BY EDWINA STORIE
Dubai’s culture and size is rapidly expanding as it becomes a city of the future.
When you stand atop the Burj Khalifa looking down on Dubai, you can’t help but feel it looks slightly post-apocalyptic. With nearly as many cranes as there are buildings hovering over the city, Dubai is constructing its futuristic identify from the ground up. The city is only 40 years old, and unlike others with centuries of history that can be seen in the diversity of its architecture, Dubai’s skyline towers uniformly above the ground. It is aiming to stand above the rest both literally and metaphorically.
Dubai is a city of the future preparing for the future. It is determined to be the leader of everything, and with the world’s largest aquarium inside the world’s largest shopping mall attached to the world’s tallest building, it’s certainly winning in size.
It is currently building the world’s largest airport in anticipation of hosting a capacity of 160 million passengers a year by 2035. These passengers may well visit the world’s largest theme park Dubailand, which is planned to feature life-size recreations of famous international sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Anticipating the ways of the future, Dubailand will feature a solar-powered site called Sustainable City. Scheduled for completion in 2016, the community will be 70 per cent green space and organic farms and host a university centralised on environmental sciences. But while it has a futuristic feel, its identity is complex, offering diverse experiences. Dubai has three prominent sides to it – its cultural side, its party side and its relaxing side.
The Party Side
Dubai is a city of style and swagger, where Ferraris line the streets and everything is done with exorbitance. It certainly knows how to wow guests and clients with its elaborate aesthetics and indulgent culture. Due to the laws restricting drinking to hotels, the party scene is hosted by its glamorous beachfront venues. Take guests to The Palm island on a Friday and dance the night away at Barasti bar by the pool of Westin Mina Seyahi. To do all that partying, an appropriate outfit will be required, and if you don’t find it at Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world – then you never will. The city attracts world renowned chefs, so visiting signature restaurants allow clients to experience Dubai in exactly the way it seeks to define itself – having the best of the world. Try Nobu at Atlantis on The Palm for its Japanese cuisine with South American influences by famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The Westin hosts one of the top 20 bars in the world and is a great way to finish the weekend dancing by the pool or mingling under the cabanas with Sunday sundowner cocktails.
The Cultural Side
While Dubai is strongly influenced by international culture, it works to preserve its heritage through initiatives such as the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Here, guests can experience traditional Arabian lifestyle and food. Groups sit on Persian rugs amid a heritage-style house for a traditional Emirati breakfast of vermicelli with egg balaleet and syrup-soaked doughy balls of gaymat, while learning about the Emirati culture from Dubai locals. Have an Arabic lesson before testing your bargaining skills at the wonderfully vibrant gold, spice and textiles souks. Explore the heart of the desert on a safari through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Let the spines of the dunes lead your group by camel to a soiree under Bedu tents. Lounge on cushions, have your hands painted with intricate henna design, enjoy an aromatic shisha pipe, and watch enchanting belly dancers.
The Relaxing Side
Luxury is one element Dubai doesn’t need a world record to prove its credibility. With so many beachfront resorts, each with signature treatments and products, Dubai has become a spa incentive destination. The elaborate hotels deliver the very best of service – from Jumeirah Emirates Towers’ Chopard ladies-only floor designed for executive women featuring personal flowers, cosmetics fridge and in-suite yoga facilities, to The Armani Spa in the Armani Hotel. A uniquely Middle Eastern experience can be enjoyed at the Jumeirah Hotels with a traditional hammam treatment that combines the humidity, mud, heat, aromatherapy and massage techniques of the Arabian and Turkish regions.
And as Dubai developes rapidly in both size and culture, its identity and offerings will continue to diversify.