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DubaiUnited Arab Emirates

This exhilarating Arabian metropolis will astound you with its innovation and opulence, combined with breathtaking natural beauty

Home to giant man-made islands shaped like palm trees that are visible from space, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the world’s first 7-star hotel, Dubai is a city that does not do things by half. Development has taken off at an incredible pace in the past 25 years, transforming this little-known Arabian town into one of the most opulent and futuristic destinations on earth. For an idea of how Dubai is continuing to expand into the future, head to Dubailand and view this massive work in progress.

1966 was the year oil was first discovered in Dubai, and this became the main source of revenue, fuelling the expansion of the city. The population doubled every decade that followed, propelling the economy forward and transforming the area into a powerful financial centre. Tourism now replaces the dwindling oil reserves as the main source of income, and this drive has been backed by the vision and ambition of the ruling Royal Dynasty.

Dubai could be called the Shopping Capital of the Middle East, combining ancient traditions with brand new infrastructure. The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping centres in the world, with over 1,000 shops as well as attractions such as an aquarium and indoor theme park. In contrast to this modern retail wonder, you’ll find the historic markets or “souks”, buzzing with activity. The Gold Souk is the perfect place to find beautiful jewellery at affordable prices.

True to its spirit of innovation and record-breaking architecture, you will discover attractions in Dubai that will make you wonder if you are really in a desert climate. Real snow carpets the slopes at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski slope that caters for the most accomplished skiers and beginners alike. Slip and slide your way around the Aquaventure and Wild Wadi water parks. Marvel at the world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, which projects water 150 metres into the air, set in a 120,000 square-metre lake.

Look beyond the man-made spectacles of Dubai to appreciate the natural beauty of this part of the world. Spend your day relaxing on picture-perfect beaches, like Al Mamzar Park and Jumeirah Beach and Park, or head further afield into the nature-rich wetlands around Dubai Creek. A trip to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve will show you the wonders of the desert environment. Coupled with a wonderful climate all year round, this really is a holiday paradise. However, if you are not accustomed to temperatures of 40 C and above, you’re best off appreciating this destination between November and March.

Getting around Dubai is very easy thanks to the excellent public transport system, including many bus routes and water taxis, as well as an underground rail (metro) network. For those who prefer to get behind the wheel, anything from a Hummer to an Italian super car can be hired from the rental companies.

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