Dubai is an artificial city - in the middle of the desert and its wilderness, a gigantic megalopolis has been built in less than 30 years! Yet it is one of the most popular destinations in the world. Why is tourism in Dubai doing so well? Why do tourists come to Dubai? I explain it in this article 🙂
Dubai is a paradise of luxury and excess and at the same time an ideal family resort. It's sunny all year round, the emirate's beaches are beautiful with fine sand and warm waters, its desert is stunning and there are endless activities. So how to resist?
Do you want to live this experience too? Read this article and you will quickly get an idea of the state of tourism in Dubai. In this article, I explain why people come to Dubai and what it is possible to see in the emirate.
1. DUBAI, A TOURISM OF EXCESS?
Once in Dubai, you will see that everything is gigantic. If you don't know where Dubai is, you can check out my article on the subject 🙂
THE BURJ KHALIFA, THE HIGHEST TOWER IN THE WORLD
Of course, it is the Burj Khalifa that you will first notice as you leave the Dubai airport. With its 2,715 feet high (828 meters) and its 160 floors, you won't be able to miss it: it is, for the moment, the highest tower in the world (it should soon be dethroned by the "Dubai Creek Tower", still in Dubai, or by the "Jeddah Tower" in Saudi Arabia, which should reach 3,280 feet high (or 1,000 meters)... For the moment though, the Burj Khalifa remains the highest tower in the world. Its visit is therefore a must-do in Dubai 🙂
The tower is located in Downtown Dubai. It houses many private apartments and offices, but also a hotel (the Armani Hotel), restaurants and ... the highest observation platform in the world!
Once at the top of this architectural masterpiece, you will enjoy a unique view of the city and the desert.
But you'll have to buy your tickets first and book them in advance because, let me remind you, this is one of the most popular attractions in the city!
At the top
124 & 125th floors
At the top sky
124,125 & 148th floors
152 & 154th floors
Adults: 149 AED
Children: 114 AED
Adults (4+ years):
382 AED (about $104)
Adults (4+ years):
750 AED (about $204)
Ticket for high traffic access
Adults: 228 AED
Enfant : 113 AED
(4 pm - 7 pm)
Adults (4+ years):
536 AED ($145.85)
(12 am - 6 pm)
Do not miss the famous and largest fountain in the world, which is located at the foot of the tower: the Dubai Fountain. In fact, it's an artificial lake where an impeccably choreographed "sound/water and light" show takes place several times a day!
You can watch it for FREE from the promenade around. Otherwise, get a ticket to access the floating platform, the "Dubai Fountain Boardwalk" (20 AED, about $5.40 or €4.80 ). Unless you would rather opt for a ride on the water in a traditional wooden boat (an abra). This option, the "Dubai Fountain Lake Ride", costs about $17 (€15).
At 1pm and 1:30pm every day, except Fridays: 1:30pm and 2pm. Shows run every 30 minutes every day of the week from 6pm to 11pm. In Dubai, the tourism of excess is very present, with many world records to admire or visit! 🙂
the Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is this famous hotel in the shape of a sailboat which is located close to the beach. It is above all the most luxurious and therefore the most expensive hotel in the world! It is considered by some as a 7 star hotel, and is 1,050 feet high (321 meters).
Built on an artificial island 920 ft from the coast bordering the Jumeirah district (280 meters), its 202 suites have a very bling decor with gold and marble everywhere. It is not accessible to everyone’s wallet (you'll realize that just by entering the atrium), but if you have the opportunity to spend even one night there, you'll be in heaven. Count at least $1,130 (€1,000) for one night - but at this price you'll be entitled to a personalized service (iPad, free internet connection, iMac, HD TV...), a private beach and many other activities (spa, luxury stores...) including an unlimited entrance to the water park located just in front of the hotel (I'll talk about it below)!
If you haven’t booked a room, you can always go and eat in one of the hotel’s nine restaurants. It's the only way to visit the Burj Al Arab anyway! If you can, treat yourself to a good meal at the "Skyview Bar", the panoramic restaurant on the 27th floor, about 650 ft above sea level (200 meters). It is open every day from 6:30 pm to midnight. I highly recommend enjoying an Afternoon Tea there.
