Dubai is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Dubai is actually an Emirate; one of seven in the United Arab Emirates but it’s far and away the best known and the most interesting. Forty years ago, Dubai didn’t really exist, at least in any way close to its current state. It’s an amazing story built on oil money and dreams. It’s sort of like Las Vegas in some ways in that it came out of nowhere and became the jewel of the desert. I love Dubai.
Dubai needs to be seen to be believed. It’s not the most beautiful city in the world but it is so incredible to actually see it in person and even better from above. I say above because Dubai, aside from having the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifah, has islands made like palms and also a map of the world.
You can take helicopter tours to see this or if you’re feeling really frisky, you can skydive above Dubai - trust me it’s one of the coolest places in the world to do it! You see it all. But that takes me back to the beginning.
Forty years ago, Dubai was a remote Middle Eastern outpost, where some trading happened but not much else. Then after the oil money came flying in, they built a city for the 21st century. They built the most impressive and outrageous place of excess this side of Las Vegas. They built Dubai as we know it today.
You can go skiing indoors in one of Dubai’s many incredible malls. I am not a shopper but there’s no doubting that the malls in Dubai are part of the tourist experience. The Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall are worth seeing. They are simply opulent and worth a look.
Atop the Dubai Mall, you can get up to the top of the Burj Khalifah and see everything from more than half a mile high. Yes, a half a mile high. It’s a building that is so much higher than any other in the world it is just preposterous. As you might expect, the views are spectacular and well worth the hefty price tag to go up to the observation floor.
Dubai is also home to the world famous “7 star” hotel, the Burj Al Arab - the hotel shaped like a sail. It is really impressive to be honest and worth a peak inside. It is as tacky as anything you’ll ever see but between the colors and the solid gold inside the lobby-you’ll be mesmerized and glad you took the time to go inside. To save some money on entry you can actually have lunch at the beach club or at the restaurant atop the hotel, so keep that in mind.
The other thing about Dubai that many people don’t realize is it has really good beaches. Around the Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Hotels, the beaches are pretty stellar.
Dubai also has an old section. If you want some culture, at least older culture, check out the gold souks around Deira and Dubai Creek. See glimpses of what Dubai used to look like. But to be honest, that’s the only thing that will give you an idea of what it used to be like as Dubai is expanding up and out and has top of the line everything. What you see now will be better or at least topped in 5-10 years.
I have to give credit where it’s due. Dubai realizes that money from oil will eventually run out and they are basing their future on tourism, shopping and global events like World Expos and major global sporting events.
Enjoy Dubai for what it is and make sure you go back in 5-10 years to see what pops up next!
- The Spice Route voyage, which concludes in Dubai in April 2015.
- Dubai to the Turquoise Coast in April 2015, which begins with an overnight stay in Dubai.
- This October 2015 Suez Canal voyage features several sea days, and concludes in Dubai.
- The Spices, Tea and Rubber Trees voyage visits Dubai, India, Sri Lanka and Singapore in November 2015.
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