Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene.
Try and get a seat by the window for your flights to Dubai. As the plane descends, you’ll want to see the sheer scale of the city’s dramatic sprawl along the coastline, which is just as impressive as its skyline. In little more than 40 years, this city has transformed itself from a tiny settlement to a glittering metropolis and world-class destination.
While Dubai’s startling feats of engineering, such as the Burj Khalifa, the Palm islands, Burj Al Arab, and the Dubai Mall, are the jewels in its crown, the city’s multifaceted appeal extends beyond its architecture. Some people are attracted to the buzz of the place; it has the frenetic pace and energy of a global business city and tourism hub. However, you might prefer the tranquility of its desert retreats, golf courses, calm seas, and beaches.
Beyond clusters of gleaming five-star hotels, with their luxury suites and infinity pools, there’s a historic side to the city too. Visit Al Fahidi Historical District (formerly known as Bastakiya) to see traditional Arabic architecture, then tour the Heritage and Diving Villages of Shindagha.
Visiting Dubai is largely about consumption; one of the most popular activities here is shopping. As well as record-breaking malls packed with designer names, there are traditional souks and vibrant markets. And while Michelin-starred celebrity chefs have embraced Dubai’s high-end culinary scene, there are still scores of independent restaurants with authentic flavors to explore.
It all adds up to a city of contrasts, and there’s nowhere better to witness Dubai’s diversity than the Dubai Creek. Here, traditional abras cross the waters, and dhows unload their cargo beneath shimmering skyscrapers. Nothing stays the same for long though, and there are always new and ambitious projects afoot, like the upcoming Creek Harbour development and the indoor city, Mall of the World.
The latter will have air-conditioned shopping streets, a theme park, and a healthcare district. It almost sounds too good to be true, but given Dubai’s already incredible rise, you wouldn’t want to bet against it.