Epitomizing an oil-rich sheikhdom isn't a bad life, but what Dubai really wants is to entertain visitors.
Dubai's tourism appeal includes big-time horse races and sporting events, a monthlong shopping festival and a skyline that commands the attention of visitors—not to mention such fascinating hotels as Dubai's own Burj Al Arab and the world's tallest building, the frighteningly towering Burj Khalifa. For jaded, been-there-done-that tourists, this metropolis on the Persian Gulf can throw in camel racing, sandboarding, sand skiing, ice-skating, snow skiing and unique cultural activities.
Dubai's rapid transformation has left it with a slice of old Arabia and a chunk of modern infrastructure. You'll find souks selling gold jewelry and traditional wares not far from modern shopping centers selling electronics and luxury items. Visitors will also see wind towers and minarets rising up from old neighborhoods, dwarfed in turn by office and hotel towers. A stream of building projects is emerging steadily, and construction cranes are a mainstay on the skyline no matter where you look.
But the biggest contrast can be seen in Dubai's landscape: A splendid coastline and beaches are backed by an expansive desert, which is a magnificent paradox of impressive sand dunes and starkly beautiful mountains.
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