While Dubai grew on the back of trade and oil and natural gas revenue, reserves of the latter are not expected to last more than 20 years. The Emirate has followed a consistent policy of developing an economy where oil will be insignificant and less than 10% is in fact based upon the main resource of the Middle East. The growth in the oil price was a spur to concentrate on trade and tourism with huge construction plans regularly coming off the drawing board. However, if anything it is as famous for its shopping as anything else.
Shopping brings tourists and tourists bring foreign exchange. The tourist strategy has certainly worked and Dubai is well inside the top 20 visited cities in the world and estimates suggest as many as 15m visitors will come to Dubai each year in the near future.
Dubai Sightseeing is varied but it certainly includes shopping. Specialists can direct you to the best souks and malls and provide advice on the best purchases and value for money. You can return later in your holiday but it certainly helps to browse early in your stay to get a feel for things. You can buy every major international brand whether you are talking fashion, technology or much more, remembering it is all tax free. The gold souk is certainly somewhere you should see and going on an organised tour is one way to do it.
There are the most modern malls you can imagine as well as the traditional souks selling gold and jewellery, perfumes where you can have a unique aroma created just for you. As if that is not enough, perhaps you are looking for textiles and silks, antiques or spices. Souq Al Bahar is the traditional market where you can shop and immerse yourself in a unique atmosphere.
There is more to Dubai than shopping and some of the fine hotels are even tourist attractions themselves. There is a museum in the Al Fahidi Fort where you can learn about the history of Dubai and nearby is the Jumeirah Mosque which is particularly impressive by night under the lights.
If you want to learn more about the future development plans you can even do this on a tour. Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island that expands the living area of the Emirate and future expansion will include more retail and entertainment facilities.
Burj Khalifa is the tallest manmade tower in the world and you may want to get a view of Dubai from the top rather than what you have seen from the plane; you will be over 2500 feet above the city.
While the world recession has not been kind to Dubai and some projects found difficulties, things are moving ahead once more. Tourists are coming in huge numbers to see the obvious attractions of Dubai, its shopping and developments. They contrast with the traditional and the chance to see the nearby desert and tee off on one of the world class golf courses.
Image attributed to Commons.wikimedia.org Commander Leroy Chiao NASA