The most memorable travel experiences are those which take us out of our comfort zones and throw us into new worlds. The experience of another culture and a different way of life is powerful to say the least. Travel allows us to see things through new lenses, to take in sights and sounds with heightened awareness and to understand culture and civilisation in new and exciting ways. Dubai holidays are a perfect chance to experience the exotic otherness of a foreign culture. From the tallest building in the world to the humble Bedouin camps nestled under a desert sky, Dubai is most remarkable in its extremes.
Half the population of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates, are actually Indian or of Indian descent. With a healthy population of other foreign workers and large groups of tourists each year, the total population of indigenous Emiratis in Dubai totals less than 20%. With such a mix of people, Dubai's culture incorporates multiple religions, culinary traditions and languages with little to no conflict: the crime rate throughout the Emirate is virtually zero.
While the economy in Dubai was originally built on oil and natural gas, tourism, trade and real estate are now the top three drivers of this modern economic powerhouse. With some of the most fantastical malls, resorts and leisure facilities in the world, Dubai is focused on providing visitors and residents alike a once in a lifetime experience of the finer things in life.
In 1968 there were reportedly only 13 cars in the entire city. In 1991 there was one lone skyscraper. Today the traffic congestion in Dubai is so overwhelming that double decker roads are common place. There is a comprehensive public transit system that was built in only 2 years and there are now over 400 skyscrapers that compose the magnificent and world-class skyline of the city.
In Dubai's on-going quest to assert itself as the biggest and the best destination for shopping and all things luxurious, artisans in the Emirate created the longest gold chain ever made. The record breaking piece of jewellery was made for the Dubai shopping festival in 1999, boasted an impressive 22 carats and spanned four kilometres in length.
One of the most interesting things about Dubai is not the overwhelming glitz and glam on offer, but the penetrating call to prayer that comes through the speakers five times a day. It is in these moments when the disparity between merchandise and Mecca becomes crystallized and the diverse culture of this fascinating place is most apparent. Hotel rooms throughout the city, luxurious and western-inspired as they may be, still feature signs pointing toward Mecca.
This remarkable city is more than meets the eye. While Dubai likes to put it all out there in many respects, the most interesting elements of the city are experienced in the quiet moments, the calls to prayer, the winds sweeping across the desert and the observation of peaceful multi-culturalism in the Middle East. If you get the chance for a Dubai holiday this year, be sure to take advantage of it and see these remarkable sights for yourself.