The earliest historical mention of Dubai occurred in the year 1095, and the first known Dubai settlement happened in 1799. Formal establishment of Dubai dates back to 1830, when a branch of the Bani Yas tribe from the Liwa Oasis, led by the Maktoum family, began ruling the Emirate. In 1894, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Hasher Al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, exempted foreign traders from taxes. This paved the way for Dubai’s development – with local merchants selling items like spices, pearls, fish, and dates. It wasn’t long before traders from India and Persia were attracted to Dubai, broadening the reach of this burgeoning trading empire.
Today, Dubai is a dynamic international business center, a top tourist destination, and a cosmopolitan place to live. Dubai is proud of its modern cities, rich history, and the Islamic traditions of Arabia. Dubai is a welcoming place for foreigners, with visitors free to follow their own religions. Drinking alcohol in hotels and licensed health and sports clubs is permitted for non-Muslims.
All of this makes Dubai an attractive travel destination. There’s a wide variety of luxury accommodations and tourist experiences available in Dubai for visitors of all ages. Resorts and hotels are found in three geographic areas: city, beach, and desert.
Top beach hotels and resorts include: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, Jebel Ali Hotel, Burj Al Arab, and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Of this group, our favorite is the Burj Al Arab.
The world’s only 7-star hotel, Burj Al Arab is a stunning sail-shaped 1,000-foot tall building. The hotel offers luxurious suites with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the coastline. It features a full-service spa and 6 restaurants. Decorated in warm colors and rich fabrics, each suite has panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf.
The Oyster Shell restaurant, featuring seafood specialties has an expansive glass wall looking into a huge indoor aquarium. Light snacks, whiskey tastings, and a selection of cigars are available at Juna Lounge.
Other amenities include:
- 202 spacious duplex suites ranging from 170 to 780 square meters
- Six award-winning signature restaurants
- World class conference and banqueting venues
- In-suite check-in & check-out
- Butler service around the clock
- Assawan Spa & Health Club
- Helicopter transfers and scenic tours
- Majlis Al Bahar exclusive private beach
- Unlimited access to Wild Wadi Waterpark
- Yacht charter
- Sinbad’s Kids Club
- Infinity pools
Some of the best luxury desert resorts in Dubai are: Al Maha Desert Resort, Desert Palm Dubai, and Bab Al Shams.
Al Maha is a luxurious oasis – a place of ancient mystery and wonder that was designed to resemble a Bedouin encampment. This award-winning hideaway offers an authentic taste of Arabia’s heritage, desert adventure, and matchless 5-star accommodations.
Enjoy your very own private swimming pool and wooden deck at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, overlooking the expansive Arabian desert. Indigenous Arabian wildlife can be viewed from the privacy of your temperature-controlled infinity pool or sun deck seating area. Participate in two different complimentary desert activities every day as part of the stay – designed to provide the greatest first-hand experiences of a lifetime.
Top city hotels in Dubai include: InterContinental, Armani Hotel Dubai, World Trade Centre Hotel, and Fairmont Dubai. The newest member of this group is the Armani Hotel.
Located at the iconic Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building, Armani Hotel Dubai is the world’s first hotel designed and developed by Giorgio Armani. The hotel reflects elegance, simplicity and sophisticated comfort that have come to define the Armani brand. Every detail in the hotel bears the Armani signature, including warm Italian-style hospitality, Eramosa stone floors, zebrawood panels, bespoke furnishings, and personally designed hotel amenities.
Sophisticated colors, clean lines, and unique textures blend together seamlessly with the tower’s stunning architecture and natural light to create an atmosphere of calm serenity where guests can retreat into a world of pure elegance.
With its own dedicated entrance to the tower, Armani Hotel Dubai occupies the Concourse Level to Floor 8 and Floors 38 and 39. Sweeping views of the city are unmatched!
The hotel features:
- 24 Armani Studio rooms
- 54 Armani Classic rooms
- 26 Armani Premiere rooms
- 4 Armani Premiere rooms with Balcony
- 26 Armani Suites
- 2 Armani Suites with Balcony
- 12 Armani Executive Suites
- 3 Armani Ambassador Suites
- 3 Armani Ambassador Suites with Balcony
- 5 Armani Signature Suites
- 1 Armani Dubai Suite
While in Dubai, don’t miss the world’s largest and most luxurious shopping destinations, Dubai Mall. Other venues and sites to see are: Dubai Festival City, Ski Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab Aquarium, and Jumeirah Mosque.
The Dubai Mall—the world’s largest shopping destination—hosts over 1,200 retail outlets, satisfying every desire: Electronics, books, arts and photography, music, and Arabic, bridal, lingerie, children’s fashions, and more beckon and enthrall shoppers from all over the world. Over 150 dining options—from fine dining to casual eateries—await shoppers at the Dubai Mall. Diverse cuisines from all over the world entice visitors with exotic delights.
Dubai Festival City is an entertainment mecca located in the heart of Dubai. Offering world-class shopping with prestigious retailers, it is another of Dubai’s finest and most sophisticated shopping destinations. The al-Badia Golf Club provides the utmost in leisure with an 18-hole championship golf course, various fine dining options, and lessons for all skill levels. The Festival City’s Entertainment complex includes a cinema complex, bowling, concerts and sporting events, and is home to the Festival Marina.
Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort, is a place to ski, snowboard, toboggan, and play in real snow, all year round. Encompassing 22,500 square metres, this resort offers runs to suit all skill levels—from beginner to expert. Ski Dubai is complete with a freestyle zone, private kids’ party rooms, resident penguins, and retail pro shop.
While in Dubai, visit the eighth wonder of the world, Palm Jumeirah. This artificial archipelago is shaped as a palm tree and extends into the Persian Gulf. The Palm Jumeirah includes villas, homes, hotels, apartments, beaches, restaurants, and retail outlets in an engineering marvel that is sure to astonish.
The Burj al-Arab Aquariums are a must-see for any visitor to Dubai. Three aquariums, totaling over 262,000 gallons, are home to species native to the Persian Gulf, including leopard sharks, green moray eels, black tip sharks, and humphead wrasse. The Burj al-Arab is also home to a turtle rehabilitation centre, as well as Al-Mahara, an underwater-themed restaurant with floor to ceiling aquarium views.
To learn more about Dubai’s religion and culture, visit Jumeirah Mosque, a spectacular example of modern Islamic architecture. Organized tours are open to the public and non-Muslims. Jumeirah Mosque is the most photographed mosque in the world, for obvious reasons, especially at night when it is softly lit.
Dubai is a world in and of itself—the finest hotels, restaurants, cultural, and entertainment facilities await visitors amongst magnificent, exotic natural beauty and stunning, ultra-modern architecture. This land, rich with history, culture, and mysterious appeal is a destination that will leave an indelible mark upon the hearts and minds of all who experience it.