welcome to dubai the world largest playground

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Dubai was founded in 1833 when the Bani Yas tribe, lead by the Maktoum Family, settled at the mouth of what is currently known as Dubai Creek.  Soon Dubai became a popular spot for fishing, sea trade, and pearl diving.  By the early 1900’s Dubai had become a successful port.  From there, the history of Dubai sounds more like a Cinderella Story, going from rags to riches.

The Maktoum Family (the Ruling Family of Dubai) is well-known for their foresight and innovativeness of making Dubai what it is today, and in the creation what it will be in the next 10-12 years.  This started in the 1950’s with the costly decision to dredge the creek by its Ruler at the time, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.  This visionary decision, lead to the expansion of Dubai’s cargo handling capabilities, making it one of the Region’s major trading ports.  In the 1960’s, oil was discovered, and Sheikh Rashid decided to reinvest money made from its oil production back into the infrastructure of Dubai.  Focus was on the development of schools, roads, hospitals, a modern telecommunications network, and Jebel Ali (the largest man-made harbor in the world).  With the discovery and production of oil, came a large influx of foreign workers.  Through cultural diversity, the Sheikh also focused on making expatriates feel welcome in the area, in addition to making Dubai a tax-free zone.  (Expatriates now make up over 80% of the Dubai population.)   With his visionary leadership, Sheikh Rashid found a winning combination. The result was the creation of one of top Business and Tourist Hubs of the Gulf Region.  In 1971 – 1972, after gaining independence from Great Britain, Dubai joined in with Abu Dhabi and the 6 other states to form a federation of the United Arab Emirates, which became the one of the richest countries in the world.

In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the Ruling Family, knowing that there was a limit to the oil reserves, put its sites on making Dubai an international tourist and financial center to be reckoned with.  With further work on developing tourist attractions and infrastructure, these strategic decisions have brought about a major economic boom in the city that has already began to pay off handsomely.  In 1994, construction started for the development of Burj Al Arab, a unique and iconic structure that has become the symbol of Dubai.  In the shape of a sail of the “Dhow”, a traditional Arabic Style boat used to transport goods in the Arabian Gulf, the Burj Al Arab  opened its doors in December of 1999 to become the only 7 Star Hotel in the World.  The architecture of the Burj Al Arab is not only innovative and unique in shape, but the hotel stands on a man-made island developed to support the structure while keeping the eco-system of the Gulf intact.

The Ruling Family then took its creative visionary leadership to the highest level, when they formed plans to increase the Dubai Coastline and its waterfront property in a very unusual way, with the development of The Palms Trilogy (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira, known as the 8th Wonder of the World), and The World Islands, bringing with it outside investors.  When it was first announced, many thought it impossible for the vision to become reality, but with the opening of the Palm Jumeirah, and the completion of The World Islands’ foundational infrastructure, the Royal Family proved that their creative vision was sound.

The first chapter in the Palm Trilogy, Palm Jumeirah was completed in 2007.  The Palm Jumeirah houses many deluxe apartments and villas, in addition to the Trump Dubai Hotel and Tower.  Opening in October 2008 on the Palm Jumeirah is the long awaited Atlantis Hotel which will include the Aquaventure Water Park and many other water venues and attractions on its grounds.  The second Palm, Palm Jebel Ali is slated for completion in 2009, and the final Palm of the Trilogy, the Palm Deira is scheduled for completion in 2020.  Upon its completion, Palm Deira will become the largest man-made island in the world.

Making The World Islands a reality was a true challenge as there many of what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles that were faced.  First was the amount of sand that was required for the project.  One would think this not a problem as Dubai sits on the edge of the desert; however, this type of sand is not suitable to be used as a supportable foundation. Much of the required sand that was used needed to be shipped in.  Special equipment was used to blow the sand in the exact locations to create the structure of the world with its 7 continents.  To create the largest amount of waterfront property possible, small islands were created and lumped together to develop the larger structures of the continents.  Second was the issue of the breakwater.  How could a breakwater be developed that would protect the real estate situated on the islands without obstructing its view?  A tiered breakwater was developed and tested, and after much trial and error in a monitored environment, a successful design was created.  Lastly, there was the issue of ensuring that the water throughout the entire design was kept in constant motion.  Stagnant water would attract bacteria and algae that would bring with it, a stench that would deter from the area’s desirability.  Much thought and preparation was needed to avoid this dilemma, and even then, many adjustments were made to the plan after repeated tests were conducted on the currents and water flow throughout The World Islands.  This process was very time-consuming, but in early 2008, the foundational infrastructure was completed, and the next stage in the development consisting of the real estate development of hotels and housing along with its supportive infrastructure got underway.

Another innovative idea created in the middle of the desert land of Dubai is Ski Dubai, the first Indoor Ski Resort in the Middle East.  Located in the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai houses 22, 500 square metres and 5 runs with varying degrees of difficulty, including a black run.  Visitors can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, or just building an old fashioned snowman in its winter playground.

When one speaks of Dubai, the word Dubai it is synonymous with such terms as “Biggest”, “Tallest”, and “One and Only”.  Scheduled to open in June 2009 is the Burj Dubai, with approximately 141 floors and standing close to 700 metres high, it will be the tallest building in the world.  The Hydropolis, an underwater luxury hotel located 66 feet below the Persian Gulf’s surface is scheduled to open in 2009.  In 2010, the first major phase of Dubailand, a multi-themed amusement park is targeted for opening with Universal Studios Dubai, Ernie Els Golf Course, Formula 1 Theme Park, Dubai Outlet City, Plantation World, and the Global Village.  Dubai land will also house Legoland Dubai, Marvel Entertainment Park, Tiger Woods Championship Golf Course, Six Flags Dubailand, Aqua Dunya Water Park, Hit Entertainment Park, and City of Arabia with one of the largest shopping malls in the world, all scheduled for completion by 2012.  The second phase of Dubail and which will consist of countless other projects and expansions is targeted for completion by 2020.  When complete, it is estimated that Dubailand will be 20 % larger than DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida.

Dubai is also known as a “Shopper’s Paradise” with over 30 major Shopping Malls, and counting.  It will soon house some of the largest Shopping Malls in the world.  In addition to the malls, there are many traditional style souks for visitors to enjoy.  Visitors can enjoy the Gold and Spice Souks, the Textile Souk, and if one is looking for the best of both worlds, Madinat Jumeirah offers posh designer shops in the traditional look and design of a Souk Style setting”.

Dubai has so much to offer its visitors, with its many first-class hotels and resorts to choose from.  In addition, it is home to many of the major sporting events, such as:  The Dubai Desert Classic, a major stop on the PGA Tour; The Dubai Open Tennis Tournament; and The Dubai World Cup, known as the Richest Horse Race in the World; all of which attract hundreds of thousands of people each year.  With its miles of immaculate white sandy beaches, and the vast array of experiences and attractions that Dubai has to offer, visitors will not be short of things to make them fall in love with this beautiful playground of a city.

In addition to all the fine things Dubai has to offer, visitors can feel safe in the city of Dubai.  Voted the safest holiday destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveller magazine in 2003, Dubai has a reputation of being one of the safest cities in the world.  For those living in Dubai, they will find that Dubai is virtually crime-free compared to other places in the world.

With its visionary leadership, and fairy-tale growth story, Dubai Tourism is expected to grow at a 10% rate each year, and this is a conservative estimate.  Under its present plan, Dubai should reach the Number 1 spot as the World’s Top Tourist Destination by 2020.  Dubai is a must-see for everyone!

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