Nestled in the heart of Dubai Creek, Al Seef Dubai is a waterfront promenade that captures the essence of the city’s rich heritage and vibrant present. This destination offers a blend of traditional architecture, beautiful views, shopping, dining and entertainment experiences.
As you stroll along the winding alleys and lanes, you can marvel at the centuries-old Emirati houses surrounded by ultra-modern, cutting-edge buildings. Here, you can feel Dubai’s transformation from a small fishing village into a global metropolis. In this article, I will tell you all you need to know about Al Seef Dubai attractions and things to do. Moreover, I will share my tips about the best ways to explore the area.
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What is Al Seef in Dubai
Al Seef, which means ‘The Shore’ in Arabic, is a 1.8-kilometre waterfront promenade in Bur Dubai developed by Meraas. It’s located along the tranquil waters of Dubai Creek, offering a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Al Seef in Dubai is divided into two main areas: the heritage area, which showcases the past, and a more contemporary area, which celebrates the present.
The heritage area transports you back in time with its traditional Arabian architecture, reminiscent of the 1950s era. Here, you’ll find charming wind-tower houses, wooden dhow boats and local souqs. The contemporary area, on the other hand, boasts sleek, glass-fronted buildings.
Al Seef is a great starting point to explore Old Dubai. It borders on the renowned Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and is close to other attractions, such as the Dubai Museum and Dubai Heritage Village. Moreover, you can hop on a traditional abra boat from the nearby Al Fahidi marine transportation station and in about 5 minutes reach the bustling souks of Deira on the opposite shore.
It is also a place that welcomes various cultural events and annual festivals. Furthermore, fireworks are organised here on different occasions, such as national holidays.
Traditional architecture and charm of Al Seef
As you wander through the heritage area of Al Seef, you’re instantly transported to a time when Dubai was a small Bedouin village. The traditional Emirati houses feature wind towers (barjeel) which were used by the locals to combat the desert heat. These wind towers, which function as natural air conditioners, capture the cool breeze and channel it down into the house below.
The narrow, winding alleyways of Al Seef are filled with charming little shops selling traditional crafts, spices, perfumes, fabrics and apparel. The main Al Seef shopping street is a traditional market. With its lantern-lit alleyways and rustic charm, it offers an authentic Arabian shopping experience. Here, you can haggle over handicrafts, pick up some exquisite silver jewellery or simply buy aromatic spices.
Al Seef promenade and marina
Don’t forget to visit the waterfront with docked boats and a relaxing vibe. Al Seef promenade offers breathtaking views of Dubai Creek and buildings on the other shore in Deira, making it a perfect spot for leisurely walks, photography or simply soaking in the beautiful surroundings.
Watch the traditional abra boats passing by, and if you wish you can catch them at the nearby station to cross Dubai Creek. If you would like to stay a bit longer, have a bite or a cup of coffee at one of the cafes by the water.
Al Seef shopping
The Al Seef Heritage Souq takes you back in time with its traditional Arabian architecture, narrow lanes and unique shops selling everything from spices and perfumes to textiles, carpets, lamps and handicrafts. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and gifts that represent the cultural richness of Dubai.
Have Fun Dubai’s Tip: The Deira district on the other shore, famous for its vibrant souks (markets), is worth a visit but it can be overwhelming, with hundreds of sellers trying to grab your attention. Al Seef is a good alternative. The number of shops here is limited, but you can still get a glimpse of a traditional souk and avoid crowds.
Some of Al Seef Dubai shops include:
- House Of Niche (perfumes)
- Ibrahim Naseeri
- Harat Alzman Novelties Trading
- King Carpet Gallery
- Oud sandal
- Kashmir Emporium
Restaurants and cafes in Al Seef Dubai
Al Seef restaurants offer a wide array of culinary delights to satisfy your palate. From traditional Emirati cuisine to international dishes, there’s something for everyone. Visit the authentic Al Fanar Seafood Market restaurant to enjoy a variety of fish dishes with rice by the water or Chokhi Dhani restaurant to try flavourful Indian cuisine.
For the coffee lovers, Al Seef Starbucks brunch offers a unique experience. Set in a traditional Arabian building, the coffee shop is a perfect blend of the brand’s modern identity and the cultural heritage of Dubai. It’s a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee in a charming ambience.
One of my favourite choices in Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant. Though technically already located in the neighbouring Al Fahidi area, it is a great place to try delicious Emirati dishes at affordable prices and see the typical local building from the inside.
