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A Dubai travel guide – luxury shopping, desert adventures and global cuisine

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A Dubai city break takes visitors to palatial shopping malls, on desert safaris and along atmospheric back streets. Book a Dubai hotel to experience the many sides of this exhilarating United Emirates city.

Get your bearings

The city of Dubai stretches along the shores of the Arabian Gulf, from Jebel Ali and New Dubai in the south to the city centre further north east. Dubai Creek flows from the Gulf through central Dubai, separating the souqs (markets) of Deira on the right bank from historic Bur Dubai on the left. The multi-lane highway of Sheikh Zayed Road follows the coastline, running just inland from the luxurious resorts of Jumeirah Beach. Dubai is flanked by the neighbouring emirates of Sharjah to the north and Abu Dhabi to the south.

Market and mall shopping

From colourful markets to glamorous malls, Dubai excels at shopping. Heady aromas fill the Spice Souq in Deira and all that glitters is gilt in the nearby Gold Souq. On the other side of Dubai Creek, sari textiles and Arabian souvenirs fill the stalls of Bur Dubai Souq. Don’t miss the exquisitely decorated shopping malls on a Dubai city break. Egyptian-themed Wafi in Bur Dubai and the décors of Persia, North Africa and Spain at Ibn Battuta mall in New Dubai are two of the best. Combine shopping at Harvey Nichols with indoor skiing at Mall of the Emirates, off Sheikh Zayed Road. See sharks in the aquarium at Dubai Mall in the soaring Burj Dubai complex.

Uniquely Dubai

With offshore residential developments in the shape of palm trees and the world, Dubai has some of the world’s most unusual man-made sights. Sail across Dubai Creek in an open-sided boat called an abra, then ride a high-tech wave at Wild Wadi Waterpark off Jumeirah Road. Camel racing gets the pulse going at Dubai Racecourse and some of the world’s tallest and shiniest skyscrapers soar on nearby Sheikh Zayed Road. Hear the call to prayer at Jumeirah Mosque or modern Arab music in a Dubai hotel nightclub. 

Rest and relaxation

Blockbuster movies are screened in air-conditioned comfort at Mall of the Emirates and 3D extravaganzas fill the IMAX screen at Ibn Battuta mall. Cool off in the Arabian Gulf at Jumeirah Beach, or unwind in the 1001 Nights ambience of a Dubai hotel spa. Dubai’s art galleries focus on modern art from the Middle East. Try the Third Line gallery, off Sheikh Zayed Road, and the intimate courtyard space at Majlis Gallery in Bur Dubai. 

Outdoor activities

A Dubai city break can start early with a dawn hot-air balloon ride over the sands. Camel safaris head into the desert to visit Bedouin villages, and sandboarders surf the dunes. Traditional boats cruise up and down Dubai Creek, and when the waves are up there’s windsurfing and sailing from Jumeirah Beach. There’s no shortage of spectator sports with Dubai’s Racing Carnival, Tennis Championships and Desert Classic golf tournament.