Once just one of many small port towns on the Arabian Gulf, Dubai has transformed itself into an international transit and trade hub that draws millions of visitors every year to this corner of the Arabian Peninsula. While it’s not the capital of the United Arab Emirates — that’s neighboring Abu Dhabi — it is probably the most well-known of the seven constituent members of the union. Famed for outlandish developments like The World, an artificial archipelago of hundreds of islands built out of sand just off the coast, and the 2,717-foot-high Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the city has become an at-times-uneasy international melting pot of foreign workers, traders, financiers and shipping barons, as the conservative yet hospitable local culture struggles to assert itself against the powerful tide of globalization.
As happens in plenty of other world cities, not everyone who visits Dubai enjoys it. There’s no doubt, however, that the city, its development and its efforts to lure visitors with fabulous hotels, world-class attractions and terrific shopping make for a fascinating experience that’s unlike anything you’d find elsewhere – just be ready for the heat.