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Thursday, June 5, 2008
Dubai is certainly the most ostentatious of the seven city-states of the United Arab Emirates. The once tranquil place of coral and gypsum houses built by Persian traders and the palm-frond houses of the Bedouin is now a place of extravagant skyscrapers.

Dubai is over-the-top. It offers seven-star hotels, indoor snow skiing and artificial, palm tree-shaped islands. It has sun, sand, fabulous shopping and an award-winning international airline. If they run out of coastline for new hotels they just build vast artificial islands with brand new beachfronts. It's breathtaking.

The latest project for the world's fastest growing city is truly unbelievable. Dubailand is still at the development stage, but Getaway had a sneak preview of what will be one of the world's biggest and best entertainment complexes.

When completed, Dubailand will be twice the size of Disneyworld in Florida. Whatever takes your fancy, it will be there: a sports city; space world; giant water park; snow dome; and a dinosaur world with one hundred animatronic creatures. Meanwhile, Universal Studios and Dreamworks will both have theme parks there, alongside the hotels and restaurants!

Dubailand is the vision of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He wanted activities and accommodation to appeal to the widest audience of tourists, covering all age groups and nationalities. The goal is to attract 15 million tourists to Dubai by 2010.

Construction has been divided into four phases. When completed, there will be six themed worlds with more than 200 individual projects. There will be state-of-the-art sporting facilities, theme parks, eco-tourism resorts, museums, galleries, spas, recreational venues and wonderful shopping outlets.

The Al Sahra Desert Resort, set over 4 million square yards of sand dunes, was the first attraction to be completed. It opened with 'Jumana — Secret of the Desert', the only permanent open-air extravaganza in the Middle East. It focuses on eco-tourism and Arab culture and as far as being spectacular, it's right up there with Las Vegas. It is made up of 12 acts and has sound, water, laser, video projection, pyrotechnics and a cast of 55 dancers and acrobats.

The main entertainment complex has a 2500-seat amphitheatre.

Tourists can experience desert life with camel and donkey rides, and even learn to belly dance. At night, there are carpet weaving demonstrations, hands-on pottery classes and loads of other entertainment.

Al Sahra has restaurants and coffee shops, a traditional souk with arts and crafts, indigenous regional flora and fauna in oasis landscape, luxury tented lodges and a Caravanserai boutique hotel. There's even a Bedouin-style working farm with animals, a date plantation, camel farm and stables.


The north-east of the United Arab Emirates.


Jumana — Secret of the Desert tickets at Al Sahra Resort are around $90 per person and $163 with dinner. It can be booked through Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre.

Emirates has flights to Dubai.

Fares from:

  • Perth $2673
  • Melbourne $2982
  • Brisbane $2992
  • Sydney $3000
  • Adelaide $3585
  • Darwin $4007

Valid for sales and ticketing until April 30, 2010. Conditions apply.

Prices correct at June 5, 2008.

For further information

Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre
Suite 2, 644 Botany Road
Alexandria NSW 2015
Ph: (02) 9313 4633 or 1300 661 666
Fax: (02) 9313 4475

Al Sahra Desert Resort
PO Box 233
Ph: +971 4 367 9500
Fax: +971 4 367 9501

Ph: 1300 303 777

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