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10 must-see attractions in Dubai

Keshie Hernitaningtyas
Keshie Hernitaningtyas

The Jakarta Post

Dubai, United Arab Emirates  /  Wed, January 4, 2017  /  01:20 pm
10 must-see attractions in Dubai

Standing more than 828 meters high with over 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is known worldwide as the tallest building in the world. It was built in six years time from January 2004. (Shutterstock/File)

Planning a trip to Dubai? The City Walk and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) are just two of many attractive destinations in the emirate that travelers can explore, especially for those bringing family and kids.

Below are some of the other recommended places and activities to see and do in the United Arab Emirates' city.

Burj Khalifa 

Standing at more than 828 meters with over 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is known worldwide as “the tallest building in the world”, and was built in six years time from January 2004. Visitors are allowed to access levels 124 and 125 as well as level 148, hailed as “the highest outdoor observatory in the world” at 555 meters, for an uninterrupted view of the superlative city. It takes only two minutes by elevator to reach the 148th floor; or 6.5 hours for those who choose to take the stairs.

Dubai is set to have an even taller building named The Tower, set to clock in at a minimum of 928 meters, due for completion in 2020.


A photo posted by Burj Khalifa (@burjkhalifa) on

(Read also: Dubai plans to beat own record with 'world's tallest' tower)

Desert Safari 

A must for those seeking to enjoy a signature Arabian experience, a desert safari will take travelers for a thrilling ride on a four-wheeled vehicle around the sand dunes, which are around 50-kilometers away from downtown, watch the falcon (the national bird of the UAE) show, and photograph the desert’s memorable sunset. After sunset, visitors can enjoy an Arabic buffet dinner at a traditional-style Bedouin camp. The visit also offers camel rides, sandboarding, shisha, artists providing henna hand paintings and live belly dances during break at the camp. Those looking to spend more time in the desert can also opt to enjoy a sleepover using a sleeping bag and blanket or a two-person tent. For adventure seekers, unique experiences like camel trekking, sand skiing, desert quad biking and conservation rides to explore desert wildlife, such as the Arabian Oryx and gazelles, are available.


A photo posted by 🌺Kri (@kristioska) on

Ski Dubai 

Situated inside the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is “the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East”. It allows visitors to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing or simply playing in the snow in the minus 4 degrees Celsius setting. Home to “the world’s largest indoor Snow Park” that lies on 3000 square meters of snow, it even provides a chairlift that provides a bird’s eye view of the entire park – or, for beginners, marveling at skilled children and adults who are skiing like they were in Aspen, Colorado, instead of inside a giant glass box while being watched by the mall’s visitors.


A photo posted by Ski Dubai (@skidxb) on

(Read also: Legoland becomes first brick in Dubai's southern expansion)

Dubai Parks and Resorts 

This recently opened site is said to be home to “the largest theme park destination in the Middle East”. In addition to three separate theme parks – Legoland Dubai, a Hollywood-inspired theme park, Motiongate Dubai, and “the world’s first Bollywood theme park based on some of its blockbusters”, Bollywood Parks – Dubai Parks and Resorts on Sheikh Zayed Road also features a water park, a dining and retail district, and a Polynesian-themed family hotel, the Lapita Hotel.

Legoland Dubai will easily lure kids with its Lego-built rides, attractions, miniature skyscrapers and water park, but visitors of all ages will especially enjoy Motiongate Dubai. Offering a total of 27 rides and attractions, this theme park unites, for the first time ever, three legendary Hollywood film studios – DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate – by bringing their cinematic adventures to life. Thus visitors can expect to ride The Green Hornet: High Speed Chase roller coaster or The Hunger Games’ Capitol Bullet Train, explore the mushroom-capped town aboard the Smurfs Village Express, or take part in the multi-sensory Underworld 4D theater.

A visitor marvels at Dubai's miniature skyscrapers in Legoland Dubai at Dubai Parks and Resorts.(JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)

IMG Worlds of Adventure 

As Dubai can be very humid in the summer, this “largest temperature controlled indoor theme park in the world” serves as a convenient destination to visit year-round. Covering more than 139,000 square meters in an area that is able to host over 20,000 guests per day, it uniquely offers four zones that include renowned brands Marvel and Cartoon Network, while the other two, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley: Dinosaur Adventure zones, are original concepts from the IMG Group. Some of its highlighted rides and attractions are the Avengers: Battle of Ultron, Hulk Epsilon Base 3D, Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge, Ben 10 5D Hero Time, the Powerpuff Girls: Mojo Robot, the Amazing Ride of Gumball and the Haunted Hotel. Fans of Marvel will enjoy a visit to the Marvel Vault, a store full of the cinematic universe’s very expensive collectibles and items signed by Stan Lee himself.

