Dubai offers a range of leisure and adventure activities including art, dancing, music, Pilates, reiki, tai chi, yoga; scuba diving, deep sea fishing, mountain climbing, shotgun shooting, go-karting, bowling, ice skating, indoor skiing and sand boarding among others. With so many different nationalities and cultures at play in Dubai, most sports, activities and interests are covered.
Very good rock climbing can be found in a number of locations close to Dubai, from easy routes for beginners right through to very severe and extreme grades. There is a climbing wall at the Pharaoh’s Club, with climbs of varying degrees of difficulty. It comprises a set of walls for climbing routes and bouldering, as well as crash mats for safety during low-level climbs, with ropes in place on all routes.
Cycling tours round the mountain enclave of Hatta offer a different sort of excursion. A series of interesting routes take the cyclist through dry river beds (wadis), remote villages and small farms.
With rich marine life, fishing was once the mainstay of the local economy in the region. Kingfish, red snapper, rock cod (the popular Hammour) barracuda, sail fish and other species are often caught commercially and for sport. Fully equipped deep sea fishing boats with crew are available for hire. The best fishing period is from October to April.
Aircraft may be hired from the Emirates Flying School and Dubai Flying Association at Dubai International Airport. However, visitors who wish to fly are first required to have a valid UAE PPL, to be tested by an instructor and to become a club member.
Dubai boasts of some of the finest golf courses in the world and was in fact voted as the leading golf destination by the International Golf Tour Operators Association. The courses have been designed by leading golf professionals and offer teaching and practice facilities. The Emirates Golf club, the venue of the Dubai Desert Classic is one of the oldest golfing venues. The Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, The Montgomerie, and The Four Seasons Golf Club are some of the leading golf clubs in the city.
Horses and riding are an integral part of local tradition upheld today by several active riding centers, including the Dubai Equestrian Centre, the Jebel Ali Equestrian Club and Club Joumana, the riding stables at Jebel Ali Hotel. Rides through the desert are organized regularly. Dubai also has a riding association for the disabled. The future looks bright for horse lovers visiting Dubai, as the Arabian Ranches will offer a state-of-the-art equestrian center for the serious competitor, as well as carefully tended tracks and trails around the Ranches for those who enjoy a more relaxed approach to horse riding. The horses at Arabian Ranches will nearly be as pampered as its residents. Every four horses will have their own groom, and there will be resident trainers, farriers and a vet with access to a fully equipped treatment room.
The Plantation Equestrian & Polo Club is also on the drawing board, another Dubailand component project. It is planned to become one of the world's largest equestrian facilities, with capacity for 800 horses, with two luxurious clubhouses and extensive show-jumping, dressage, cross-country, endurance and polo amenities in 14.5 million square feet of landscaped grounds.
Dubai has quite a few ice rinks; the oldest of them are located at Al Nasr Leisureland and the Hyatt Regency Galleria. The newest and most modern ice rink is located in the Dubai Mall. Dubailand will have a huge ice rink at its proposed Snowdome. Skates and instructors are available at most of the locations. The rinks are closed to the public during instruction periods and timetables should be consulted before going.
Ski Dubai located within the Mall Of the Emirates is the world's third-largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 meters and using 6,000 tons of snow. The feature a revolving ski slope, an artificial mountain range, an ice bridge, a cable lift, a snow maze, an ice slide, polar bears, cold-water aquaria and special sound and light effects.
This is a very popular pastime for residents and tourists alike because of the speed and thrill it holds out. Jet skis can be hired typically from the water sports centers of most of the hotels along Dubai’s coast and there are clearly designated areas for jet skiing for safety reasons.
Motor Racing & Go Karting
The new Dubai Autodrome & Business park within Dubailand is one of the first fully integrated automotive and motor sports facilities in the Middle East, incorporating a world-class FIA-sanctioned 5.39-kilometre motor racing track, international standard pit-lane complex with a state-of-the-art grandstand accommodating more than 7,000 spectators as well as providing hospitality suites for corporate customers. On a smaller scale, but no less exciting, Dubai has two outdoor go-kart tracks: Formula One at Nad Al Sheba and the Dubai Kart Club beside the Jebel Ali Hotel, open daily. In addition, the new Autodrome will house a 1.2 kilometer indoor and outdoor go-karting track.
