Great Things to Do in the UAE in the Summer

Great Things to Do in the UAE in the Summer
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We have all probably said it: "There's nothing to do in the UAE in the summer!". The truth, however, is there is plenty to go do and see in the UAE - much cultural, educational, and entertaining. You just have to fight the temptation to stay inside, get up and go and do it!

Here WSA's Siobhan Farrell gives some of her favourite things to do. We know there are many more things to do to keep the family entertained. If you have a favourite we do not mention here, please, please let us know by adding your comments below!


Sharjah and Dubai

Sharjah Heritage Museum
This creatively curated museum goes a long way towards demystifying local culture and traditions for Western minds. Each of the five galleries zeros in on different aspects of local life, from living in the desert to religious values, birth and burial rituals to holiday celebrations, marriage and wedding ceremonies, and folk medicine. An abundance of quality original objects and excellent English panelling make a visit here a satisfying and educational experience.


Al Fahidi Fort

Visiting Hours: Saturday to Thursday : 08:30 am -20:30 pm, Friday: 14:30 -20:30 pm
Visiting Hours during Ramadan: Saturday - Thursday: 09:00 am -17:00 pm, Friday: 14:00-17:00 pm
Public Holidays: Open
Entrance Fees: AED3 per Adult, AED1 Per Child
Telephone: 04-3531862

Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum, was built around 1787 as a lookout post to guard from landward approaches to the town. The fort was renovated in 1971 and has since been home to the Dubai Museum. The Museum consists of both outdoor (including traditional dhows, defence artillery, and traditional local living quarters) and indoor exhibits. As you enter the cooler temperatures of the Museum, visitors find themselves meandering through everyday life in Dubai in the days before the discovery of oil.

As scenes of the Creek, mosques, traditional Arab houses, the souk, the desert, date farms unfold, they offer a fascinating glimpse into Dubai’s traditions, culture and general way of life in a time gone by. One of the more interesting and intricate exhibits portrays pearl diving and includes sets of pearl merchants’ weights, scales and sieves. Also on display are artifacts recovered from archaeological grave sites in the Emirate that date back to the third millennium BC.


Heritage and Diving Village

Address: Bur Dubai, towards the mouth of the Creek.
Visiting hours: Saturday - Thursday 08:30 to 22:30, Friday 08:00 to 22:30.
Tel: +971 (0)4 393 7151

Step back in time in the Heritage and Diving Village to when pearl diving was an integral part Dubai’s life. Peruse the ancient artefacts from sites dating as far back 550BC. Exhibitions in the Diving Village exhibit the historic and economic significance of the pearling nation. Enjoy the handiwork of the potters and weavers who practice their traditional crafts at Barasti stalls set up in the Heritage Village.

It is well worth visiting the village during the Dubai Shopping Festival when visitors can enjoy a host of demonstrations ranging from traditional cookery training to desert life exhibitions, and parachuting shows to shipbuilding.


Dubai Dolphinarium

Show Times: Monday – Saturday (11am, 3pm, 6pm)
Entrance Fee: Varies from AED50 – 120 (discounts available for 11am shows on Monday and Friday)
Tel: 04 336 9773 to book.

Dubai Dolphinarium is the first fully air conditioned indoor (temp 21-25c) dolphinarium in the Middle East. Go.


Jumeirah Archaeological Site

Visiting Hours: 8:30 am- 14:00 pm
Tel: 04-3496874
Location: Jumeriah, behind Emirates Hospital

There are four main excavation sites in Dubai: Al Qusais, Al Sufuoh, Jumeirah and Hatta.

The first two are graveyard sites and are estimated to be at least 2,000 years old.  The Jumeirah Archaeological dig site, a former caravan route between Oman and Iraq, is now surrounded by an array of modern construction.  The Jumeirah site has yielded numerous, fascinating archaeological treasures dating back to between the 7th to 15th centuries AD.

Although not yet open to the public tourists or tour operators may obtain a special permit from Dubai Museum to visit the digs.



Lined with atmospheric cafés and eclectic art galleries Bastakiya, in Dubai’s bohemian quarter, is a ‘must see’.  Experience the nostalgic ambiance in the evening when the mosques sound their call to prayer. Note, the Bastakiya area is now referred to officially as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood - since 2012.


Abu Dhabi and Al Ain


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Conceived by Sheikh Zayed himself the awe inspiring Grand Mosque is a shining beacon in Abu Dhabi’s developing landscape. Architecturally impressive inside and out it, its structure is made up of more than 80 marble domes, over 1000 pillars and four 107m-high minarets. Influenced by designs from Morocco, Turkey and even India’s Taj Mahal, the interior is mix of marble, crystals, ceramics, gold and semi-precious stones.

Equalling the size of five football pitches, the Mosque can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers and is home to the world’s largest Persian rug (which took 2,000 craftsmen 2 years to complete) as well as the world’s largest chandeliers.

Visitors are free to walk around except during prayer times. Free 45- to 60-minute guided tours (in English) are also available. See the website for the latest prayer and tour timings and take care to dress appropriately (long, loose fitting, ankle-length trousers or skirts. Women must also wear a headscarf.)



