Advanced warning: Dubai is not for the short of cash. Glitzy, materialistic, well publicized and quite incredibly luxurious, this small corner of the Middle East is a real millionaires playground. From staying on your own corner of one of the famous man-made islands (or - if you're truly flush - buying a part of it), to indulging in one of the towering five-star hotels, there’s little here which doesn’t revolve around luxury and money, and both are required in lavish quantities.
There are only three seven-star hotels in the world, Dubai is home to one, Burj Al Arab Hotel. While the other two 7 star hotels are found in Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace and Milan, Town House Galleria also known as the Seven Stars Galleria.
Even adventure here is tinged with a certain velvety side. If you want some thrills, you can either drift through a sharks pen on a rubber ring (safety note: they’ll be a sheet of glass between you), hire an off road vehicle and blaze your way through the dunes, race some camels through the sand, or tour the entire place in a personally chartered helicopter. Then there’s sand skiing, cruising, diving, hot air ballooning, skydiving, paragliding, paintballing and even ice-skating. And that really is just scratching the surface.
The rapidly developing desert city looks like something out of a computer game, surrounded by picturesque palms and soon to be home to both the tallest and most advanced buildings in the world. The commercial side is astounding too with designer names seemingly tucked around every corner, but look hard enough and you can still find the more traditional side of the Middle East tucked away amongst it all.
Head to the creek, for example, and you can spend hours watching wooden dhows float by, sipping on your mint tea, or smoking a flavored traditional sheesha. The mosques – especially the nighttime under lighting of the Grand Mosque – make for impressive sightseeing spots, while the narrow winding lanes of Bastakiya take you back into an old-school, market focused Dubai where wind towers were still employed to cool the houses before electricity came along. The Dubai Museum will give you plenty of insightful background, too.
This is certainly not a spot for the budget traveler: playground to the rich and famous, modern Dubai is about sumptuous, unmatchable luxury. If you’ve got the money to blow, though, it’s simply unmatchable.
Note: best time for a visit is between October and May
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