You can get a breathtaking view of Dubai from high over the coastline of Dubai! Take off from behind a high powered boat that glides up and down the coastline of Dubai. You can go parasailing from some of the water sports facilities of the luxurious hotels along the coast.
This sport is gaining rapid popularity in Dubai and you can choose from any of the sailing boats, dinghies or even traditional dhows. It is a very relaxing sport as you listen only to the rhythmic sounds of the waves. There are also regular sail boat races in Dubai.
For a novel sporting experience, visitors may like to try their hand at sand-skiing/sand boarding. Trips to the desert dunes for this activity can be organized by leading tour operators.
The waters around Dubai offer a considerable range of attractions and variety for scuba divers, both novices and experts. With a minimal tidal flow, the Gulf waters are safe for beginners. The visibility is good, marine life rich and interesting wrecks to explore. Divers wishing to use the facilities in the emirates must possess valid and recognized documents such as a dive card or log book.
If you do not have a license for scuba diving, then you can go snorkeling! The coral reefs and rich marine life are a treat to see and experience.
You can go on an exciting adventure by renting some of the fastest speed boats in the region. A great way to get away from it all, as you bump over the waves of the Arabian Gulf.
This is the aquatic equivalent of snowboarding and can be a heart-pounding experience as you use the momentum and wake of the high-speed boat pulling you to do stunts.
In the dry summer months you can drive a 4x4 vehicle along the wadis (dry river beds) and enjoy the dramatic and natural scenery of greenery, rocks and pools. It is advisable to go with an experienced driver as it can be quite dangerous.
This popular sport can be experienced in Dubai by choosing a surf board from any of the water sports facilities at the hotels and going out into the beautiful aquamarine waters of the gulf.
As a city, there is much more to Dubai than its iconic architectural landmarks and malls. Dubai is also a proud cosmopolitan city where cultural and artistic talent is encouraged, celebrated and applauded. Culture, arts and heritage are vital to the success of Dubai’s expanding economy because they are the key building blocks of civil life and public dialogue. Encouragement of cultural activities in the community improves the quality of life of the city’s residents. It also improves the quality of education and fosters creativity, which leads to innovation in other areas such as hospitality management and entrepreneurship causing a positive impact on the economy. But above all, Dubai’s cultural scene defines this great city’s soul, building its reputation as a world class cultural destination, thus enhancing the Dubai brand and the city’s current standing as the cosmopolitan hub of the Middle East.
Set up in March 2009, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority now re-branded as Dubai Culture has dedicated itself to leading a renaissance of the cultural scene in Dubai and making it a vibrant hub of culture, arts and heritage.
Prominent Art Centres in Dubai:
Established in 1976, the Dubai International Art Centre (DIAC) is one of the city’s primary efforts towards encouraging art and its significance in the city. Dubai’s oldest and largest art organisation, DIAC has around 1200 members from 67 countries and functions today as an important resource as a gallery, library, learning centre, and a home away from home for the city’s art aficionados.
More recently, a modern art centre (DUCTAC) has been opened at the Mall of the Emirates, paving the way for an infusion of new talent, young and old, drawn from various communities in Dubai’s colourful population made up of nearly 200 nationalities.
Other Art Centres in Dubai include:
A Passion For Art
Art Attack Gallery
Eclectic Art & Coffee House
Four Seasons Ramesh Gallery
The Third Line
The warm turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf lapping on to the soft white sand all along Dubai’s coastline are a sun seekers haven and offer a relaxing alternative to exploring the city. Clean, sandy beaches, guaranteed year-round sunshine, and near-perfect conditions for water sports make Dubai an ideal location for beach lovers.
