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Dubai

Overview

Country: United Arab Emirates

Currency: Dirham (AED)

Dubai is like nowhere else on the planet. Often claimed to be the world’s fastest-growing city, over the past four decades it has metamorphosed from a small Gulf trading centre to become one of the world’s most glamorous, spectacular and futuristic urban destinations, fuelled by a heady cocktail of petrodollars, visionary commercial acumen and naked ambition. Dubai’s ability to dream (and then achieve) the impossible has ripped up expectations and rewritten the record books, as evidenced by stunning developments such as the soaring Burj Khalifa, the beautiful Burj al Arab and the vast Palm Jumeirah island – testament to the ruling sheikhs’ determination to make the city one of the world’s essential destinations for the twenty-first century.

Modern Dubai is frequently seen as a panegyric to consumerist luxury: a self-indulgent haven of magical hotels, superlative restaurants and extravagantly themed shopping malls. Perhaps not surprisingly the city is often stereotyped as a vacuous consumerist fleshpot, appealing only to those with more cash than culture, although this one-eyed cliché does absolutely no justice to Dubai’s beguiling contrasts and rich cultural make-up. The city’s headline-grabbing mega-projects have also deflected attention from Dubai’s role in providing the Islamic world with a model of political stability and religious tolerance, showing what can be achieved by a peaceful and progressive regime in one of the planet’s most troubled regions. Visit now to see history, literally, in the making.

Attractions:

Glitzy Dubai is the United Arab Emirates' vacation hot spot. This city of high-rises and shopping malls has transformed itself from a desert outpost to a destination du-jour, where people flock for sales bargains, sunshine and family fun. Dubai is famous for sightseeing attractions such as the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building) and shopping malls that come complete with mammoth aquariums and indoor ski slopes.

But this city has many cultural highlights as well as all the glamorous modern add-ons. Cruise along Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow and you'll soon realise there's more to this city than its flashy veneer.The much-photographed landmark Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque non-Muslims can enter.With all the glistening modernity here, it's easy to forget there's an old town. Explore the Bastakiya district to see distinctive Arabian archways and original homes, and don't forget the Deira Gold Souk!

Things to Do:

Forget the seven-star property, the world's tallest tower, manmade islands, underwater hotels and buildings that spin like a Weeble with an inner-ear infection, what the city of Dubai really knows how to create is headlines. This little fishing-village-that-could has built an entire tourist industry out of piquing people's curiosity. Its unstoppable, finely tuned PR machine has managed to overcome every downside to make the city a must-see location. Some of the must do’s are:

  • Burj khalifa
  • Dubai Mall
  • Skiing at the Mall of the Emirates
  • Hang Out at the Jumeriah Beach Walk
  • Burj Al Arab

Places to Stay:

Although Dubai remains primarily a luxury travel destination, there is still a choice of places to unpack your suitcase, ranging from budget hotels and hotel apartments to international chain hotels and outrageously luxurious resorts such as the Burj al-Arab

Top Locations to stay are:

Deira:

On the eastern bank of Dubai Creek, Deira is Dubai’s busiest area. The majority of the city’s souqs are here, thronged with shoppers and vendors. The wharves are lined with traditional Arab sailing dhows. The Heritage House museum and the gold, spice and fish souqs in Al Ras, near the mouth of Dubai Creek, give a glimpse into the area’s mercantile past.

Bur Dubai:

Facing Deira on the other side of Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai celebrates the past in its restored historic quarter, Bastakiya. Here, a former fort houses the Dubai Museum. The waterfront winding round to the mouth of the creek leads to Sheikh Saeed House, official residence of past rulers and now open to the public. The nearby Heritage and Diving Village is a recreation of a Bedouin village. Shop for souveniers in the souqs and Indian market stalls which run back from the waterfront to the Grand Mosque.

Jumeriah Beach:

Jumeirah follows the coast west from Dubai Creek, with Jumeirah Road running along the beach. The glamorous resort hotels and beach clubs of Jumeirah, culminate in the seven- star Burj Al Arab hotel, built on its own island.Wild Wadi Waterpark makes a splash nearby, and the Palm Jumeirah and World residential developments rise out of the Arabian Gulf offshore.

Sheikh Zayed Road North

Stretching almost the entire length of Dubai, multi-lane Sheikh Zayed Road runs parallel to the coast as it heads south from the World Trade Centre on the western edge of Karama and Bur Dubai. Soaring skyscraper hotels and homes line the highway but even they are dwarfed by the 160-storey Burj Dubai the world’s tallest building. Shoppers target Dubai Mall at Burj Dubai, while bar-hoppers and gourmands head to the glittering Dubai hotels lighting up the road at night.

Sheikh Zayed Road South

The southern leg of Sheikh Zayed Road runs to the massive theme parks under construction at Dubailand in New Dubai and on to the Abu Dhabi border. Shoppers spend the day in air- conditioned art galleries and the Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Buttuta shopping centres. Luxury hotels, fine-dining restaurants and residential towers cluster at the waterfront Dubai Marina development. The Atlantis resort is just offshore on Palm Jumeirah.

Best Time to Visit:

The best time to visit Dubai is from October to April. Weather-wise, Dubai really only experiences two seasons: hot and hotter. During the winter months, the city sees blue skies and primo beach weather. However, this is also peak tourist season, so expect plenty of company on Jumeirah Beach. You can escape the crowds if you visit during the summer months, but be prepared for triple-digit temps and high humidity levels

Another facet to keep a lookout for when planning your next visit to Dubai, is the Ramadan month of fasting celebrated in the region. During this month, eating, drinking, smoking and few other activities are prohibited in public areas. If visiting during these times, one is expected to strictly adhere to the rules of this religious festival. As a consequence, most hotel and flight rates may tend to fall during this month.