Dubai – Dreams and Realities
Looking at Dubai today, it is difficult to imagine that it was small a fishing village with a population of 6000 just 60 years ago. The discovery of oil in the mid 1960s changed all that and transformed it into the sophisticated modern city it is today. The financial crisis that plagued the world’s financial markets in 2008 however hit Dubai hard and the emirate had to be bailed out by its wealthier sibling Abu Dhabi. At the peak of its construction boom, it was estimated that 1 in every 5 cranes in the world were working in Dubai.
Despite falling on somewhat tough times, Dubai continues to attract millions of visitors each year with the vast majority doing so for the world class shopping experience. Still, there are many interesting attractions to see representing both past and present Dubai:
A Fatimid-themed mosque that has a dramatic feel in the evenings when the flood lights around it are lit up. Visits are by authorized guided tour only.
A district of Old Dubai with buildings constructed in traditional Arabic style.
Unofficially dubbed the world’s only seven star hotel, Burj al-Arab’s sail-like design has in a relatively short time become the most recognizable feature of Dubai’s skyline. At more than $1800 per night, accommodation is very expensive even by Dubai’s famously costly hotel rates. Fortunately, you do not have to live in the hotel to appreciate its architectural genius. Visitors from neighboring hotels can visit for a meal but this has to be done a couple of days before.
At more than 800 meters, the recently completed Burj Khalifa is by far the world’s tallest man-made structure. The observation deck is roughly halfway the length of the building.
Hot air balloon ride over the desert
Spectacular views of the sand dunes. To avoid the sun, the ride is best done either early morning or late evening.
Overall, the best time to visit Dubai is from October till April when the weather, though still hot, is milder than the rest of the year.