Traditional and Cultural Things to Do in Dubai

Dubai Creek

Photo by Megan Smith via

If you want to take home more than just a nice suntan and bags of shopping, consider delving deeper into Dubai’s culture with some of the more authentic activities on offer. Tour a mosque, haggle at a bazaar, smoke a shisha (hookah or water pipe), or attend an exciting camel race. There are so many experiences in Dubai that you may never get the chance to try anywhere else in the world!

Explore the Old City

The Bastakia Quarter of Dubai, between Dubai Creek and Bur Dubai, has retained the narrow streets and historic buildings of the former fishing village. Now housing cafés and art galleries, it’s a wonderful place to absorb the authentic atmosphere of the Middle East. View contemporary Arabic artworks before heading to the shady courtyard of the Arabian Tea House Café for refreshing mint tea. Return in the evening for a traditional Arabic dinner and the chance to try one of the aromatic water pipes.

Visit the traditional souks with stalls piled high with textiles, spices, and perfume. Take a water taxi ride across the creek with local men wearing their traditional ghutrah headdress.

If you prefer to tour with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, the Dubai City History Tour is a great way to discover the city’s heritage. Tours have pick-up points from most hotels in Dubai.

Visit Dubai Museum

Dubai Museum is in Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in the city. It has interactive exhibits and old photographs of date farms, mud-brick houses, souks, Bedouin desert camps, and more.

Attend a Camel Race

Camel racing is one of the oldest sporting traditions in the Emirates. Visit the Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack and watch this exciting sport, which takes place in the cooler months from November to April. Enjoy the Dubai Camel Racing Festival hosted during the last two weeks of February. The atmosphere is amazing, and admission is free.

Tour a Mosque

Jumeirah Mosque is a stone structure constructed in a modern Islamic architectural style. Although most mosques are not open for sightseeing, Jumeirah Mosque is an exception. It offers organized guided tours from Saturday through Thursday at 10 a.m. Just turn up in modest dress and join the 75-minute tour. Learn about Islamic prayer rituals, prayer times calculated by the sun, and ask your own questions.

Take a Dhow Cruise on Dubai Creek

There’s nothing more relaxing than sailing along Dubai Creek in a traditional wooden dhow. Learn about this historic waterway as you enjoy a buffet dinner of Arabian and international cuisine on a two-hourDhow Dinner Cruise.

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is in a magnificent building that was once the home of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. Elegant wind towers, old photographs, and cultural exhibits explain about traditional Islamic culture. It’s a great place to enjoy an authentic Arabic breakfast, or pick up some Camel chocolate bars for souvenir gifts!

Don’t miss doing some of these cultural activities to experience what’s behind the scenes of modern Dubai.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Dubai, checkout this Dubai Destination article that covers beach hotels, luxury hotels, apartments and more traditional places to stay in the city.

This article is part of the #HipmunkCity Love series


About gillianbirch

Greetings from your international roving reporter! Based in beautiful Cornwall UK, I am a freelance travel writer and published author of several travel books. As the wife of a Master Mariner, I have travelled extensively and lived in exotic locations all over the world including the Far East, Europe, Australia and the Republic of Panama. I would describe myself as having “endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust”, as I continue to explore Europe, Florida and further afield, writing about my experiences with humour and attention to detail. BTW, I have a Diploma from the British College of Journalism and am a member of the International Travel Writers’ Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers’ Association.
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