Dubai city guide

Only a couple of years ago almost no one knew a lot about Dubai. “Dubai what? You mean that dump in the middle of the desert? Been there once, it was horrible.” Now it’s one of the most famous, attractive and innovative places in the world. It’s no secret that the biggest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the modern Eldorado for the worlds’ financial and intellectual elite. Or should we say: they think they belong to the last category. To me it sometimes looks a bit sad and desperate how the UAE and its wealthy inhabitants do everything to acquire credibility and assure the rest of the world will take them serious. They are investing huge amounts of money in contemporary arts nowadays. Leading art fairs like Art, prestigious museums and galleries should attract art-lovers with very deep pockets.

Camels on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai with skyscrapers at the backdrop

The white sandy Jumeirah Beach is the longest public beach of Dubai

Abu Dhabi, the other big city in the United Arabic Emirates, has now even its own Louvre museum. And it is not only about obtaining prestige and status it is also a way to keep its wealth and prosperity in the long run. The Gulf States need to invest in (exclusive) tourism and other alternative business sectors since they will run out of oil at some stage. And as soon as the wells of the black gold has dried up they will need to have other reliable sources of income, otherwise the Dubai residents will have to give up on their Ferraris, race horses, posh villas and palaces, private drivers and nannies from Asia. The highest skyscrapers, artificial islands and omnipresent luxury: Dubai looks and feels as the city of tomorrow. On the other hand it sometimes feels a bit too artificial, like Las Vegas and its counterfeit Eiffel Tower or pyramids. It is in a certain way the Arabic cultures way of extending a hand towards the rest of the world.

Local inhabitant of Dubai sitting on bench at Dubai Creek

To experience the more traditional side of Dubai you could cross Dubai Creek by boat, for instance in a wooden abra or dhow

The Quran laws are a bit lax, you can have a drink here and there and women aren’t getting as much crap. Whether you’re there for business or pleasure, Dubai won’t disappoint, it’s Disneyland for the adults. The most famous sightseeing attractions are the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building), the artificial Palm Islands and shopping malls where you can ski at indoor slopes while it is 40 degrees outside. When you are tired of modern city life you may enjoy to indulge yourself in the traditional Dubai atmosphere by wandering through the Dubai Old Souk (also known as the Textile Souk or Bur Dubai Souk) and the old Bastakia Quarter. Mind that the selling practices in the covered markets can be a bit aggressive but a gentle thank you and keep on walking will do the job. If the crazy heat will not kill your appetite for active outdoor activities you should cruise along Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow boat or book a jeep safari to visit the desert and sniff some Bedouin culture.

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