When it comes to transformation, Dubai is a master. It’s hard to imagine this cosmopolitan city, the fourth-most visited in the world, once tied its livelihood to fishing, trading and pearl diving. The discovery of oil in 1966 marked the beginning of a new era. But even with that good fortune, Dubai was not content to be a one-trick pony and in the 1970s started diversifying its economy. Today oil represents less than 1 percent of its gross domestic product, whereas at one time it embodied more than 50 percent.
Dubai thrives on reinvention and innovation. The bulk of its varied economy relies on a mix of trade, logistics, financial services, hospitality and tourism, construction, real estate and manufacturing. In 2004 the Dubai International Finance Centre became part of the landscape, establishing the city as a go-to place for service industries like IT and finance. Dubai boasts an Internet City — home to the likes of Microsoft, Dell, Oracle and IBM, among others — as well as Media City, with the BBC, CNN, Reuters and other news operations. Dubai remains one of the world’s leading aviation and automotive export hubs. (You’ve never seen so many Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and exotic car dealerships in one place.) Its port, Jebel Ali, is the ninth-busiest in the world and the heart of export trade in the Middle East. It’s not surprising Dubai is the second-wealthiest emirate, behind Abu Dhabi.
The powers that be in Dubai grasped the concept of “If you build it, they will come,” a paraphrase of the much-quoted line in the movie Field of Dreams. While the city’s first highrise, the World Trade Centre, appeared in 1979, the building boom didn’t explode until the 1990s. The city longed to become a top tourist destination, but back then it didn’t offer much in the way of hotels. The answer was the Burj Project (Burj Al Arab hotel). That kickstarted the building of fantastic hotels and skyscrapers that are now the city’s hallmark.
Dubai built, and people came, reaching an all-time high of 16.73 million international overnight visitors in 2019. That number may increase exponentially when Dubai hosts Expo 2020 next year. Originally scheduled to open this October, the six-month, multibillion-dollar global innovation fair was postponed until Oct. 1, 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic. This will be the largest event ever held in the Arab world, with some 25 million visitors expected. According to the Bureau International des Expositions, “Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all,” focusing on “a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.”
The benefits of the Expo will linger long after the final day of events. District 2020 will emerge at the Expo site, with more than 80 percent of the Expo-built structures retained and repurposed. Expo 2020’s Sustainability Pavilion will become a Children and Science Centre. Many other major structures, including Al Wasl Plaza and the Mobility Pavilion, will remain as permanent fixtures. The ecosystem will comprise commercial and residential space; parks and gardens incorporating water elements; world-class social and cultural platforms; education facilities; and diverse hospitality, retail and food and beverage offerings. It will also become a focal point for the region’s meetings and events industry as the home of Dubai Exhibition Centre, furthering the U.A.E.’s reputation as a destination for major conferences and driving business growth. The goal is to create a meaningful legacy that will benefit generations to come.
Avani Ibn Battuta Hotel
Next to Ibn Battuta Mall and convenient to Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates and JBR Beach, the chic new 4-star hotel offers 24/7 dining. Liquid Pool Bar serves tapas, drinks and shisha.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Global Traveler announces the winners of the 2021 Leisure Lifestyle Awards.
Discover America’s classic drive-ins, diners and deliciously quirky finds.
Inspired by the Book
Travel in the footsteps of famous authors.
Start planning now to attend the sporting and cultural events of 2022.
Behind the Scenes
Get a glimpse of the inner workings of luxury hotels.
Linger in luxury at the most exclusive hotel villas and private hideaways.
Test your limits with adrenaline-fueled activities around the world.
Celebrate Good Times
Travelers again look to special trips to observe life’s milestones.
Plant Riverside District redefines Savannah’s riverfront.
THE BREAKERS PALM BEACH
ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: We arrived at 1 p.m. and were greeted by the valet team, who introduced themselves and took our bags. The front desk team were enthusiastic, and in a short time we were in our beautiful room, where a cold bottle of Champagne and some delicious chocolates greeted us. The bellman supplied some information, and we were ready to sit on the deck and look out at the beach and ocean. The view was expansive and soothing.
INDIE RAPPER & SINGER - SONG WRITER Aside from dancing, Lexy’s true passion in life is music. She has also collaborated with artists like DJ Snake, Major Lazer, Too Short, Prologic, Shaun Frank, Louis Bell, and several others. With 2.6 million followers on Instagram, 2.3 million subscribers on YouTube, 3.1 million followers on Facebook, and billions of impressions across all social platforms, Lexy is a name to know in the business. Follower her on Instagram @lexypanterra!
MILO SLADAKOVIC - THE NATURE OF MAN
Burdened with care and appreciation of everyday spectacle Excerpts of everyday life and passion - documentary and behind the scenes stories of daily life and lesser-known events captured around the UAE.
Virus Slows Dubai Airport, World's Busiest For Global Travel
Perhaps nowhere is the world’s lack of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic more clearly felt than at Dubai International Airport, for years the world’s busiest for international travel.
DUBAI AIRPORT CEO: GLOBAL TRAVEL STILL UP IN AIR OVER VIRUS
The CEO of the world’s busiest airport for international travel wants to get the globe flying again, but even he acknowledges everything remains up in the air during the coronavirus pandemic.
ART DUBAI 25-28.3.2020
Art Dubai 2020 reaffirms commitment to alternative global perspectives with the announcement of gallery list, new Africa focus for Residents section, and a line-up of international curators.
Sasan Nasernia - Emergeast Gallery
Exploring different avenues in Persian and Arabic classical and modern calligraphy, he has since expanded his practice to include painting, print, digital work and installation
In The Land Of Vanishing Giants
At a time of unprecedented mass extinctions, no animal epitomizes the global biodiversity free fall more than the Asian elephant. Paul Kvinta travels to Laos to visit a moon-shot project aimed at saving the country’s 400 remaining wild elephants—and to investigate the strange wildlife-trafficking underworld threatening their very existence.
Uber Acquires Mideast Competitor Careem For $3.1 Billion
Ride-hailing service Uber announced it has acquired Mideast competitor Careem for $3.1 billion, giving the San Francisco-based firm the commanding edge in a region with a large, young, tech-savvy population.
Shop And Play In Dubai
Retail positively glitters in this glitzy emirate, plus there’s a wealth of other experiences to discover too
The Future-Proofing Engine
Oil won’t last forever, and Dubai’s government knows it. To stay prosperous, the city-state bets big on science and technology.