A giant Iron Man figurine is one of the collectibles that can be found at the Marvel Vault store at the IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, UAE.(JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)

(Read also: Dubai opens massive Marvel-branded indoor theme park)

The Lost Chambers Aquarium 

Nestled in the five-star Atlantis the Palm, Dubai hotel, this place invites guests to explore the ancient ruins of Atlantis that have been lost for thousands of years beneath the sea. Set convincingly in a low-light setting adorned with a rather unnerving interior and sculptures, the Lost Chambers Aquarium features an endless number of sea creatures and also allows visitors to swim with them and feed them, take a peek behind the scenes and watch aquatheater shows. The hotel uniquely provides three-story underwater suites that let guests spend the night with 65,000 marine inhabitants of the aquarium’s Ambassador Lagoon with its floor-to-ceiling view.


Gaze upon the ancient ruins of Atlantis as you snorkel through the extraordinary Ambassador Lagoon #atlantisthepalm #ambassadorlagoon #dubai

A photo posted by Atlantis The Palm, Dubai (@atlantisthepalm) on

Global Village 

Returning for its 21th season starting from Nov. 1, 2016, to April 8, 2017, this festival park boasts a shopping and entertainment outlet that highlights cultural diversity. The current installment features 30 pavilions that represent more than 75 countries – including Indonesia, though only one shop available as part of the Far East pavilion – more than 150 restaurants and food kiosks, 3500 shopping outlets, more than 50 rides and skills games, various cultural and entertainment shows and concerts and fireworks display. With 5.3 million visitors last year throughout the six-month festival, the organizer is said to work with investors from the respective countries to establish the pavilions. Each year the entire set-up is knocked down and, during the six-month hiatus, new ones are built for the next festival.


A photo posted by Global Village (@globalvillageuae) on

The Dubai Mall 

There is more to this place than simply being “the largest mall in the world by total area”. It is home to “one of the world’s largest aquariums”. Dubbed Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, it has “the largest viewing panel on Earth”, more than 33,000 sea creatures, including sand tiger sharks and stingrays, an underwater zoo, an education program called The Ocean School and interesting activities like glass-bottom boat rides and shark dives. The mall also has a resident dinosaur: an original skeleton of a long-necked, whip-tailed sauropod that is over 155 million years old. It was discovered in 2008 at the Dana Quarry in Wyoming, US. Almost all bones of the dinosaur, 24.4 meters long and 7.6 meters high, were found intact at the excavation site, prior to being air-freighted to the Dubai Mall.

(Read also: What to do in Dubai if you only have 48 hours)

The Outlet Village 

Dubbed “the largest luxury outlet shopping destination in the UAE”, this indoor retail outlet will especially attract shoppers looking to purchase branded items at an attractive price. Situated in Jebel Ali, adjacent to the Dubai Parks and Resorts, it was launched only in September, yet plans are already in store to expand the mall to 418,000 square meters by 2018. Adorned in Tuscan-style, it currently features 125 retailers, from Galeries Lafayette and Armani to Coach and Tory Burch, in which items are discounted by up to 70 percent.

Jumeirah Beach Residence

Especially during the winter time, this place is recommended for a lazy stroll while taking part in people and supercar watching. "This is the place where people show off their new car or bicycle and have a good dining experience," said tour guide Marshall. Home to 35 residential and five hotel towers, as well as a restaurant and shopping strip dubbed The Walk at JBR, visitors can also expect to sunbathe, play in water or go on camel rides at The Beach. When it is time to dine, one of the recommended restaurants here is Seven Sands, which serves traditional Emirati cuisine from its seven Emirates with a modern twist.

Before you visit

- All EU citizens, as well as passport holders of Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Canada, the Vatican, Hong Kong, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States can obtain a UAE visa on arrival, which is valid for 30 days. Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are allowed to enter without a visa.

- The official currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED or Dhs). US$1 is 3.67 AED.

- The official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken.

- Islam is the official religion of UAE but the practice of other faiths is tolerated.

- Dubai’s temperatures can reach 15 degrees Celsius in January and 45 degrees Celsius or higher in July.

- Friday and Saturday are the country’s official holidays.

- Alcohol is available in licensed hotels and restaurants.

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