Home Airport Spotting Guide Guide to Spotting at Dubai

Guide to Spotting at Dubai

by Matt Falcus

Paul Moiser, an expert on spotting in Dubai, has kindly provided this extensive report for your reference. If you are planning a spotting trip to Dubai, or want to know what it is like to spot there, please read through.

Due to the number of mails I recieve asking about Dubai and what the spotting is like, I thought I’d post some info that anyone can refer too anytime if they are planning a visit. So here is some useful info regarding spotting at Dubai and what the local area is like for eating out etc……

I usualy visit Dubai at least 3 times a year, so the info posted will always be current and correct. This current info posted is correct as of Sept 2008.

The hotel to stay at is the Sheraton Deira Hotel. This hotel is only 10 minutes away by taxi from the airport. A taxi will cost you around 28 Dirhams which is approx £4/$8.

The hotel offers a roof-top pool area which over looks the airport.

Here are a couple of views taken from the pool area:

The roof top pool area is open from 7am through till 10.30pm every night, 7 days a week.

The Sheraton roof top pool area has several tables with shade from the sun. Those of you taking an SBS with you can benefit from an English plug socket next to one of the tables with provided shade.


Aircraft land over the hotel usualy from around 10pm and right through the night until around 11am-midday. after this time they are departing over the hotel.

Here is a typical landing shot over the hotel

And here is a departure shot too

All those that land over the hotel can be read off, and all those that carry there reg under the wing can be read off on departure too.

At night time the majority of the departures can still be read off under the wing due to the lights on the ground below reflecting under the aircraft.


The morning and afternoons are mainly Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Kish Air, Iran Asseman, Iran Air, Air India and Air India Express, with many Emirates flights in between, as well as cargo movements from FedEx and UPS…..

Evenings from 4pm is when Dubai gets more interesting. A few of the above movements still operate in, but evenings see movements from the Far East arrive with movements from Cathay Pacific, Thai and Singapore and Jet Airways etc.

For those after certain Emirates types such as A340/300’s and A340/500’s, these mainly arrive after dark and during the early hours. These can all be seen taxiing out for departure from 7am through till 9am from the roof top pool area when they are departing away from the hotel. On a clear day these can be read off. Having an SBS is an invaluable tool especially for tieing up those you see landing towards the hotel once it hass gone dark

Quite a few Emirates do depart over the hotel during the afternoon but you will only see two or three A340’s. The majority are B772/3’s and A330’s.

Russian movements are mainly S9- British Gulf AN12’s, with the odd EP- Kish Air TU154, a based EP- YAK42. and at least one EP- IL76 a day too.

Dubai is very unpredictable though. Some days you can log up to several Russian movements and some days you can only log the odd one or two. The other local movements from Iran such as Kish Air FK50’s and Iran Asseman FK100’s keep it interesting and are in and out all day every day.


Please note, Airband scanners are not allowed to be used at any time. I have never encountered any problems using my SBS, these still should be used with discresion, (basically keep your aeriel out of view ) and you will be fine.

The hotel management is ok with the use of cameras and scopes / binoculars. They do have one rule though and thats not to stand on the outer wall around the pool with your scope pointing towards the airport – they prefer you to stand 1 meter back. This is fine and will not hinder your view so please respect their wishes.


The roof top pool area offers drinks and dining. Please note – it is expensive! A soft drink will costs 22 dirhams ( £3/$6 ) and meals range from 45-65 dirhams, ( £8-£12/$16-24

Outside the hotel there are many different restaurants available catering for all tastes, including Indian, Turkish and Lebonise, as well as local foods.

Also within walking distance is a shopping mall called the Wafi Centre. This is where you will find fast food outlets like McDonalds and Pizza hut etc.

Across the road from the hotel is a small 24hr shop called Happy Land. Inside you can buy almost anything and drinks are very cheap – 1 dirham each – a big difference to the 22 dirhams you pay at the Sheraton.

If you want to buy gifts etc, then a 5 minute walk again from the hotel is the Lulu Centre and the Hyper Market. Both of these sell very cheap souveneirs as well as clothes and toiletries etc.

For a night out, you can take a 10 minute taxi to the Irish Village. This area has a few bars and restaurants and is very reasonably priced. It’s an excellent evening out.



There are only two places, and both are airside. You can spot from the McDonalds food court area on the upper level above duty free, and also the Irish Village pub on the same level. Both areas provide views of those taxiing and any landing / departing traffic.

Note: if spotting at night from these areas, aircraft landing are impossible to read. These can be read off when they vacate and taxi to the terminal.


I hope the information is of use to those planning a visit to Dubai in the near future.

Best Wishes……………….Paul M.

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