Museum of Illusions
Looking for a fun and unique experience? In the same row with shops and galleries, you will find the Museum of Illusions in Dubai. This popular attraction offers a mind-boggling array of illusionary exhibits that challenge your perceptions and make you question reality. It’s a fun-filled destination that’s ideal for families, friends and anyone who loves a bit of mystery and intrigue.
Smart Police Station
Moreover, Al Seef is home to a Smart Police Station. In line with Dubai’s vision of becoming a smart city, this unmanned station offers a range of services including reporting crimes, traffic fine payments and issuing permits.
Popular events in Al Seef Dubai
Al Seef isn’t just about shopping, dining and sightseeing. It’s also a hub for cultural events and festivals. The Al Seef Dubai events range from traditional Emirati celebrations to international festivals, exhibitions and performances. They offer a unique glimpse into the rich culture and vibrant lifestyle of Dubai.
- Al Seef Creek Festival: Typically organised from October through November, this festival showcases the culture and traditions of the UAE, with activities like traditional Emirati performances, live shows, food stalls offering local cuisine and pop-up shops selling traditional arts and crafts.
- UAE Union Day Celebration: From December 1st to December 3rd, Al Seef turns into one of the city’s hotspots to celebrate this national holiday in Dubai. You can expect live concerts, workshops and colourful fireworks displays
- Al Seef New Year’s Eve Celebration: Typically organised from mid-December to mid-January, this is one of the brightest events that rings the festive season. The area is adorned by a massive Christmas tree, and there are various performances. The dates often coincide with the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Lights Festival. You can watch beautiful illuminated structures and displays, such as the famous Anooki figures set on top of the building. Moreover, Al Seef is one of the top locations to enjoy NYE fireworks in Dubai.
Hotels in Al Seef
If you’re looking for accommodation in Al Seef, there are several good options. They boast both modern amenities and the charm of Old Dubai.
- Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton: This property in Al Seef Dubai offers the blend of tradition and modernity that the neighbourhood exemplifies. Its rooms with traditional Emirati decor and facilities, such as TV, fridge and free Wi-Fi, are spread between 10 Arabic stone houses. Moreover, you can enjoy Dubai Creek views from some of the rooms. Book your Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai stay here
- Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef: This 3-star accommodation is a great choice for budget-conscious travellers. The property offers 150 comfortable and air-conditioned rooms with basic amenities, friendly service and decent breakfast. Furthermore, it is located 15 minutes away from the Burjuman metro station, convenient to explore the city. Book your Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Seef stay here
Other attractions and things to do nearby
Al Seef’s location, at the heart of Dubai, makes it a perfect base to explore other attractions in the vicinity. Here are some of the activities you can do.
- Dubai Creek: Dubai Creek is a historic waterway that provides a glimpse into Dubai’s maritime past. Take a traditional abra ride or a dhow cruise along the creek to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the scenic views. Book your Dubai Creek dhow cruise here
- Dubai Souks: There are several traditional markets located on both shores of Dubai Creek. Visit the vibrant Dubai Gold Souk in Deira to buy some jewelries or see the world’s largest golden ring. Moreover, you can take a stop at the Spice Souk to smell the aromatic herbs and stock up on some spices. You can do it on your own or join one of the informative tours. Book your Old Dubai tour with souks visit here
- Dubai Museum: Situated in the Al Fahidi Fort, which is about 1 km away from Al Seef, the Dubai Museum offers a captivating journey through the city’s history and heritage. Explore the exhibits that showcase traditional Emirati life, ancient artefacts and the city’s transformation over the years.
- Dubai Heritage Village: Walk along Dubai Creek towards the Arabian Gulf to see another captivating destination that offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Dubai. Dubai Heritage Village showcases traditional Emirati architecture, customs, and craftsmanship. You can visit several museums that recreate scenes of daily life from a bygone era. They include Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, the former home of the royal family. Book your Al Shindagha Museum Dubai tickets here
How to get to Al Seef
Al Seef by Meraas is located on the shore of Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai. You can easily get there using public and private transport.
- By metro: Take the Dubai Metro to Burjuman station (red line) or Sharaf DG (green line)
- By bus: Al Seef is served by several bus lines, including number 6 and F70
- By water transport: You can also easily reach the area by abra, get off at Al Seef or Al Fahidi Marine Transportation Stations
- By car: Al Seef underground parking offers plenty of spaces and it is free
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