DubaiDiscover Dubai’s hidden highlights

See a different side to the city

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From the towering heights of the Burj Khalifa to the opulence of the Palm Jumeirah, the largest city in the UAE has an array of iconic landmarks. It also has plenty of hidden treasures to explore. Our guide to secret Dubai points you to the city’s lesser-known but equally enchanting attractions.

 

Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif

Once the summer home of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of modern Dubai, what this elegant little building lacks in stature, it makes up for in historical significance. Now a museum featuring furniture, art and utensils belonging to Emirati leaders, Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif is a palm tree-shaded haven in the bustle of downtown Dubai.

 

Antique Museum

Don’t let the name confuse you. Dubai’s Antique Museum isn’t exactly a museum so much as a vast warehouse bazaar selling millions of items from across the Arab world and beyond. Polish your haggling skills and treat yourself to a range of trinkets, from decorative items and furniture to tea sets, shishas and pashmina shawls.

16-9 secret Headscarfs antique museum

 

Al Qudra Cycle Track

A real treat for visitors seeking some pulse-raising action, Al Qudra is a dedicated cycle track that winds through the desert for nearly 100km. The striking scenery makes it an incredible route to work up a sweat, and it’s just a 25-minute drive from the centre of Dubai. It’s best tackled early in the morning or at night when the sun is not at its peak. There are rest stations along the way, but bring plenty of fluids. Be sure to keep a look out for the Arabian Oryx which roams around this area in herds.

 

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

A nature reserve of rolling red sand dunes and striking landscapes, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the largest conservation site in the region, covering five percent of the total area of Dubai. It’s home to many rare and native species, including the Arabian oryx, sand foxes, caracals and the adorable pygmy shrew. Selected operators provide tours for these unique Emirati safaris.

16-9 secret Copy of Arabian oryx

 

Fossil Rock

A dramatic rocky outcrop in the desert, several hours’ drive from the city, Fossil Rock is known for its marine fossils dating back millions of years to the Cambrian, Permian and Triassic periods. Renowned for its brilliantly preserved specimens, Fossil Rock is a must-visit for fossil-hunters from all over the world, and the perfect destination for a road trip in a 4x4 dune basher, hired from a local tour operator.

 

Coffee Museum

In Dubai’s Al Fahidi heritage area, the Coffee Museum is a haven for any fan of the region’s other black gold. Built in a traditional style, it’s bursting with antique coffee paraphernalia from all over the world, including many centuries-old artefacts from the bean’s home in Ethiopia. The museum smells amazing, and needless to say, the café experience at the end is worth the trip alone.

16-9 secret Coffee making