Africa

Dubai – Forever Timeless

Early morning on Dubai Creek
Photo credit: McKay Savage

If you are looking for a one of a kind destination that is both dynamic and a paradise, offering more attractions, shopping, fine dining and quality hotels, it’s definitely Dubai.

Dubai has emerged as one of the 21st centurys cities of all cities, with its rapid growth and iconic structures and with many worlds’ ‘firsts’. Be it be a heritage site, the old Bastakia area, the Dubai creek or landmarks such as Burj Dubai, Burj Al Arab, the Palm, the Atlantis, the famous indoor Ski Slope, the theme and beach parks or the unique nature reserve you’ll simply be astounded.

Or if you wish to go venture out of Dubai and see the neighbouring emirates and even take a trip into the desert or sea, the choices are copiousness.

Why Dubai?

From the timeless tranquility of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions that you simply cannot see elsewhere. The emirate embraces a variety of scenery in a very small area. In a single day, you can experience everything from rugged mountains and awe-inspiring sand dunes to sandy beaches and lush green parks, from dusty villages to luxurious residential districts and from ancient houses with wind towers to ultra-modern shopping malls.

Dubai is perhaps best described as a city where the sophistication of the 21st century sits side-by-side with the simplicity of a bygone era; a cosmopolitan society with an international lifestyle combining the comfort and convenience of the Western world with the unique charm and hospitality of Arabia.

Dubai is a sovereign state known as an emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is a federation of seven emirates (equivalent to principalities), each governed by a hereditary emir. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The capital is Abu Dhabi, which is also the state’s center of political, industrial, and cultural activities.

The earliest mention of Dubai is in 1095, and the earliest settlement known as Dubai dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Buti al Maktoum, when he persuaded 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, living in what is now part of Saudi Arabia, to follow him to the Dubai Creek. It remained under clan control when the United Kingdom assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892. Its geographical location made it an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port.

In 1966, oil was discovered. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests.

Today, Dubai City has developed into a sophisticated city and a business hub. Although Dubai’s economy was built on the oil industry, the emirate’s model of business drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate, and financial services, similar to that of Western countries. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative and large construction projects and sports events.

Tourism is an important element of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. As of 2010, Dubai was the 8th most visited city of the world, and the Emirate is expected to accommodate some 15 million visitors by 2015.

So, if you are bored with your local malls, visit Dubai, which has been called the Shopping capital of the Middle East..Dubai has more than 70 shopping malls, including Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. The city draws large numbers of shoppers from countries within the region and from as far as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. While boutiques, electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets operate on a fixed-price basis, most other outlets consider friendly negotiation a way of life.

Dubai is also known for its souk districts located on either side of the creek. Traditionally, dhows from the Far East, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Dubai is also known as “the City of Gold” and Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops. Dubai Duty Free Company at the Dubai International Airport offers merchandise catering to the multinational passengers using the airport.

What else to see and do

Khalifa Tower, Dubai
Photo credit: Leando Neumann Ciuffo

Dubai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. Many modern interpretations of Islamic architecture can be found here, due to a surge in construction and architectural innovation in the Arab World in general, and in Dubai in particular

As a result, modern Islamic – and world – architecture has literally been taken to new levels in skyscraper building design and technology. A culmination was reached in 2010 with the completion of the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower), now by far the world’s tallest building at 829.84 m. Burj Khalifa is the gem of Dubai attractions. It is an engineering master piece.

Dubai is amazingly beautiful and this exciting desert city holds some of the most spectacular attractions that are simply incomparable and outstanding. From the exciting desert attractions to the marvellous man made wonderments, Dubai has scores of attractions and places that engross the visitor and offer novel opportunities to enjoy many moments and a lifetime of memories.

The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab and Bedouin culture. In contrast, the city of Dubai is a highly cosmopolitan society with a diverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday’s holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.

While you are here, or to whet your appetite to visit, be sure to visit …

Mina Seyahi

Mina Seyahi is an important attraction in Dubai. Mina Seyahi (Al Mina Al Seyahi) refers to an area in the city and means “Port of Travellers”. The Mina Seyahi area covers an area of Jumeirah Beach and includes the Dubai international marine club.

Ski Dubai

Covering an area of 22,500 sq metres, Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of Emirates and is an indoor ski resort. Yes … an indoor ski resort in the desert!

Beaches in Dubai

Dubai is not just known for its desert safari and charming tourism attractions, but the city is also famous for its alluring beaches, which will provide a pleasant respite for a “time out” from sightseeing and shopping. Some of the picturesque beaches that are worth a visit are Jumeirah Beach, Palm Beach, Mamzar Beach and Jebel Ali Beach.

A Desert Safari

But take a safari and enjoy the wonders of the desert. This is simply a must do! Tour depart in the afternoon across the desert of Dubai with several photo-stops during an exciting dune drive to the first destination a camel farm, where you will have an opportunity ride a camel, then sand board, and also stop to watch a magnificent desert sunset.

Dress Accordingly

Dubai has a very hot arid climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy and humid, with an average high around 42 °C (108 °F) and overnight lows around 29 °C (84 °F). Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 23 °C (73 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F).

So, if you are looking for a memorable adventure, and you’ve “Been there, done that”, consider Dubai. From the timeless tranquility of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors.

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