A quaint slice of Dubai history…

The neighbourhood of Satwa feels like a bubble suspended in space – not quite as back then as the Old Dubai it leaves behind but also not quite as now as the sky-skirting skyscrapers and glittering lights of the Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s something like a portal, through which you can watch your surroundings transform in real time.


If not Satwa itself, we’re fairly certain you’ve seen the wall-climbing, larger-than-life graffiti art on many of the buildings in the area. It’s a pop-culture symbol of the space, and these characters are the perfect mascots of what the neighbourhood stands for – young heritage.

If you’re heading out to explore the area, here’s a guide to how you can spend the perfect day.

Before we begin…

Keep in mind – staying on foot is your best bet to move around inside the neghbourhood. That’s the best way to avoid the small in-lanes and the notorious traffic that comes with it. The vibrant evening street life is the heart of the Satwa experience, from street food dining to souq-style shopping and discovering the hidden gems.

Dine at…


This one is from the Michelin-man leagues, so you know it’s going to be good. Moonrise is as exclusive as fine dining can get, and definitely a bucket-list restaurant. The 12-seater space gives more of a Chef’s Table feeling, and stays true to it’s homegrown nature by serving authentic, unapologetic ‘Dubai cuisine’. Dubai-born chef Solemann Haddad is cooking up a storm on the roof of the Eden House and shaping up a dining experience that may just stay with you for a long time to come. The small dining room is dominated by a U-shaped 12-seater bar where diners can watch the close-knit team of chefs work flawlessly together. The 11-course tasting menu is served twice nightly for Dhs850 per person, and comes with a postcard featuring a quirky graphic on one side and a detailed note on the other with each course.

Moonrise, Eden House, Al Satwa, Dubai. Monday to Saturday, 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Tasting menu Dhs850 per person. Tel:(0)506972946. @moonrise.xyz

‘Za ‘Za Slice

‘Za ‘Za Slice is relatively new to the neighbourhood and perhaps the trendiest new foodie hotspot everyone is either going to or wants to go to. Serving up New York style artisanal pizza by the slice, it’s a small shop with big flavours. The whole set-up is very fast-paced, New York-esque, with only nine seats inside and pizza slices larger than most people’s faces. The menu is limited to the classics – six flavours, nothing excessive, with sides like truffle fries, pepp chips and cacio e pepe fries, and dips and toppers like garlic herb dip, house hot honey and straciatella topper. Delicious, fuss free dining. 
ZaZa Slice, South Heights Tower A, Shop 04, Satwa, open daily 6pm to 12am, closed Mon. @zazaslice

Street food and hidden gems

Fast and casual roadside eateries are what you’ll find more of in Satwa. Karak and shawarma, Saudi fried chicken, authentic Pakistani delicacies at local legend Ravi, Middle Eastern pastries, Sri Lankan classics, Filipino goodness and more – you just traverse the streets, choose whatever looks best to you and head in. The plethora of unassuming cheap eats and hidden gems will have you trying a whole host of different options in one trip and you can get a taste of the dining scene of the masses. It’s a vital part of the Satwa experience.

Shop like a local

2nd December Street

This is the place to be if you’re looking to do some shopping in Satwa. The vibe is that old of Old Dubai, with an eclectic mix of independent wallet-friendly options to choose from, ranging from little trinkets, souvenirs, textiles, traditional local fashion like jalabiyas and abayas, and thrifty fashion finds, to spices, books and local perfumes. It’s a refreshing alternative to the typical Dubai indoor shopping experience.

Although, if you’re looking for that, there is a quaint little shopping mall in the area – Al Ghazal Mall. It’s a small centre of sorts and has all the basic facilities one would expect to find in a mall.


Plant Street

Al Hudaiba Street, known more popularly as Plant Street, is where you will find everything you need to fulfill your nursery needs. There’s an incredible range of greenery and home decor finds you can get your hands on. The name is quite fitting too – housing dozens of flower and plant shops. There are also some retail blocks between 2nd December Street and Plant Street with tailors, cloth merchants, Filipino bakeries, shawarma shops and perfumeries.

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Al Satwa Big Mosque


This is another piece of recent history in the neigbourhood. Al Satwa Mosque is a stunning piece of architecture and has been serving the community for more than 30 years. The mosque is open for and welcome for all faiths to come and explore Islamic culture and architecture. The imposing facade is made up of domes and minarets, under which many come together to offer prayers. Besides the religious significance, the mosque is also a community hub of sorts, hosting events and bringing the people together.

Iranian Mosque


Another gorgeous structure of Islamic significance, the Iranian Mosque is a must-see attraction in the area. The mosque was founded by the local Iranian community, built in 1979 with the support of the Iranian Red Crescent, and is also called the Imam Hussein Mosque. The design takes inspiration from quasi-Fatimid and Persian influences, with the outside covered entirely in tiles in shades of blue and other bright colours.

The mosque covers an area of over 2,500 square metres contains several interior halls and rooms, with a library with over 14,000 books of diverse topics and languages including Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding runs four weekly tours of the mosque, during which non-Muslims visitors can visit and explore. 

Images: Getty