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The Wonders of Dubai
Where Heat Married Money

Written by: Wendy R Williams
Photographed by:
Katherin Wermke

Opposite Photo:
Ceiling of the Dubai Blue Mosque

Oh the lure of Dubai: A monument to gold and imagination!

In the 1960's, vast oilfields were discovered under the sands of the United Arab Emirates. And in the spirit of Molly-Brown-meets-Vegas, it was time to spend. Flush with money, the ruling family of Dubai decided to do something about their environment. And they had a task on their hands. Dubai is a dessert and being on the southern shore of the Arabian gulf only contributes to its miserable weather. Dubai is hot, really hot (104F during the summer months), dry (as in no rain dry) but also humid (the Gulf), all the attributes necessary to create an atmospheric miso soup.

But unlimited money can cure ills, so the rulers of Dubai transformed their home into a superbly modern city filled with architectural wonders. Dubai boasts the tallest building in the world; Burj Khalifa soars high in the sky, a monument to the ruler's vision plus the millions of hours Dubai's guest workers spent erecting that vision.

There are two main themes to Dubai's renaissance: air conditioning and water. Utilities are cheap and the air conditioned hotels and malls are huge. The Mall of Dubai is a tourist mecca, attracting more tourist than any other mall in the world. It is stunning, with shops ranging from Ameerat (a luxury store for Islamic dress) to Gucci. The Mall of Dubai is also home to an enormous outdoor fountain with light shows that can be seen from outer space, an inside ice rink and a spectacular walk -through aquarium. Dubai even has a five run indoor ski dome, accessed through the Mall of the Emirates West. As Truman Capote had Holly Golightly say in Breakfast at Tiffany's, "The mind simply reels."

But not all of Dubai is modern. Bur Dubai is the historic district, home to charming restaurants like Bayt Al Wakeel, a water view restaurant near the Textile Market; shopping areas like Hindi Lane; and historic monasteries. And Deira, home to ancient looking souks, is just across Dubai Creek and easily accessible by abras, the water taxies that ferry people across the Creek.

No article about Dubai is complete without mentioning Palm Island - artificial archipelagos (islands) with "branches" that resemble the fronds of palm trees. Palm Island is/will be host to commercial buildings, hotels (the Atlantis hotel is on Palm Jumeirah), residential developments and entertainment complexes. The world's economy may have experienced a downturn, but Palm Island's fronds are still flourishing.

So where to stay, eat and shop on a visit to Dubai?


Dubai has over a dozen five star hotels, all of which are so imaginative it would be impossible to make a bad choice. And unlike five star hotels in other urban centers, Dubai's Hotels function as resorts offering spectacular pools, water parks, spas and kids clubs.

Here is a quick sampling of luxurious Dubai Hotels with the caveat that there are so many, it would be impossible to include all of Dubai's fantasy lodgings:

* Al Quasr translated means The Palace and palace it is with traditional "palace" architecture mixed with modern appointments. The avenue that leads up to the hotel is adorned with beautifully sculpted statues of Arabian horses.

* Armani Hotel: The name says it all; it's Armani and it's in Dubai.

* Burj Al Arab: This famous sail-shaped hotel is decked out in the spirit of the Arabian Nights and it may be the world's most luxurious hotel.

* Fairmont The Palm| Dubai is located on Palm Jumeirah with spectacular views of the Arabian Sea. At night the hotel looks like it was built with gold bricks.

* Grosvenor House Hotel is located in the heart of the Dubai Marina and home to the Parisian import Buddha Bar (a must see in any locale).

* Kempinski Hotel and Residences Palm Jumeirah is also located on Palm Jumeirah and features panoramic views of the sea views and the architectural wonders of The Palm development.

* Jumeirah Beach Hotel Dubai is situated on the short of the Arabian sea and was designed to resemble a breaking wave. All accommodations feature sea views.

* Parc Hyatt Dubai: Celebrity favorite Parc Hyatt is adjacent to the world-famous Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.

* The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai: The name Ritz-Carlton signifies luxury all over the world and Dubai is no exception.

* The Royal Mirage and The Palm are both owned by One and Only Resorts, creator of the Ocean Club in the Bahamas (of Casino Royale fame).

For the "slightly" more adventurous, just outside the city are the "desert resorts":

* Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort

* Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa

* Banyan Tree Al Wadi Resort and Spa


Dubai has world class restaurants which are as famous for their architecture and decor as for their culinary achievement. China invested heavily in Dubai and that influence can be seen in the number of lavish Chinese restaurants. All of Dubai's five star hotels boast "five star quality" restaurants so your first stop for dinner should be downstairs either in your own hotel or a short walk away.

Here is a sampling of hotel restaurants:

* The Address is home to Hukama with its exquisite Chinese cuisine and a terrace with views of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

* The Burj Al Arab Hotel features the spectacular "underwater" restaurant Al Mahara where diners are served superb seafood while bathed in the blue light of the aquarium.

* The Atlantis Hotel is home to New York import Nobu. with features the fusion cutting–edge Japanese style with Arabian influences.

* Fairmont The Palm's guests and can indulge in pan Chinese cuisine at the signature restaurant Ba, or experience the vibrant ambience of the Brazilian restaurant Frevo of enjoy the culinary delights of the "multi-cuisine" Flow Kitchen.

* Grosvenor House hosts Buddha Bar with its giant Buddha statue that watches over this lavish setting. Buddha Bar is famed for its unique food, atmosphere and the Buddha Bar CD's.

* The Mina A'Salam Hotel is the home to the Zeng He restaurant with its superb Cantonese cuisine.

* The Parc Hyatt Dubai's casual French restaurant Traiteur was crowned “Time Out Dubai's" Restaurant of the Year.

* The Royal Mirage's Eauzone is set in a pool. The winding entrance divides the pool, so as guests literally walk over water as they enter the restaurant.


Shopping in Dubai is all about the malls (it's hot outside). The best locations for luxury goods from Parisian designers to Arabian dress are:

* Mall of the Emirates with its adjacent indoor ski resort

* Marina Mall

* Dubai Mall

For a more authentic Middle Eastern experience, there are the souks in Deira and Hindi Lane in Bur Dubai.

So here's to Dubai where the money's not gone and the beat goes on.

Abra Station Deira

Abras Crossing Dubai Creek

The Manmade Wonders of Dubai:

Aerial View from Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Tower
The Tallest Building in the World

Emirates Towers

Ceiling at the Atlantis Hotel on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah

Ceiling Dubai Mall

Burj Khalifa Tower
The Tallest Building in the World
as seen from the Dubai Mall

Walking Under the Aquarium at the Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall Fountain

Gucci at the Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall

Shoe Display Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall Water Fall

The Mosques of Dubai:

Detail Grand Mosque

Dubai Blue Mosque

Bur Dubai (the historic district):


Hindi Lane Bur Dubai

Tea Time at Bayt Al Wakeel
Water-view Restaurant Near the Textile Market in Bur Dubai

Lunch at Bayt Al Wakeel Restaurant
Water-view Restaurant Near the Textile Market in Bur Dubai


Deira (across the Dubai Creek from Bur Dubai):

Spice Souk Deira

Deira Textile Souk

Perfume Souk Deira

Spice Souk Deira

Gold Souk Deira

Gold Souk Deiria

Tailor in the Textile Souk Deira

Textile Souk Deira

Fresh Coconut Milk

The Desert:

Desert Outside Dubai










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