When people think of Dubai, the first thing that comes to mind is the desert safari, the largest mall in the world and picturesque sunsets from the Middle East. But beyond these sights, there is much more to the UAE. For those who crave an arts and culture experience while still accessing the region’s rich history, you might want to settle down at these hotspots.
Owning the moniker as one of Dubai’s coolest arts and culture districts, you can expect art, design, fashion and performing art exhibitions throughout the industrial area. From artisanal cafés and platforms to spaces entirely devoted to contemporary art galleries and homegrown businesses. Start your morning at Mirzam Chocolate Makers to witness how a chocolate factory operates, plus cop a few bars. Spend the rest of the day visiting The Flip Side, the only independent vinyl record shop in Dubai, the vibrant art galleries and even a showroom of classic vintage cars.
address: 17th Street, Al Quoz
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
If your traveller’s instinct is telling you to devote your time on immersing yourself in the culture and customs of the UAE, you’ll be in for a great time at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). From the hidden cool gem in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood of Bur Dubai, you can find all the wind towers, old souks and small art galleries. Our SMCCU activities include feasting on a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner while sitting on Bedouin-style carpets and pillows. Our favourite part? All guests were invited to ask any questions about their life as expatriates and UAE nationals.
location: Al Mussallah Road
Culinary exploration in Old Dubai
Joining a local food tour with Frying Pan Adventures was like stepping into a different realm. Well, the route itself already made you feel like you were a local — nothing like your super touristy food checklist. We experienced Old Dubai through back streets, winding alleys, and bustling spice souks. With a pocket full of curiosity and heavy appetite, we savoured foods from old Dubai culture: traditional Emirati snacks, tangy Indian treats and succulent Iranian kebabs.
location: Deira and Bur Dubai, Dubai
If a day of lounging around and soaking up the sun seems like a perfect fit for you, La Mer’s beach and shopping district might just hit the spot. Complete with views of the picturesque Arabian Gulf that spans sandy beaches and city skylines, you can also spot tons of local graffiti street art and unique fashion concept stores!
location: lA MER
Written by Sinead Lee.