Dubai oozes money, opulence and excess. Despite the global recession, the only evidence of belt-tightening for this Emirate is the temporary halt on some of its more grandiose building projects like ‘The World’ and ‘The Universe’ - the construction of islands shaped like their namesakes. Such wealth may have stemmed from the oil industry but it has more recently prospered thanks to tourism and real estate. People come largely for the unbridled shopping opportunities in the numerous malls and souks and for the luxury hotels, bars and restaurants. Gold is often at the top of most people’s shopping list given that Dubai is known as the city of gold. But for the non-shoppers the city is also famed for hosting major sporting events such as the Dubai World Cup horse racing and the rugby union Dubai Sevens tournament.
Bathed in year-round sunshine it’s no wonder Dubai is the destination of choice for many a tourist but it’s not all shopping and sport. There is a rich Arab and Bedouin culture and strong Islamic faith that shapes everything from the architecture and attire to the lifestyle and cuisine. You may see women dressed head to foot in abayas in the shopping malls laden with Gucci bags and question the mix but this perfectly optimises the melting pot of tradition and cosmopolitanism that characterises Dubai. Dubai is proud of its consumerist culture and brazen ostentation; so if you can’t beat them - join them, preferably packing plastic!