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Best museums in Dubai

Shopping might be the biggest tourist appeal of Dubai, but you can see much more in this fascinating city than just the malls. If you’re looking to explore the art, culture, and history of the city, here are some of the best Dubai museums to check out.

The Dubai Museum: Discover the city’s history

For an excellent overview of Dubai’s history and development, you can’t miss a visit to the Dubai Museum, which is located in Dubai's oldest building. Since 1787, the fort has been used as a prison, an arsenal, and a powerful defensive stronghold for the city. Now the building houses one of Dubai’s most important historical museums.

This museum has multiple galleries, each of which showcases a different aspect of Dubai's culture and history. As you explore the Dubai Museum, you’ll encounter large dioramas that depict various scenes, including Bedouin desert lifestyles. This gallery includes information about Bedouin astronomical expertise, as well as Bedouin artifacts that give you a glimpse into their daily life. A nearly life-size marketplace (or souk) demonstrates how Dubai city lifestyles might have looked before oil was discovered. Another gallery showcases archaeological items dating as far back as 3,000 B.C.

Here are some details you should keep in mind. The Dubai Museum opens daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., except for Fridays, when it is open from 2:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. To fully absorb all the information within this museum, you’ll want to budget for about an hour in the museum.

Etihad Museum: Learn how the UAE came to be

For contemporary history, you can’t miss the Etihad Museum. This important place showcases some interesting, relevant Dubai history. It explains how the UAE was formed, using photos, films, and other interactive exhibits. Want to know something interesting? Its unique architectural design, with its swooping white roof, represents the shape of the paper that makes up the constitution itself. And the building's seven columns represent pens that were used to sign the constitution. The Etihad is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On the same grounds as the Etihad Museum, you'll also find Union House. Here, the documents of the United Arab Emirates' constitution were signed in 1971. Be sure to explore both buildings for the full educational experience.

Burj Khalifa: Take in panoramic views 

Yes, you’re reading correctly. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is not exactly a museum, per se. However, it is certainly one of the top attractions of Dubai that are on your must-see list. Plus, you’ll find several informative exhibitions within the building that are worth a look. So check them out before you head up to the observation decks at the top. Multimedia on the ground floor tells you about the building's construction. The second observation deck, known as “At the Top Sky,” also includes an interesting exhibition in the form of an interactive screen. It will show you the key landmarks in the city.

Keep in mind that ticket prices to the Burj Khalifa go up during peak hours. If you want to get the best prices and to avoid long wait times, try to book your ticket in advance.

Dubai art museums and galleries

Dubai might not be particularly famous for its art museums, but nevertheless, art lovers will find several unique and delightful art galleries and museums. Third Line, for example, is a contemporary art gallery in downtown Dubai featuring about 30 Middle Eastern artists.

You can also visit Cuadro Art Gallery, which showcases contemporary art in Dubai. Some of the work on display here come from their 3-month-long artist residencies. The gallery also publishes fine-art books.

To get a glimpse of some of the city’s best photography, visit The Empty Quarter. This is the only gallery in the country that is focused solely on fine-art photography. It features work from up-and-coming photographers and shows from some of the world’s most renowned photographers.

When visiting any art galleries in Dubai, make sure to check the address before leaving your hotel. Many of the galleries are small and scattered around downtown, so they can be hard to find unless you’ve already mapped out where you’re going. With the city’s year-round hot weather, you probably don’t want to get stuck wandering around in search of these Dubai museums.

Sightseeing in Dubai

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What people are saying about Dubai

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3.8 / 5

based on 1,265 reviews

I can fully recommend this tour. Riz was a great and knowledgeable driver. It was the right mix between quiet time and information during the drive. The visit of the two sights was very well organized and structured. Pick-up worked perfectly as well.

This tour is perfect if you don’t have that much time to visit Abu Dhabi. Our guide Noor was very helpful and kind. I definitely recommend this tour!

Amazing, must visit! The guide was very kind and helpful. We saw everything and we spent as much time everyvhere as we wanted.

Amazing experience!! Had the best guide Mounir very welcoming, knowledgeable and made the experience perfect

Super activité dépaysante avec un accompagnateur super sympa Jamil. Authentique show et camp génial.