GIGANTIC AMUSEMENT PARKS
Dubai has many amusement parks. Most of them are water parks with giant slides, wave pools, lazy rivers where you can lounge in a buoy for hours, or playgrounds for the little ones. These parks allow you to find a little coolness in the heart of the city. And the projects are each more ambitious than the last! The Emirate has been working hard on its communication on water tourism in recent years. Water parks attract tourists from all over the world!
Here are the most popular ones in Dubai:
- The Aquaventure Water Park / Aquaventure The Palm
It is the most popular amusement park in the country. It is located next to one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the "Atlantis The Palm", on the largest artificial island in the world, Palm Jumeirah.
On the program: an incredible resort (6,000 acres - 60 hectares) with impressive slides including "Poseidon's Revenge", (which is a dizzying fall in a tube that only those in need of thrills will be able to do). But the park does not lack other thrilling attractions for the older kids, nor adventures of all kinds for the little ones. There is even a lagoon filled with sharks that you can observe via an underwater tunnel!
Not to mention that the park has a dolphinarium and is associated with a giant aquarium, "The Lost Chambers"! The latter houses more than 65,000 marine animals in a decor on the theme of the lost city of Atlantis, and includes many exhibitions. You can also go scuba diving among sharks and rays.
Tip: There is a "combo" ticket that allows you to access the Aquaventure Waterpark and The Lost Chambers Aquarium. By taking this "combo" ticket, you will access both sites for only $5.65 (€5) more than the classic ticket for Aquaventure. This will be much cheaper than if you took each entrance separately.
Therefore you will have the opportunity to discover these two great places, which are more or less complementary, while getting a great deal 🙂 More information by clicking here.
- The Wild Wadi Water Park
Located right in front of the Burj Al Arab, the Wild Wadi Water Park offers about 30 attractions for the whole family. The entrance fees, which you can find on the official website, depend on your size.
Address: Wild Wadi Water Park, Jumeira Road - Umm Suqeim 3 - Dubai
Opening hours: Every day from 10am to 6pm. Closed on Monday.
Ticket at the entrance
Person above 3’9” (1.20 m)
229 AED ($62.30)
199 AED ($54.15)
Person under 3’9” (1.20 m)
159 AED ($43.30)
Note that by staying in one of the hotels of the "Jumeirah" chain (Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Zabeel Saray), you will have free access to the park throughout your stay.
The theme of the park is the world of an Arabian folk hero: Juha.
For me, Wild Wadi Water Park or Aquaventure are very good reasons to come to Dubai for tourism 🙂
These parks are unique in the world!
- The Legoland Waterpark
The Legoland Waterpark is a water park entirely dedicated to the world of the "Lego" brand. Located in the south of Dubai, it is the ideal place if you go to Dubai with your family, especially with children between 2 and 12 years old. Its interest lies of course in its various water attractions, but most especially in the interactive experiences that you can do there, such as building a raft and then testing it on the water.
Note that this park is part of a large complex, the "Dubai Parks & Resorts", which is located on the main artery of Dubai, Sheikh Zayd Road. The complex includes another Lego park: the Legoland Dubai, which allows you to discover the whole Lego universe - Lego fans will love it especially for its Lego factory (to learn about the manufacturing steps) - as well as two other sites: the Motiongate Dubai, which will make you enter the wonderful world of Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks and Lionsgate movies; and the Bollywood Park (Indian cinema).
There are 6 themed areas: Factory, Imagination, Kingdoms, Adventure, Miniland and Lego City.
- The Laguna WaterPark
Located in the La Mer district, this park is also one of the best water parks in Dubai. It is suitable for all ages.
Full Day pass
Family & Friends
Pass (group of 4 people)
Adults: 145 AED ($36.30)
Children from 2 to 12 years: 99 AED (about $27)
From 295 AED ($80.20)
From 585 AED ($159)
OTHER AMUSEMENT PARKS IN DUBAI
- The IMG Worlds of Adventure
The IMG Worlds of Adventure is the largest theme park in the world (167,438 sq yd - or 140,000 m²).
It is divided into 4 zones: IMG Boulevard, Cartoon Networks, Marvel and Lost Valley.
Address: E311 - Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd - Dubai.
It offers various rides and attractions, but I recommend going there only if you really want to, or for its covered part which is very appreciated in hot weather. There are better parks in Dubai!
