Cities Less Traveled: Dubai off the Beaten Path

We all know about the luxurious side of Dubai: tall, impressive hotels and towers, spas and flashy cars, golf courses, and private beaches. It’s all tailored to make you feel as if you’ve stepped into your private paradise and as entertaining as it may be, you might want to explore beyond the popular hangouts. After shopping at the mall, fine dining, enjoying the beach activities, strolling to souks and Old Dubai, what’s there to do? Plenty, actually, and off-the-beaten path tourist spots are definitely something you should explore.


Photo by Tom Breakwell via

Start by ditching the hop-on hop-off buses and delve into the real Dubai. To do that, you have to brave the heat and wait patiently for one of the local buses, taking you to less popular neighborhoods. Hand out with the locals, the expats living here, yet outside of the buzzing business centers, and check out the local shops. From small neighborhood ones to the local branches of international supermarket brands, they will give you a clear picture of how life in Dubai really is.

View or play the popular sports in Dubai: camel racing, soccer, and cricket. There’s plenty for you to enjoy beyond the golf courses and the mid-summer skiing. If you are the more adventurous type of traveler, then go for sandboarding! Is like snowboarding, but over on the dunes. It’s a great way to get your adrenaline pumping and still enjoy the desert surrounding Dubai. If it is the camels that catch your eye, you can visit the Lisaili Camel Market which just happens to be right next to the Dubai Racing and Camel Club on the Dubai Al Ain Road. If you’re the cuddling type and want to get really close to the camels, there is actually an activity called Camel Cuddling that happens at the Al Sahra Desert Ranch. Meet these beautiful, gentle animals, wash them, learn their language, and then, the best part, cuddle with them.


Photo by Jewelszee via

Do you happen to love gazing at the stars? The desert, with its lack of light pollution, is the best way to experience the night sky. Another great idea is to attend one of the regular meet ups of the Dubai Astronomy Group. Now that you’ve ventured into the desert, why not check out the hidden pools and oases? The Hajar Mountains are home to the Hatta Rock Pools, and they should be on your must-see list.

If you are in Dubai long enough, consider a trip to Sharjah City or the “Pearl of the Gulf” as it’s sometimes called. While less known than Dubai, Sharjah is home to museums, mosques, its own souks and fort. If you don’t want to deal with the traffic separating you from Sharjah, try exploring Al Quoz instead. One you pass the industrial zone allure, you will discover quaint carpentry shops or forges for metal work and get to experience the area’s vibrant art scene.

No matter how enticing your Dubai hotels are, or the private beach, or the colorful malls, don’t be afraid of a little adventure into the less known side of this travel destination.

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