There are many beautiful beaches in Dubai including public and private beaches. The public beaches are free and have very limited facilities. On the other hand, the private beaches which generally belong to a hotel or beach resort offer a host of facilities including water sports, cabanas and shaded areas and barbeque pits among others.
Beaches will continue to be a huge attraction for tourists and residents alike in Dubai. Its current 60 kilometer coastline is being increased to over 1500 kilometers through its various island and waterfront developments!
Beach Parks are a unique feature in Dubai. Ideal for families or women and children the beach parks offer shelters, chalets, restaurants, swimming pools and protected beaches. They are a lovely way to spend a day and enjoy Dubai’s gorgeous year round sunshine and warmth. There are two major beach parks in Dubai:
Al Mumzar Beach Park
Full beach facilities in addition to over 100 chalets rented out on a daily basis and swimming pool, large green area, swimming pool, in-park transport system, and cafeteria. Full beach facilities with round-the-clock lifeguard service, desert garden, children's playground, barbecue areas, Sports Facilities area, and a helipad.
Although the early history of the area is not very well documented, archeological discoveries suggest that, as back as four thousand years ago, small fishing communities lived along the coast of the Arabian Gulf on the site of modern Dubai.
It is also believed that the natural sheltered harbor afforded by the Dubai Creek was a busy port on the ancient trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. In recent years, archeologists have unearthed hundreds of artifacts, including pottery, weapons and coinage that point to civilized settlements dating back to the third millennium B.C. These historic finds have been carefully preserved and are now permanently housed in the Archeological Section of Dubai Museum. Modern Dubai, however, traces its origins to the 1830’s. At that time, the small fishing village on the Shindagha peninsula at the mouth of the Creek was settled by a branch of the Bani Yas tribe, originally from the Liwa oasis to the south, led by the Maktoum family who still rule the emirate today. By the late 1870’s, Dubai was often referred to as the principal port on the Gulf coast and, by the turn of the century, was reputed to have had the largest souks in Arabia.
Pearling which was the mainstay of the city’s prosperity for many years, succumbed to the development of the cultured pearl in the 1940’s. But Dubai’s enterprising merchants bounced back, developing a thriving trade in gold and other commodities. Much of this history is carefully preserved in myriad forts, mosques, palaces and other historic monuments, which are on the itineraries of many organized tours.
Although Dubai is considered the ideal holiday spot throughout the year, the best time to visit the city is during the breathtaking festivals and exciting international events. Watch the city come to life as people from over 200 countries go there to be part of the excitement.
Dubai has established itself as a major destination for an eclectic array of local and international events and earned its reputation as the sporting capital of the Middle East. Throughout the year, Dubai hosts a range of popular annual sporting activities, dazzling entertainment attractions as well as conferences and exhibitions.
During your stay, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the magnificent tourist sites that will leave you completely spell bound.
Dubai Shopping Festival
Although Dubai is considered a shopper’s paradise throughout the year, during the Dubai Shopping Festival the city becomes the most sought-after shopping extravaganza in the world. Enjoy a menu of attractions during the month long festival, which is dotingly called DSF. The entire city offers unbelievable discounts on everything from cars, electronics and computers to fashion, jewelry and perfumes. Shop till your heart’s delight at the Global Village, which is one of the major attractions of the festival. There you can go on a mini-world tour, picking exotic products from every country pavilion you visit. Enjoy scores of events that add a buzz of excitement into the city. These broadly include international fashion shows, children’s events, and street-side performances, nightly Fireworks, Aqua Fantasia shows and many other cultural events that will leave you completely spellbound.
Dubai Summer Surprises
Ten weeks of summer fun!
Dubai Summer Surprises is the hot weather counterpart of the Dubai Shopping Festival. For ten weeks, there are special events in many of the shopping malls with themes changing weekly. It has a family emphasis, focusing on both fun and education. Modesh Fun City is a play and educational area for kids, open during the duration of the festival.
Dubai World Cup
The world’s richest horse race!
The Dubai World Cup is a Thoroughbred horse race held annually since 1996 at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The race is operated through the Emirates Horse Racing Authority (EHRA) whose Chairman is Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs of United Arab Emirates.
