Dubai

It is said that all that glitters is not gold but for Dubai that is only because glass and silver dominates the skyline rather than the gold so beloved of the city, the explosion of modern skyscrapers and awe inspiring architecture sets the tone for a luxurious nature of this the most glamorous of cities. Dubai is one of the Emirates of the Unites Arab Emirates although when referred to as a holiday destination is generally the city itself rather than the wider area of the Arabian desert.

Dubai is unashamedly decadent, a playground for the wealthy and the destination that not only promises luxury but always manages to deliver, ornate buildings constantly trying to surpass each other in eye catching opulence compete for your attention, giving tourists the promise of a trip of a lifetime – Dubai is everything you could imagine with a little bit extra thrown in for good measure.

Luxury is the byword in Dubai, each and every hotel offers luxury and even the older  hotels are of a high standard (these often have the best locations too, right in the heart of the city) but for a really special stay book the Mina A’Salam hotel; the Arabic styling is brought up to date with a contemporary look that is filled with Eastern promise – opulent materials, Persian rugs and elaborate engravings perfectly compliment the modern architecture to give one of the best hotels in Dubai.

Not everyone has the budget for a five star hotel but they can still experience a great hotel, the XVA Art Hotel in the historic Bastakiya district is a perfect example, the courtyard hotel is filled with modern touches that are simple and uncluttered; the seven rooms are all individually designed giving an arty feel to the hotel – this is the perfect base for exploring Old Dubai and maintains a very affordable rate.

Dubai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and the cuisine is truly global, however if you want to eat like the locals be sure to dine late, the Arab community rarely dine before 10 and as the evening cools down the community heads out to dine.

Although there is a huge global influence to the food it is possible to find excellent restaurants serving regional food and Awtar in the Grand Hyatt at Dubai Creek serves some of the best local food – local meze and  freshly grilled meats are served alongside traditional entertainment; belly dancers undulate as the Arabic band plays making this experience quite magical.

Shopping is the absolute must do activity in Dubai, from the specialist gold souks to Dubai Mall which is the largest shopping centre in the world and boasts attractions of its own such as an aquarium and a full sized ice rink. These exclusive shopping centres are not the only retail experiences to be had in Dubai though, there are also many traditional souks filled with the exotic sights and smells of the Middle East – these are the places to go to hone your haggling skills.

There are so many buildings of architectural merit in Dubai that it is a day tour in itself to see them all but some of the ones that should not be missed include  the Burj al Arab, the Burj Khalifa and Palm Island. The Burj al Arab is the iconic sail shaped building and Palm Island is the man created wonder that is a completely fabricated group of islands formed in the shape of a palm tree, these islands are host to some of the most exclusive buildings in Dubai. These two wonders pale into insignificance though when you visit Burj Khalifa, the view from level 124 is unbelievable, stretching from the Gulf Coast to far across the Arabian Desert.

Hot and humid throughout the year Dubai is best visited during the autumn months when the temperatures have dipped slightly and the evenings are still perfect for an enjoyable stroll, the peak of summer is best avoided as the temperatures often exceed 100F although once inside, the vast majority of buildings do have air conditioning and holiday prices are considerably lower.

December and January are popular times to travel and although the days can sometimes be overcast and rain is possible this is often seen as preferable to the intense summer heat that many tourists find overbearing.

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