United Arab Emirates
Bold, brash and brilliant, Dubai’s explosion of wealth and wonder has created a dizzying, logic-defying desert wonderland. Boundary-pushing architecture, which gently nods to the region’s past - and a relentlessly futuristic vision - makes Dubai one of the most dynamic destinations on the planet. The hyper-speed transformation, from fishing village to glitzy mega-city, has been truly astounding, and it’s hard to avoid feeling humbled, as you stand dwarfed by cloud-scraping architecture, and some of the most elaborate, audacious engineering projects ever conceived.
Fuelled by abundant oil reserves, it’s an understatement to say that there is cash to splash here. Whether it’s the gleaming sports cars that purr along the streets, or the luxury shopping malls that are decked out with colossal aquariums and amusement parks, credit cards are flexed with abandon here. The sheer scale of Dubai is stupefying, and the sight of the iconic Burj Khalifa towering over its not inconsiderable neighbours is surreally spectacular. Rocketing up a staggering 830 metres, the world’s tallest building is an elegant affair, tapering up into the ever-blue sky, and headlining this record-breaking city’s list of architectural wonders. The Dubai Fountain performs here each evening - a blur of colour and haze, its waters dance before the almighty tower behind.
Dubai isn’t all about the skyward scramble, however, and the Miracle Garden is a vibrant, violent explosion of multicoloured flowery landscaping. Elsewhere, white-sand beaches like Sunset Beach grant sanctuary to take it easy, and enjoy splendid views of instantly recognisable buildings like the Burj Al Arab, and the reclaimed islands that fan out across Dubai’s warm sea waters. Desert landscapes of rolling sand dunes raise the pulses of the adventurous, while fine-dining and lively nightlife makes Dubai a luxury destination that truly has it all.