Dubai is a city where the impossible is possible, where you cannot help but be impressed, awe-struck and mesmerised
Dubai one of the world’s most exhilarating destinations, a glittering city home to golden beaches, record-breaking landmarks and world-class shopping, dining and nightlife. Hosting electrifying events and exhilarating sporting championships, Dubai is one big, adventurous playground for all the family. At the same time it’s a place where tradition meets ambition, where the past meets the future, and the visionary city is proud to display its rich heritage and culture.
Extraordinary images of Dubai’s skyline have been seen around the world, but this is a city that must be experienced to be believed. Where else can you spend the morning on the beach, the afternoon skiing and the evening camel riding in the desert? Where else can you dive with sharks in the middle of a mall and watch dancing fountains at the base of the world’s tallest tower? Whatever your passion, whatever your age, Dubai will exceed your expectations. And with a host of new hotels and attractions in the pipeline, no one can ever truly say they’ve ticked off Dubai. With changes constantly afoot, Dubai is a city that can be visited year after year, after year.
The pace of progress has been phenomenal and it takes some believing to imagine that just 50 years ago Dubai was little more than a fishing village beside the famous Creek. It was here that the Bani Yas tribe and the forefathers of the Maktoum dynasty first settled back in 1800. Even in the 1950s when the rest of the world was exploring space and New York’s Times Square had been illuminated for a good 50 years, Dubai still sat in darkness without electricity. But it was also here that the vision of Dubai first came about. The seeds of ambition were sowed and that small fishing village blossomed into the futuristic, cosmopolitan and dynamic metropolis of today.
Dubai dares to dream big – and then turns dreams into reality.
Having welcomed 10 million visitors in 2012, the emirate’s Tourism Vision for 2020 was declared in May 2013 with the aim of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by the start of the next decade. And Dubai is progressing well: in 2016, a remarkable 14.9 million overnight travellers visited the emirate, cementing its position as the fourth most visited city in the world.
Having won the bid to host the World Expo in 2020 – during which His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has promised to “astonish the world” – Dubai is building on that declaration by pursuing its ambition to become The World’s Most Visited City.
Shopping in Dubai is not just about making purchases, it is also about amazing leisure and cultural experiences. Think bartering for silk in a historic souq, picking up hand-crafted trinkets from a local market, meeting a colony of king penguins or coming face to face with one of the world’s largest crocodiles.
Dining in Dubai is not just about filling your stomach, it is about the pleasure of sampling cuisines from the 200 nationalities at home in the city. As a culinary capital – not only regionally but increasingly also globally – Dubai has long caught the attention of Michelin-starred chefs and is home to some of the best taste delights in the world – flavours that can be savoured in plush five-star hotels, in casual cafés or simple roadside eateries. While for the night owl, Dubai is about enjoying some of the hottest, trendiest and most creative nightspots imaginable in a city that never sleeps.
For the sporty type and adventure seeker, Dubai is about sand boarding down a 300ft sand dune, camping in the desert, deep-sea fishing, skydiving above Palm Jumeirah and playing polo while riding a camel. It’s about experiencing the great outdoors while hiking in the magnificent Hajar Mountains in Hatta, just a short drive out of the city, where you can also mountain bike along breath-taking trails or kayak in freshwater lakes at sunrise.
For culture vultures, Dubai is a city that’s rich in heritage and increasingly making its mark on the world stage. Looking ahead, a number of culture-focused projects are in the pipeline that will greatly enhance Dubai’s offering in this area. For example, plans are afoot to enhance the neighbourhoods along the shores of Dubai Creek as part of the Dubai Historic District project. Focused on the city’s oldest districts of Shindagha, Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira, this initiative will offer visitors a fascinating view of Dubai’s history and heritage, particularly around trade, crafts and pearling, complementing existing cultural attractions such as the recently opened Etihad Museum and Saruq Al Hadid Archaeological Museum.
Covering the genres of art, film, literature, music and comedy, Dubai hosts dedicated festivals and events, all combining to create an exciting year-round calendar with something for everyone – be it concerts by chart toppers such as John Legend, Justin Bieber and Sting, talks and book signing sessions by best-selling authors at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, gallery exhibitions displaying works by artists from across the world during Art Dubai, or world movie premiers during Dubai International Film Festival.
Throughout the year, city-wide festivals add to the fun, ranging from the legendary Dubai Shopping Festival, which celebrated its 22nd year in January 2017, and the annual season-long Dubai Summer Surprises, to the hugely successful Dubai Food Festival, which has grown in stature and variety since its first edition in 2014.
For visitors travelling with kids, Dubai is focused on becoming the world’s premier family destination, continually adding to its portfolio of attractions and events for all ages. In fact, few cities can rival the variety and quality of Dubai’s offering in this regard. Attractions include the Middle East’s largest indoor ski dome, world-class water parks, beach clubs and aquariums, four brand new theme parks, indoor amusement arcades and play centres, outdoor activities, games and sports, and countless family-friendly resorts and restaurants.
2016 saw the opening of a number of mega-attractions. Dubai Parks and Resorts is the region’s largest integrated theme park destination, comprising three parks as well as a water park, all within walking distance. Motiongate Dubai brings to life some of Hollywood’s most beloved movies and characters, Bollywood Parks Dubai is the first theme park based on the sights and sounds of Bollywood, while Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park feature 15,000 Lego models and more than 60 million Lego bricks. Also launched in 2016, IMG Worlds of Adventure comprises four themed zones – Cartoon Network, Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure, MARVEL and IMG Boulevard – and is officially the world’s largest indoor theme park.
It’s upon these propositions – Family, Events, Art, Heritage, Gastronomy and Nightlife, Shopping, Beach and Marine Life, Outdoor Adventure – as well as Dubai’s winning formula as a global business hub and its winning hotels and spas, that Dubai Tourism is confidently able to base its tourism ambitions. And with the number of international overnight visitors increasing year after year, the pace has been set.
To host this growing number of guests, Dubai’s hotel portfolio has also been expanding and diversifying, and in 2016 the city passed the significant milestone of 100,000 hotel rooms, spanning all types of accommodation, from simple guesthouses to five-star city, beach and desert resorts. Dubai’s accommodation portfolio is impressive, with hotel companies such as home-grown Jumeirah Group and Emaar Hospitality setting the global standards for luxury and service – and it’s a service-focused ethos adopted by all hotels across the board.
Where else in the world can you enjoy a 24-carat-gold facial in an award-winning spa, swim with dolphins, dine on cuisine cooked up by Michelin-starred chefs, feed sharks and watch a world-class act on the beach at midnight – all without leaving your hotel resort? The answer is a resounding “Only in Dubai!”
Dubai is a city where the impossible is possible, where you cannot help but be impressed, awe-struck and mesmerised. It’s where holiday dreams come true and where remarkable memories are made that last a lifetime.