By Vicky Anscombe on 30 September 2015

Say 'Dubai', and most people think of millionaires speeding around in six-figure supercars, opulent designer shopping malls and slick beach resort hotels.

We’ve been wondering whether there’s another side of this gleaming new metropolis to discover, and if culture, art and adventure await in the United Arab Emirates.

If you’re staying in Dubai, take time to seek out the Deira district – a glimpse of what Dubai once was before the high rise developments left their mark on the landscape.  It’s the hub of bohemian culture for the region, and today offers a home to museums, galleries and outdoor cafés.  Make sure you visit Bastakiya, close to the bustling souk – it was rebuilt to mirror the architecture of the original Iranian town – complete with traditional wind towers which once lined the creek along both banks.


For a land steeped in ancient culture, it may come as a surprise that the oldest building is only two hundred years old; built in 1787, make sure the Al Fahidi Fort and Dubai Museum is on your itinerary, where you can learn about Dubai’s history before the discovery of oil in the 1960s.

If you’re planning to travel around, take a trip down to Abu Dhabi. While not as cosmopolitan as Dubai, Abu Dhabi is opened its doors to culture vultures in 2012 with a brand new Guggenheim gallery.

Alternatively, if adventure rather than culture is more your bag, then why not get out into the sand dunes and sample sandboarding? It's effectively snowboarding in the desert sands. Alternatively, head off on a road trip to the neighbouring country of Oman, when over 50,000 turtles will lay their eggs on the beaches of Ras al Hadd over the summer months – a guided walk by night will get you up close and personal with these amazing creatures.


Also check out: The Grand Mosque, camel races, textile, gold and spice souks and surf lessons.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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