299 AED (about $81.40)
5245 AED for a group of maximum 5 people (about $1,427.30)
- The Wire World Meydan Adventure Park
If you're visiting Kite Beach with your kids, the Wire World Meydan Adventure Park is the perfect place for you to relax!
Your children can enjoy a variety of playgrounds while you grab a drink at one of the local restaurants. Climbing, swinging, ziplining, bungee jumping, tree climbing and many other outdoor activities are available. This park is open every day from 9am to 9pm.
As you’ve just seen, water park tourism is very developed in the Emirate. But that’s not all there is to do there! 🙂
2. TOURISM FOR UNUSUAL ACTIVITIES
If you are looking for a variety of experiences, Dubai is the place to go!
The activities and various adventures available on site are endless. There's something for everyone, from beginners to experts - and all of it can be enjoyed alone or with family 🙂
Dubai tourism is very much about thrills and out-of-the-ordinary activities!
DISCOVER, OBSERVE AND INTERACT WITH ANIMALS
- The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is simply the largest suspended aquarium in the world (167 feet long, 65.6 feet wide and 36 feet high - or 51 meters long x 20 meters wide x 11 meters high - with a 10 million liter tank). It's impossible to miss it, especially since it is located on the first floor of the Dubai Mall!
On site, you can admire thousands of marine animals (more than 140 species) including many sharks and rays. But if you want to get closer to them, you will have to buy a ticket for the marine zoo.
You can then go through an underwater tunnel before being able to touch them, feed them and even swim among the multicolored fish and predators.
The zoo is also home to various other species such as penguins, otters and animals typical of the UAE desert (bats, insects, snakes...). You will also meet one of the largest reptiles in the world, the "Croc King", a gigantic crocodile (40 years old, more than 16 ft long - 5 meters - and in the 1,750 pounds - 750 kilos) which became the emblem of the zoo.
All that's left to do is enjoy the ride in a glass-bottom boat over the marine reservoir. This attraction lasts 10 to 20 minutes, and there is a maximum of 10 people per boat.
- The Lost Chambers Aquarium
The Lost Chambers is the largest aquarium in the UAE. It is associated with the "Atlantis Hotel" on the artificial island The Palm. It is on this island that you can also visit the “Atlantis Aquaventure Park”.
In a decor on the theme of the lost city of Atlantis, you can observe countless marine creatures (sharks, rays, multicolored fish, morays, piranhas, seahorses ...). But that's not all: the site also offers numerous exhibitions as well as the discovery of the backstage of the building.
You can also swim with the dolphins and dive among the predators (snorkeling, or underwater walk with a high-tech mask).
Here are the rates:
One day experience
Entrance to the aquarium, exhibitions for 110 AED (about $30)
You will also have the possibility to do different activities, such as: snorkeling, shark safari, predator diving, ... These activities are additional to the standard entrance fee.
- The Dubai Delphinarium
The Dubai Dolphinarium - Dolphin & Seal Show is the first and only indoor dolphinarium in the Middle East. It is one of the favorite attractions for families in Dubai!
The site, owned by the municipality, offers three attractions:
Dolphin & Seal show
Creek Park Bird show
Swimming with dolphins
5 AED (about $1.40) if you pay with a NOL Card (Dubai public transport card)
Otherwise the ticket is 25 AED ($6.80)
25 AED ($6.80)
Starting from 475 AED ($129.30
DISCOVER THE MARINA OF DUBAI
The Marina district is one of the must-see areas in Dubai. Go there in the late afternoon to enjoy the view of the artificial canal that leads to the sea, and to walk along the 4.3 miles long promenade (7 km) that goes around the marina (the "Dubai Marina Walk"). Afterwards, you can go shopping in one of the stores of the "Dubai Marina Mall".
The Marina is also a great place to go for dinner, as there are many restaurants. Unless you would rather go for a short cruise on the creek aboard an abra or a yacht, during which you will be treated to a very good buffet.
Thrill seekers, Dubai is the place for you! You can get your adrenaline flowing and bring home some great memories.
