Dubai is the city of superlatives, and as such, it stands out from other big cities because of its major attractions: the tallest building in the world, the biggest mall in the world, the most expensive and luxurious hotel in the world, and many other kinds of unique entertainment. And although this is all very appealing and impressive for visitors, when you are a Dubai resident, eventually you find yourself wanting to do a lot more than just the mainstream-tourist-attraction activities. I'm going to share the top non-touristy things to do in Dubai.
Things to do in Dubai
Well, guess what? Dubai doesn’t fail to surprise. Even for residents, this city has a full array of entertainment options for the small and the big; and the following are my favorite:
Hanging out in Kite Beach
The waters of the Persian Gulf make of Dubai one of the best beach destinations in the region. Whether you prefer to relax soaking up the sun or practice some water sports, Dubai has many things to do, especially at Kite Beach, my favorite public beach in Dubai.
From paddle board to kite surf, in Kite Beach, you’ll never get bored. I love to get up early, beat the sun and head over to Kite Beach to see the city skyline rise while I practice my favorite sport: surf ski, a mix in between kayaking and surfing.
When I’m looking to exercise in other ways, I’d run in the 14 km running track that starts at Dubai Marine Resort and finishes near the foot of the Burj Al Arab, passing through Kite Beach. During the cooler months (November to March), this running track is filled with runners enthusiasts that want to exercise enjoying Dubai’s great winter weather next to the pristine waters of the Arabian Peninsula.
Now, if you’re not that big of a fan of sports, no worries! Kite Beach has a great array of restaurants, healthy cafés and food stalls that will please anyone eager to have a nice meal while the kids play in one of the two playgrounds made just for them.
Cycling at Al Qudra
Along with the beach, the desert is at the top of my favorite places in Dubai. With nothing but its copper-colored sand dunes and the wind reshaping the dunes over and over again, its hard not to fall in love with this landscape. And to embrace what the desert has to offer, the Dubai government has built the largest cycling track in the world.
With an extension of 86 kilometers, Al Qudra Cycling Track has become the place to be for adventure seekers and cycling lovers like myself. You can get there as early as 6:00 am to admire the sunrise from the desert or ride in the afternoon to catch the sunset. Either choice will allow you to experience the desert as only a few do.
If you don’t have a bike, you mustn't worry. You can rent your ride at Trek UAE bike shop, which is located at the end of Al Qudra road and opens from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Visit Al Fahidi District
For a more cultural and relaxing take of Dubai, Al Fahidi District is the place to go. Actually, every time a family member or a friend comes to visit, I make sure we spend at least a couple of hours walking around this neighborhood’s narrow alleys and public squares, admiring its beautiful and traditional architecture (which of course includes buildings with high air towers!) and enjoying a cup of coffee in a traditional house.
Due to its strategic location next to Deira Creek, Al Fahidi grew as an important commerce cluster in the region, making of this place a vivid and dynamic neighborhood.
Nowadays, Al Fahidi is a quiet and calm oasis in the middle of a crowded city that throughout the year, is home of several cultural and artistic festivals such as Sikka Art Fair, Artists-in-Residence Programme, Heritage Week, National Day Events and religious celebrations.
The cherry on the top is that while being a tourist destination, Al Fahidi is normally not very crowded, which makes it the perfect afternoon getaway for residents.