By Hassan Morcel
Dubai, where East meets West, offers a unique destination for travelers to experience. Once a small fishing village on the edge of the desert, Dubai has dramatically changed over the past 10 to 15 years. With the start of construction in 1994 of the Burj Al Arab, the only 7-star hotel in the world, and a world icon that represents the "Spirit of Dubai", this small village has exponentially grown into a metropolis equipped with the some of the most exotic man-made structures the world has to offer. Development has been fueled by the importation of outside labor, with over 80% of the population being expat. This has resulted in a very diverse population. Such diversification can be seen throughout the country, especially in the malls, where those dressed in western attire walk along side those dressed in the traditional men's attire of the Gulf that is the white "Dishdesh", and the women's attire of the black "abaya" and veil.
Dubai has become a playground for the rich and famous, offering some of the most magnificent attractions in the world. Besides the famous Burj Al Arab, Dubai is home to the world tallest building, the Burj Khalifa; and the Palm Jumierah, said to be the 8th Wonder of the World, this man-made island in the shape of a Palm Tree hosts an array of luxury villas and the popular Atlantis - The Palm resort at its crescent. In addition, Dubai offers some of the finest shopping malls in the world, housing popular attractions such as the Middle East's only indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai, and the Dubai Aquarium with the world's largest viewing panel and over 33,000 species of fish and aquatic life. Shopping is one of the Emirati's favorite pastimes and it shows with over 45 shopping venues available within Dubai's city limits. Most of the malls in Dubai are very modern, with many housing western brand stores and boutiques. One might even think they were in a western mall, until the call to afternoon prayer begins to ring throughout the site.
Although Dubai has become a major modern metropolis, it is also very rich in history and culture. Bur Dubai, located on shores of Dubai Creek, is the heart of Dubai. Here, visitors can get a glimpse of Dubai's past by visiting the Dubai Museum, and the Bastakiya with its courtyard houses that were cooled by wind towers. One can also step back in time by visiting Heritage Village and learn about pearl diving, a major source of revenue for Dubai in its earlier years. Islam is the religion of Dubai, and the Jumeira Mosque is one of Dubai's most beautiful. Housing the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike can tour this mosque and get an insight into the Islamic religion.
For those looking for accommodations, they need not worry, as one can find an abundance of Dubai Hotels and hotel apartments in just about every price range. In addition, with the current economic dip in the world's markets, many of these hotels are offering some amazing deals.
From a business perspective, although the UAE is an Arab Country, Dubai gives the appearance of being another American city, albeit one with quite a bit of wealth behind it. 99% of the business conducted in Dubai is in English. In addition, all signage is also offered in English. It goes to say, that one can maneuver and function quite well in Dubai without having to know the Arabic language, however, for those who are adventurous enough to learn, there are a number of facilities in Bur Dubai and Knowledge Village that offer lessons for a reasonable fee.