Dubai is well-known the world over as a metropolis with larger than life malls and various other tourist attractions. From astounding theme parks with gravity-defying rides to an array of gargantuan malls with every brand imaginable, the city has everything one can think of. However, there are some hidden gems in Dubai that are sometimes overlooked amidst the towering skyscrapers and the more popular attractions. Exclusive boutiques tucked away in lesser-known shopping destinations, charming bistros with the best delicacies and cultural gems that open up a whole new avenue of discovery; there is much to enjoy in Dubai that the world does not know about. Read on to know more about these secret spots in Dubai which native residents love frequenting!
HIDDEN DUBAI GEMS FOR SHOPAHOLICS
Dubai is a popular shopping destination with several gargantuan malls but, in this post, we’re listing down the top souks in Dubai as well some other hidden places for a unique shopping experience.
Located at Al Khawaneej Street in Al Mizhar, this mall deserves a place as one of the best hidden gems in Dubai. Arabian Center is a stone’s throw away from the family-friendly residential community of Mirdif and this community-favourite is easily one of the destinations that not many tourists are aware of. If you want to enjoy perusing through the stores without a busy throng of visitors, this is one of the best places to visit in Dubai. The shopping destination is home to over 200 retail outlets selling everything from high-street fashion to sports items and grocery. Arabian Center has more than 200 stores, a hypermarket, an expansive food court and an 8-screen digital cinema.
- Sunday to Wednesday timings for retail outlets: 10:00 am – 10:30 pm | Food courts and restaurants 10:00 am – 12:00 am
- Thursday and Friday timings for retail outlets: 10:00 am – 12:00 am | Food courts and restaurants 10:00 am – 12:30 am
- Saturday timings for retail outlets: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm| Food courts and restaurants 10:00 am – 12:00 am
- Timings for Lulu Hypermarket: 08:00 am to 12:00 am
- Location: Al Mizhar, Al Khawaneej Road, near Mirdiff – Dubai
- Contact: +971-4-527-7777
The Naif Souk is one of the oldest souks and one of the top places to visit in Dubai. In the early years, the Naif Souk was a primary centre for camel trading. But today, from spices and garments to toys and electronics, Naif Souk offers a well-rounded shopping experience! Bargain hunters will have an exciting day exploring the market to get the best deals.
- Timings: 08:30 am to 11:30 pm
- Location: Naif Street, near Naif Police Station, Deira Dubai
- Contact: +971-800-900
DEIRA PERFUME SOUK
Dubai’s Souks are known for their hustle and bustle and one of the most interesting marketplaces of the lot is the iconic Perfume Souk. You will find a range of Arabic perfumes, incense sticks, essential oils and other branded perfumes here. Some of the souk’s retailers also sell perfumes in bulk at discounted prices.
- Location: Sikkat al Khali Street, Deira
- Timings: 09:30 am to 10:00 pm (Closed on Friday)
UNDERRATED OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS IN DUBAI
AVENTURA MUSHRIF PARK
Aventura Park is an adventure buff’s haven in Dubai where visitors can enjoy a variety of adrenaline-pumping activities while navigating their way through challenging obstacle courses. Aventura Dubai Park is perfect for families and singletons alike. Even if you’re not an adventure buff, the Mushrif Park surrounded by Ghaf trees is also one of the underrated places in Dubai that are well worth a visit.
- Opening hours: 09:00 am to 10:00 pm (Sunday to Wednesday) | 09:00 am to 11:00 pm (Friday, Saturday and holidays)
- Aventura Park tickets: AED 185 for adults (anyone taller than 1.4 metres is considered an adult) | AED 149 for kids (below 1.4 metres)
- Location: Al Mushrif Park Dubai
- Contact: +971-52-178-7616.
