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Dubai (source taken from Expedia)

November 6, 2015

Rising from the warm shores of the Persian Gulf, and the shifting sands of the Arabian Desert, is the city of Dubai. The largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates.

For two centuries, Dubai was not much more than a tiny trading port on the banks of Dubai Creek. But in less than a single generation, the city has become a destination once relegated to the imaginings of science-fiction writers. A place that defies the extreme environment, and redefines everything we know about cities. Despite appearances, however, the foundation of the glittering citadel are not built on sand, but on thousands of years of Arabic culture and tradition.

Step through the veil of Islam at the Jumeirah Mosque, where non-Muslim visitors are invited to tour the beautiful interiors, and take part in lively question-and-answer sessions.

Head through the historic Bastakia Quarter, and visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Here you’ll experience local customs, Bedouin hospitality, and enjoy home-cooked Emirati food.

To learn more about local traditions, go shopping, the way Arab people have for centuries. Follow the step of frankincense and herbs through the city’s spice market. Then explore the hundreds of stores in the gold souk, and discover why Dubai is known as the “City of Gold”.

To explore the souks of the 21st century, head to Dubai Mall, home to a staggering 1,200 stores. Dubai Mall is also home to Kidzania, a miniature city complete with its own radio station, hospital and fire station, all run by children.

But by far, the mall’s biggest attraction is the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Take a walk through a watery world, filled with over 30,000 creatures of the deep, including enormous rays and sharks.

Once you’ve explored the depths of the seven seas, step out and look to the heavens. Rising over half a mile into the sky is the breathtaking centerpiece of Dubai. The Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure ever built. Three times the height of the Eiffel Tower, and twice the size of the Empire State Building. The tip of this modern wonder can be seen from 60 miles away. Take a high-speed lift to the 124th floor observation deck, which gives expansive views of the city. A city that seems to grow before the eyes. The Burj Khalifa is particularly beautiful at night, especially when viewed through Dubai Fountain’s dancing waters.

Everywhere you look in Dubai, you’ll come face-to-face with daring projects which almost defy belief. Enjoy a few Arabian nights at Madinat Jumeirah, a five-star resort styled upon a traditional Arabian town.

Or sail into a sea of luxury at Burj Al Arab, a seven-star hotel, whose graceful curves echo the traditional wooden vessel of the gulf.

When temperatures climb, head into one of the city’s public beaches, like Mamzar Beach Park. Or for a small fee, enjoy one of the luxurious amenities at one of the many private hotel beaches.

Take the family to Wild Wadi World, and splash out in over 30 rides, themed around Arabian folktales.

Take a high-speed ride with a difference, at Atlantis Dolphin Bay.

Then discover even more marine creatures at the Lost Chambers Aquarium.

But if you really want to cool down, take the chairlift to the top of the indoor mountain at Ski Dubai. This ski resort in the desert features five ski runs, including the world’s first indoor black diamond slope. Ski Dubai is even home to a troop of snow penguins, which come out to play several times a day.

Once you’ve perfected your turns in the snow, why not try a little sand-boarding. Whether you’ve come for a day or stay a few nights, a journey into the Arabian Desert is an experience no visitor should miss. Take a camel trek, meet the wildlife, or just gaze out at the endless expansive sands. This place is so quiet, you can hear your own heartbeat.

It’s when you’re out here, only one hour from the world’s tallest building, that you’ll truly appreciate how miraculous Dubai is.

That in one of the world’s inhospitable landscapes, one of the world’s most hospitable destinations can flourish. That from this great emptiness, a glittering oasis can arise, and almost outshine the sun itself.

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