In the otherwordly land of Dubai, conservative Islamic traditions meet untold wealth and rapid modernization [more on that here]. With the explosion of the oil industry, the rigid traditional spirit of the Middle East has been challenged. The city has been forced to bend to the expectations of modern millionaires and billionaires, with their affinity for luxury clothing, cars, and homes as only the start. The oil magnates soon craved more and more of these outward expressions of wealth and power, leading to the development of such record-breaking feats as the tallest building in the world and an indoor ski resort in the desert! This rapid and indulgent development quickly placed Dubai on the map, drawing international attention and curiosity. The photos and descriptions and reputation of Dubai can only be taken as an invitation to see for yourself what this city is all about. Read on for why you need to visit Dubai, and soon!
The modern state of affairs in the Middle East is unfortunately one that boasts hostility towards Americans specifically, and Westerners in general. But in Dubai, these tensions are cut by a mutual interest in all things luxury. As a woman traveling alone in Dubai, I felt entirely safe and at ease. There are hardly any other places in the Middle East where I could do the same, and as such Dubai offers a special opportunity to visit the Middle East safely!
2. Break records
Dubai is breaking records with the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building, with Ski Dubai, the indoor ski resort in the desert, with the Burj Al Arab, the most expensive hotel in the world, and with hundreds of man-made islands like Palm Jumeirah, Palm Deira, The World, and The Universe. You have the opportunity to see all this with your own eyes, and believe me, you have no idea how huge these projects are until you see them up close. Imagine standing on top of the world’s tallest building! Dubai is the place to set your own records and have your mind blown!
3. Muslim culture
The beauty of Dubai’s culture is that the Muslim traditions and way of life are visible, but you’re not expected to partake as a tourist. Around the streets and in the malls you will see all the women dressed in burqas and all the men in keffiyehs and thawbs. At five timepoints throughout the day the call to prayer comes from the minarets, reaching all ears. Most mosques are available for tourists to visit, though out of respect you must cover yourself like a Muslim, which means no arm, leg, or midriff exposure and for ladies a scarf over the head. And on special occasions like Ramadan, the city features special events and celebrations! The opportunity to see and experience this society is unparalleled and it will give you a deeper appreciation of the culture both in Dubai and back home.
4. Camels and the Desert
Most of Dubai and the UAE is desert, and a short ride out of the city will bring you into the heart of the hostile environment that the Emiratis have worked to transform into a more hospitable home. In the winter the desert is a comfortable cool that allows you to wander, explore, and play in the sand, though the stifling heat of summer often forces tour companies to cancel tours. Out in the desert you’ll also find camel farms, where these animals are raised for either milking or racing. They’re clean and friendly, a treat to see up close. And if you’re luck you may be able to catch a camel race at the track, where you’ll be astounded at how quickly the awkward, gangly camels can move!
5. Rapid Growth
For as quickly as Dubai has grown and sealed its place on everyone’s must-see travel list, it is continuing to change and grow. The city is massive, expansive, expensive, and still under construction. The Emiratis have big ideas for Dubai, and they aren’t stopping any time soon. I recommend visiting as soon as you can, because when you go back in a five or ten years, it will be so grandly different that it will seem a new city. Take the chance to see Dubai as it is now, it will blow you away!