One of the most spectacular places on Earth, this once little sheikhdom baking under the sun grew to be what it is today—a magnificent, most glamorous, most magical world destination! Nowhere in the Gulf region (or anywhere else, really) can people admire astounding feats of engineering as evinced in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, or another one of its architectural icons, the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel; or stroll leisurely along verdant parks and sumptuous boulevards lined with fine restaurants, posh boutiques and gigantic, state-of-the art malls (there’s one where you can actually ski in! Yes! Snow in 40 degrees sun!).
Dubai’s main artery is the Sheikh Zaid Road with all its ultra modern, high-rise steel and glass left and right, then there’s the Dubai Marina, with so much of Hong Kong and Monaco combined. But not all is steel and glass in this spectacularly futuristic city: Dubai is also home to bustling old-fashioned souks and picturesque Arab neighbourhoods strangely contrasting with a backdrop of eclectic skyscrapers, towering office buildings and hotels all coupled with sheer extravagance and ultra-modern, ultra-cool sights and sounds. As it is by the sea, Dubai is also a forerunner of sea building—World Islands are a series of villas build over huge artificial islands shaped into the world’s continents...What else can this say?! Ah, and they didn’t forget the beaches and resorts—visit Atlantis, the country’s largest. Nearly every avenue in Dubai is strewn with trees shadowed by neck-tilting towers, high-end hotels, trendy shops, hip cafes, and theatres, all of which lend Dubai a first-class, cosmopolitan status in the world of travel. Speaking of which, Dubai International Airport is a landmark in itself—millions and millions land every year, many just to shop in its duty free! An incredible journey!! And more so if you step into Emirates, the sheikhdom’s national airline of unsurpassed international fame. Dubai, in short, is just pure gold, chillaxing, and feeling that you want the best of this world somewhere far.
- Abu Dhabi:
Just over an hour’s drive along the coast is the capital, Abu Dhabi. Though a little less ostentatious than its frivolous, more renowned neighbour, the city is generally calmer but not short of alluring sites like the Emirates Palace Hotel and, believe or not, the Abu Dhabi Louvre. Yes! Even Parisians could soon be flocking to see the alter ego of their own famous museum.
More conservative is this constituent emirate which, having opted out of the lavishness of its neighbours, had instead decided to be the bastion of traditional culture—something to make up for the vast importation of steel, glass, and vibe. Sharjah is host to dozens of museums dedicated to the local culture and religion, like the impressive Museum of Islamic Civilization.
- Al Ain:
Sleepier than its three sisters is the even more traditional emirate of Al-Ain, with its mud-brick forts, old-fashioned souks and a string of out-of-a-movie oases. A short drive farther east is the coast, offering virtually untouched beaches beautifully set against the Hajar Mountains.