<p>Photo: Abra driver</p>

The driver of an abra, a traditional wooden boat that ferries passengers across Dubai Creek, takes a break.

Photograph by Lana Slezic/Panos

From sleepy trading port to global gateway in 25 years, the Middle East metropolis of Dubai has sprung up out of the desert sands. Once centered on bustling Dubai Creek, from where old dhows (boats) still sail to Iran, Dubai now sprawls south toward the United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi. While oil revenues fueled its early development, now trade and tourism power this city-state’s phenomenal growth rate. Travelers come for sun, sand, shopping, and a touch of the exotic, and Dubai delivers. While it might not have the ancient sites of Cairo or Damascus, Dubai just gets on with making history as one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Dubai Photos and Quiz

Related Features

  • Photo: The Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia

    Your Photos of the Middle East

    See images submitted to My Shot of the people, landscapes, and cities that make the Middle East such a beautiful and historic region of the world.

  • <p>Photo: Wakeboarder in Persian Gulf</p>

    Dubai Must-Dos

    Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Dubai—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

  • <p>Photo: City of Dubai</p>

    Sudden City

    A feverish dream of the future springs from the sands in Dubai.

  • Photo: Men and a camel outside a tent

    Camel Beauty Contest

    From across the vast and parched Arabian Peninsula, camels converge on Abu Dhabi for an annual beauty contest.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities

2015 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of a tree under night stars in Deadvlei, Namibia

    See the Winners

    Explore the top photos, share your favorites, and browse all entries.