Dubai: A Safe and Fascinating Middle East Destination

krstin-duvoll-sunset-dubaiPicture yourself in my shoes: perched atop a huge sand dune outside Dubai, we take in a spectacular sunset over the Arabian Peninsula. We fantasize the arrival of Lawrence of Arabia on horseback, riding over a sand dune in our direction, hailing us as nomadic Bedouins. An overnight “glamping” experience actually might have given us a 21st-Century version of the desert-dweller Bedouin life. Ah, maybe next time.

My two-day visit was not nearly long enough to fully experience the City of Gold. Many may dismiss Dubai as just a lot of glamorous shopping, and indeed it has plenty of that, but this city is so much more. It is a visual, architectural and culinary dreamscape.

Through the windows of my room at The Address Dubai Mall Hotel, I was captivated by the breathtaking beauty of all the majestic skyscrapers. Just before dining at the exquisite Palace Downtown Hotel, we took in the magical fountain display set against the new Opera House. The illuminated, dancing waters were created by WET Design, the same team that created the iconic fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Their Dubai water display is the largest choreographed fountain in the world, with geysers rising 500 feet into the air, lit by 6,600 lights. The $218 million display has as a backdrop the famous Burj Khalifa hotel, sparkling like a trillion Swarovski crystals. Beyond spectacular.

You may have seen actor Tom Cruise running up and down the side of the Burj Khalifa Hotel in the “Mission: Impossible” movie, “Ghost Protocol.” It is the tallest structure in the world at 2,717 feet, and Cruise actually did those stunts himself – secured by cables, yes, but still dangling outside the Burj at dizzying heights.

For the culinary arts, Dubai has the finest of chefs, and we just couldn’t get enough of it: authentic local cuisine prepared to perfection, and every restaurant willing and able to accommodate your dietary needs.

We ventured with our tour guide to both sides of Dubai Creek to visit the old souks. This is where we felt the real life and traditions of old Dubai. A souk is a marketplace or bazaar, and we walked the Spice Souk, Gold Souk and Textile Souk. I got caught up in the impulsive “feeding” frenzy but wasn’t disappointed with my jewelry purchase from Ashish of Emirates Diamonds, located in the old Gold Souk. The Spice Souk has charm, and the fragrances are intoxicating.

I didn’t know what to expect of Dubai when I boarded my Air Emirates flight (in my opinion, one of the world’s finest airlines). I learned that it is one of the safest places in the Middle East for Americans to visit, and by hiring a professional tour company (Arabian Adventures), I left this multi-cultural city with a strong desire to return and see what I missed in my all-too-brief visit.

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