leisure in the UAE
Updated 8 months ago

Are you moving to the United Arab Emirates and wondering about your lifestyle? Find out how to enjoy your free time in the country.

If you are moving to the United Arab Emirates, you can rest assured that there are a lot of various leisure activities you can enjoy. This may vary based on where you are exactly in the UAE, but in each emirate, you should be able to find certain types of attractions to satisfy you. The United Arab Emirates has a convenient location and its landscape is filled with natural beauty. Its history and rich cultural diversity only add to making this a country where you can have an entertaining lifestyle. Indeed, each of the seven emirates has something special to offer, especially the city of Dubai which is brimming with leisure facilities of all kinds.

In short, there is a bit of everything to please everyone. Whether you prefer lounging by the swimming pool of a luxury resort, have some fun family time at a theme park, explore the desert, or engage in some sports activities, there are plenty of options to keep boredom at bay.

Themed parks

The United Arab Emirates has an array of amusement parks, including world-famous ones. For lovers of cars and speed, you will enjoy Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. As the name suggests, this theme park is all about the Italian car manufacturer. It also has the world’s fastest rollercoaster.

For something less thrilling yet fun for the whole family, there’s Hili Fun City, a family park with around 30 types of activities for all ages and all tastes. There are movie theatres, picnic and play areas, carousels, circus trains. One of its best features is the famous flying carpet inspired by Aladdin. This theme park has even been dubbed as the Disneyland of the GCC countries!

In Dubai, there’s the Universal Studios Dubailand which includes a Hollywood park, a Bollywood park, a replica of New York City, as well as play areas with a roller coaster adventure and comic book heroes. In Dubai, you can also visit the Wild Wadi Water Park which has tons of water attractions for both adults and kids.  

More themed parks throughout the emirates include the Yas Waterworld with the world’s largest sheet wave, Ice Land Waterpark,  Sega Republic, and IMG Worlds of Adventure.


For sports lovers, there are plenty of options. Water sports such as diving, swimming, surfing, sailing, and jet skiing are the most popular ones. These can feel refreshing especially during the hot months. In Fujairah, you can indulge in some scuba diving fun near Snoopy Island and discover the undersea world of coral reefs, stingrays, sea turtles. Sometimes you can even see sharks and whales.

If you prefer to have your two feet firmly on the ground, you can indulge in tennis, golf, basketball, or soccer. In many residential buildings or around, there are parks or running tracks where you can jog, or have a mini-marathon.

Desert activities

If you prefer to experience life in the desert, you can do so on a desert safari (best with a guide and experienced driver). You can slide down the dunes by skiing or sandboarding. You can also fly over the desert aboard a hot air balloon for a more romantic experience. It is also possible to go for camel rides or horse rides through the desert. Some companies take you to experience camping in the desert, which makes for a great getaway.


It might seem surprising to do that in such a hot country, but nothing is impossible in the UAE! The city of Dubai has a ski resort with five tracks with different difficulty levels. The largest runway is about 400 meters long: the temperature is around -1ºC and you will find dry ice and lead gray skies as if you were at the top of the highest snowy mountains. This attraction is located between Saint Moritz Avalanche Café and the Mall of Emirates. They have ski gear for hire, in case you did not ship those with you to your new home!


If you fancy a maritime journey, you can cruise on the Dubai or Abu Dhabi Creeks, where you can find traditional boats called 'dhows'. More a more elegant experience, there are yacht cruises available, or Bateaux Dubai where you can cruise while enjoying fine dining on board.


The United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai, are known to be a haven for shopping enthusiasts. The region has millions of visitors coming from around the world to shop. A lot of malls offer not only shops of all types (clothing, gifts, electronics, homeware), but also excellent cafes, restaurants, and spas. Some great places for shopping include Global Village, Burjuman Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi Mall, Wafi Shopping Centre, and Dubai Mall, to name a few.

Cultural activities

The United Arab Emirates is a region filled with history that span over thousands of years. It is worth visiting the museums available, or even some of the mosques for a deeper understanding of the Emirati culture. You can visit the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, the Jumeirah Mosque, or the Heritage Village. You may also wish to visit the oasis of Al Ain - a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Expat events

If you wish to make more friends among the expat community, feel free to join the expat events in your area. You can find them in expat forums and on sites such as meetup.com. You can also browse the internet for social networking events that connect you with other expats in the UAE. There are also groups that host women-only events.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.