People with disabilities or special needs – known as ‘People of Determination in the UAE – can add these top landmarks in Dubai to their holiday wish list.
People of determination will find touring Dubai a breeze, even when it comes to exploring the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa. The entrance is through the Dubai Mall, where pathways are flat, smooth, and spacious. There is a wheelchair ramp leading from the ticket area to the top viewing deck.
Kite Beach was the first Dubai beach to open a disability access ramp and offer accessible bathroom stalls. It has a parking lot with flat access to the beach area, while a paved path and a firm mat lead across the sand so wheelchair users can easily reach the waterfront. In addition, there is a long, flat, smooth path that runs along the beach.
Seeing the world’s tallest performing fountain is a big part of the Dubai experience and is perfectly accessible for all. Set on the 30-acre Burj Lake next to Burj Khalifa, this water and light spectacle performs different songs, ranging from classical to contemporary. The Dubai Fountain boardwalk lets you get as close as nine metres from the show.
Located at Zabeel Park, the Dubai Frame provides excellent views of the surrounding city, presenting the modern part on one side and old Dubai on the other. A wheelchair ramp is available from the street to the sidewalk next to the building, which has step-free access, wide doors, a wheelchair lift, an elevator, and short distances.
If you want to relax and take a break from the city crowds, head to the Dubai Miracle Garden – an oasis of more than 150 million flowers and plants. The paths are smooth and accessible for wheelchair users to explore all the flowers arranged in bright courtyards, colourful arches, intricate patterns, and myriad shapes to form exceptional displays.
Visit the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. The 10-million litre tank houses an incredible array of species worth spotting. If you’re short on time, you can admire a part of the aquarium free of charge from the ground floor of the Dubai Mall.
Nestled alongside a corniche, Mamzar Beach Park offers visitors more than 200 acres of tree-lined landscapes alongside the shore. The park features five beaches, swimming pools and play areas for children. Like Kite Beach, wheelchair-friendly pathways are built to international standards, so wheelchair users, as well as parents with pushchairs.
Wheelchair users are well catered for at Dubai Dolphinarium. The indoor hotspot has special seating for people of determination to watch the stars of the show – bottlenose dolphins and fur seals – dance, juggle, play ball, jump through hoops and even paint. Seats can be easily reserved, but if you call ahead before your visit, the staff can also help accommodate you.
As one of the most beautiful mosques in the emirate, the Jumeirah Mosque welcomes visitors to learn about Islam and the local culture. You can use the opposite side of the property to find a wheelchair ramp to enter the building. Next door is the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Waterparks can be challenging to navigate for those with special needs, but at Wild Wadi, a few areas have some level of accessibility. One example is the wave pool with roll-in access and plenty of navigation space. Another enjoyable attraction is the lazy river.
The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a modern take on an ancient Arabian market with beautiful architectural features and various galleries, shops, and dining destinations. Outside, at the drop-off area, the souk has a sidewalk ramp which leads to a large elevator taking you inside. The hallways are flat, smooth and spacious.
While this experience is not entirely step-free, and assistance may be needed, it’s high up on every visitor’s wish list. On the west side of Dubai Creek (closest to Downtown Dubai), there is step-free access to the boat dock and a single step from the dock down onto the boat.
Visit the Spice Souk and experience a true Arabian marketplace full of heady aromas. The souk has a wheelchair ramp from the street to the sidewalk and smooth flat pathways between shops. Most shops have basic features like ramped access, wide doors, and plenty of space to navigate between displays.
Located next to the Spice Souk, the Dubai Gold Souk is one of the oldest traditional markets in town. On your way from the spice souk to the gold souk, there are a series of sidewalks and curb cuts that people of determination can use. The entrance to the souk has a sidewalk ramp, while inside, there are plenty of flat, smooth pathways between shops.
The Etihad Museum allows visitors to learn about the country’s history and heritage through a series of interactive displays. There is a wheelchair ramp from the street onto the sidewalk of the building. The museum has elevators to reach the exhibit level and wide, flat and smooth pathways between exhibits.