Most Emblematic Areas in Dubai You Must Visit

Dubai’s ability to dream, and then achieve the impossible has ripped up expectations and rewritten the record books. Stunning developments such as the soaring Burj Khalifa, the unforgettably beautiful Burj al Arab and the vast Palm Jumeirah island are embodiments of the ruling sheiks’ determination to make the city one of the world’s essential destinations for the twenty-first century.

A few kilometers south of the old city center, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers. This strip is an essential stop for lovers of postmodern architectural whimsy, and also to many of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and pubs. 

Further south lies the massive new Downtown Dubai development, centered on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

West of the Sheikh Zayed Road, the sprawling beachside suburb of Jumeirah is the traditional place of choice for Dubai’s European expats, with an endless swath of walled villas and a smattering of low-key sights including the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque and the kitsch, Italian-themed Mercato mall. 

At the southern end of Jumeirah, the sleepy suburb of Umm Suqueim is home to a trio of iconic Dubai sights: the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel; the extraordinary mock Arabian Madinat Jumeirah complex, and the unforgettable Burj al Arab hotel.

If you arrive in the city on a Dubai cruise, one of the first places you'll notice will be the South of the Burj al Arab. Here you'll find the spectacular new Dubai Marina development, with its densely packed forest of glassy skyscrapers, while offshore lies the Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island, which ends in a flourish at the gargantuan new Atlantis resort. 

On the north side of the Creek, the bustling district of Deira is where you’ll find most of Dubai’s traditional commercial activity, much of it still conducted in the area’s vibrant array of old-fashioned souks, including the famous Gold and Spice Souks.

At the heart of the metropolis on the south side of the Creek, Bur Dubai is the oldest part of the city and offers a fascinating insight into Dubai’s traditional roots. The area is home to many of the city’s most interesting traditional Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district.

Last but not least, fringing Deira and Bur Dubai, lie the city’s inner suburbs. Attractions here range from the entertainingly workaday suburbs of Karama and Satwa, home to dozens of no-frills Indian curry houses, low-rent souks and some of the city’s most entertaining street life.