Dubai

Enjoy a slice of traditional Dubai

Explore Dubai Creek and The Al Fahidi Historical District to discover the city’s origins as a commercial centre

Dubai hasn’t always been skyscrapers and fine hotels. Although there is plenty going on along the beach front and in Downtown Dubai, there’s also plenty to discover about the city’s origins. Once the centre of life in this bustling port city, Dubai Creek is still the beating heart of the emirate with lively gold, spice and textile souks on either side of the water. Years ago, this was Dubai’s main commercial centre, with dhows chugging all kinds of wares - including precious metals, tea and silks – up the Creek. The heritage can still be enjoyed today by taking a traditional abra water taxi across the Creek for just 20p.

Next to the Creek is the peaceful and the traditional Al Fahidi Historical District, which is one of the city’s oldest, and a great place to wander over an afternoon. It’s a maze of streets and alleys, and is full of grand historic buildings and museums, which were once home to some of Dubai’s first settlers. There’s plenty to explore, including art galleries and intricate wind towers, which were used as early forms of air conditioning.

Islam is a big part of Dubai’s history and culture, and local Emiratis are pleased to meet and talk to visitors to explain its significance in modern-day Dubai. If you want to know more, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a good place to start – you can chat to locals about the UAE, and Islamic cultures and traditions. Also take the time to try some local Emirati food – such as shawarma and tabbouleh – in its traditional courtyard.

To get a real insight into Islam, visit Dubai’s grand Jumeirah Mosque. This is the only mosque in the emirate to welcome non-Muslims, and offers a fascinating lens into Dubai’s culture – tours are available on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.