The race was the creation of the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who owns Darley & Stud and Godolphin Racing one of the world's leading thoroughbred breeding and racing operations. With the establishment of the annual invitation-only Dubai World Cup, the United Arab Emirates became the home of one of the world’s top racing challenges, and drew the attention of millions of enthusiasts around the globe. Today, the Dubai World Cup meeting enjoys a formidable reputation.
The opening of Meydan Racecourse in 2010 will be a defining moment in the sport's global history. Unparalleled levels of luxury, customer comfort and racing technology will combine to create the ultimate horse racing experience. And when the 60,000 capacity crowd have finished cheering on the world's finest thoroughbreds there's a 5 star hotel, international restaurants and an IMAX cinema to capture the imagination. In 2010 it will become the new home of the Dubai World Cup, and as such, the new global home for elite horse racing. It will attract the best thoroughbreds, owners and racing nobility from around the world.
The Dubai Desert Classic is an annual professional golf tournament which takes place in Dubai. It has been part of the European Tour schedule since its inauguration in 1989, and was the first European Tour event to be staged in the Middle East. Except for the 1999 and 2000 editions, which were held at the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, it has been played on the "Majlis" course at the Emirates Golf Club. The event is noted for attracting some of the biggest stars in the world of golf.
Dubai Film Festival
The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was launched in December 2004 under the theme: Bridging Cultures. Meeting Minds. DIFF is held under the honorary Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. DIFF is a not-for-profit cultural event, presented and organized by the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority.
As the previous editions of DIFF have demonstrated, the Festival not only presents cinematic excellence from around the world, but is also an important high-profile platform for aspiring home-grown talent. The Muhr Award for Excellence in Arab Cinema was launched in 2006, with the aim of recognizing Arab filmmakers both regionally and internationally. In 2008, the Muhr Awards for Excellence have been expanded to include two separate competitions, the Arab Muhr Award, and the Asia Africa Muhr Award. It also introduces a new program segment dedicated exclusively to Animation.
Another initiative introduced in 2006 was the Industry Office, which was established with a view to exclusively assist the needs of all registered delegates. 2007 saw the introduction of the Dubai Film Connection, a co-production market, in keeping with its commitment to stimulating the growth of the film industry in the Arab World. Other exciting initiatives launched in 2007 included, Rhythm and Reels, The Magic of Cinema Photo exhibition and the inaugural amfAR Cinema Against Aids Dubai. Since its inception, DIFF has become an important meeting point for international and regional filmmakers and industry professionals setting the foundation for potential future collaborations.
Dubai Fashion Week
Dubai Fashion Week (DFW) is a 'by invitation only' fashion trade event aimed at bringing together major advocates of the fashion industry by providing them a single platform. Overseen by an advisory board, DFW enables local and regional designers and fashion houses to present their collection to global and regional buyers, media, fashion professionals and the general public.
Dubai Rugby 7s
From its humble beginnings as a game played by a handful of British expatriates in the 1960s, the Dubai Rugby Sevens has grown to become a major sporting event in the country. The modern-day tournament features 16 international teams who play in games lasting just 22 minutes each. Held in the Dubai Exiles Rugby Ground with a 30,000 crowd capacity, the Dubai Rugby Sevens always generates an exciting atmosphere that attracts rugby fans from all over the world. It will move to the ‘Sevens’ Emirates’ purpose built sporting venue.
A spectacle for both locals and tourists in Dubai, powerboat racing thrives on speed and thrill. Host of one of the biggest powerboat races in the world, Dubai has taken to this sport very passionately. The UIM Class One World Powerboat Championship is the biggest powerboat racing event in the world. A very important leg of this championship is held in Dubai. Powerboat racing in Dubai has grown from strength to strength, testified by the increasing number of sponsors and participants. Held at the mesmerizing Dubai Creek, one of the prime tourist attractions in Dubai, these powerboat races are contested by some of the biggest racers of the world. The sight of numerous noisy boats speeding in the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf is enjoyed by thousands of people.
