Dubai is a glitzy, modern city of high-rise buildings and shopping centers. It’s a major aviation hub, with a world-class airport and large ports, and it has one of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East. The city has diversified its economy, with real estate and construction as well as financial services, shipping and transit exports, and tourism adding to oil revenues.
The eponymous capital of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a global hotspot that’s synonymous with 5-star glam and innovative development. It’s also a place where traditions are celebrated, from the tranquility of desert dunes to the bustle of souks and remarkable skyscrapers.
What to do in Dubai
The best way to see the highlights of Dubai is on a full-day city tour that takes you through the heart of downtown, including stops at the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Mosque. The tour is a great introduction to the culture of Dubai and includes lunch.
To get a sense of Dubai’s past, visit the Dubai Museum, which has recreated reed houses and a pearling-era souk, as well as artifacts and photos of the city’s transformation into an affluent metropolis. Or head to the Dubai Museum of Contemporary Arts, which features a gallery dedicated to local art, plus a restaurant and terrace.
The city is a major shopping center, with more than 70 luxury malls, including the biggest in the world and Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s only indoor ski slope. You’ll find all the major international brands, from Chanel and Prada to Givenchy and Versace, but it’s also a great place to shop for local goods, such as gold, Persian silk and hand-woven rugs.
A visit to Dubai isn’t complete without a stop at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest building. Its dizzying spire rises more than 2,700 feet (820 meters) above the Arabian Gulf, and you can climb to its observation decks for unbeatable views of the city. Afterward, walk around the base of the tower to see its incredible choreographed fountain show, which uses jet streams that shoot as high as 150 meters in the air.
The UAE is a small Middle Eastern nation that’s considered part of Asia, thanks to its proximity to the rest of the continent and its Persian Gulf location. It’s bordered by Oman to the south and Saudi Arabia to the north, and it’s home to 7 emirates, with Abu Dhabi being the largest and Dubai the most populous.