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Things to do in Old Dubai https://www.visitdubai.com/en/articles/top-things-to-do-old-dubai 20200310T101101 20200310T101203:637194319233682798 Dubai's Heritage and Culture While many visitors to Dubai will no doubt make their way to the well-known landmarks of Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and the shopping malls across the city, there's a lot to be seen in what is called 'Old Dubai', where the emirate was founded. We help you navigate through the heart and soul of the city, with the top places to see and things to do in this part of town. While many visitors to Dubai will no doubt make their way to the well-known landmarks of Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and the shopping malls across the city, there's a lot to be seen in what is called 'Old Dubai', where the emirate was founded. Explore the heart and soul of the city, with our guide to the top places to see and things to do in this part of town.
Find culture, tradition and hospitality

While many visitors to Dubai will no doubt make their way to the well-known landmarks of Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and the shopping malls across the city, there's a lot to be seen in what is called 'Old Dubai', where the emirate was founded. Explore the heart and soul of the city, with our guide to the top places to see and things to do in this part of town.

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Uncover Dubai's history

Travel back in time to one of the oldest residential quarters in the city, and navigate maze-like alleys in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, also known as Bastakiya. Once the residences of merchants who traded at Dubai Creek, these traditional sand-coloured houses have now been transformed to local boutiques, cafés and art galleries. Our favourites include XVA Gallery that showcases the work of regional artists, and the Arabic Calligraphy House that specialises in everything related to the creative art form.

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Shop at the souks

Souk culture is perhaps one of Dubai's most quintessential experiences. Head to Spice Souk to buy rich spices flown in from Iran, Pakistan, India, and other parts of the world. Go on a sensory journey at the Perfume Souk and learn more about local culture while shopping for oud, which is a pure oil-based alternate to perfumes. While here, consider buying some bakhoor, or perfume sticks that can be used to fragrance your home. For more great buys, look out for colourful kaftans and pashmina shawls at the Textile Souk and then pop over to the Gold Souk to browse through a variety of ornaments. Make sure you haggle for the best rates.

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Join a cultural tour

This part of town is a highlight for history buffs. Khadija Behzad, founder and CEO of Emirati tour company called Meet the Locals, recommends a guided tour of the Dubai Museum to discover the history of Dubai. Housed within Al Fahidi Fort, which was constructed in 1787, the museum was originally a monarch's residence, a weapon's arsenal and a prison. Behzad also recommends a day at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, which offers a range of heritage-themed tours, including a walking tour that includes a journey across Dubai Creek aboard a traditional wooden boat or abra.

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Eat like a local

There are plenty of authentic food experiences on both sides of the Creek. Visit the Coffee Museum and try gahwa, signature Arabic coffee, or savour Emirati delicacies at lunch or afternoon tea at the Arabian Tea House. Behzad suggests the home-style dining at Al Fanar restaurant in Al Seef for good food and great views. Lucy Moosa, who works with Travel Counsellors in Dubai, recommends Bayt Al Wakeel restaurant and Al Bait Al Qadeem Emirati Heritage Restaurant, as two of the best food spots in Old Dubai. "You must try fatayer, shawarma, manakish, luqaimat, kunafa with a nice cup of karak tea," she says, while highlighting Arabic classics.

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Stay a little longer

Why not stay at one of the many hotels for a sense of local heritage? The boutique XVA Art Hotel offers 14 rooms that are designed with a nod to the architectural and cultural roots of the region. Or book a stay at Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton. With traditional architecture and natural colours, the rooms feature woven fabrics, wooden beams and plastered walls, taking you back in time while still immersing you in luxury. Across the water is Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek, one of the oldest hotels in town, and home to popular Emirati restaurant, Aseelah.

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