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Between meetings: The top things to do in Dubai

Dubai is relatively painless to get around if you’re not the one driving. The metro runs up and down the city’s main artery, Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR), and for those places just out of reach of the metro, affordable cabs float around as freely as sand particles. So when you do have an hour or two to spare between meetings, you can check out the top things to do in Dubai with ease.

You’ll no doubt visit the Burj Khalifa while you’re in town, especially if you’re a first-time visitor: seeing the world’s tallest skyscraper is one of the top things to do in Dubai. But surrounding the building you’ll also find the Souk Al Bahar marketplace and The Dubai Mall, both of which make for eye-opening local experiences. Take the metro to Burj Khalifa Station and follow the infamous tower. You really can’t miss it.

Just a five-minute drive east, The Gate Village welcomes you with wide walkways, high-end eateries and art galleries. By metro, take the Emirates Towers Station and follow signs for the Dubai International Financial Centre. The Gate Village is adjacent to the DIFC.

If you find yourself in Dubai’s historic areas of Deira or Bur Dubai, take an abra ride down the Dubai Creek. Whether you take a short trip across the creek or an hour-long private cruise, it’ll feel more like vacation than a business trip. By metro from SZR, transfer at BurJuman Station to Al Fahidi Station. The abras are located on the creek next to the Bur Dubai souk.

While you’re in the area, The Al Fahidi Historic District (formerly Al Bastikiya) takes you back in time as you stroll along narrow walkways where traditional architecture clashes with Dubai’s glitzy, jet set reputation. Home to several museums, this is a cultural hotspot worth exploring.

The name “Jumeirah” in Dubai represents opulence and style, but The Jumeirah Mosque, beautiful in its own right, could teach you a thing or two about the religion the city was built upon. Take the 75-minute tour in the only Dubai mosque open to non-Muslims. Cameras are welcome, too.

Safa Park in Jumeirah offers fabulous green fields to unwind in if you just want to get away from the bustle of the city. Within the grounds (just inside Gate 5, on the park’s south end) you’ll find The Archive, a library and café stocked with Middle Eastern artisan books. As no metro runs directly past the park, a taxi is recommended.

If meetings take you to the Dubai Marina side of town, stretch your legs and go for a stroll on The Walk. This 1.7 km promenade along Jumeirah Beach Residence is lined with shops and cafés, and with a high concentration of tourists from all over the world, The Walk is one of Dubai’s best places to people-watch. Pop into The Beach for a spot of retail therapy or lunch overlooking the ocean. If the weather’s right and you’ve got enough time, you can always walk over and dip your toes in the Persian Gulf.

Written by Jimmy Dawson

Image credits: Boating along the Dubai Creek © Jimmy Dawson, The viewing platform at the sky-high Burj Khalifa © Fabio Achilli, The glittering Jumeirah Mosque © Susanne Nilsson