Gold sparkles and the sea dazzles under the sunshine of glitzy Dubai, a truly unique holiday destination...
There is a treasure trove of historical and cultural sites to visit in Dubai. The Jumeirah Mosque is the largest mosque in the Middle East and is open to non-Muslim visitors. The Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum, is the oldest building in the emirate. It is easily accessible via the metro from the city centre and has a collection of artefacts, some of which date back 3,000 years.
Shopping is a favourite activity in Dubai, with the gold and spice souk one of the top destinations. Dubai is also the major international sports centre of the Persian Gulf, hosting world-class golf and tennis tournaments.
The Heritage and Diving Centre is located close to the mouth of Dubai Creek. It focuses on Dubai's maritime past. Dinner in the evening at one of its restaurants provides a taste of the tranquillity and charm of old Dubai. A modern version of Dubai is on display at the Dubai Mall, the main shopping mall in the centre of the city. You can skate at the ice rink or try your luck on the indoor slopes of Ski Dubai. Visit the Aquarium that is built through three floors of the mall.
See modern art from the Middle East, Africa and India at the Art Attack Gallery between the Al Wasl Road and the Jumeirah Beach Road. Anyone who fancies a flutter can visit Meydan Racecourse just south of Dubai Creek .This is the world's richest racecourse and was opened in 2009 when the neighbouring Nad al Sheba closed. For an adventure, take a 4x4 drive on a desert safari.
The best time to visit is between November and March when daytime temperatures are about 25C.
Just like Las Vegas, the hotels in Dubai are attractions in their own rights...
The Dubai coastline was legendary even before the construction of the seven-star Burj al Arab hotel with its famous sail-like structure. It was built to resemble a dhow, the traditional sailing boat used for trading between the Persian Gulf and Africa and South Asia. One of the world's most photographed structures, its night-time illuminations represent water and fire. The hotel provides a personal butler service for guests, in-suite check-in and a private Rolls Royce for transport around the emirate.
Hotels in Dubai are famous for their variety. The Palm Atlantis, as featured on X Factor, is part of a resort in the Palm Jumeirah Islands which is modelled on the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Two monorails link the resort to the rest of the Jumeirah Islands.
Dubai hotels are generally of a very high standard, ranging from budget rooms at low prices to the five-star chains such as Jumeirah, Kempinski, Marriott, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Marco Polo, Hilton, Ritz Carlton and Holiday Inn. The luxury hotels command high prices compared with those in Europe. Many of the hotels are design-led, so the visitor can enjoy contemporary art as well as a holiday. If you are choosing a cheaper room, make sure that it has air conditioning during the summer months.
There's so much more to do than topping up your tan in sunny Dubai...
Dubai is home to a number of cultural treasures; it's just not possible to be bored in this exciting destination.
Top five attractions
Tourists with a taste for spending will not be disappointed in Dubai. The sparkling gold souk is worth a visit, whether you're in the market for precious metal or not, while the ultra-modern Dubai Mall - the largest in the world - stocks everything you could possibly desire.
You'll soon discover that Dubai doesn't do anything by halves. Having shopped in the world's biggest mall, take a journey up the world's tallest building and savour the views from level 124.
Wild Wadi Water Park
Cool off from the heat at this pleasure-laden waterpark next to the Burj Al Arab. With an Arabian folklore theme and plenty of rides and activities, the whole family will enjoy Wild Wadi.
To really chill out when the mercury rises, take to the artificial slopes at Ski Dubai. This indoor ski resort is even home to a small colony of penguins!
Dhow sailing on Dubai Creek
Take a look at ancient Dubai when you drift on the waters of the creek aboard a traditional dhow boat.
Dubai continues to forge a reputation for hosting world-class cultural events...
Some of the world's biggest music and sports stars do their thing in Dubai as the destination packs out its events calendar. Check what's on when you visit or book a holiday around your favourite artist or sport. Here are three of the best annual events.
Shopping Festival; January-February: Exactly as it sounds, this is a celebration of all things retail and shoppers can pick up fantastic bargains around Dubai. Many hotels also offer deals around this time.
Dubai World Cup; March: The culmination of the World Cup Carnival (between January and March), this one-day spectacular is the biggest event on the horse-racing calendar in Dubai. General admission is free and there's a great family atmosphere.
Middle East Film and Comic Con; April: A relatively young event, the World Trade Centre welcomes thousands of fans and some of the biggest stars from the world of popular culture.