No place like Dubai

Last updated 00:00 22/01/2010
Dubai
Reuters

One can only marvel at the Dubai phenomenon and the way it pushes all humanly-conceived boundaries.

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Perhaps Rome wasn't built in a day, but Dubai comes pretty close.

There is never a day that looks or feels the same. When you wake each morning you can almost be certain that the road outside your hotel will be gone - or replaced by a skyscraper that, like a scene from Aladdin, miraculously shot up out of the sand while you were sleeping.

Some might marvel at the Dubai phenomenon and the way it pushes all humanly-conceived boundaries. Others might scorn at its Disneyland-esque extravaganza.

Nobody can deny it's awe inspiring that this city in the middle of the desert went from being a relatively insignificant Bedouin village less than 40 years ago to the centre of the Arab world.

Even with the recent shockwaves by Dubai World that rattled the financial world, Dubai is still a major travel destination. And many people insist that, regardless of the rumours, it's here to stay... and will continue growing.

It is the only place in the region that is easily accessible and (somewhat) liberal. And with all the cash floating around, both through its generous neighbour Abu Dhabi and visiting Arabs from the GCC with so much money they don't know what to do with, Dubai has become the new playground for the rich and famous.

Celebrities are frequently spotted frolicking on the beaches, while sheikhs speed around town in their Bentley Continentals and (believe it or not) diamond-encrusted Aston Martins.

Located along the Arabian Gulf, Dubai is the most populous of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates. Perfectly situated halfway between Africa and Europe, the city has become a destination for tourists and business travellers going in either direction, who stop off for work, a quick shopping spree or some fun in the sun.

Experiences in Dubai will greatly depend on the time of year. During the winter months (November-March), when the temperature sits at a comfortable average of 23 degrees Celsius, the city buzzes with a continuous influx of concerts, festivals, parties, sports events and outdoor activities.

In the summer months (between May and September), the heat of the day is so intense, people seek refuge in the expansive malls, perusing the shops or skiing on the indoor slope at Mall of the Emirates's Ski Dubai.

It calms somewhat during the summer months, as most of the expatriate population goes on leave, with the month of Ramadan (usually October or November) being particularly quiet.

If you decide to go during this time, it's imperative you read up on the dos and don'ts, or you might find yourself in some unfortunate predicaments, such as ending up in jail for eating a chocolate bar in public.

The most popular attractions in Dubai include high tea at the world's only seven-star resort, the Burj Al Arab; shopping at the biggest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall; a Sunday drive out on the Palm Jumeirah for a perusal of the new Atlantis hotel; and racing a four-wheel drive through the desert, fondly referred to as 'dune bashing'.

Visitors can also spend a few minutes to gawp at the recently-opened tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai, or jump in a speedboat to see the 300 man-made islands off the coast of Dubai known as 'The World'.

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The majority of the hotels offer the epitome in lavish accommodation, and the service is truly world-class. Indeed, if it's luxury travel you're after, then there's no place like Dubai.

Annual events in Dubai:

Dubai Shopping Festival: January 1 - February 28. http://www.mydsf.com/.

Dubai Desert Classic - February 1-7. http://www.dubaidesertclassic.com/.

Barclay's Dubai Tennis Championships - February 14- 27. http://www.barclaysdubaitennischampionships.com/.

Bride Show Dubai - April 7-10. www.thebrideshow.com/dubai.

Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival - February 10-19. http://www.dubaijazzfest.com/

Dubai International Boat Show - March 9-13. http://www.boatshowdubai.com/.

Art Dubai - March 17-20. http://www.artdubai.ae/.

Dubai World Cup - March 27. http://www.dubaiworldcup.com/.

Dubai Summer Surprises - June 17 - August 7. http://www.mydsf.com/.

Dubai Fashion Week - October. http://www.dfw.ae/ and http://www.robertocavalli.com/.

Emirates Airline's Dubai Rugby Sevens - http://www.dubairugby7s.com/.

Dubai International Film Festival - December. http://www.dubaifilmfest.com/.

- AAP

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