Something New in Old Dubai: Top 5 Things To Do in Al Seef

Marsa Al Seef is a new highlight for your trip to Dubai. It’s an innovative development along the much-loved Dubai Creek that features dining, boutiques and galleries in a traditional Emirati setting.

The Al Seef development aims to seamlessly bring together the best of traditional and contemporary Emirati culture. It has quickly become a new focal point for Dubai culture and lifestyle. Since opening, it has allowed residents and visitors to enjoy the vibrant charm of old world Dubai more easily than ever before.

The development blends a unique area of heritage architecture with a neighboring contemporary space. Unlike any previous development in Dubai, it fully preserves and celebrates the rich history of Dubai, while still providing visitors with elegant, modern shopping and dining experiences.

The waterfront location means visitors can enjoy a walk and scenic water views of the atmospheric marina, the floating market or spend some downtime in one of the floating restaurants or nearby cafes. The proximity of the water to the whole area gives it a relaxed, unhurried feel; a complete change from the pace of modern Dubai.

As a neighbor of the Al Fahidi historical district, the development also aims to educate interested visitors who wish to know more about Old Dubai, beyond the skyscrapers and glitz of modern life. There’s plenty to learn about local culture on a visit to Marsa Al Seef.

Here are the top 5 things to do on your visit to Al Seef:

1. Wander through the souks

Step back in time and wander through souks and sikkas, the Arabic names for markets and alleyways. In Old Dubai, these areas were frequented by the many pearl divers, tradesmen and fishermen that made their living.

The area is pedestrianized and genteel, which means you can wander at your leisure before stopping for refreshment at any one of the many traditionally-styled cafes in the area. The area is particularly conducive for unhurried evening strolls.

Witness incredible craftsmanship and detailed handiwork in one of the many live demonstrations of traditional Emirati crafts, and learn the history of the area as you meander.

2. Find some treasures to take home

The area is a fantastic place to pick up traditional souvenirs for loved ones or to purchase a memento that can be a treasured reminder of your time in Dubai. There are also stylish fashion and beauty stores for discerning shoppers.

Both traditional opulence and modern elegance are represented in Al Seef. The boutiques, open-air floating market and creekside pontoons offer the flavors of the emirates, alongside international brands.

3. Take a breathtaking dhow cruise

The view of the creek from Al Seef is spectacular, day and night. It’s a perfect place to take a breather and admire the view mid-morning or afternoon. Or, you could easily spend a romantic evening gazing at the reflections of city lights on the water.

Possibly even more magical is to take to the water itself on a dhow cruise. Dubai Creek is central to the city’s heritage and to the new Al Seef development. A trip aboard a dhow, a traditional sea vessel, allows you to fully experience the ambiance of the area.

4. Stay in an Arabian-style hotel

Checking in to a traditional Arabian style hotel is the perfect complement to your visit to Dubai and Al Seef.

Traditional Arabian architecture typically features courtyards to provide plenty of shade to shield occupants from the intense glare of the sun. Indoor features are luxurious, beautiful and subtle. This means a traditional-style hotel has a calm, intimate feel that is perfect for a relaxing or romantic break.

5. Visit during festival time

To make your visit to Al Seef even more magical, you could try to time your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals celebrated in the area.

The Ramadan Night Market and Eid-Al-Fitr are particularly interesting times to arrive, with plenty of special events to enjoy. The Sikka Art Fair at Al Seef in March and Dubai Shopping Festival in late December and January are also noteworthy.

To see big celebrations, visit on National Day in the UAE every December 2. In all of Dubai, Al Seef is the perfect place to be so you can witness a showcase of traditional performances and cultural activities that celebrate the heritage of this particular emirate.

Stylish Al Seef has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are looking for unique shopping experiences, culture and heritage, or a venue for some relaxing downtime in a picturesque setting.


Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.

About Teresa Sabo

View all posts by Teresa Sabo →