- The Xline Marina of Dubai
It is precisely at the Marina that you will be able to live an extraordinary experience with the zipline Xline Dubai Marina! The Dubai zipline will allow you to advance in the middle of Dubai's skyscrapers at more than 50 mph. Thrills guaranteed! 🙂
This XLine connects a huge tower to the shopping mall and, by launching yourself from its top (558 feet high, or 170 meters), you will fly over the Marina at more than 50 miles per hour for a distance of 0.6 miles (1 km)
For one adult
For two adults
One adult + one child
650 AED ($177)
1 200 AED ($326.50)
500 AED ($136)
1000 AED ($272)
- Fly over Dubai
If you can afford it, this is yet another activity to add to your "to-do list"!
A helicopter flight over Dubai will allow you to discover the city from a whole new angle, and to better realize its immensity while taking incredible pictures.
Imagine the view of the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, the Dubai Creek, the skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai or even Palm Jumeirah.... Without forgetting the flight over the desert with the spectacle of the first rays of the sun, or at sunset time, while said rays disappear behind the dunes! 😊
You can choose between 4 types of attractions:
Hot air balloon
Various types of tours and flyovers:
12 - 17 - 22 minutes
Between 25 and 40 minutes
Duration of about one hour
Tandem jump: Over the desert or Palm Island
Starting from $181
Between $282 and $452
Between $260 and $361.50
Starting from $452
This is an activity you rarely think about, but did you know that it was possible to ski in the middle of the desert? Well, in Dubai at least, it is! Just go to the Mall of the Emirates, one of the biggest shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates. A ski slope, the Ski Dubai, is installed there under a huge dome. You can ski, snowboard or sled (there are 5 tracks in all) in the middle of the desert. You can even get close to penguins...
It is the 3rd largest indoor ski slope in the world, and the first in the Middle East (279 feet high, 262 feet wide and 1,312 feet long - 85 m high, 80 m wide and 400 m long).
No worries, everything has been thought-out so as to keep this attraction authentic (real snow and freezing temperatures).
What are the prices? From 210 AED (about $57.15) for two hours of sliding (with equipment provided) and 250 AED (about $68) for the day.
3. SHOPPING TOURISM IN DUBAI
Once in Dubai, you absolutely must go shopping. It's the perfect place! Why? Simply because in the emirate, you will be able to enjoy duty-free: no VAT! Therefore, you will find products cheaper than in the U.S. 😊 Moreover, the shopping experience is really different!
Many tourists decide to come to Dubai for its great shopping malls. You will be able to find almost any brand you can think of! It's just GIGANTIC!
- In the souks
First of all, you have the traditional markets (souks) in the old Dubai. There you can discover the bustle of the merchants, the diversity of local products, the smell of spices...While you are here, linger in the alleys of the old quarters of Dubai and admire their traditional architecture and their authentic charm. Stop by the "Dubai Museum" to learn all about the history of the emirate. Enter the art galleries, have a bite to eat in one of the local restaurants...
- In the malls
Of course, you can also go to the malls. In Dubai, shopping malls are huge and luxury stores like "Cartier" or "Chopard" are found next to department stores like "H&M", "Adidas" or "American Eagle".
No matter where you go, you will definitely find some treasures to take home.
Which are the shopping malls you really should not miss?
- The Dubai Mall : with its 1,200 stores, it is the largest shopping mall in the world. It would take you more than a day to see everything inside! And remember, it is also where you can visit the "Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo".
- The Mall of the Emirates : it has about 800 stores, a cinema, an ice rink and a bowling alley, but its main interest lies in the "Ski Dubai" which we have already mentioned.
- The Dubai Gold Souk, which is the largest indoor souk in the world.
If you can, go to Dubai in January/February during the Dubai Shopping festival (it is very popular in the Middle East), because it is when the winter sales take place with lots of promotions and animations all over the city. The summer sales take place from June to August during the Dubai Summer Surprises. If you are a fan of gadgets of all kinds, go in October: you can attend the Gitex, an exhibition where you can make great deals!
4. TOURISM TO ENJOY THE BEACHES OF DUBAI
In Dubai, the weather is nice and warm every day: you will be able to go to the beach no matter during which season you booked your stay (the water temperature in winter is around 68°F, or 20°C! 😊 Moreover, the water of the Persian Gulf is an incredible turquoise blue and the beaches are impeccably clean. So it's the perfect place to get a tan and bask in the sun.
