Sometimes called the "Vegas of the East" because of its many over-the-top fantasy hotels and malls, this commercial hub in the United Arab Emirates has been the source of much curiosity since its first massive skyscrapers started getting photographed. Dubai once had an economy based on oil. Now, not so much finance and tourism are much bigger businesses. The former can be credited to Dubai's practice of establishing "free zones" where businesses can almost completely avoid taxes.Spectacles here include the unmistakable Burj Al Arab which sits on its own manmade island just offshore the indoor ski resort Ski Dubai, the Palm Islands, and Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall. Approximately 70 malls and shopping centers are in the city, not to mention the traditional souks.
Once a mud-walled fishing village, Dubai’s historic core consists of traditional markets scented by saffron and frankincense and traders haggling in the Gold Souk. But historic Dubai isn’t why you come here. One of the United Arab Emirates, with miles of Persian Gulf beachfront, Dubai is an ultra-modern metropolis, golf resort and luxury playground where the West’s celebrities and super rich mingle with billionaire sheiks and princes. Today’s Dubai is a creation of unrestrained fantasy, with flotillas of man-made islands designed for luxury homes, the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa, rising 2,717 feet), the world’s first seven-star hotel and a shopping mall with indoor ski slopes.
Oil has turned what once was a small fishing settlement into a commercial mecca in the Mideast. The city of Dubai constitutes the main portion of the emirate of Dubai, the second-largest of the seven sheikdoms in the United Arab Emirates. It is on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf and has a population of more than 600,000, about two-thirds of whom are male.
The chief natural feature of Dubai is a deep inlet, known as "The Creek," that separates the city from suburban Deira. The emirate has the world's largest man-made port at Jebel Ali, where a Free Trade Zone established in 1985 has attracted hundreds of international companies. The Dubai World Trade Centre, a 39-story office building and exhibition center, also houses many corporations.
Wonderland, which opened in October 1996, is the first theme/water park in the Gulf. The Dubai World Cup horse race and the Dubai Shopping Festival are new events designed to promote tourism.
More traditional attractions include souks (markets), Al Fahidi Fort, the Palace of Sheikh Saeed, Jumeira Mosque and Dubai Museum. Hatta, an ancient fortress village in Dubai's mountainous region, is a nearby getaway destination that provides a contrast to the urban coastal area.