Dubai — an Arabian Disneyland

Dubai skyline

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, skyline featuring the Burj Kalifa, the tallest building the world.

Dubai is now a modern city built by the fortunes of oil – following the local discovery of oil in 1966. Previously, the city’s fortunes were earned as a major trading center in the Persian Gulf region. The city was only established in the late Seventeenth Century – originating as a fishing village. Over the past few decades the metropolis has blossomed from the desert with its population growing to 2.1 million, mostly expatriates (Arab U.A.E nationals make up just 10 – 15% of the total).

The skyline, pictured above, includes the stunning Burj Kalifa, the tallest building the world. Tourism is now a major economic driver for the city. Emirates airlines, based in Dubai, brings in tens of thousands of tourists daily. This year the city expects to host 15 million tourists, making it the 7th most visited city in the world.

Raffles Hotel, Dubai, U.A.E.

Raffles Hotel, Dubai, U.A.E.

What happens when you take Egyptian architecture, the pyramid design of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas and quite a bit of the modernity of the skyscrapers in Singapore and Hong Kong (and the tons of money in both cities) and combine them all together in Dubai?

Wafi Mall, Dubai, U.A.E., entrance with obelisks and Pharaohs.

Wafi Mall, Dubai, U.A.E., entrance with obelisks and Pharaohs.

You get the Wafi Mall attached to the six-year old Raffles Hotel. Dubai, the city, and the Wafi Mall are others of the world’s “adult” shopping Disneylands. This Egyptian theme was not something that we had anticipated, so it was a big surprise.

Egyptian art decorating the exterior of the Wafi Mall, Dubai, U.A.E.

Egyptian art decorating the exterior of the Wafi Mall, Dubai, U.A.E.

Front lobby of the Raffles Hotel, Dubai, U.A.E.

Front lobby of the Raffles Hotel, Dubai, U.A.E.

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