Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.
Dubai is make up approximately 80% of the population, how could it be anything else? You might not even meet a local Emirati during your entire time there if you don’t do business locally.
So, why is Dubai so popular?
Sure, everyone knows that you pay no income tax in Dubai and that’s certainly a major lure.
But the most enticing draw is the lavish lifestyle you can enjoy in Dubai. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the creme de la creme of apartments in some of the tallest buildings in the world, yacht parties, extravagant nightlife options, and more.
Life in Dubai is very high-tech – futuristic even – and definitely luxurious. It’s like Las Vegas, without the casinos.
Even though Dubai was established in 1833, the major turning point in its development was the discovery of oil in the 70s. Since then, it has become a sprawling metropolis and a major trading center – the Hong Kong of the Middle East, some say.
It’s one of the seven emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates. However, it usually stands on its own on the global scene.
All that said, Dubai doesn’t hand out citizenship, ever.
So, even if you extend your residence status multiple times and spend decades in Dubai, don’t ever expect to call yourself an Emirati.
Designed to represent a metaphorical connection between the old and new city, Dubai Frame is said to be the largest picture frame in the world. The giant, glistening gold frame stands nearly 500 feet tall and boasts panoramic glass lifts that shuttle guests to the top, where they can walk on a clear glass walkway along the entire 313-foot width. Tickets can be purchased online or at the venue and cost between $5 and $14 (children under 3 and visitors with special needs or disabilities can enter for free).
Dubai’s massive Global Village is essentially a theme park for all ages, though it’s popular with families as the rides and attractions are kid-friendly. Open November through early May, it features concerts, rides, dining, and attractions from around the world. It’s on the outskirts of Dubai, so don’t think you can pack it into a city-centric day, but if you have time and are interested in some global shopping and entertainment, it’s worth a visit.
Fly belly-down across highways, skyscrapers, and swimming pools through the city of Dubai with XLine Dubai, one of the longest, steepest, and fastest urban zip lines in the world. From a height of 560 feet with speeds up to 50 miles per hour, riders soar from the Jumeirah Beach Residence to Dubai Marina, passing once-in-a-lifetime views along the way. There’s even an option to ride tandem with friends.
In the middle of a mall in the desert, the world’s third-largest indoor ski slope is a sight to behold. A daily lift ticket will run you about $138 (excluding equipment rentals), while a Snow Daycation pass, which primarily provides access to the non-skiing parts of the mountain like tubing, costs $68 per person, and you should plan to get there early. The place is filled with families with kids, most of whom are taking part in various rides and penguin visits instead of skiing. If you’re here to shred, there are two runs and a dedicated freestyle area (but Vail this is not).
A popular heritage destination, Al Marmoom draws camel racing enthusiasts of all stripes, local and otherwise. A day at the camel races is an experience that is nicely representative of Middle Eastern culture, one that dates back to the 7th century. The grandstands are often filled with camel owners, trainers, and handlers, and most seats offer good views of the action. Remember that races start early—between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.—and that commentary and announcements are made in Arabic.
Like a Miami beach with its wide stretch of sand, aquamarine water, beach chaises, and enough activities to make you feel like sunbathing isn’t quite enough, Kite Beach is for beach lovers. Join a game of volleyball, give kite-surfing a try, or take a run around the soft running track—when it’s not 106 degrees out.