If you need your own little personal comfort, I recommend going to a private beach. You will have cabins to change, deckchairs, towels and even shadowed areas.
Take advantage of this opportunity to go on a boat tour and sail to the sea! This will allow you to approach some of the sights of Dubai such as the Atlantis The Palm, the Burj Al Arab or the islands of The World ...
Beach tourism is an activity that you can do all year round, but beware: in the middle of summer, temperatures are very high. Better to stay well hydrated and under the umbrella 🙂
5. TOURISM FOR WATER SPORTS
Dubai is a real little corner of paradise for sports lovers. You can go scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, kitesurfing or flyboarding...
The main beach to favor? Kitebeach, but you'll find facilities and equipment all along the coastline, as well as professionals ready to give you some lessons.
You would rather watch others play sports? Well, know that Dubai is home to some very famous competitions. Among the most famous are the Dubai Rugby 7's, the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament and the Dubai World Cup horse race at the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse.
Nautical tourism is highly developed in the Emirate! 😉
6. ADVENTURE TOURISM
Dubai is at the gateway to the desert (and the 3rd largest desert in the world, at that). You can go on safaris in 4x4, buggy or quad, ride camels, dromedaries or horses, or even discover the desert on foot. If you're lucky, you'll get to see animals in the Dubai desert.
Whatever you choose, it will be an activity that will give you an experience worthy of a thousand and one nights. Especially if you choose to have dinner in a traditional tent in a Bedouin camp. You will enjoy typical dishes to the sounds of traditional music.
Numerous companies will offer varied and sometimes very complete excursions. I recommend the $45/person excursion including a rally in the dunes, a camel ride, a henna tattoo, a belly dance show, a fire show and a buffet dinner. A good deal, right?
Adventure tourism in Dubai is what I enjoy most! There are so many unusual activities to do in the Emirate that it's the go-to destination for thrill-seekers and adventure seekers 🙂
7. GOING TO DUBAI FOR ITS WEATHER
In Dubai, the weather is good all year round (the emirate enjoys an arid subtropical climate). So no matter what season you visit, you'll always be treated to beautiful blue skies and restorative sunshine.
In winter, the average temperature is around 68°F - 77°F / 20°C - 25°C (it rarely rains). In summer, it can be very hot: up to 113°F (45°C), with a humidity level that can reach 95%. No worries though, as most indoor spaces are air-conditioned (hotels, shopping malls, stores, public transportation...).
- The best period to go there?
If you don't know yet when to go to Dubai, I recommend going between November and March: it will be hot but not too hot, an ideal time to go out.
Note that during the months of April, May and October, there are fewer tourists. The activities will be more affordable: less people means lower prices.
8. OTHER REASONS TO GO TO DUBAI
- Dubai is an easily accessible destination served by several airlines.
- Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world (crime rate close to zero).
- It is a welcoming city and open to other religions. However, be careful to respect the inhabitants! For example, do not wear clothes that are too short or have a lot of cleavage. Prefer long pants and dresses. In any case, this will prevent you from getting sunburned!
- When it comes to accommodation, Dubai has plenty of options: there are not only luxury hotels! You will even find hotels specialized for families that offer children's clubs, day care centers... And let’s not forget the free shuttles that will take you to the different parks of the "Dubai Parks & Resorts".
- Most of the attractions in Dubai are accessible to people with reduced mobility. Everything has been thought out to better adapt to their needs: they will find wheelchairs, electric scooters, reserved places in the transport, special cabs...
- Finally, you will experience a total change of scenery with the possibility of appreciating several different atmospheres in a single day!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PASSES FOR YOUR ACTIVITIES
Before you leave, consider booking a Dubai Pass. It will allow you to enjoy many activities at competitive prices. Your choice will depend on the number of days you spend in Dubai and the number of activities you choose. I recommend the Dubai Explorer Pass, which gives you free access to up to 7 attractions, and is valid for 60 days, starting from 624 AED ($170). The Go Dubai All Inclusive will allow you to enjoy unlimited activities, but only for a certain number of days, starting from 1,149 AED ($75).
And that's it, my article on tourism in Dubai comes to an end! I hope it will help you see all that Dubai has to offer during your stay 🙂