A Sustainable Guide to Dubai

Sustainable Guide to Dubai: Dubai is a city that thrives on tourism. Millions of people from all over the world visit this Emirate city every year. Moreover, the city is filled with amazing attractions for the tourists. However, building a metropolis in the desert has had lot of negative effects on the environment. The temperature in the city goes up to 50oC during the summer; this is also the reason why most buildings, buses and even bus stops in Dubai are fully air-conditioned. All this has increased the carbon footprint of the city. Additionally, there are numerous green spaces like gardens and parks in the city, which also increases the water utility in the city.

Introduction: Dubai Tourism and Sustainability

Although the growth of sustainable tourism is slow in Dubai, the government has taken serious efforts towards it. Also, it is the responsibility of residents and tourists alike to support the government by adopting sustainable tourism by visiting less-known places, shopping at local stores and indulging in more cultural attractions and activities. Here are a few things that you can do to have an eco-friendly holiday in Dubai.

Lesser-Known Attractions

It is true that Dubai is home to some of the most iconic buildings and attractions like the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Frame, the amusement parks, etc. While you must visit at least a few of them, they should not be the only things on your itinerary. In fact, to ensure that you have a sustainable holiday in Dubai, here are a few attractions that should be a part of your itinerary.

Dubai Museum

sand-walled building, sustainable guide to dubai
The Dubai Museum: A Sustainable Guide to Dubai

Located in the Old part of Dubai (Bur Dubai), the Dubai Museum is the oldest and the most important museum in the city. It is situated inside the Al Fahidi Fort, which is the oldest standing structure of the city. The museum with its interesting exhibits would give you a glimpse of the Bedouin life and culture. You can see the traditional Bedouin-style houses and tents, the occupation of the people, the way they dressed, how they lived, etc. here. You also get to see the growth of the city through an audio-visual presentation.

Bastakiya Quarter

camel resting by tent
The Bastakiya Quarter: A Sustainable Guide to Dubai
Image by Diego Delso

Also known as the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, the Bastakiya Quarter is the oldest neighbourhood in the city. Although the surrounding areas have been filled with skyscrapers, the Bastakiya Quarter has been preserved beautifully. As you walk through the narrow lanes of the neighbourhood, you would be delighted to see the beautiful houses built in traditional Arabic architecture style with unique wind towers. Several of these houses have been converted into museums, boutique hotels, art galleries and cafes.

Dubai Creek

tourist-filled boats in choppy water
Abras on Dubai Creek: A Sustainable Guide to Dubai
Image by yeowatzup

Old Dubai rests on the banks of the Dubai Creek, which is an important part of the history of Dubai. It is here that the Arabs settled first when we moved from the desert. The Dubai Creek holds a nostalgic feeling and divides the city into two: Bur Dubai and Deira. To complete your Old Dubai tour, it is important to take an abra ride across the river. Not only is it cheap but also a great way to see the sights on both sides of the creek.

Natural Attractions

Dubai’s skyline is filled with numerous skyscrapers. However, this does not mean that there are no natural attractions in the city. Here are a few natural attractions preserved by the government to make the place more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

birds taking off from wetlands, sustainable guide to Dubai

A wildlife sanctuary, Ras Al Khor is a wetland reserve at the end of the Dubai Creek. Apart from being home to thousands of birds, you would also find several mammals, fish and crustaceans here. One of the highlights of the place is the hundreds of flamingos that come here during the winter months. If you arrive early at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, you can take part in bird feeding as well.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

two scimitar-horned oryx

The Dubai desert safari is considered one of the ultimate things to do in Dubai. However, commercialized desert safaris are crowded and not very eco-friendly. On the other hand, if you want to experience an authentic desert experience, a visit to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a must. Choose a desert resort or a tour operator who brings you closer to the nature, culture and history of the region. Most of these tours include safaris, treks, camping, falconry and traditional dance and music along with local Emirati cuisine.

Dubai Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

sea turtle being released, sustainable guide to Dubai
Dubai Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre

The Emirates Wildlife Protection officer opened the Turtle Lagoon in 2004 to protect and rehabilitate wounded and ill turtles. Several turtles have been rescued, treated and released into the water at this place. Apart from safeguarding the turtles, the organization also works towards raising awareness about the threats that these turtles face. If you are an animal lover, the Turtle Lagoon is a must visit place for you.

Shop Locally

Shopping is one of the highlights of visiting Dubai. However, instead of shopping at the glamorous shopping malls of the city, hit the traditional souks. The souks of Dubai are not just unique but also give you an opportunity to buy local products.

Gold Souk

The Gold Souk is probably the most popular souks in the city. Located in Deira, the Gold Souk has more than 300 stores that sell gold and silver jewellery. It is a delight to walk through the lanes of the gold souk as you can see the largest chain and largest ring made of gold here. If you plan to buy something here, do not forget to bargain before paying the money.

Perfume Souk

A few steps away from the gold souk is the perfume souk, a place where you can buy all types of perfumes, right from the traditional fragrances to the modern brands as well. It is a great place to buy the traditional Arabic oud and attar. Shops here would also help you to make a customized perfume by mixing your favourite fragrances.

Spice Souk

The perfume souk is followed by the spice souk, where you would find all kinds of spices and souks. You can also buy dry fruits, dates and local handicrafts here. The spice souk is a paradise for lovers of cooking.

Textile Souk

Unlike the above souks, the textile souk is located on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek. The place is filled with small stores where you can buy all kinds of fabrics or textiles and even readymade clothes. It is also a great place to get your clothes custom-stitched.

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
SMCCU: A Sustainable Guide to Dubai

Local experiences are necessary for complete sustainable tourism in Dubai, and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is perfect for this. Located in the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, the SMCCU was opened to give expats and tourists knowledge about the culture, religion and traditions of the people of Dubai. The organization’s motto is Open Doors, Open Minds, and it encourages all kinds of questions, even the most sensitive ones. They also organize tours of mosques, museums and national monuments. You can also enjoy a traditional cultural meal here.


Sustainable tourism in Dubai has a long way to go, but right steps have been taken towards that direction. Opt for these steps to make your holiday in Dubai an ecological one.

Interested in having your organization or business mentioned in this article? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

About the Author

Yashraj is a freelance blogger. He has more than 5 years’ experience in travel writing and blogging. He likes to explore the culture and cuisine of all the new places he visits. In his free time, he loves reading novels, hiking, and watching shows on Netflix. Some of his favorite adventures are skydiving, paragliding, and Jet Skiing.