HalalBooking guide to halal-friendly holidays in Dubai
Dubai is the jewel in the crown of the United Arab Emirates. It has become very popular with tourists, drawn by its excellent standards of accommodation, wonderful beaches and exclusive shopping. In 2017, the UAE was named the world’s best place for Muslim tourists by the 2016-17 Global Islamic Economy Report. And who are we to disagree? Here are some of the reasons why we think halal-conscious travellers will love Dubai!
Shopping in Dubai: a unique experience!
Once you have been here, you will understand why shopping in Dubai is the number one pastime. If you thought that a shopping mall was simply a shopping mall, then think again: Dubai brings the concept of shopping for holiday souvenirs to a whole new level! Here are 5 reasons why Muslim tourists will love to shop in Dubai:
- The impressive Mall of the Emirates is home to Ski Dubai - yes, you and your family can ski, ice skate and generally enjoy lots of snow fun in, what is essentially, the middle of the desert. Don’t worry, you don’t need to pack your ski gear - it is all provided for you.
- For a more traditional shopping experience, head to the Souk at Dubai Creek, an open-air market selling spice, jewellery and so much more - the perfect opportunity to put your haggling skills to the test.
- Visit the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. You can view the brightly coloured fish and sea creatures from the outside for free, or head inside for a wealth of amazing experiences. The really brave can even try cage diving with sharks.
- The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a recreation of an authentic market place, in a beautiful setting, shaded by palm trees and surrounded by serene waterways.
- For a night-time shopping experience, head to the City Walk Dubai to admire the beautiful lights and the impressive water show, telling a story through water. It has to be seen to be believed!
As you may have realised, malls in Dubai are not just for shopping but are almost like small cities in themselves with plenty of opportunities for family entertainment and an excellent choice of restaurants serving halal food. You will also find prayer facilities in all of the malls.
Top places to visit for Muslims on holiday in Dubai
- Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall and the Dancing Fountains - Burj Khalifa has to be top of anyone’s list of must-see attractions in Dubai. At 828 metres the world’s tallest building was inspired by the petal structure of the Hymenocallis, the area’s desert flower, and the geometric patterns of Islamic architecture. Observation decks are on Floors 124 and 148 affording stunning views of Dubai. Next to it is the Dubai Mall with its ice rink, Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, KidZania and SegaRepublic; and the famous Dubai dancing fountains, which have stunning choreographed displays taking place every evening. While in the area don’t miss a tour or performance at Dubai Opera.
- Dubai Frame and Zabeel Park - The Dubai Frame is the latest addition to Dubai’s spectacular skyline. It is a structure which resembles a gigantic picture frame and is some 150 metres high and 93 metres wide. Visitors can see the sights of old and new Dubai from a different perspective as they rise up the building - including the views down through the glass floor. It is set in the popular Zabeel Park, which is a beautiful green space with lots of shady trees and plenty of relaxation facilities, including running tracks, children’s rides, a boating lake and 3D cinema.
- Dubai Marina - The Dubai Marina Walk is a beachfront promenade which stretches for some 7kms along the seafront, and is packed with shops and restaurants. It’s a great place from which to admire the views and there’s always plenty going on whatever time of day or night you choose to visit.
- Bastakiya Quarter - This is one of the oldest residential areas of Dubai with courtyard houses dating from the 19th century. Many have been restored and turned into art galleries, shops and restaurants. Also of interest are the wind towers, Coffee Museum and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Five minutes’ walk away next to the Grand Mosque is Dubai Museum, housed in Al Fahidi Fort.
- Heritage House & Al Ahmadiya School - The 1890 courtyard home of a wealthy pearl merchant is built from coral and gypsum in Deira. Visitors can explore the majlis meeting room, kitchen, bride room, bathroom, larder and family room upstairs. The neighbouring school was Dubai’s first and the alma mater of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Nearby are the gold, spice and perfume souks - a great place to pick up some souvenirs of your holiday in Dubai.
- Jumeirah Mosque is built in traditional Fatimid style and has a capacity of 1,200. Built entirely from white stone it has towering twin minarets framing a large central dome. It is the only mosque open to non-Muslims who can visit on one hour tours operated by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
- Bait al Banaat (House of Women), a museum on the Deira side, is both a portrayal of and homage to Emirati women throughout history. Exhibits showcase their contribution to the arts, business, politics, education and more.
