Well-traveled folks know that Dubai is the perfect amalgamation of old and new. In this desert city, you will find a main street surrounded by the latest modern designs for infrastructure. Make a turn to the backstreets and you will be surprised to find really old buildings inhabited by traditional locals.
Thanks to this, Dubai is all the more a fascinating place to visit — especially if you are all about combining history and culture with exciting innovations for your trip. It offers a bounty of experiences wherein you will feel as if you have travelled back in time — and yet, after a two-minute walk, you have seemingly managed to travel to the future because of all the modern developments around.
So, what are these “old and new” experiences that Dubai has in store for you? Check out the following six ideas:
The desert is not that long a drive from the bustling modern urban hubs of Dubai. But once you get here, it will be like you travelled to a place where time stood still — especially if you signed up for a camel ride to take advantage of the different aspects of the classic desert safari tour.
There is nothing more old school than travelling across the desert via camel. However, while you are traversing the dunes, it is not unlikely to spot 4×4 vehicles speeding up and down the deep dips and ascents leading to the safari camp.
And speaking of the safari camp, it offers al fresco dining for tourists, and this includes traditional Dubai fare.
What is the modern element to be found in having dinner at the safari camp? It has got to be all the foreigners taking pictures and getting coaxed into learning parts of the special performance of a dance that is over a century old.
Staying at a beautiful Arabian-themed 4-star hotel in Dubai is sure to set the mood nicely for a splendid vacation. Such a hotel boasts of fine Arabian interior design and furniture, plus spa services that will make you feel like an Arab royal. What’s more, you will find modern facilities like a gym, conference rooms, and really hip restaurants.
If you are looking for accommodations with a harmonious blend of modern and traditional allure, a hotel with charming Arabian palace interiors is certainly highly recommended.
This heritage site is a must for all tourists because of its traditional architecture and artsy stores and galleries. You will enjoy the maze of wind-towered structures, and then comfortably conclude your exploration at the Arabian Tea House Outdoor Café.
The café serves international cuisine. You can enjoy soups, salads, pasta, yummy pastries, and a vast selection of refreshing tea concoctions.
Come to the DIFC for dinner because there are plenty of dining establishments here that will introduce you to both traditional fare and the latest Instagram-worthy eats.
You will be sure to find a restaurant here that will take you around the globe with its menu. Choose to dine like a local and eat authentic Emirati dishes that have been around for centuries, or take the worldly gastronomic routes and sample the flavours of Japan, France, Spain, the US, and others.
This is definitely old Dubai, but you will see a lot of foreigners here having a blast getting the best deals on exotic herbs and spices. Also, the moment you get here and catch a whiff of the pungent aroma of all the merchandise, you’ll automatically get a feeling of being in olden times (or perhaps the setting of Disney’s “Aladdin”).
In addition to this experience, though, you will know that things have become modernized here because there are “souq ambassadors” taking care of tourists. These personalities create an experience of the spice souq that visitors can really appreciate. They introduce unfamiliar herbs and spices and provide these products’ equivalent in other countries. Plus, they protect tourists from aggressive and assertive merchants.
In this cultural hotspot, visitors to Dubai can take a peek at Dubai’s past as well as enjoy the edgy cosmopolitan vibe that the city is also known for. After browsing through local artwork and witnessing examples of traditional occupations such as boat building and pearl diving, guests can then immerse themselves in shopping and relaxing at various retail stores, restaurants, cafes and galleries.
These are just six ways you can experience a blend of old and new Dubai. When you come to the city for a tour and start off with these, there is no doubt that you will find other provisions that highlight its modern and traditional appeal even more.
Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.