UAE is an Instagram-friendly place with beautiful locations for great photos to display on your Instagram profile or for your personal photo log. Here are some of the places we love visiting for photography that are either free or very cheap.
Note: Photographing people in public places without their permission is punishable in the UAE, especially women. Make sure no photos are focused on people you don't know, and if you want to take portraits, ask for permission first letting them know where it might be displayed.
A Hindu temple and a Sikh Gurudwara stand proud in Dubai as marks of the religious tolerance of the UAE. This gurudwara gives you an opportunity to photograph the cultural mix in Dubai, the worshippers who step out re-connecting with their friends and family, the gurudwara itself, and the whole vibe of being at home in a foreign country.
Shaikh Zayed Mosque
A main attraction for visitors in Abu Dhabi, almost everyone who visits comes away with great pictures. The mosque is so beautiful that getting impressive pictures is a given.
One of the new attractions in Dubai, the Dubai Canal is a great venue for photography, especially at night. From the bridge level, get photos of the canal with a solitary boat or two on it. The waterfall from the Shaikh Zayed Road can give great shots as well.
Al Bastakiya or Al Fahidi
Al Fahidi neighbourhood or Al Bastakiya is reminiscent of how people in the UAE lived before the sweep of modernisation. It is a side of Dubai that many people don't see on popular media, which is why we love this location.
With the creek nearby and the old architectural style, this area gives you a lot of scope for amazing photos. The stores there are full of colourful merchandise; and merchants, most of whom have been selling there for decades, might even agree to a portrait shot.
Ras Al Khor Flamingo Sanctuary
Many people don't know that flamingos are native to the region. You can visit the sanctuary for free and get memorable photos of the pink-plumed birds. The best time to go would be around 4 or 5pm which gives great natural lighting without the risk of getting sunburnt - not to mention the possibility of getting some stunning sunset shots.
Mangrove National Park
Mangroves are natural wonders and extremely important for sustainable ecosystems. We are lucky to have our own mangrove park in the capital which also features over 60 diverse species of birds along with fish, crabs and shell species. This is not exactly budget or free (starts at Dh150 per person) but it is a must-visit for residents and tourists.
Al Noor Island
Al Noor Island in Sharjah is a unique and beautiful location to visit with its nature-focused offerings, world-class installations, children's park and maze gardens. The Butterfly Garden is the lead attraction here which houses over 500 species of butterflies. Ticket prices start at Dh50 for adults.