Dubai has made it onto the tourist map in a way nobody would have expected just a hundred years ago when it was only a small town of pearl divers and fishermen. Then oil was discovered and ever since the city has been rising, developing into a thriving, ultra-modern metropolis on the Arab Gulf.
All over the world people have been watching the city’s awe-inspiring development projects and every time you blink the skyline seems to have changed. The most prominent building is the Burj al Arab, a 1050 ft sail made of steel and glass and with seven stars the world’s most luxurious hotel. Other great buildings featured in the skyline are the 990 ft Emirates Towers Hotel and the 1150 ft Office Tower which houses the exclusive Boulevard shopping center.
Over 200 high-rise buildings of at least 330 ft height are under construction or have been finished, many of them along Sheikh Zayid Street, about 20 of them peak at around 1000 ft.
As if the construction industry wasn’t busy enough there are other mind-blowing projects in the pipes: man-made islands. The Palm Islands have caused a word-wide stir and are being marketed as the eight Wonder of the World. The World Islands will be even more expensive, an exclusive refuge for the richest of the world.
One does not need to be a millionaire to enjoy Dubai, though. A rental car will afford you the mobility needed to get away from super-expensive shops and truffle restaurants. Not far from the city you can visit more traditional regions. Ajman, for example, is just a stone’s throw away, famous for its old shipyards which can be visited, though a visit to the Ajman Museum downtown will give you a better impression of traditional shipbuilding. Should you arrive early enough you get the chance to visit the buzzing fish market.
Art fans will be especially interested in a trip to Sharjah just south of Ajman. Numerous galleries and museums show modern and Arab art; UNESCO has named it the Culture Capital of the Arab Region. Naturally there is fantastic souvenir shopping: antiques, rugs, jewelry, and crafts are available from oriental bazaars. Should you not consider your vacation complete without an outdoor experience, go to Sharjah Desert Park where suddenly you will be eye to eye with local wildlife like antelopes and leopards, or join a scuba diving class and have a close look at the coral reefs off the shore.