Dubai is continually expanding and inventing, with a stream of unique activities and attractions that are fast becoming part of the city’s must-visit list. Most everyone knows about the Dubai Frame (shown above), Kite Beach, the desert dune buggies, and the double zipline phenomenon of Xline Dubai where riders soar between the skyscrapers and over the turquoise waters of the marina. But there is so much more than that.
If you’re an adventure seeker, thrill seeker, a lover of shopping, dining, or performance art, or perhaps you simply want to kick back and admire the spectacular views, Dubai has something for everyone. And if they don’t have it yet, it’s certain it won’t be long until they develop it. With their ever-changing landscape of attractions, here is a list of some of the latest.
As a perfect addition to Dubai’s urban beach vibe, La Mer is the city’s latest beachfront district. Situated in Dubai’s Jumeirah 1 neighbourhood, this new locale is home to palm-lined walking paths, graffiti art murals and beachside charm. Pay a visit to the district’s surrounding sands, which stretch 2.5km, and make sure to indulge in some retail therapy and coastal treats at the many shops and cafes. If you fancy a full day of exploration, make your way to the nearby Etihad Museum for a contemporary history of the UAE or make a stop along the Dubai Water Canal to take in magnificent views of Dubai’s cityscape.
La Mer is also home to the city’s latest aquatic adventureland, Laguna Waterpark. Packed with rides, play areas and plenty of places to soak up the sun, Laguna is sure to be a fun day out for everyone. Spend the afternoon with the family whizzing down one of the park’s five unique water slides, relax under a cabana, or try your hand at the WaveOz 180, the park’s star attraction. Afterward, you can check out one of the great new restaurants lining the boardwalk at La Mer (our pick: Masti’s delicious Indian dining).
Dubai’s fashion set has a new home at The Dubai Mall – the glimmering Fashion Avenue extension. Home to 150 luxury brands, including the likes of Cartier, Gucci, Burberry, and Alexander McQueen, this enclave has all the works for elite shoppers. Perks include VIP valet, personal shoppers and in-mall chauffeurs to cater to your every whim. Between shopping, visitors can sample delicious bites (and rest their tired feet) at the many beautiful eateries. Try the panettone at the renowned Italian restaurant, Cova, which is lovingly crafted from a recipe that’s been guarded since the 19th Century.
With Bur Dubai on one side and Dubai Creek on the other, the picturesque Al Seef area offers visitors a relaxing day of exploring while overlooking the water. Not only does it herald in a new age of urban shopping and modern-day living, but it also pays homage to Dubai Creek’s important history as the location of the city’s first port. The 1.8 kilometre-long stretch is split into two very distinct areas: one modelled on Old Dubai and the other relying on modern architecture. A host of new restaurants now dot the esplanades, including the impressive creek dining experience Bateaux Dubai.
With a history spanning five decades, the world famous cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, has been reinvented as a hotel and entertainment hub on the docks of Port Rashid. You can now step back in time for a stay onboard the magnificent ship at the 13-deck hotel, or simply pop by for a meal. It may have gone through significant restorations, but the QE2 has retained some of its more famous aspects, including furniture and memorabilia that make for an extraordinary experience. There’s even a grand ballroom that some would say is the city’s grandest function venue, whatever the occasion.
A short drive from the city transports you to a mountain village, where new developments such as trailer parks, cafes and adventure centres are gaining popularity. One of the highlights here is the Hatta Wadi Hub that offers a wide range of experiences to suit every thrill-seeker. Activities such as mountain biking, archery, freefall jumps, wall climbing, and zip-lining are just some of the many experiences offered here. Hatta Wadi Hub is also home to Asia’s first water jump park – Hatta Drop-In – as well as Hatta Zorbing and the region’s first trailer park, Hatta Sedr. What’s more, visitors can also book kayaking and hiking trips at the adventure hub.
A short walk from The Beach at JBR is Dubai’s brilliant new beachside haven, Bluewaters Island. Whether you’re planning to stay, play or simply shop in the sunshine, there’s much to explore. Highlights here include Ain Dubai, the world’s largest Ferris wheel, and Cove Beach, a private beach club with luxurious loungers and an all-day menu of treats. Foodies will also want to book a table at Hell’s Kitchen by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at the Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai hotel nearby. Update your holiday wardrobe at the boutique stores by The Wharf precinct, where you can pick up casual cool T-shirts from Superdry or trendy new sunglasses at iSea.