AL MARMOON BEDOUIN EXPERIENCE
Another outdoor hidden gem in Dubai is the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, the largest unfenced natural reserve in Dubai. Al Marmoom is open to the public and provides a good opportunity to explore the flora and fauna of Dubai. The reserve has several endangered species including the Arabian Oryx. Visitors can partake in various things to do in Al Marmoom, such as biking, trekking, exploring the Marmoom Camel Race Track, discovering the wildlife or just enjoying a picnic by the lake.
- Location: Office 303, Control Tower, Dubai, Motor City
- Contact: +971-4-440-9827
- Office timings: 08:00 am to 09:00 pm
ART AND CULTURE
Let’s take a look at the different spots where you can get the taste of real Dubai and Emirati culture.
Located at Umm Al Sheif, Majlis Ghorfat is a historic two-storey building that served as Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s summer retreat in the 1950s. The building has an elegant, simple design, typical of traditional Arabian architecture.
The whitewashed walls with teak window shutters are the perfect examples of innovative architectural designs user in traditional buildings to maintain an even temperature and provide appropriate ventilation. The impressive interior has embellished doors with a majlis room and colourful rugs. This is the perfect spot to discover the cultural history of Dubai.
- Majlis Ghorfat entry fee: AED 3 for adults | AED 1 for kids under the age of six
- Location: Al Mehemal Street, Jumeirah, Dubai
- Contact: 800-33-222
- Timings: 07:30 am – 02:30 pm (Closed on Friday and Saturday)
DUBAI COFFEE MUSEUM
The next hidden gem in Dubai is for the caffeine aficionados. The Dubai Coffee Museum is the perfect spot to discover more about the signature coffee blends that are popular in the region. Learn about the origins of coffee, the different methods of brewing coffee and a wealth of information about the popular bean. Visitors can also sample different varieties of coffee from around the world in the Coffee Museum, which is also considered one of the best museums in Dubai.
- Price of entry: Free
- Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday 09:00 am – 05:00 pm | Closed on Friday
- Location: Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Villa 44, Dubai
There are plenty of cinemas in Dubai where you can catch your favourite blockbusters, but none are as unique as Cinema Akil located at Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz.
The popular cinema is an independent art-house theatre in Dubai featuring independent movies from around the globe. Cinema Akil is also known for Project Chaiwala where patrons can indulge in a one-of-a-kind tea experience from South Asia.
- Location: Warehouse 68, Alserkal Avenue – Al Quoz Industrial District
- Contact: +971-58-524-6362
SHEIKH MOHAMMAD CENTRE FOR CULTURE AND UNDERSTANDING
Looking for hidden local gems in Dubai? Pay a visit to the Sheikh Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). The non-profit organisation known for hosting cultural events and is a Dubai hidden gem that will enchant culture vultures. These events are popular among tourists who want to learn more about the local culture and heritage of Dubai. The organisation offers walking tours of all the major attractions and cultural venues in the city. Try local Arabian cuisine and the unique gahwa, popularly known as Arabian coffee.
- Opening hours: 08:00 am – 04:00 pm (Sunday to Thursday)| 09:00 am – 01:00 pm (Saturday)
- Location: Al Mussallah Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai
- Contact: +971-4-353-6666
Located in Al Quoz 1, the Courtyard Playhouse is a KHDA licensed Performing Arts and Training Centre in Dubai. The Courtyard Playhouse is an improv’ theatre in Dubai that plays a vital role in nurturing the local talent in the city. The Playhouse hosts a number of plays with the best performances by local and international actors.
- Location: The Courtyard Building, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, UAE
VOX Outdoor Cinema
Want to watch the latest blockbusters under the stars? No, it’s not a drive-in cinema. It’s a cinema on the roof! Located atop the Galleria Mall, the Vox Outdoor Rooftop Cinema is ideal for those looking for unique leisure destinations in the emirate. Comfy bean bags, lounge chairs and couches enhance the experience and the best technologies are at play for a cinematic experience that you won’t want to miss!
