Dubai

Old souks and new shopping centres 
The world’s tallest building
The Thousand and One Nights Hotel

Find Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sir Bani Yas Cruises

Dubai

Kitsch charm and seven-star hotels

A shore excursion on your MSC Emirates and Oman cruise can be the opportunity to discover Bur Dubai, at the heart of the metropolis of Dubai, on the south side of the breezy Creek. It’s the oldest part of Dubai and it offers a fascinating insight into the city’s traditional roots.
This is where you’ll find many of the place’s most interesting Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district, as well as the excellent Dubai Museum and the atmospheric Textile Souk.

MSC Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sir Bani Yas cruises also offer excursions to the bustling district of Deira: the centre of Dubai’s traditional commercial activity, much of it still conducted in the area’s vibrant array of old-fashioned souks, including the famous gold and spice markets. A few kilometres south of the old city centre, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers including the glittering Emirates Towers.

Even these, however, are outshone by the massive Downtown Dubai development at the southern end of the strip, centred on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, flanked by further record-breaking attractions including the gargantuan Dubai Mall and spectacular Dubai Fountain.

West of the Sheikh Zayed Road, the sprawling beachside suburb of Jumeirah is the traditional address-of-choice for Dubai’s European expats, its endless swathes of walled villas dotted with half a dozen shopping malls and a smattering of low-key sights. At the southern end of Jumeirah, there are more iconic sights in the sleepy suburb of Umm Suqeim, including the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the extraordinary mock-Arabian Madinat Jumeirah complex and the unforgettable Burj al Arab hotel.

Must see places in Dubai

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    United Arab Emirates

    Diamonds shining in the desert
    Diamonds shining in the desert

    Dubai is actually just one of the seven statelets which collectively form the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, a loose confederation founded in 1971 following the departure of the British from the Gulf.

    Technically the seven emirates are considered equal, and preserve a considerable measure of legislative autonomy, rather like the various states of the USA – which explains, for instance, why local laws in Dubai are so different from those in neighbouring Sharjah.

    In practice, however, as a cruise to the Emirates can show you, a clear pecking order applies. Abu Dhabi, easily the largest and wealthiest of the emirates, serves as the capital (even if Abu Dhabi city is barely half the size of Dubai) and wields the greatest influence over national policy, as well as providing the UAE with its president.

    Dubai ranks second, followed by Sharjah and then the other emirates of Umm al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah, Ajman and Fujairah, which remain relatively undeveloped and even surprisingly impoverished in places.

    The fact that the union has survived despite the sometimes considerable differences of opinion between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is a glowing tribute to local diplomacy, even though it is has also created the anomaly whereby Dubai, with its headline international standing, isn’t even the capital of its own low-key country.