The progressive Middle East has a face: the glittering skyline of Dubai. Whereas Oil was once kind of the Dubai desert, the economy has shifted to a western inspired model. This new Dubai is fueled instead by tourism, free trade and business, all helped by a high profile construction industry that has given the city a distinct skyline. Tourists are attracted by a combination of this rich modern architecture, historical cultural buildings and a plethora of shopping malls stocking luxury items at competitive prices. With these elements in combination, Dubai holidays became the 8th most popular by 2007. Dubai is hoping to attract 15 million tourists daily by 2015 and in order to cope with the ever increasing demand placed upon it, it has been expanding its airports.
The new Maktoum Terminal at Dubai International Airport was due to be opened in March 2011, but the date has slipped by ‘a matter of months’. Government funds have been pumped into the already impressive Airport, with a capacity goal of 160 million travellers in the far off future. Dubai’s aviation goals aren’t merely about getting tourists into their own city, as important as tourism is to the local economy. Dubai sits in a privileged position as a gateway between the continents and access point for the increasingly open Middle East. Europeans on journeys heading to Maldives holidays pass through Dubai, a lucrative opportunity that the city is increasingly interested in exploiting. Those simply passing through the airport will find extensive duty free shops aimed at their custom, whilst packages are being forged with specific stop-over periods. Dubai shows no hostility to foreigners, but it is worth familiarising yourself with some local standards as people have been caught out by them in the past (such as the widely publicised prohibition of public kissing).
Dubai is committed to making itself not merely a metropolitan shopping centre. You need only go halfway to the Maldives if recent (now remedied) scandals have put you off Weddings abroad. Honeymooners and general sun worshippers will be well served by a stay in the Dubai resorts. Here it is a sea of sand that stretches for miles, and there’s never been a friendlier way to experience a desert paradise in the Middle East.