The Most Luxurious Luxury Hotels and shopping malls

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  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012
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    The Most Luxurious Luxury Hotels and shopping malls
    Much ado has been made of this fantasy metropolis in the heart of Middle Eastern oil country. It is a futuristic, remarkable yet controversial construct –built by fortunes we can't fathom and, some say, destined to crumble since even its founders can't sustain it. For now, though, this tiny chunk of land is on everyone's must-see list for good reason. Its skyscrapers are among the highest, its hotels the most lavish, its shopping the most expensive... and many of its main attractions are simply one-of-a-kind.

    The malls of Dubai are impressive in their size, though-according to many Westerners—not in their diversity of selection. Size matters, though. Especially when you've got a mall so vast it can fit its own indoor ski area. The Mall of the Emirates has one of those, and it's possibly the most remarked-upon attraction in Dubai, though it's actually not unique in the world. The "mountain" peaks at just under 280 feet, features five runs including a black-diamond, and has an adjacent snow play area for non-skiers.

    Say what you will about the skyscrapers fronting it, but the golden sand beach of Dubai is truly spectacular. It may be the only remaining vestige of Mother Nature in the city, but it holds its own as a tourist draw. Jumeirah Beach is probably the most exclusive of the beaches—like many such developments, it was a humble fishing village up till recent decades. Now the land is given over to five-star hotels, shopping malls, and expensive private homes.

    Bang on the beachfront, shaped like a wave instead of a traditional skyscraper, and owned/operated by the Dubai government, Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a stunner. However its sister property the adjacent Burj Al Arab is the one that's in all the photos, beamed worldwide to illustrate Dubai in all its over-the-top splendor. Everything about it is extraordinary, from its size (over 1,000 feet tall) to its shape (curved, and supposedly in the likeness of a sail) to the fact that it occupies its own island to Dubai's claim that it is "the world's only seven-star hotel."

    Hotels and shopping malls aren't the only awe-inspiring structures in this city-state, though. Dubai's Grand Mosque, with its nine large domes and skyward-reaching 230-foot minaret, is a sight that many Western travelers count among Dubai's most memorable, even though non-Muslims are not allowed to enter and see it from the inside.

    If ever there was a place the quirky Dutch villain in Austin Powers Goldmember would be hiding, it would be in Dubai's gold souk. And he would feel right at home, amidst the shimmering falls of necklaces, the rows of gleaming bracelets, and the nefarious characters trying to talk unwary visitors into all sorts of ill-advised purchases. "Be prepared to bargain," says one visitor, while another cautions, "Don't go alone." But for sheer audacious bling, it's unparalleled—just like so many other aspects of Dubai. 


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