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Dubai City, in the United Arab Emirates: from a finishing village to international modern hub, from desert to luxurious buildings. It is not a surprise that it became a city that attracts thousands of people, both visitors and expatriates. But Dubai's personality is far beyond what you see on the surface of its glamour. Mixing traditional roots and an interesting story, this powerful city is an invitation to daring!
Tracing the history of Dubai back to early times is not an easy task. It is known that around 2500 BC the nomadic cattle herders were the first to settle there and that during the 5th century the Jumeirah area was a caravan stop.
Mentions of Dubai as we know it appeared for the first time in 1095 in the Book of Geography, written by Abu Abudullah Al Bakri.
What is the story of Dubai?
Dubai established as a fishing village, boat building and pearl diving hub, and there are records that it was already like that since at least the XVI century. It was also an area for commerce, and many traders would sell textile, spices, and gold - it was the beginning of the souks.
But in 1793 when the Bani Yas tribe settled political power in Abu Dhabi, Dubai became dependant of it and by 1800 it was a walled city. Yet businesses started to grow when Britain negotiated with local rulers the maritime routes to be open. It was only in 1833 that Dubai's independence would come, when Maktoum bin Butti settled his people where today is Dubai Creek.
In be beginning of the 1900's the city still was relying a lot on its primary businesses of two centuries ago, even though Dubai had begun to grow. The Maktoum family was responsible for granting tax exemption to expatriates and Dubai indeed became an interesting business hub. But when artificial pearls where invented in the 50s by the Japanese, Dubai's economy felt the consequences - fortunately not for too long.
Just a couple of years later, in 1966, oil would come to change the game for Dubai. Now with powerful resources Dubai began an ambitious development plan under the control of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum - the Al Maktoum dinasty still rules Dubai. From a finishing village, Dubai was transformed into a modern metropolis. Today Dubai is a gem in the Middle East and one of the richest cities in the world.
Burj Khalifa: Dubai is symbol of opulence and wealth, and just as quality is important, so are numbers and records. This elegant hotel is not only one of the more elegant in the world as it is the tallest (829.8- meter-tall). From the 124th floor, visitors can observe the entire city in 360 degrees.
Bastakiya: This is one of the oldest areas of the city. In the past it was the location of the luxurious residences of Persian traders of pearls and fabrics, but today it is a vibrant neighbourhood, with cafes, art galleries, and shops.
Jumeirah Mosque: This impressive construction is amongst the most important in Dubai city. It can hold up to 1200 people and was built entirely in white stone.
Dubai Creek: It is a canal that crosses the city and it is a short trip invitation to the past. Small boats make the journey between the ports but you can also opt for the longer trips on one of the larger boats that offer elegant dinners.
Dubai Museum: It is where Dubai started and great to understand its story. The museum is located in the Al Fahidi fort, a building from 1787 that was designed to protect the city from pirates. Interestingly, it also offers a gallery with archaeological excavations that date back to 3 thousand years ago.
Dubai Mall: Either you are or not interested in malls, Dubai Mall is not just a shopping mall, it is the largest in the world and the most visited. You can find all kinds of stores there, as well as a Gold Market. It is the home of the Dubai Aquarium, a gigantic aquarium that has 33.000 marine animals and 400 sharks. The Underwater Zoo complements the experience (85 other species of animals).Enjoy the largest Ice skating rink, Kidzania, SEGA's indoor themed park, Galeries Lafayette department store, and much more.
Palm Jumeirah: It is the iconic island in the shape of a palm tree. The 31 km square island is a touristic spot and you most probably have already seen iconic pictures of visitors jumping on parachute and admiring the stunning view from above. You can do the same or try a helicopter tour. Or simply relax by enjoying one of the many activities at the Kite beach, such as volleyball, kite surfing and paddle boarding.
Burj al Arab: This hotel is one of the architectural landmarks of Dubai and redefines all luxury parameters. The lobby has pillars covered with 24-carat gold leaf and a fountain that offers water choreography through optical fibres. Make a reservation at one of its restaurants and enjoy the fabulous view.
Dubai Marina: This district offers a peaceful atmosphere and a beautiful waterfront view. Enjoy its several cafes and restaurants specialized in many international cuisines.
A safari in the desert: An experience in the desert with dinner at a Bedouin camp is one of the visitors' favourite activities in Dubai city. Spare 6h of your time but it is worth it. Enjoy sand boarding, dress in typical costumes, get a henna tattoo and have a barbecue dinner during a show of typical dances.