Dubai is one of the seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates. It lies on the north-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Dubai is the second largest emirate after Abu Dhabi and covers 2590 sq kms. It has a natural harbour and is divided by the Dubai Creek. The ruler, HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum succeeded his father, one of the founding members of the UAE, in 1990. The elder was sufficiently savvy to persuade the British shipping line between Britain and India to make Dubai their main port of call during the 1940s.
There have been problems over the years small and large but the marriage in 1999 of the crown prince of Dubai with the daughter of Abu Dhabi's sovereign brought the two emirates together, publicly and privately. These days, Dubai is host to international tennis, horseracing, racing car and golf championships.
Shopping stopovers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok were the norm in the 20th century, but that traffic may well belong to the thriving city of Dubai in the 21st.
The ultramodern city is clean, safe, dynamic and reeking of capitalism. There is plenty to occupy the tourist Al Fahidi Street is the heart of Bur Dubai souk excellent for shopping. There are souks scattered right across Dubai, the most popular selling gold. You really need to bargain and haggle to get the best price, and vendors expect it of you.
Mall of the Emirates on Sheikh Zayed Road is in an area of intense development. It’s 6.5 million square feet with three levels of more than 400 themed retail precincts. There is a fourteen screen cinema complex and a two level Magic Planet family entertainment complex with indoor rollercoasters and simulators.
Al Nasr Leisureland offers a variety of sports including ice skating, bowling, swimming and an amusement park for children. There is a small but varied zoo, camels and horse racing tracks, hot air ballooning and a good choice of golf courses.
Just because it's in the middle of the desert doesn't mean you can't snow ski in Dubai! Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort where you can ski, snowboard and toboggan or just play year round in -1°C which drop to -8°C overnight.
Ski Dubai has five runs of varying difficulty, height and steepness. The longest is 400 metres with a fall of over 60 metres. They have plenty of appropriate clothing for you and there are themed restaurants at mid-station St Moritz Café and Avalanche Café.
Burj Dubai's goal is to be the world's highest building and to embody the world's highest aspirations. It is proof of Dubai transforming itself from a regional centre to a global one.
Those who live there lack for nothing. Burj has fine restaurants, a resident lounge, four pools, recreation area, 15,000 square metres of fitness area, tai chi, yoga and meditation, observation platform, library, cigar club and merchants.
Something different to do in Dubai is wadi bashing. Wadis are dry riverbeds which follow the course of seasonal streams and rivers through valleys carved by flood waters. The tough and challenging wadi bashing is done in a 4WD through vast areas of wilderness, mountains and desert.
It is advised to have an experienced wadi driver first time out, particularly for desert stretches. Tyre inflation is important, and as it is very easy to get lost, a compass is very handy.
As its name suggests, the Dhow Palace Hotel is based on tradition. History shows the only way to cross the Gulf was by dhow, and that has not changed. While being steeped in old Arabic ways, the 282 room hotel is comfortable and luxurious. It's close to the World Trade Centre and the Business District of Dubai.
Docklands offers 24-hour dining. It even has a midnight menu. Its wooden décor gives the ambience of a sailing dhow.
Aansan is for authentic Indian dining curries, breads, kebabs from a charcoal clay oven, traditional desserts and other delicacies are served in a courtyard designed in traditional Indian colours.
Anchor Café in the hotel lobby serves drinks, sandwiches, pastries and cakes.
Queens Quays bar lounge is for exotic cocktails, wine, spirits and has a wide range of international beers.
While Dubai is a Muslim country, westerners don't need to conform to dress codes, but it is a good idea to avoid revealing clothing.