Dubai is a city that offers rare opportunities to experience local and ethnic cuisine from almost every region in the world for those who enjoy good food and a great dining experience.
Standards of international cuisine in Dubai are high and the choice is diverse. Top class restaurants in the city’s hotels offer Arabian, French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Mexican, Russian, British, German, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Flilpino and Korean cuisine to name just a few.
Hotels offer a remarkably diverse range of food and beverage outlets, partly because they serve not only their own guests but also attract large numbers of local residents. Their restaurants cover everything from coffee shops to fine dining and specialty outlets and the standard of service is on a par with the best in the world. The night-life is equally varied, with many bars, pubs, discos and nightclubs open until the small hours.
Outside the hotels, small eating places are to be found in all parts of the city including Deira, Bur Dubai, Satwa, Jumeirah and Dubai Marina. While restaurants located outside hotel and club premises are not permitted to serve alcohol, all are air-conditioned, clean and are often culinary adventures in their own right.
International theme restaurants such as TGI Friday’s, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Café and Henry J Bean’s and Fashion Café are also popular.
There are also several other American and Mexican restaurants in the city, while international fast food chains are represented by such names as McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Round Table Pizza, Pizza Corner, Harry Ramsden’s, Burger King, Shakey’s, Wimpy, Dunkin’ Donuts and Hardee’s.
Dubai Municipality Museum
The construction date of this building goes back to the late 50s.It became the headquarters of Dubai Municipality offices until 1964, and then the Municipality offices were moved to another building. Due to the importance of this building in the Municipality's history as well as its location amidst the commercial market near the bay ( Dubai Creek) In 2006, this museum was opened it included halls, exhibits and documents telling the history of the period during which the Municipality was established.
Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum, was built around 1787, and once guarded the landward approaches to the town. Renovated in 1971 for use as a museum, its colorful life size dioramas vividly depict everyday life in the days before the discovery of oil. Galleries recreate scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souk, date farms and desert and marine life. One of the more spectacular exhibits portrays pearl diving, including sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. Also on display, are artifacts from several excavations in the emirate, recovered from graves that date back to the third millennium BC.
Naif Fort built in a strategic location in the main commercial district in Deira, was the first headquarters of Dubai Police. The fort was also used as a prison. It represented secure stronghold responsible for maintaining a security, the public office of the public prosecution and the civil courts. The fort was built of a clay material called al Madar, known for its cohesive qualities, and Al Chandal, a characteristic of Naïf Fort is its tower, the first part of the fort to be built. The tower was called Al Makbad because it was partly used as a jail for criminals. The construction of the fort was order by sheikh Rashid in 1939. The fort was used to accommodate the office of the Accommodate-in-chief of the Dubai police. There were also general, intelligence and investigation office and accommodation quarters for some officers. In addition, an area was used as stable for patrol horses. The fort has a historic gun which today is situated in the courtyard of Naif police station. It was the first training center for police personnel, with the first batch of officers stating their training in 1956.
The emirate is teeming with shopping malls and each mall reveals a different theme and experience. The sprawling expanse of the malls, the innovative architecture, the designer boutiques, top brands, vast product range from haute couture to the latest gadgets and gizmos and an endless choice of restaurants and cafes allow visitors the option of passing an entire day within the premises of a single shopping complex.
Existing alongside modern marvels such as the shopping malls, are the traditional markets, also known as the souks. With their historic structures still in place and restored to meet the demands of the present day, Dubai‘s different souks may vary in their offerings and character, but are all alive with the buzz of trade and the spirit of a strong and traditional past.
The Dubai shopping scene offers something for everyone. Apart from competitively priced electronic products, watches, cameras and other international items, popular traditional gifts include Arabic coffee pots; silver and brass swords and "khunjars" (Arabic curved daggers); prayer beads; soapstone figures; coasters and other items decorated with lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite and other semi-precious stones; marble goblets; silver antique jewelry from Oman and Yemen, as well as locally made items; brass and silver work; silver and wooden dhows; Persian carpets and cotton dhurries (oblong floor coverings) and a multitude of other ethnic items.
