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The Arab world's most famous capital of glitz in the desert is full of man-made wonders surrounded by dramatic dunes and great beaches. And with all the breathless chatter about towers such as the Burj Al-Arab and Burj Al-Khalifa; the Dubai Mall and other luxury shopping wonderlands; and controversial mega-developments like the controversial Palm Islands, other amazing attractions sometimes get comparatively less attention. One example is the Dubai Marina, a canal city already established for some years now along a two-mile stretch of Persian-Gulf shoreline and still growing - expected to eventually accommodate more than 120,000 residents.
Surrounded by landmarks such as the Emirates Golf Club, Dubai Internet City, and the American University of Dubai, the marina is situated next to the Sheikh Zayed Road Interchange 5 and is also close to the Jebel Ali Free Zone and Emaar Business Park. Its easily accessible via public transport, for example with two metro stations. It's home to a mix of Emiratis and especially foreign expatriates.
One of the main hubs of Dubai Marina is a seven-kilometer promenade, along which people stroll, jog, and bike, as well as being the hub for water activities including boating, fishing, jetskiing, and other aquatic pursuits. It's also lined with cafés, restaurants, performance venues, and shops from boutiques to international brands and department stores.
The dining options here are multifarious, from inexpensive shawarmas to luxury gourmet, with most world cuisines amply represented and in many cases served up with fantastic waterfront views which allow you to watch the passing yachts, speedboats, and traditional dhows.
Which brings me to perhaps the most interesting and unique attraction of the Dubai Marina. Dhows are traditional Arab wooden sailing vessels, varying in size, which have plied the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and other nearby bodies of water for centuries. Dhows vary in size, but many of those you'll see here hold dozens of passengers and are adapted to giving pleasure cruises through the canal and along the coast. When you arrive at the dock (usually at 8 or 8:30 pm), you're welcomed with dates, tea, drinks and refreshment, then after some sightseeing from the upper deck, you follow that up with a wonderful international-style buffet dinner and live entertainment on the lower deck. Most dhow cruise operators also include shuttles between your hotel and the the dock.
A wonderful mix of the traditional and modern, the dhow cruise is a is one of the great Dubai experiences, and a must for any visitor to the United Arab Emirates. Come enjoy one on your next visit!