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Business Travel Management News Stories

Dubai

Whatever you think of Dubai, you have to say that one thing it doesn’t lack is ambition - its stated aim to usurp London as the world’s most visited city by 2020 tells you there’s a lot going on.


Last year, the number of visitors from the UK reached 1.2 million and even if you don’t think it’s your cup of tea, there will be something there that will delight you in a city whose attractions range from the traditional to the ultra luxuries to the downright astonishing.


First, the traditional: Forget the skyscrapers, there is an ancient side to the Emirate and you’ll find a lot of it around Dubai Creek, including local markets and the Al Fahidi historic district, whose coral-coloured buildings have been faithfully restored. Nearby Sheikh Saeed House, once home to the grandfather of the current ruler and built in 1896, is now a museum that details the city’s history as a trading post. Crossing the creek on a traditional dhow boat to visit the gold and spice souks completes the experience and marks the transition to the more familiar Dubai, a city of modern superlatives.


It doesn’t come much more superlative than the Burj Khalifa, which for the time being, at 2,717 feet (828m) is the world’s tallest building. Its viewing galleries tower above the countless other skyscrapers and provide a glimpse almost of another planet, one that encompasses man-made islands like The Palm and the sail-like Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s most ultra luxury hotel. The Burj’s 27-floor Skyview Bar is a good excuse to go and stare at Dubai’s glitterati, but be mindful of the minimum spend, a hefty £67.


If you’re good at spending, you’ll be at home in Dubai, as all the top names in restaurants, including Nobu, Marco Pierre White and Gary Rhodes are found here and Dubai Mall contains the only Bloomingdale’s outside the US. The Mall is also home to Dubai Aquarium, whose main 167-feet long (51m) tank houses 33,000 marine animals and which is visible for free from within the shopping centre itself.


The aquarium and another unexpected mall attraction, Ski Dubai, fall firmly in the astonishing category. Ski Dubai is a real snow slope in the Mall of the Emirates and despite its apparent eco-unfriendliness, is somewhere you should at least peer through the windows to see locals sweetly encounter snow for the first time.


Dubai’s nightlife, despite (or perhaps because of) everyday religious restrictions, is famously frenetic and as expensive as you want, with nightclubs like the VIP Room, an outpost of the hip French chain, at the 77-storey Marriott Marquis, the world’s tallest hotel (of course).


You don’t, however, have to have a Platinum card, as there are so many other options, from neighbourhood restaurants in the old quarter to quiet beach cafes in which to spend your evening. Getting a taste of the desert " another popular evening activity - can mean roaring down dunes in a Land Cruiser, but there are also more serene choices like camel rides, falconry or dune boarding.


Dubai really can be all things to all tastes and if business finds you there, when the working day is over, one thing you won’t be is bored.