This was our first time in the Middle East and Dubai seemed like a logical place to start. It is one of the more liberal and tolerant places in the area and a lot of expats live there. Dubai is one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and occupies a strip of land off the coast of the Persian Gulf. Starting on the northeast end next to the emirate of Sharjah is the old Dubai. The Deira area is full of souks and abras—traditional boats that take you across the Dubai Creek. Across the creek is Bur Dubai and this is where we saw the historical buildings and narrow streets of Al Bastakiya village. Perisan merchants used to live here and it is now a restored and preserved area with boutique shops and cafes.
As you head south, you enter new Dubai—beaches, malls, the Palm islands and tall skyscrapers. Burj Khalifa is the tallest one, not just in Dubai but in the world. It has held this title since 2008. We booked tickets to go to the top and went up as soon as we landed in the city.
Another iconic structure is the Burj Al Arab, the "seven-star" hotel, that is shaped like a ship sail. We didn't stay here but we had afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar on the 27th floor. We sat by the window and had an amazing view of Dubai. Having a reservation at one of its restaurants is the only way to see the hotel without staying the night.
The Dubai that I think most people think of is the new modern Dubai so it was interesting for us to see both the old and the new in the short time that we had.