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Dubai

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Published on Jul 29, 2010

Flying into Dubai across the Arabian Desert you can see the heat rising in the summertime. Temperatures soared to over 115 degrees while I was there with high humidity from the Persian Gulf. But the air conditioned high rises are an oasis and sanctuary from the summer heat.

The government has set up industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, combined with Dubai Media City whose members include IT firms such as Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organizations such as CNN, Reuters and AP.

Burj Khalifa, 2625 feet, is the world's tallest building with the highest outdoor observation deck in the world.

Dubai is home to the top six tallest hotels in the world. and the Burj Al Arab (also known as the Arab Sail), at 1053' is currently the 4th tallest. It stands on a man made island off of Jumeirah beach which is reached by a bridge. Designed by architect Tom Wright it is iconic for the boom is Dubai.

The roof has a helipad and Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played tennis - on what is probably the highest tennis court in the world.

The self-proclaimed 7-star rating might set one up for expectations that cannot be met but if you approach the hotel as an oasis on the Persian Gulf, then you may well be impressed. The fresh dates and local coffee served when you check-in is a delicious reminder that you are in another world.

The exterior of the hotel is stunning and the interior architecture is also awe-inspiring. But the interior decoration is gold and bold primary colors that seem more like Las Vegas of yesteryear than tasteful luxury. The 202 suites each have two stories with the generous living room and powder room downstairs and the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom has a tub with a mosaics design of the region as well as a red and blue mosaic shower. The bedroom has a seating area and is loaded with high tech gadgetry that requires an MIT education. The mirror over the top of the king size bed was a lot easier to figure out.

To access one of the hotel's restaurant's the Al Mahara one travels on a simulated submarine voyage, The restaurant's tables border a floor to ceiling saltwater aquarium. Huge fish like sharks, grouper and Napoleon wrasses swim as you order up their cousins for dinner which can be a little disconcerting. Breakfast at the Bab Al Yam, a poolside cafΓ©, is more appetizing with local Arabic dishes like humus and excellent service.

The Palm, a man made reclamation project was built with 100 million cubic meters of sand and rock and has increased UAE's beachfront by 166%. Sol Kerzner who built Sun City and Atlantis in the Bahamas, opened Atlantis The Palm in September of 2008. With 1,539 rooms, it is a huge resort at the tip of Palm Jumeirah and has monorail service. The property has a water adventure park and 20,000 square feet of retail space. The 3-story aquarium with 2.9 million gallons of water is based on the fantasy lost city of Atlantis with sting rays, sharks and schools of fish swimming among the relics.

Rooms at the Atlantis start around $245 a night, depending on the time of year. Back on the mainland is the Mall of The Emirates, a 223,000 square meter mall that opened in 2005. What put the mall on the map was not the 100s of shops but the first in-door ski resort in the Middle East, Ski Dubai. There is skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. The indoor alpine village makes a dramatic change from the searing outdoor temperatures. Chairlifts take skiers up the 400 meter slope and then you can shuss your way to the St. Moritz cafe where a virtual fireplace will keep you warm and cozy as you dip into a Croque Monseiur.

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