Dubai is a place where glitz has become a tangible thing.  They know how to make headlines and history here, and can boast about dozens of stunning sights, from the tallest tower in the world to underwater hotels.  So what do you see first in this city of plenty?

Why not start with the food?  There’s nothing like feasting on a dish of local cuisine – or even professional chef cuisine.  Even notable names like Gordon Ramsay have carved out a little niche within Dubai, particularly hotels where fare can range from traditional to worldly.  But when you’re not enjoying the succulent morsels on your hotel plate, travel down to Al Dhiyafah Road where you can find cheap eats that are sure to make you want more.  Lamb, fresh seafood, salads, Indian food, Iranian food, Pakistani food – all if it can be found on this road alone, so try something different each day and expand your palate like never before.

It may seem strange to bother with a shopping mall while on vacation (after all, most of us see them where we live), but Dubai takes theirs to a whole new level.  The Souk Madinat is actually inside the Madinat Jumeriah Hotel – but that’s not all.  You don’t walk to the shops; you hop onto a boat on a waterway to get from one place to another.  The Mall of the Emirates is so huge it has an indoor ski slope with real snow.  And though not available until 2013, the Mall of Arabia strives to be the largest yet at a jaw-dropping 10 million square feet, complete with dinosaur park (mechanical, of course).

Gold Souk is an excellent place for gold buying, and is something to see even if you’re not in the market for something gleaming.  Haggle to get a lower price – you won’t find the same prices for something in your home town!

Naturally if you visit Dubai, you have to see some of their most well-known sites.  The Burj Al Arab is said to be the first seven-star hotel.  While there is no such thing as seven stars for a hotel, this one definitely gets five gold ones.  You can’t get in without a room or a reservation at one of their restaurants, but just seeing it may be well worth the visit.

If you do get tired of the march of man’s progress in Dubai, then fall back to the traditional parts of the city where stone buildings still stand and sip mint-and-lime juice at a local café.  The Bastakia Quarter is where you want to be to feel a little older world.  Relax here before heading back into the future once again.

Enid Glasgow