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The sophisticated skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Driving past the exciting skyline of Dubai, what impresses you most is not the stunning architecture of the existing buildings you see here in the night, but the apparently endless numbers of cranes that suddenly appear at daybreak! Cranes being used to build more and more exciting buildings to add to those already there. This place is Happening!

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates or states, each with its own unique character, personality, and ruler. Among the seven, Dubai is unquestionably the hottest travel address.

Irrespective of the market prices for a barrel of oil, geologists predict the oil beneath Dubai will be gone within 50 years. The ruler, His Highness. Sheikh Maktoum, knowing oil’s days are numbered, set upon an ambitious plan to convert his Emirate into the world’s Number One travel destination. Everything will be in place long before the oil runs out.

What to say about Dubai? How about, “Like, WOW”. Or, if you were limited to only one word that truly describes the feeling you get walking down the streets of Dubai, that word would be SUPERLATIVE.

The architecture is fabulously futuristic and appealing, with one building surpassing the one next to it in some etheric desire to be "The Best in Show".

Dubai will ultimately have the World's largest amusement park, greater by far than anything Disney has yet built. Dubai will also have the finest golf course in the World; the tallest skyscraper; the largest shopping mall.

The Emir wants to make this place THE ULTIMATE vacation destination. It already has the World's only SEVEN star hotel, The Burj al Arab.

It is built to represent the full sail of a sailboat, blown out by the wind from the sea. You cannot see it during the daylight, but the entire building is covered by a gossamer screen of white Kefflar. At night, lights of different colors play off of it, synchronized to change with the fountains and fire torches at ground level.

The cross piece behind the "mast" is a restaurant which has, we are told, a very long waiting list for those wanting to dine there. They are most considerate of our "special needs" situation, however, and Nancy and I have reservations.

The view overlooks the ocean and the fabulous Palm Island Development, an entirely man- made island complex with some of the World's most expensive real estate. How expensive? The prices in the restaurant take your breath away- we wouldn't expect the properties to be any less so. Here is a peek at what you can consider before you purchase your villa.

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We have come to Dubai as the final port on a cruise that started in Singapore. The cruise line, Seabourne, has planned an Arabian Nights Experience for us. Whisked out of the city proper, we drive out to the desert some distance from the city itself for what turns out to be a most memorable celebration.

Scheherazade

Late one afternoon, we drove out of the city on a large motor coach, then transferred to a 4WD Mercedes Benz that immediately left the main road and headed across sand into the desert. After a thrill ride of bouncing over sand dunes that suddenly dropped away, leaving your stomach about 15 feet in the air above you, we arrived at a camp set with tents around a central square, complete with lots of food, and a small band.

There are camels available for those who wish to try a ride.

This particular camel is eyeing us, and you can almost read his mind: "Don't even think about getting that wheelchair up on my back!"

We don't! We are perfectly content to let others around us indulge. Besides, with me to push, who needs a camel?

Getting set up for a Scheherazade Experience in the middle of the desert

Here is the scene. The crowd mingled around, nibbling at exotic foods, riding camels, listening to a local band, and sand boarding.

At last, the sun set and darkness fell upon the land. Then, all was cleared away, torches were lit to illuminate the central square, and the band struck up appropriate music. A voluptuous belly dancer appeared. In a scene straight out of the Arabian Nights, the entertainer is a young Iranian woman who is reported to be the best belly dancer in the whole Middle East.

Here she is dancing with a lit candelabra balanced on her head, moving rapidly through a strenuously choreographed routine that would have earned her a "10" from all three judges on 'Dancing with the Stars'. A gust of wind from the desert blows out the candles, but does not tip the holder from its perch atop her head!

Then, she gyrates with this sharp sword balanced on her head, even going so far as to lay out on the carpet, then arising without once losing the balance of the blade on her head.

Interestingly enough, there is nothing prurient, gross, or demeaning about her performance. She is a true and gifted professional, displaying the same level of skill as you would expect of an Olympic athlete.

Her performance was extraordinary- “Like, WOW”. Or, if you were limited to only one word that truly describes watching her, that word would be SUPERLATIVE.

It set the mood for thinking about Scheherazade, the legendary Persian queen- storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights- including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

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Dubai really is a world class city, with much more to come. What is not already there is being bought and constructed. One of the existing resources: The city is cut in half by the Creek River, allowing the use of ancient dhows, or shallow draft boats.

These lovely vessels provide excellent food service on gently, soothing, cool river excursions- a most pleasant way to spend an evening. While not especially wheelchair accessible, there are always plenty of muscular deck hands to help us aboard.

We enjoy a wonderful meal- at a fraction of the cost at the Burj! There is an enormous amount of activity along the river, but we particularly enjoy the play of lights from the city on the water.

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Whatever is your personal preference, Dubai is about shopping and spending money. You name it, you can buy it here- especially jewelry, and more particularly- GOLD.

Gold and semi-precious jewelry items are plentiful in Dubai

The World-wide recession hit this area hard, but what was already in place is spectacular. The world’s only 7 star hotel is in Dubai. The world’s only 6 star hotel is in Dubai. The world’s richest horse race is in Dubai. Soon, the world’s largest shopping mall, the world’s fines golf course, and the world’s greatest amusement park are all in Dubai.

Even at the airport, there are a gazillion shops of top quality. This is a fun place to visit, and we are sorry to leave!

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Have you checked the most important parts of our website? We urge you to go to the Chapter on Essential Plans. Then, whether they apply to you or not, read the Chapters Airlines, Cruises, Hotels, Taxis, Tours. Finally, be sure you read the Chapter Items to Take. The information in these chapters will make all the difference in the success of your trip.