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Dubai: A City That Breaks All Records

Dubai has become a popular tourist destination in recent years. The combination of 1001 Nights feel, luxury shopping malls, spectacular architecture, and local attractions like camel riding and sandboarding is a brand that sells. 

The harbour town Dubai has been a major trade hub for the Middle East since the early 1900s. But it wasn’t the bustling city it is today, and wouldn’t be for a long time to come. In 1950, the population of Dubai was only 20’000. The growth only really sped up after oil was discovered in 1966, fueling Dubai’s economy. Nowadays oil revenues account for less than 5% of Dubai’s GDP and tourism has become one of the core sectors for the emirate.

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Modern architecture in Dubai

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Fitting Burj Khalifa into a photo is quite a challenge …

The Burj Khalifa is probably Dubai’s main architectural attraction: it’s the tallest building in the world at almost 830 meters. Visitors can get a 360° view of Dubai on the 124th and 125th floor (456 meters) or, if you’re willing to pay a little extra, on the 148th floor (555 meters). A steady flow of visitors is transported up in elevators, through the observation decks that contain various photo opportunities and, of course, a souvenir shop, and down the elevators again. And a new record-breaking skyscraper for Dubai is already in the planning.

The entrance to Burj Khalifa is in the Dubai Mall, which is right next to the tower. The mall is one of the biggest in the world. It contains 1200 shops from both local and international brands, including of course all the luxury designers you can think of. Most visitors are foreign tourists boosting Dubai’s economy through their extended shopping sprees. It’s not only the shops that display wealth and luxury. The Dubai Mall houses an ice hockey rink (remember, Dubai is in the desert!), an eye-catching art display called the «Human Waterfalls», which occupies the entire height of the mall, and an aquarium stretching over three floors. You can see the biggest pool of the aqarium from the public area of the mall and admire the cages for shark encounters and yet another world record: the world’s largest acrylic glass pane …

Most of Dubai’s attractions were built in the past few decades. But one was there before all the others: the desert. A «desert safari» (it’s not quite as action-packed as it sounds) is a must for all visitors in Dubai. Dashing over the dunes in a four-wheel drive, catching a picture of the sun setting over the vast sand land, and having dinner at a desert camp are all part of the experience. The desert camp covers all possible cliches: camel rides, a belly dance performance, henna tattoos, dress-up in Arabic costumes, and lots of hummus of course (I’ll admit I like that last one!). At the same time, there’s something very cozy about the desert camp, sitting on cushions on the ground in the dim light of tents.

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