Skyscrapers soar over the sand of Jumeirah Beach on the Persian Gulf.

Photograph by Udo Bernhart, Anzenberger/Redux

The powerhouse of Dubai is like nowhere else on the planet. A sleepy trading port in the desert metamorphosed into a futuristic metropolis in mere decades, making it one of the world’s fastest growing cities. The emirate's naked ambition materializes in developments like the record-breaking Burj Khalifa, soaring above the rest of the skyline, or the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made archipelago sprawling into the Persian Gulf. Travelers arrive for sun, sand, shopping, and a microcosm of cultures—and Dubai delivers.

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