Dubai is a sophisticated city often described in superlatives: the largest, the tallest, and the most lavish. What began as a small village located on the Persian Gulf has now become one of the top travel destinations in the world. In fact, Dubai is the 8th most visited city in the world.
Part of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has always been a trade hub. Prior to the early 1930s, Dubai was prosperous due to its pearl exports. However, the Great Depression and later World War II caused a collapse in the pearl market, and Dubai sank into a depression. Oil was discovered in1971, and Dubai began to prosper once again. However, Dubai has never been a major producer of oil and instead turned more of its resources to the tourism and financial service industries. In the 1990s, due to the instability of many of the Governments of surrounding countries, large corporations transferred their banking business to Dubai. Money began to pour in as it became known for its opulence as a vacation destination.
Dubai is home to some of the world's most luxurious hotels. The Burj al-Arab is considered the only 7 star hotel in the world. It is an architectural masterpiece, rising 963 feet above sea level making it the tallest all-suite hotel in the world. The design, in the shape of a billing dhow sail, is a tribute to Dubai's history. The hotel itself sits on a man-made island connected by a curving causeway to the mainland. The "sails" of the hotel appear white by day and are illuminated by choreographed lighting at night. There are many 5 star hotels as well, including the Armani Hotel inside the Burj Khalifa, which at 2722.57 ft. is the tallest building in the world. While staying in one of the many beautiful hotels in Dubai, you not only bask in luxury, but you also are surrounded by some of the most striking architectural achievements in the world.
Shopping is an important part of any visit to Dubai, the second largest shopping destination in the world after the United States. In fact, it has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East." Dubai boasts of having the world's largest shopping center with over 1200 retail outlets. There are also many souk districts or local bazaars. The supermarkets and chain retail stores have set prices, but in many of the local stores and the souks, bargaining is still considered the proper way to make a purchase.
In addition to shopping, Dubai has many other attractions to offer any tourist. Dubai Fountain, located in the downtown, area is the world's tallest performing fountain. There is also the Dubai Aquarium, one of the largest in the world containing over 33,000 aquatic animals including sharks and stingrays. Visitors can walk through the glass tunnel to get incredible views of the underwater life. It is also possible to swim with sharks on public shark dives or, for the more sedate visitors, glass bottom boats skim across the top of the aquarium for a slightly different view. Dubai also has Ski Dubai, an indoor ski slope in the middle of the Arabian Desert.
Because Dubai is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, visitors can lie on the beach or travel two hours and be in the desert where camels still roam wild. Dubai is hot and dry with temperatures ranging from a low of 57 degrees in the winter to a high of 108 degrees in the summer. Loose, modest clothing is advised due to the religious beliefs of the country as well as to remain comfortable in the high temperatures.
A visit to Dubai offers entertainment for the entire family. There is culture, shopping, art, history, and enough natural beauty to provide a vacation filled with fun and memories that will last a lifetime.