The UAE is known around the world as an ultimate tourist destination -- from the tallest tower in the world, one of the most beautiful mosques in the capital and of course some of the best beaches in the Middle East. But there is so much more than that in the UAE!

We at Arabian Connection have handpicked and put together a great list which includes our top 10 picks of where you need to go and what you need to try both predictable as well as unexpected locations that you need to add to your list when visiting the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Al Fahidi Heritage Area: This area offers you a trip back in time tracing the very early days of life in this desert land. Located here are buildings built as way back as 1787 the Al Fahidi Fort which since 1971 is restored to house the Dubai Museum; Al Ahmadiya School (Dubai’s first and where the elder Royal family members studied) built in 1912; the Shindagha Heritage Village area where Sheikh Saeed House dates back to 1896 and perhaps the most popular Bastakiya Area with a maze of quaint alleyways leading to some real hidden gems like the Coffee Museum, Coin Museum, Calligraphy Centre and houses that encourage local Art and Crafts as well as a famous Arabian Coffee house serving Camel meat Burgers worth a try! Bastakiya is also the place where the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) which runs a very educative, informative and interactive program called “Open Doors & Open Minds” where one can enjoy an open Q+A session on any aspect of the traditions, culture, religion and so on of the Emiratis. Why not combine this session with an authentic Emirati breakfast or lunch and even a walking tour of the area.

  2. Traditional Souqs: Across the Creek by a short ‘Abra’ (water taxi ride) are the traditional Spice Souq & Gold Souq – a perfect walk through to explore commodities that were traded through centuries in exchange for pearls which was the backbone of Dubai’s economy prior to Oil being discovered. Deira is the old-time commercial heart of Dubai, featuring winding, stall-filled streets that harken back to the early years of the city before the mega-malls were built.

    Walking in the Spice Souq, one will find a galaxy of flavors to spice up your life. Colorful is one description very apt for Dubai’s Spice Souk. Aromatic is another. Brace yourself for a sensory sensation, as myriad flavors and recipes will greet you as you make your way through the traditional spice market in Dubai's heritage area. Savor the atmosphere of the past as you are introduced to the mounds of aromatic herbs and spices spilling from large baskets at every turn. Some may be just a tad overwhelming,

    A golden feast for the senses -- A trip to Dubai isn't complete without a trip to the famous Gold Souk, one of the oldest and most fascinating traditional markets in the emirate. Whether you’re just browsing or genuinely on the hunt for even the slightest amount of precious gold, walk through the glittering Gold Souk and you’ll find the biggest selection of gold jewelry and gemstones crafted in a variety of carats. Long lines of market stalls showcase a gleaming myriad of authentic and eye-catching products. All merchandise is carefully regulated by the Dubai government to ensure the authenticity its quality. You can be sure your purchases will be genuine. Retailers are more than up to the match with haggling. But be fair with your price – there are lots of bargains to be found.

    However, if you are looking for other beautiful Souqs built in the traditional style offering mainly local arts & crafts as well as costumes, souvenirs and so on then take some time to explore Souq Madinat Jumeirah with amazing restaurants for dining as well overlooking the venetian like water canals that flow through the entire complex; as well as Souq al Bahar at the foot of Burj Khalifa again with restaurants overlooking the dancing water fountains.

    You can also experience such traditional souqs in Abu Dhabi as well – the famous ones being Souq Qariyat al Beri on the waterway opposite to the stunning Grand Mosque and the Abu Dhabi Central Market Souq.

  3. Ski Dubai – Imagine snow slopes for bob-sled rides, toboggan and actual skiing or snowboarding in the middle of the desert?! A perfect activity for people who want to try winter sports in the UAE. This is what sets our destination apart as making anything & everything happen!

  4. At The Top & Sky At The Top + The Dancing Water Fountains: No visit to Dubai is complete without elevating oneself to Levels 124, 125 & as high as 148 for the observation decks in the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa -- giving one a panoramic 360 degrees view of the city in all its glory. For those not too keen on heights, perhaps a viewing of the dancing colored water fountains (the world’s biggest) as a bystander or while sipping coffee and smoking shisha at one of the numerous outlets. Why not get up-close & personal by taking a boat ride on the lake to view it even closer?!

  5. Aquaventure: The best way to cool off is make a splash and enjoy rides at Dubai’s biggest and most famous Aquaventure water park located at the iconic Atlantis Hotel on the Palm. Swim with the dolphins, dive with the sharks? Anything is possible. How about a corporate treasure hunt or team building games inside the water park? The possibilities are endless!

  6. The Desert Safari & Wildlife Conservation Drives: Often we are told that a Desert safari is a ‘must do’ on the tourist itinerary. However, one can do it the very ‘ordinary’ way with an average campsite setting but extremely touristic & ‘run-of-the-mill’ OR something upscale and unique like the Platinum Heritage experience in 1950s open land rover jeeps where the expert driver-cum-guide explains the flora and fauna of the Conservation area followed by a falcon display at sunset with soft beverages and a very authentic Emirati meal in a beautiful campsite with traditional entertainment.

    Similar experiences including an overnight in the desert are also a possibility out of Abu Dhabi and Ras-al-Khaimah.

  7. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: Perhaps one of the most stunning masterpieces of Islamic Architecture is evident at this magnificent construction in Abu Dhabi dedicated to the memory of the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan ‘Father Of The Nation’ whose tomb is located there. This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand knotted carpet.

  8. Farah Leisure Theme Parks: Located on Yas Island, there are 3 theme parks such as the Yas Waterworld (UAE”s biggest water themed park); the most famous one of its kind Ferrari World Theme Park with the world’s fastest & some of the craziest roller coaster rides and finally the soon-to-open Warner Bros. Theme Park.

  9. Yas Marina Circuit: This is only 1 of the 2 F1 racing circuits in the world where one can enjoy the thrill of different ‘Arrive & Drive’ experiences on the very race circuit in exotic cars such as Mercedes McLarens, Aston Martins, Jaguars and their very own Yas 3000 GT modified racing cars. Fancy drag racing in Camaros OR Drifting in modified Toyota sports cars? Perhaps just Go-karting?

    For the faint-hearted just enjoy a ‘behind-the-scenes’ venue tour.

  10. Jebel Jais Mountain Safari: Jebel Jais located in Ras-al-Khaimah is the highest peak in the UAE. It’s stunning rugged landscape makes a mountain safari drive with 4x4 vehicles a thrilling adventure. Explore the beautify of the emirate of Ras al Khaimah on this exceptional trip to the breathtaking Hajar mountain range and, specifically, the tallest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais. See the abundance of natural beauty on this exclusive private tour which also offers an exquisite midday meal as part of the experience!

    Today Jebel Jais has become very popular and famous since the opening of the world’s longest zipline which is 470-metre-long ‘Via Ferrata’ – meaning iron street /path in Italian- offers residents and tourists one of the most exhilarating outdoor activities available in the UAE. Experience the adrenaline rush as you glide down a mountain at speeds reaching almost 150 kilometers an hour! It includes three courses (ziplines) along the rocky facades of Jebel Jais, which rises 6,266 feet into the sky, measuring 165 feet, 195 feet and 985 feet. The longer the distance, the bigger the degree of difficulty.

    Ras-al-Khaimah also offers cultural landmarks such as the old Dhayah fort on top of the hill, RAK National Museum displaying archaeological finds in the area, Al Jazira Al Hamra an abandoned fishing village, the famous Marina and so on.