Sheikh Zayed Road is Dubai’s main artery and carves through the city north to south, parallel to the coast, before continuing to neighboring Abu Dhabi. Extending for a total of 346 miles (558 kilometers), it’s best-known for the skyscrapers along its central Dubai section—creating a scene reminiscent of a sci-fi movie. The Basics
Named after the United Arab Emirates’ first president, Sheikh Zayed Road—also called the E11—is composed of up to eight lanes in each direction and stretches from Dubai’s World Trade Centre roundabout to its southernmost Jebel Ali district. However, it’s best-known for its Trade Centre–Downtown Dubai section, where the skyscrapers stand shoulder to shoulder. Driving here reveals the Burj Khalifa, Millennium Tower, and the spiky Emirates Towers, all interspersed with malls, shops, and restaurants.
Most Dubai tours include a panoramic Sheikh Zayed Road drive to spotlights its 21st-century cityscape. Sunrise tours let visitors admire the skyscrapers in the early sun, while evening excursions showcase their floodlights. Other options include combo trips that team a spin along the road with panoramic sightseeing and tickets for attractions such as the Burj Khalifa. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Sheikh Zayed Road is a must-see for first-time visitors, architecture aficionados, and anyone keen to experience the definitive Dubai.
- The road comes into its own after dark, when it becomes a corridor of dazzling illuminations.
- Bring your camera: Any drive along the road will serve up brilliant shots.
- Stroll the side roads alongside the highway for a slow-mo look at the architecture.
Sheikh Zayed Road links the city’s key areas, from Dubai Creek to Dubai Marina, and beyond. An easy way to experience its highest density of skyscrapers is to ride the Dubai Metro red line, which runs alongside the road, and alight at the World Trade Centre, Emirates Tower, or Financial Centre stop. Otherwise, take a bus or cab or drive yourself—although the latter isn’t for the faint-hearted. When to Get There
The best times to see Sheikh Zayed Road are early morning in the sharp dawn light or at night, when it’s awash with lights. That said, it’s best to avoid Dubai’s rush hours of 6:30am–9am and 5pm–8pm Saturday to Thursday. Where to Find the Best Views of Sheikh Zayed Road
For awe-inspiring nighttime views of Sheikh Zayed Road, visit one of the hotel rooftop bars that tower over the highway. The rows of floodlit skyscrapers and ribbons of cars far below are seriously stunning.