Barakat Gallery

Visiting Times: 10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm.
Location: Emirates Palace Hotel, Ras Al Akhdar
Tel: 02 690 8950

This Gallery specialises in ancient art and displays antiquities from China, Egypt, the Near East, Africa, Pre-Columbia and ancient Greece and Rome.  Every item on display is also for available for purchase.  This Abu Dhabi gallery also has branches in London and Los Angeles.


The National Auto Museum

Visting Hours: 8am-1am, 14:00 – 18:00.
Tel: 02 667 6999
Location: The Emirates National Auto Museum, near Hafeen

A very different UAE tourist experience!  Entry is usually free however sometimes there is an attendant on the door who may ask for a small donation.


The Women’s Handicraft Centre

Visiting Hours: Sun-Thu 7am-3pm
Location: Karama St, Al Mushrif near the Immigration Office and the Royal Stables
Tel: 02 447 6645

The Women’s Handicraft Centre - Run by the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association, this innovative museum showcases many local wares, arts and crafts.  Workshops display distinctive Arabian oils, handmade souvenirs, incense, local dress, silver thread work and weaving and are available for purchase.


Al Ain National Museum

Entrance Fee: AED3 for Adults, AED1 for children
Timings: Saturday – Thursday – 8:00am – 19:30, Friday – 15:00 – 19:30, Closed Mondays

This is the oldest museum in Al Ain and was built by the former President HH the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.  The museum contains artifacts from the Ethnographical and Archaeological histories of the region, and exhibitions offer an interesting overall view of country’s 7500 years old culture and traditions.


Abu Dhabi's islands

The eight natural islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi include the spectacular Sir Bani Yas, home to the swanky Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa and around 30 free roaming Arabian and African animal species.


Al Ain Zoo

Opening Hours: Til end of September – 16:00 – 22:00
Entrance Fees: Adults – AED20, Children (3 – 12) – AED10, Under 3 – Free

Founded by Sheikh Zayed in 1968, this spacious zoo is one of the largest in the UAE. Its large, spacious enclosures are inhabited by both indigenous and exotic species. - Arabian oryx, big-horned Barbary sheep, lazy crocodiles, tigers and lions and dozens of other species. The Elezba petting zoo where younger visitors can observe bird shows and giraffe feedings is a big hit!

Golf-cart-style shuttles are available for hire with hop-on and hop-off options at the main enclosures.

Location: Follow signs from Al Ain town centre.


Jebel Hafeet

Often mistaken as being the UAE’s highest mountain, when it is actually only the third highest, yet nonetheless impressive. The road leading from the ground to the top is accessible by drivers and, should you feel the need for some exercise, is wide enough to also accommodate walkers!
Location: Follow signs from Al Ain town centre.


University Natural History Museum

This museum is also known as the Museum of Living Resources. Exhibits include a herbarium (plant specimens) and collections of various species of animals and birds. Collections of rocks, minerals and fossils are also on display.

Entrance Fee: Free


Paradise Gardens

This beautiful park, set in four acres of ground, houses approximately 10 million flowers. Famous world landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, have been recreated using flowers. The Gardens holds the hanging basket Guinness World Record ,with almost 300 hanging baskets adorning the site.
Entrance fee - Free.



Al Jalili Fort

Entrance Fee: Free
Location: Follow signs from Al Ain town centre.

Built in the 19th century this fort has recently had a major facelift, and it is now the focal point for the garden city of Al Ain. An exhibition on Wilfred Thesiger, the British explorer who chronicled the lives of the Bedouin before oil wealth transformed the Emirates, is a permanent feature of the fort.


Manarat Al Saadiyat

Visiting Hours – Open daily, 10am-8pm
Entrance Fee – Free
Tel: 02 657 5800
Location: Saadiyat Island

This vast, 15,400 square metre arts and cultural centre is designed to evoke the vision of the island through The Saadiyat Story.

The venue also features four gallery spaces and often houses large exhibitions.


Liwa Forts

Near Mezaira, Western Region, Abu Dhabi.

If you are in the desert oasis of Liwa in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, it is worth visiting the nine ancient forts in the area.  Be prepared to enjoy the journey - getting to your destination can be tricky, but perseverance pays with fantastic photo opportunities!


Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

Tel: 02 575 5155
Entrance Fee: While adults have to pay for the tour, kids under four years old are allowed in for free.

This renowned facility is recognised as one of the most reputed falcon hospitals in the Gulf region.


Ghaf Gallery

Visiting Hours: Saturday –Thursday (9am-1pm, 5pm-9pm).
Tel: 02 666 0361
Location: Khaleej Al Arabi Street

Although this villa-based gallery is only a few years old, it is said to be one of the most interesting in the city, home to many works by up-and-coming artists from both home and away.



Visit the mountains and the Gulf of Oman in Fujairah - Fujairah is a more “old fashioned” part of the UAE, with the culture still involved in traditional sea-based activities like fishing. The eastern coast of the UAE has not had the white-hot economic growth of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it is well worth seeing for its more traditional culture, mountains, beaches, and traditional crafts like the creation of palm frond canoes.


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