Anyone who visits Dubai is already familiar with the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeirah. These shining icons are there on every travel brochure, website and magazine that references the city, and they top the list of places to visit. However, there is much more to Dubai than its skyscrapers and tourist hotspots.
Dubai Coffee Museum
Image Credit: Dubai Coffee Museum
Originally known as the town of Bastak, the Al Bastakiya district is one of Dubai’s main cultural reserves. Many parts of the district contain traditionally designed buildings with wind towers and carved stone windows, which provide a nice counterpart to the glittering towers of modern neighbourhoods such as Dubai Marina. There are several historical attractions to visit in Al Bastakiya, such as the Dubai Museum, the Dubai Creek, art galleries, and the Dubai Coffee Museum. The latter is a two-storey structure in the heart of the district that showcases the history of the region’s most popular beverage. Ancient coffee making and grinding machines are on display, there are rooms set up like traditional coffee houses, and you can even enjoy a fresh brew at the museum coffee shop.
Love Lakes, Al Qudra
Image Credit: Timeout Dubai
Image Credit: Jebel Jais
This isn’t really a hidden gem of Dubai per se, but it is a major UAE landmark and a popular spot for campers and outdoors enthusiasts. Located in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which is known for its mountainous regions, Jebel Jais is the tallest peak in the country and offers a truly unique vacation experience. You are surrounded by natural beauty on all sides, without a single trace of urbanity. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a ride on Jebel Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline that takes you from the peak to a viewing platform suspended 50 metres above ground (and 1,200 metres above sea level). After you take a few minutes to catch your breath and to take in the incredible panoramas around you, you can take another zipline to the bottom. It is a way to experience nature like never before.
Dubai Gold Souk
Image Credit: Thousand Wonders
Image Credit: Adventure Faktory
Add a historical flavour to your desert camping trip at Fossil Rock. Located deep in the emirate of Sharjah and about an hour’s drive from Dubai, Fossil Rock is an archaeological site that has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Officially known as Jebel Mleiha, the site is centred on a rugged hilly peak that was formed as a result of volcanic activity millions of years ago when the area was still partly covered by the sea. The entire area is covered in marine fossils that provide a snapshot of the species that used to inhabit this particular region. And the sands just beyond the site are perfect for a desert trek or for offroading. All in all, it is a great desert adventure spot.
Image Credit: Visit Hatta
Hatta is an exclave of Dubai that sits along the UAE’s border with Oman. A historical, cultural and natural landmark, it has been a well-known camping and sightseeing destination for many decades. You can explore the old Hatta village with its forts and military towers, hike along nature trails and in the mountains, and set up camp around the famous Hatta Dam with a view over its crystal waters. A few old farm estates in the area have been converted into hotels, and many luxury resorts have also popped up over the years, for those who are seeking an outdoor trip that is supported by five-star amenities.