travel

Everyone Is Going to Dubai

burj al arabI don’t know what ad agency they are using, but Dubai is getting more than their money’s worth. Every day someone says they are going to Dubai, they just came back from Dubai, they read that Justin Timberlake was in Dubai, the hottest new film won a big award at the Dubai Film Festival, and Tiger Woods will have a golf course there.

It would be hard to name any destination in the Middle East that sounds as welcoming (and safe) as Dubai, but still, why is everyone and their mother heading there?

The weather is good for a desert locale – it’s under 90 degrees six months of the year. It only has one natural resource and that’s the sticky black stuff that keeps everyone’s motor running. It has more 5 star hotels than just about any other destination in the world. They have malls, golf courses, beaches, watersports, fabulous restaurants, impressive shopping, indoor skiing, a theme park (Dubailand) that when complete will be twice as large as Disneyland and Disney World combined.

Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates, but burj al arab tennisWesterners are made to feel at home, meaning they can dress as they please and drink alcohol in complete safety (albeit at a premium cost). In the last five years, Dubai has made itself into a very credible tourist destination that would be the envy of any country in the world. Some describe it as being like Las Vegas with religion, and certainly the traffic may be comparable. That, and the fact that everyone you meet is from somewhere else – Pakistan, India, Tunisia, and Iran for example.

Still, a hyperactive sense of promotion may be at the heart of their success. That, and the ability to do everything bigger and better than anywhere else. Whether it’s building the tallest office tower in the world or having Andre Agassi and Roget Federer play tennis on the roof of the 7-star Burj Al Arab luxury hotel (said to be the world’s tallest), Dubai knows how to get the word out. Andre and Roger just happened to be in town for the Dubai Duty Free Mens Open and willing to hype the hotel by playing tennis 692 feet in the air. The payoff for this PR stunt came instantly as pictures of the exhibition match flashed around the world on the Internet.

Then there’s the palm tree-shaped Nakheel family development, The Palm Jumeirah and palm jemeirahits sister sites Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. Built on man-made islands of sand, these developments maximize the beach front real estate that Dubai lacked. Called the 8th wonder of the world (get in line – that title has also been bestowed on the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, Great Wall of China, and dozens of other natural and human creations). Between 24 and 30% of all the cranes in the world are currently in use in Dubai, building more condominiums, apartments, hotels and entertainment venues.

Whatever is being built today, something larger will be built here tomorrow. And that may be the ultimate lure of Dubai. It will be, or it is already, the home of the world’s largest Everything.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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