Dubai’s shopping potential begins when you arrive and extends right up to the journey home through its now globally acclaimed Dubai Duty Free shops at its airports. First opened in 1983, Dubai Duty Free has won a number of international awards and is recognized in the industry and by the travelling public alike as offering a superlative range of high quality products at unbeatable prices.
In the space of just three decades, Dubai has emerged as the undisputed sports capital of the Middle East. Among the numerous top class events held in the emirate are the Desert Classic PGA Golf Tournament, UIM Class One Powerboat World Championships, ATP Dubai Tennis Open, Dubai Sevens Rugby Tournament and the Dubai World Cup horse race to name a few.
These sporting events have helped in generating worldwide media exposure for Dubai and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has successfully capitalized on this increased international awareness of Dubai to publicize the city’s ideal business environment and top class hospitality industry to the world.
But what has contributed to this success? Dubai’s first-class sporting facilities and year-round sunshine make it an ideal destination for an action-packed holiday. The variety of sports on offer varies from deep-sea fishing to ice-skating and from golf to sand skiing.
Dubai’s climate and first-class sporting facilities make it an ideal place to lead an action-packed life or enjoy an energetic holiday. The variety of sports on offer ranges from deep-sea fishing to ice-skating, and from golf on the Middle East’s international standard grass courses to sand skiing in the desert.
However, Dubai is not just for the active sportsman. The emirate is also a great place for the sports fan to see top-class spectator events and admire the skills of some of the leading stars and personalities in a wide range of different sports.
Dubai is well known as the pioneer of golf in the Middle East. The Emirates Golf Club is world famous as the venue for the Desert Classic, a major event on the European PGA tour.
In the recent past the Desert Classic, has featured leading golfers including Australian ‘Shark’ Greg Norman, American Fred Couples and Tiger Woods, Bernhard Langer of Germany, Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, Japanese powerhouse Tsukasa Watanabe and the South African Ernie Els.
There are several other golf courses to challenge the skills of the most skilled players including Arabian Ranches Golf Course, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Dubai Country Club, Emirates Golf Club, Hatta Fort Golf Courses, Hyatt Golf Park, Four Seasons Golf Club, Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort, Nad Al Sheba Club, and The Resort Golf Course among others.
On the waterfront, Dubai is the venue for the World Powerboat Championships that bring to the emirate the fastest boats and the most skilled drivers from around the globe. The brilliant success of the local Victory team has generated great interest in the sport and record crowds gather on the beach for what is now one of the country’s most popular spectator sports.
Tennis in Dubai took on an international look with the ATP Dubai Open Tennis Tournament drawing some of the world’s most promising players.
A classic of a different nature - the Dubai Snooker Classic - also regularly pulls in the biggest names in this sport.
Other major annual events include the Dubai Sevens and the Dubai International Rally, a high adventure 24-hour journey through the desert dunes.
In motor sport, Dubai's Mohammed bin Sulayem a former champion is now an avid supporter of the Middle East Rally Championship. The UAE Desert Challenge achieved international status as one of the World Series’ most grueling and exciting event providing a pulsating climax to the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
Football, which found its way from Europe almost before the first Europeans, ranks as the number one national participation sport.
The Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world brings to the emirate participants from all over the globe. This event attracts the crème de la crème from major racing centers in the USA, Australia, Europe, Japan and the UAE and puts the emirate in the international media spotlight.
The cosmopolitan atmosphere of Dubai is encapsulated in a range of activities from polo to volleyball, ice-skating to hockey, bowling to darts, chess to show jumping and dressage.
But while many of the sports taking place in Dubai originated overseas, tradition is never forgotten. Camel racing is a spectacular and highly popular sport throughout the winter months and the annual sailing dhow race - an event which features smaller versions of the traditional dhow - draws the crowds in their thousands for a sight from another century and that is the very essence of Dubai a synthesis of old and new.