Located on the Arabian Peninsula, just south of the Persian Gulf, lies one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the next big thing after New York. Dubai pronounced ‘doo-bye’ is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the one with the four S’s – Sun, Sand, Surf and Shopping.
Being a desert, the city grew vigorously on its oil reserves, but today survives on tourism, real estate and other financial services. Dubai is the land of the biggest, tallest, longest and other ‘ests’. The tallest tower, the largest mall etc are a few to name which has been housed by this magnificent metropolis in the recent years. What was once a stretch of desert is today covered with lush golf courses, astounding architecture and the world’s wealthiest individuals.
If one is contemplating a visit to Dubai, one has to definitely keep in mind the weather condition which is tropical throughout the year. Temperatures can soar to extremes in summers, such that it’s impossible to survive without sunscreen, sunglasses and an umbrella. We are talking about a desert after all. Casual cotton clothes are highly recommended.
Couple of places to ‘must see’ are:
The first place to visit as soon as you get to Dubai is the Dubai Museum. The Dubai Museum is the oldest building in Dubai and is located in the Al Fahidi Fort. It gives us a detailed picture of the pre-oil era. The transformation of a desert village filled with craftsmen, vendors, tailors, iron smiths, pearl divers, bedouins to the elite-class destination of the world it is today simply arcane.
Heritage & Diving Village
The heritage and diving village is located near the creek displaying the handicrafts of weavers and potters. This is ideally the next stop after the museum.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
This reserve welcomes around 500 flamingoes every year, as well as other migratory birds, small mammals and fishes. Watching a pink stretch of Great Flamingoes from a distance while held up in traffic at the border of the reserve is breathtaking.
Atlantis, The Palm
This seven star resort was modeled after the Atlantis, Paradise Resort of the Bahamas. It witnessed a multi million dollar inaugural function attended by celebrities’ world over. The ceremony was known to have been even more exalted than the Beijing Olympics 2008. This huge manmade island resembles a palm tree and can be viewed from outer space. The Atlantis’ Aquarium and Dolphin bay are must sees and dos to compliment the stay here.
Dubai is known as the ‘shopping capital of the Middle East’ with around 70 odd shopping malls catering to a diverse populace. The Dubai Mall is the largest in the Middle East and has the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, situated in its backyard. The observation deck on the 124th floor of this massive pylon gives a panoramic view of the city, not to mention an opportunity to dine at the epicurean Armani Hotel. Now who would want to miss that?
Sun, Sand, Surf
For those who love beaches and a bronzing, the Jumeirah Beach is the place for you. The weather gets perfect for a dip around November months.
One cannot complete a Dubai holiday without experiencing the desert safari. Dune bashing, sand surfing, camel riding topped with Arabian cuisine for dinner by a bonfire, smoking hookah and watching the traditional belly dance is the ultimate Arabian escapade.
Arabian Cuisine is rarely saucey. Garlic and olive oil is used generously along with a wide assortment of dips and side dishes such as hummus, falafel and baba ganoush. Meat is always grilled or baked, and vegetables are consumed raw. The use of fresh herbs and spices are panoptic. The ‘shawarma’ which is a sandwich wrap of grilled meat is everybody’s darling, and the true taste of Arabia.
Dubai is a very friendly city which allows both freedom and liberty to all its inhabitants. One can find temples and churches which is evidence of the city’s religious tolerance. The locals are friendly and very proud of their culture and traditional dressing. You won’t see an Arab trying to imitate western culture and that is something to be inspired by. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the Muslim dress code is not mandatory in Dubai owing to the humongous expatriate population. However one has to be culturally sensitive and adorn decent clothing while in public places. Dubai also holds high regard for its female population. Women are highly respected and the Government takes special measures to protect and uplift them.
The only routes to Dubai from anywhere are by air or sea. Their national carrier Emirates, is connected to all major cities around the world.
So if anybody wants Sun, Sand and Sea, Dubai is the place to be!
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/zenat_el3ain/4115043482/sizes/m/]