- Opening hours: Timings subject to movie schedule | 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (Customer Support services from Thursday to Wednesday)
- Location: The Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road
- Contact: +971-600-599-905
UNIQUE CAFÉS IN DUBAI
Looking for hidden food gems in Dubai? The city has countless restaurants and cafés but there are some unique eateries that foodies can explore.
THE MAJLIS Café
The Majlis Café is located in The Dubai Mall. A true hidden gem in Dubai, The Majlis Café is best known for serving freshly brewed coffee prepared with camel milk.
The café stays true to the age-old Arabian tradition of using camel milk in their products. So, if you wish to try something new or unheard of, Majlis Café is the perfect spot for you!
- Opening hours: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Average cost for two: AED 150
- Location: Ground level, The Dubai Mall
- Contact: +971-4-333-8183
Boston Lane is a charming and cosy café secretly tucked away at The Courtyard in Al Quoz. The café is known for its Instagrammable interior with pink and dove grey colour schemes. Boston Lane is an Australian café in Dubai with delectable dishes on the menu. You can enjoy the amazing food along with a freshly brewed cup of coffee while catching up with your friends. The establishment is also considered one of the best cafes in Dubai.
- Opening hours: 08:00 am – 06:00 pm
- Average cost for two: AED 155
- Location: 6 A Street, The Courtyard, Al Quoz, Dubai
- Contact: +971-58-517-2131
Nomad is a fast food haven. The quaint burger joint serves some of the best burgers in Dubai. Some of the popular burgers from the Nomad menu are Zero Gravity, Red Velvet, Bedouin and Truffle. Nomad’s mac and cheese is also popular among patrons as well.
- Opening hours: Saturday to Wednesday 12:00 pm – 02:00 am | Thursday and Friday 12:00 pm – 03:00 am
- Average cost for two: AED 190
- Location: Opposite Dubai Public Library, Umm Suqeim, Dubai
- Contact: +971-58-954-1613
SECRET GARDEN CAFE
Another hidden gem in Dubai is Secret Garden, a quaint little café located amongst the hustle and bustle of the City Walk, Dubai. The picturesque café is aptly named the Secret Garden Café. You will encounter a myriad of beautiful flowers in the chic and classy interior designed with a soft pink gradient. One of the best cafes in City Walk, Secret Garden is a great place for some Insta-worthy mocktails, cakes, coffee, tea and other beverages.
- Opening hours: 10:00 am – 12:00 midnight
- Average cost for two: AED 80
- Location: City Walk 2, Al Safa, Dubai
- Contact: 0043452209
Other Hidden Gems in Dubai
XVA Art Hotel
Art enthusiasts looking for suitable hidden gems in Dubai can head to the XVA Art Hotel. The emirate of Dubai isn’t short of swanky hotels, but this one may appeal to art aficionados. The hotel is best suited for artists and those who love the craft. Apart from being a peaceful retreat, the XVA Art Hotel is also one of the best Instagrammable hotels in Dubai. Furthermore, large shaded courtyards and preserved wind towers evoke a sense of nostalgia.
- Location: Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai
- Contact: +971-4-353-5383
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the best-hidden gem restaurants in Dubai?
There are some local favourites that long time residents swear by including al Ustad Special Kebab, Automatic Restaurant, Belad Al Shams and Bonne Anne Restaurant.
Which are some of the lesser known malls in Dubai?
Apart from the Arabian Centre which is mentioned above, there are also smaller shopping centres such as the Jumeirah Plaza, Reef Mall and even the Karama Shopping Centre which have a wealth of hidden gems.
That’s all for our coverage of the hidden gems in Dubai. Looking for other exciting destinations to add to your travel bucket list? Check out the many things to do in Dubai.
Similarly, popular tourist attractions in Dubai attract hundreds and thousands of people each year where they explore everything that the city has to offer. Apart from the recent attractions, you might also want to check out the new and upcoming attractions in Dubai like The Palm Fountain, Sky Walk and others.
For more updates on new adventures in Dubai, stay tuned to MyBayut.