Top family-friendly attractions for Muslim families in Dubai
JBR Open Beach/The Walk at JBR - This popular Dubai beach has a children's splash pool and plenty to do with a soft jogging trail, volleyball courts, benches and an open-air gym. It also has all the facilities which families need such as changing rooms, showers, toilets, sun lounges, umbrellas and towels. The Walk has a contemporary feel with shops, squares, grassy areas and an open-air movie theatre. It will be easy to find a family-friendly halal restaurant, choose one with a seafront terraces. Many of them are alcohol-free.
Take a Ferry Boat Ride. Take a one-hour trip on Dubai ferry’s futuristic looking watercraft. One departure from Dubai Marina skirts The Walk before circling Palm Jumeirah giving passengers a view of the emirate’s iconic luxury development. Another boat departs from Al Ghubaiba dock on Shindagha Waterfront and cruises along the coast past the QE2 in Port Rashid and the beaches of Jumeirah. Whichever you choose, it’s a great way to see Dubai from the water.
Visit a thrilling Waterpark. Choose Wild Wadi Waterpark, which offers 30 gravity-defying rides and follows the story of an Arab adventurer in a shark-infested lagoon. It is one of the world’s most advanced water theme parks. Or visit Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai at Atlantis, The Palm, which has 17 hectares of fun-filled rides including the astounding ‘Leap of Faith’ which is 9 storeys high. It also has a private beach and The Lost Chambers Aquarium where you can meet 65000 marine creatures including sharks and rays. Other family entertainment destinations include IMG World of Adventures, Bollywood Parks Dubai and Legoland Dubai.
Ain Dubai has recently opened. Located on Bluewaters Island, the 210-metre-high observation wheel is the largest and highest in the world, providing 360-degree views of the city and coastline. Also known as the Dubai Eye, it has 48 passenger capsules, each of which fits 40 passengers, and is spacious enough for visitors to walk around.
Take a desert safari. Teenagers will love the excitement of travelling out into the desert. When you’re in Dubai it’s easy to forget that its spectacular architecture and impressive attractions are built in the midst of a desert. You may get to ride in a jeep, take part in dune bashing and even ride on a camel. It is worth checking exactly what is included as some trips do feature entertainment which might not be appropriate for families.
Top women-only facilities in Dubai
There is a good choice of spa and beauty centres in Dubai offering separate treatment centres for women only. For those who prefer to swim and sunbathe in a ladies-only environment, or would prefer to relax in a women-only spa, these are our top choices:
- Dubai Ladies Club is close to the Jumeirah Beach Park. It has a wealth of facilities, including a spa, swimming pool, sports facilities and a private beach, as well as restaurants and cafés all of which are open to women only, with boys only admitted up to the age of 7. Monday is maintenance day when men may be present, but otherwise it is only women. Simply pay for a daily entrance pass for the facilities you want to use.
- Two of Dubai’s public beaches have days when they are only open to women and to boys under 4 years old. On Mondays and Wednesdays entrance to Jumeirah Beach Park is for women and children only from 8am - 10pm.. On Sundays and Tuesdays the same applies to Al Mamzar Beach Park.
- Al Jawhara Gardens has a separate spa for women and there are also set times when the indoor pool is available to women only.
- Jannah Place Dubai Marina has a sauna and steam room available to women only from Monday – Sunday from 1900 -2300.
Where to eat? Alcohol-free halal restaurants in Dubai
Although alcohol is available for non-Muslim tourists in Dubai, this is only in licensed restaurants, most of which tend to be in hotels. Alcohol is not allowed in public places such as beaches, and it is very easy to find alcohol-free restaurants in Dubai.
Strict halal standards are also maintained for restaurants. Although there is no tradition of halal certification, you can assume that all food served in restaurants is halal. In particular, restaurants serving Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Lebanese and other Middle Eastern cuisine will almost certainly be owned and run by Muslims.
Here’s a pick of our favourite halal, alcohol-free restaurants in Dubai:
Seven Sands - The Beach is an Emirati restaurant serving traditional dishes from the seven emirates such as Fish Fouga and Aishu Lahem. Located at The Jumeirah Beach Residence is is a good choice for families and it serves breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner with views of the sea and Ain Dubai.
Al Falamanki is a Lebanese restaurant on Jumeirah Beach Road. Signature dishes include Khalil’s Saj with thyme and a cheese mix and Kbaibet in Yogurt - fried kibbeh balls mixed with garlic, pine nuts and coriander. Throughout Ramadan, the restaurant serves a set menu with traditional dishes such as hashed chicken, sumac potatoes, cheese rolls and fried kibbeh. Iftar is served nightly from sunset to 3am.
Tribes in Dubai Mall serves fusion cuisine with exotic African flavours. It’s great for meat-lovers but it is not only the halal food here which will grab your attention but also the magnificent views of Burj Khalifah and the dancing fountains.