Dubai in 2012

Globally renowned as a rich man’s playground, Dubai is a byword for capitalism. A cursory look at photographs of the city from twenty years ago show just how far this absurd desert experiment has come, from dustbowl beginnings to moneyed business centre. Heck, they even had to invent a six star rating for hotels to fully express the luxury on offer. That wasn’t adequate – and Dubai now boasts the world’s only seven star hotel. The sheer, unadulterated glamour of the place has been attracting executives and wealthy holidaymakers alike. Small wonder that it’s tipped to be one of 2012’s hottest destinations. Here are a few things to think about before booking a trip to Dubai…

Getting to Dubai is now simpler, cheaper and more straightforward than ever before. Browsing the web for cheap flights you’ll find no shortage of offers. If you want the cheapest fares, book far in advance for the hot season between July and August (which is unbearable for many). If you can stand the heat, you might save a bundle. is one of the best-value sites – click the link to find a low-cost flight to Dubai.

The aforementioned six and even seven stars awarded to some of Dubai’s hotels should give you an idea of just how pricey it can be to stay in. However, you can lower the cost of accommodation to some degree by staying inland, closer to the airport and further from the beaches.

Give yourself at least a week to explore. The city itself is, of course, full of interesting things to see and do, but you should take the opportunity to venture outside the city into the desert beyond. A camel ride is a must. You can even book a desert excursion followed by a Bedouin feast under the stars. Another highlight is a yacht trip around ‘The World’. Perhaps the most famous development in Dubai, The World is a man-made archipelago in the shape of a world map.

Eating in Dubai is a delight – especially to the more conservative western palate. Michelin-starred restaurants sit side by side with humble street food. Be sure to try the local shawarma, an Arab staple. Best of all for cost-conscious travellers, a ‘champagne brunch’ takes place across the city every Friday, with hundreds of restaurants participating, offering free champagne and vast buffet lunches to passers-by.

Beware of the unusually strict licensing laws. There are plenty of illegal merchants offering alcohol, but the penalties for breaking the law can be stiff. No shops or grocery stores have a license, but most bars, hotels and restaurants do.