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Dubai holidays: Top five cultural delights to see and experience in UAE city

Author: Sophie Chichester

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Dubai holidays are hugely popular among British tourists thanks to the city's gleaming spires and famous shopping scene - but there are also cultural delights to find in the UAE city.

Dubai travel was given a boost today after it was announced the UK will accept UAE vaccination certificates from October 4.

The country was previously on the red list and moved to the amber list on August 8.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted today: "We will be accepting UAE vaccination certificates from 4th Oct following updates to their vaccination app.

"As a major transport hub which is home to many British expats, this is great news for reopening international travel, boosting business & reuniting families."

So, for those making the most of travelling to and from Dubai - what is there to do away from the photo-snapping influencers and towering, hyper-modern architecture?

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Dubai is something of an unparalleled phenomenon. In the past two decades, it’s grown from a sleepy port to a certifiable world-class city.

One of the things that have made this rapid growth so remarkable is the sheer scale of the economic growth that the city has undergone.

However, in all of the attention that this economic growth is getting, Dubai’s many cultural sites can be overshadowed.

Here we look at the top five cultural treats that Dubai has to offer – delights that absolutely cannot be missed on a visit to the city.

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1. Dubai Museum

The Dubai Museum is located within the city’s Al Fahidi fort. The fort itself is actually considered to be one of the city’s oldest structures, therefore acting as an additional layer of history to the artefacts that the museum contains.

Its permanent exhibition charts the city’s incredible progression from small fishing village to megacity. Its walk-through design also displays the significance of the discovery of oil on life in the city, which provides a fascinating overview of how Dubai’s incredible economic prosperity occurred.

The Dubai Museum is located within the city’s Al Fahidi fort. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Bastakia Quarter

There is very little left of “Old Dubai”, but the Basyakia Quarter, which was built by Persian traders in the late 19th century, still a perfect example.

The quarter, which can be found nestled in one of the city’s most picturesque heritage sites, hosts both the Dubai museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre For Cultural Understanding.

Basyakia is also home to the only remaining section of Dubai’s Old City Wall, which once surrounded the entire city.

The Quarters’ twisting alleyways have now been pedestrianised, allowing you to delightfully wander while you shop for trinkets or dart in and out of the many preserved buildings it contains, providing an excellent insight into what life was like in Old Dubai.

Dubai: Basyakia is home to the only remaining section of Dubai’s Old City Wall. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Deira Souks

The Deira Souks encompass a range of different souks which each specialises in their own particular trade – there’s the gold souk, the perfume souk, the spice souk, and the textile souk.

The souks are an incredible thing to behold, as they perfectly meld the history of the city and its modern culture.

It was in these souks that Dubai first made a name for itself as a trading port – it seems appropriate that it should still be one of the top tourist attractions in the city today.

The city may be famous for its enormous and glamorous malls, but if you want a more authentic experience (which provides just as many shopping options), it’s the Deira Souks you want.

Dubai: The Deira Souks encompass a range of different souks which each specialises in their own particular trade. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Much of the appeal of Dubai lays in its frenetic, metropolitan pace of life but beyond the city limits, it also has an enormous array of nature reserves.

One of the most impressive of these is the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

Boasting one of the largest protected areas in the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve has a host of activities for visitors that include horse riding, camel trekking and dune driving – all of which allow you to witness the beauty of the desert.

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5. Mottahedan Projects

Dubai’s art scene is on the up and up. It might not be especially well-known outside the region right now, but just you wait.

The Dubai art fair is one of the region’s fast-growing cultural events, and its popularity is a testament to the fact that art in the Middle East is alive and kicking.

Get in before the word gets out and visit the incredible Mottahedan Projects while you’re in the city.

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