Stephanie loves to travel. She has written numerous articles with tips, photographs, and information on places to visit.
Rich, Opulent Dubai
Attention world travelers! Want to visit someplace exotic, yet where it's easy to be a tourist? Have you always dreamed of traveling to the Arabian Peninsula?
It's time to think about a visit to Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf. Sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Oman is the very rich, very Westernized nation of the UAE.
Dubai is most certainly not located within a Third World country. In fact, Dubai is one of the richest nations in the world, due in large part to its vast oil resources. My brother-in-law, who works for Microsoft, has been to Dubai a number of times. His one word description: opulence.
Many of the residents of Dubai don't even have to work to support their luxury lifestyles. Supported by oil profits, they are free to shop and play all day! In 2003, Condé Nast Traveler's readers' poll voted Dubai the world's safest locale. People who live there claim there is virtually no crime.
Thinking pristine sandy beaches, blue water and palm trees? Want to indulge yourself in gourmet food and shopping? Love clear skies and little rain?
Then Dubai is your place. Let's go on a virtual tour first. After that, you may want to consider traveling to this rich, opulent destination for your next vacation. Time to start searching the Internet for cheap flights to Dubai!
There are many exciting and unique attractions in Dubai. And you might be surprised to learn that it is completely family-friendly to visit. No matter what your interests, when you travel to Dubai, you'll find something to thrill you!
It's hard to believe that until oil was discovered in the Arabian desert in 1966, Dubai was only a tiny fishing village, home to only about 6,000 people. Today, the population is 1.3 million and it's become a destination for the rich and famous!
If you enjoy sports, then Dubai is your destination in the Middle East. It claims to be the sports capital of the region, hosting world-class golf (both the Europe and Asian PGA circuits play in the coastal city), tennis, horseracing, camel racing, boating and sailing, and rugby. But you simply cannot travel to Dubai without experiencing indoor snow skiing at the Mall of Emirates. This colossal shopping center includes a "mountain" over three football fields long on which you can practice your alpine skills!
Of course, one of my favorite vacation activities is shopping. Be sure to visit the famous Gold Souk district in Dubai! 18 to 22 karat gold jewelry items are featured. Did I mention that Dubai has tax-free shopping? With an open port, the city has opportunities to purchase high-end goods for a fraction of the cost you might otherwise pay where you live.
In addition to sports and shopping, you'll want to visit the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world:
- Over 800 meters tall
- 160+ floors
- 57 elevators and 8 escalators
- More than 26,000 glass panels
Read More from WanderWisdom
The skyscraper is right downtown and surrounded by hotels, world-class shopping and loads of other entertainment.
How soon can you get there?
Travel Guide: Dubai
Dubai Culture and History
Dubai is the perfect vacation destination, especially in the Northern Hemisphere winter months. The average temperature is 75 degrees F. In January and February, that will feel so nice!
Even though the nation is steeped in Islamic traditions, it showcases an international lifestyle. People from all over the globe want to live and own property in Dubai. As a result, it's one of the top real estate hubs of the world. Be aware, however, despite significant Western influences, books and music are censored.
If you are wondering what to wear while visiting Dubai, there is no dress code for visitors, although you will see most men wearing long white robes (dishdashas) and head coverings with black rope. Women's fashions vary. Some wear Western clothing, while others are covered with robes and veils. Foreigners are advised to cover their shoulders as a sign of respect outside of the hotels.
Lest you forget you are in a Muslim country, you may hear the call to prayer over loudspeakers throughout the day. Be sure to honor and respect segregated prayer rooms in public places, too.
In order to learn more about the short history of Dubai as it exists today, stop by the Heritage and Diving Village or the Dubai Museum. Photographs and displays give a glimpse into life in the UAE before oil changed everything. The before and after is quite startling!
You can also dip a toe into local culture by visiting The Heritage Village on the Creek. Sit outside at one of the cafés, watch the water taxis and perhaps even inhale some of the flavored tobacco smoke drifting from shishas. Learn about historic pearl-diving traditions and explore past architecture and treasures as you walk through a tented bedouin village and ancient armory. According to the official website:
Pearl diving, one of the oldest professions in the region, existed almost six to seven thousand years back. A pearl diving ship carried 10-60 people on board for an expedition. The team comprised a captain (Nokhaza), some divers, seeb, and other staff. The diver often risked his life to gather pearl studded oysters from the sea bed. He used to dive deep for more than two minutes to collect a handful of oysters. The season lasted only for six months starting from April because the Gulf waters during this season were warm and safe. The Emirate of Dubai was most active in this adventurous occupation and owned about 335 pearl fishing dhows at a time.
What To Do in Dubai
If you are considering a trip to Dubai, chances are you are planning a luxury vacation. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants to cater to your every whim! Quite frankly, you may want to plan a "tour" of the amazing hotel lobbies throughout the country, just to see what the buzz is all about.
Pictured several times above, the Burj Al Arab is a modern architectural marvel and among the world's best hotels. Shaped like a sailboat, it sits on its own island offshore about 1,000 feet. If you can afford one of the 202 suites, you'll certainly be staying like royalty here!
Other popular hotels include the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which sits on white sand beaches and is as family-friendly as it is luxurious. Love Disneyland? Then check out the Madinat Jumeirah, a self-contained resort comprised of a number of villas, restaurants, shopping and a water park, through which a waterway winds. You have the option of travelling on water taxis or golf carts to reach all ends of the two-mile-long property.
There are familiar Western hotel chains with properties in Dubai, too. The Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton and the InterContinental all have high-end versions with opulent rooms in town.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the hotels in Dubai also include fabulous dining. Take your pick among world cuisines, prepared by master chefs. Sip exotic cocktails and marvel at the extravagance of Dubai lifestyle.
Dubai: The New "It" Destination
Dubai is becoming more and more popular among the rich and famous... as well as ordinary travelers that want to experience all that this nation has to offer. Starlets and soccer stars are said to be buying up islands and other properties that have yet to be constructed. The flow of money, fueled largely by oil, shows no end in sight.
With cash flow comes new development at a rate practically unheard of. According to about.com:
Approximately one-fifth of the world's cranes work 24 hours a day to expand this Middle East hub that supported 6.1 million hotel guests in 2005.
In fact, the Dubai of the future could be even more of a transformation than the meteoric growth over the past half century. Islands shaped like palm trees are being constructed offshore. One of them, the Palm Diera, could rival Manhattan in size. Another marvel is "The World," consisting of 300 man-made islands assembled to look like the world continents. Covering nearly 600 million square feet, The World may be visible from space!
Whether you're looking for an exotic honeymoon location, a shopping mecca, or simply to bathe in the lap of luxury for a few weeks, consider visiting Dubai.
© 2010 Stephanie Marshall