Dubai is one of the seven states which make up the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has a long-standing trading tradition that has brought visitors from throughout the Middle East and neighbouring regions. Today, Dubai plays host to an increasing number of visitors from the West and the Far East. The city attracts travellers seeking something new and different, offering international facilities combined with the adventure of the Middle East, and exotic destination with a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Dubai is also the undisputed "sports capital of the Middle East", hosting world class international events that attract some of the biggest names in their respective sports, whether in golf, tennis, horse racing, rallying powerboating, rugby, or sailing.
Historically speaking Dubai began as a small fishing settlement. Around 1830 the settlement was taken over by a branch of the Bani Yas tribe from the Liwa Oasis led by the Maktoum family who still rule the Emirate today. The Burj al Arab is an impressive hotel which is rated as 7 stars and is built on a man made island. It can be seen as you enter the city from the West and its unmistakable palm tree like shape cannot be missed. Another place to visit is the gold souq (bazaar) where you can see storefronts lined up one after the other with gold jewelry everywhere.
Four wheeling on the dunes and "wadi bashing" are some other things vistors can enjoy. These activites involve driving up huge sand dunes and through springs called "wadis" in 4WD vehicles, mainly Toyota Land Cruisers. It is a great way to experience the desert from within the comfort of a luxury vehicle. You can even opt to spend the night in traditional bedouin tents in the desert. But becareful when they serve you a hot cup of tea it is full of sugar also boiled with sugar.
Nightlife in Dubai has improved dramatically over the years, with bars and restaurants open to the public in many of the hotels; each speciaslising (Churchills in City Centre Hotel for example offers a traditional English feel) on a different theme with greater or lesser success. But beware, although Dubai is one of the few Emerates that allow the sale of alcohol it is illegal to carry alcohol on the street unless you have a lisence to do so.
Taxi's are a cheap and effective way to get around the city. There are two types: City sponcered Cabs (dusty yellow) and private hire cabs (any shape or colour). If you decide to get into a private cab, haggle the price before closing the door.
Air-conditioning is everywhere and turned up high; you may want to carry a jumper with you when you go shopping in a mall.
The city is geared towards tourism and it offers a large number of activites and sights. The rules are quite relaxed and it is probably the best and most clean city to visit in the Middle East.