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Dubai beyond glitz and glamour: Visit Hatta hills, Old Town, meet Bedouins to have a great cultural experience

Just three hours away from India, explore a side of Dubai, you have never seen.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 28, 2019, 11.58 AM IST
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Apart from being a place full of glitz and glamour, Dubai also has another side, it is full of rich cultural heritage and traditions
Apart from being a place full of glitz and glamour, Dubai also has another side, it is full of rich cultural heritage and traditions
Just a three-four hour flight away, Dubai has long been a favourite weekend escape for Indians, well-known for its iconic skyline, luxurious resorts and endless shopping. But how many of us have discovered the other side to Dubai’s glitz and glamour – a city rich in culture, heritage and surrounded by outstanding natural beauty?

Here are four ideas to explore beyond the Dubai you know on your next visit:

1. Head to the hills in Hatta

For a mix of old and new, visit Al Seef. The beautiful restored buildings retain the charm of old Dubai.

For a mix of old and new, visit Al Seef. The beautiful restored buildings retain the charm of old Dubai.


Just an hour’s drive from central Dubai along a scenic route through the Hajar mountains, Hatta makes a perfect escape from the city. Admire the beautiful, teal-green waters of Hatta Dam, step back in time amid the yellow stones of Hatta Fort and Heritage Village, and explore by mountain bike, foot or kayak. Make a night of it with a stay at the 4-star Hatta Fort Hotel resort, or get closer to nature at the idyllic Hatta Damani Lodges perched on the mountainside.

2. Follow the Bedouins at Al Marmoom

Experience authentic Emirati culture with Dubai’s industrial area oldest inhabitants – the Bedouins at Al Marmoom.
Experience authentic Emirati culture with Dubai’s industrial area oldest inhabitants – the Bedouins at Al Marmoom.

Learn more about Dubai’s cultural roots by discovering the legacy of some of the Emirate’s oldest inhabitants: The Bedouins. These nomadic people roamed the deserts with their herds of camels, sheep and goats, navigating by the sun and stars. Now you can experience their traditions with a visit to Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience, an authentic village located next to a beautiful desert oasis in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. Traverse the dunes on a camel caravan, watch traditional falconry displays and enjoy a Bedouin feast in a majlis tent.

3. Discover Dubai’s Old Town
A classic Arabian-style building adjacent to Dubai Creek, Al Seef Heritage Hotel is a seven-minute walk from the pre-modern Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood.
A classic Arabian-style building adjacent to Dubai Creek, Al Seef Heritage Hotel is a seven-minute walk from the pre-modern Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood.

Home to traditional markets, authentic meals and cultural experiences, lose yourself in the lanes of Dubai’s Old Town. Walk among the wind towers of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, and the many art gal leries, craft stores and quirky cafes that dot the alleyways. From there, dive into the bustling old souks and take a trip across Dubai Creek in a traditional abra boat. For a mix of old and new, visit Al Seef whose beautiful restored buildings retain the charm of old Dubai while being home to contemporary restaurants, boutique shops and cafes.

4. Alserkal Avenue

Visit Dubai’s major art hub Al Serkal Avenue that has been transformed from a former Experience authentic Emirati culture with Dubai’s industrial area.
Visit Dubai’s major art hub Al Serkal Avenue that has been transformed from a former Experience authentic Emirati culture with Dubai’s industrial area.

A place unlike any other in Dubai, Alserkal Avenue has transformed a once-industrial area of warehouses into one of the region’s major art hubs. There are dozens of galleries home to local and international talent, including Ishara Art Foundation which specialises only in South Asian art. Between cultural stops, you can refuel at hipster cafes, visit an artisanal chocolate factory or even take in a film at the arthouse Cinema Akil.

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