The Top Cultural and Historic Sites to Visit in the United Arab Emirates

UAE Fort

How many different countries have you been to? Which country was your favorite to visit? Why?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) features a mix of the traditional and modern. Historical sites stand next to modern works of wonder. There are a variety of fascinating places to visit in the United Arab Emirates.


  1. Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai: The fort is the oldest building in Dubai, built in 1787. It was first used as premises for the monarch, but was later adapted to hold prisoners and serve as an arsenal. In 1971 the fort was turned into the Dubai Museum. Visitors to the museum can learn about the history and traditions of Dubai.
  2. Jazirat Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah: This abandoned town serves as both a historical relic and an open-air museum. The town was built in 1830 on a tidal island. The town’s primary income was a small fleet of pearling boats. In 1914 the town became a part of Ras Al Khaimah, but the locals were in frequent conflict with its rulers. In 1968 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan offered the locals of Jazirat Al Hamra to move to Abu Dhabi. The local residents accepted and left behind the village, now preserved in the sand. Further increasing its allure to tourists are rumors that the village is haunted by ghosts.
  3. Hatta Heritage Village, Dubai: This is a reconstruction of a traditional mountain village. It is located in the Hatta mountains. The area the village is located on has held villages for over two thousand years, but the newest version was completed in 2001. The interior of many of the village’s 30 buildings are modern though they all have ancient styled façades. Visiting is a great opportunity to learn about Dubai’s rural heritage.
  4. Al Bastakiya, Dubai: Also known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, this is a historic district in Dubai. The neighborhood was built in 1890 by Persian immigrants to the area. Over half of the original neighborhood was demolished, but the rest has been preserved partially due to an effort by British architect Rayner Otter to save it. The neighborhood has traditional Arabic restaurants and cafes, galleries, and even the Coffee Museum.
  5. Dhow Yard, Ajman: A dhow is a type of Arabic wooden boat, they have been constructed and sailed for centuries. The dhow yard in Ajman is the largest operating dhow yard in the world. Here they make both traditional dhows and a variety of more modern boats. Visitors can see boats in all stages of construction.
  6. Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah: This museum contains thousands of artifacts of different Islamic cultures from across the world. Such rare items include a copy of the Koran owned by the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan. They also have exhibits dedicated to the role the Islamic world has played in global scientific and technological development.
  7. Qasr Al Muwaiji, Abu Dhabi: This impressive fortress stands watch over a beautiful desert oasis. The fort was built in the early 20th century by Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed bin Khalifa al Nahyan. It is the birthplace of the current president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
  8. Palm Jumeirah, Dubai: This is an artificial archipelago on the edge of Dubai. It was created using a mix of ocean sand and rocks from the mainland. Construction began in 2004 and by 2007 full time residents arrived. When viewed from above Palm Jumeriah looks like a giant palm tree. The archipelago holds a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops.
  9. Spice Souk, Dubai: Souks are traditional Arabic marketplaces. As its name suggests this souk specializes in selling spices. Aromatic ingredients from across the world are on display for anyone to buy. It is particularly known for being one of the cheapest places to buy saffron, earning it the nickname Aziz Saffron.
  10. Burji Khalifa, Dubai: This skyscraper is the world’s tallest building. It was finished in 2010 and stands at 2,717 feet tall with 162 floors. It was named to honor the president of Abu Zaby the emirate neighboring Dubai. It has multiple observation decks and is surrounded by a large park. It holds restaurants, a hotel, residential floors, a wellness center, and the world’s highest swimming pool.