United Arab Emirates

Whenever people ask me my thoughts on Dubai I always say the same thing:
It’s a giant Islamic Disney World.

Although that may be an understatement, Dubai is a cosmopolitan, globalized, and luxurious emirate that has jetted out of the arabian peninsula.

Being a tourism and retail centered city, there are numerous things for visitors to do  and see.The most famous of which being the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and the Dubai Mall (the world’s biggest mall).

Dubai actually has many (about 68) incredibly huge malls each with a unique theme such as the Ibn Battuta mall and the mall of the Emirates. I also should mention that these malls are not your average walk around and shop places like those in the states.

These malls have ice skating rinks, aquariums, and even in-door mountain ski slopes.

Yes, in-door mountain ski slopes.

Dubai also is well known for its sailboat looking seven star hotel, The Burj al Arab. Ranging from $1,000 a night upwards to $50,000/$60,000, it embodies the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Right outside of the Burj al Arab is Wild Wadi Waterpark. After purchasing a drink I won a free blue ray dvd player, and my friend won a digital camera.
Welcome to Dubai where you can win dvd players and digital cameras at a water park in the middle of the desert.

One of my favorite spots in Dubai is Global Village. Essentially an Asian and Middle Eastern version of Disney’s Epcot. Tourists can peruse different Asian and Middle Eastern markets from Morocco to Japan, ride amusement park rides, and sample cuisine from around the world.

The opulence of Dubai doesn’t stop at just desert water parks, malls and fancy hotels. Dubai also has many markets or souks, one on Sikkat Al Khali Rd being called “City of Gold”.

An appropriate name for a street filled with gold vendors and jewels.

Some critics of Dubai say that it is a city that pays homage to wealth and superficiality. However the history of Dubai is a fascinating one evolving from an industry of pearl diving to oil to tourism.

Dubai is also deeply rooted in Islam. Alcohol is restricted only to certain clubs, public displays of affection are illegal, and many women are dressed in burkas and hijabs.

Although due to the globalization and influence of tourism some of these rules are becoming more leint, which brings into question the conflict of globalism and local traditions.

Dubai is an icon of western capitalistic thought mashing with Middle Eastern traditions. It truly is a sight unlike any other.

Stay tuned for Abu Dhabi.