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Destination Dubai

BOOM TIME: Dubai’s skyline
is a blend of the old and new
BOOM TIME: Dubai’s skyline is a blend of the old and new

by HOWARD ROBIN SUN, SEA AND ARCHITECTURE DRAW TOURISTS TO MODERN METROPOLIS IT’S the holiday destination of choice for many British Asians, a second home to count­less Bollywood stars and a place where some 1.5 million people from the Indian subconti­nent live and work. In little more than a decade, Dubai has meta­morphosed from being just another urban con­urbation in the Persian Gulf to possibly the most extraordinary modern metropolis on earth. This city of superlatives houses the world’s tallest building, largest shopping mall and even the biggest sweet shop. With its audacious architec­ture, spectacular skyline and sleek metro zip­ping overhead like something out of Blade Run­ner, Dubai is a place of futuristic wonder. Throw in sun, sea and sand, the world’s best theme parks, the oases of calm that are its ho­tels, not to mention traditional souks, Bedouin culture and desert wildlife, is it any wonder that this place, located on the coast of the United Ar­ab Emirates (UAE), is now Britain’s most popu­lar long-haul holiday destination whose tourism boom shows no sign of abating? In fact, more than eight million visitors travelled to Dubai in the first six months of 2017 alone, up by 10.6 per cent on the previous year. Indians started moving to the UAE en masse during the oil boom of the 1970s and have since gone on to occupy top jobs in many of its multi­national companies. Feroz Khan, a chartered accountant, recalls coming to Dubai in 2001 and finding it “ordinary  like Mumbai”, albeit offering a comfortable lifestyle, safe environment and home-from-home sense of community. Dubai became extraordinary only after the real estate boom, especially post-2006 when the law allowed foreigners to own properties here. “Ever since the destination has continued to excite,” he says. Buildings in Dubai’s Old Town Sales executive Kausar…

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