Dubai, UAE

The emirate of Dubai is located southeast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. It has the largest population in the UAE (2,104,895) and the second-largest land territory by area (4,114 km2) after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the national capital, are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature.

The city has become symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, such as the world's tallest Burj Khalifa, in addition to ambitious development projects including man-made islands, hotels, and some of the largest shopping malls in the region and the world. This increased attention has also highlighted labour and human rights issues concerning the city's largely South Asian paid workforce.

Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s. With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents starved or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf. After years of exploration following large finds in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, oil was eventually discovered in Dubai in 1966, albeit in far smaller quantities. Between 1968 and 1975 the city's population grew by over 300%

Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates after the former protector, Britain, left the Persian Gulf in 1971. Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations.

Dubai's government operates within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, and has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833. The current ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates

Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East". Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping malls, including the world's largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall. As of 2010, Dubai was the 7th most visited city of the world with 7.6 million visitors a year. Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015

Here we opted for a walking tour of the old town and the creek - and we got a much better view of the town than we could ever have done from a bus.

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The QE2 berthed at Dubai since 2007. Nobody seems quite sure what her fate will be The spice souq was quite small but packed with bags of pungent spices. Outside in the street we found this man measuring out prawns The Jumeirah Mosque, an example of Islamic architecture with its two towering minarets
The gold souq was an incredible display of ostentatious wealth. Rows of shops all packed to the rafters with gold jewellery of every description. And in case you were worried about the gold market, a live board gave the market price of gold.
Dubai Museum inside the old fort, just about the only original building in this area. Opened in 1971, the museum houses a treasure trove of local antiquities, preserving the emirate's history and traditions. Some of the exhibits contain artifacts which cover the era of pearl diving and long before the discovery of oil. Not everyone was frenetically trying to modernise - this fellow was having a snooze.
The Burj Al Arab was built to resemble the sail of a Dhow, and is visible over a wide area Another museum showing old Dubai and the way it used to be before oil. That is in the past now, and they have ex pats in to do the manual labour A walk along the creek. This map shows the area of the original port
Although everything was modern, this foreign worker was using matchsticks on live wires. We had a pleasant cup of Arab coffee on the Creek and came across this lovely mug
The faces of the ruler look down on one everywhere, in a slightly un-nerving way, as he is difficult to avoid. Police keeping watch too.
The sights and sounds of Dubai ranged from a Hindu Temple and its offerings, to souqs and a few old buildings
Chris meets a friend Back aboard we sailed past the QE2, the Sheiks private yachts and left the skyline of Dubai behind.

Our Holiday from Cairo to India on SS Voyager