The ostentatious stand-off between the top cities in the world doesn’t become prevalent purely during football World Cup bidding, Olympic Games-hosting hopes or when vying to become the next City of Culture. ‘We want to be the biggest tourist destination in the world, even bigger than London,’ our guide tells us as we head out into the desert. Our multinational party of journalists watches the effervescent skyline of Dubai disappear behind us as we pass camel racing stables that seem to extend as far ahead of us as the sands themselves.


The intention of this emirate to become the boldest, brashest and brightest tourist trap is not based on some ill-founded and delusional attempt to literally outshine other cities. It is based on a belief that Dubai is unique and can offer everything from beaches to the Burj Khalifa, golf to gastronomical delight. With an impressive 11 million visitors a year, the number one objective of all concerned is to reach 20 million by 2020. Judging by our packed itinerary, it would be foolish to ignore their boasts. With the backing of a seemingly limitless fund of dirhams, if some other government dared to challenge their continuing rise, they will quite simply build something bigger, better or more bejewelled than ever seen before. The aforementioned Burj, the tallest building in the world, is imminently to be superseded by a Saudi skyscraper, but such an accolade will undoubtedly be short-lived. Dubai’s ‘spirit of possible’ is a most understated motto for such a huge sense of will.

The European Golf Tour is in town and every souk and city-sized shopping mall is dominated by legions of tourists. Our temporary home at the Waldorf Astoria provides a superlative base for watching McIlroy and the ultimately victorious Stenson demonstrate their prowess. Others within our party attempt to showcase their own ‘skills’ at Dubai Creek, an exemplary example of the numerous courses on offer. The DP World Tour Championship demonstrates the standing the destination has, not only in tourist terms but also sporting and celebrity attracting. Decimating the myth that this place is purely a façade, financially propped up with no real substance, the Dubai museum traces the birth of the city. It’s just one of the numerous venues this relative youngster of a conurbation offers to celebrate and maintain its Arabic roots, while our desert safari embraces the most traditional foods and festivities and evokes an incredible sense of the origins of the region.

There is, however, no escaping the utterly absorbing spectacle that is those neck crick-inducing skyscrapers. As we take the Seawings seaplane tour over the city, the extent of construction sites, as well as others already completed, is breathtaking. Such a unique view offers an insight into the vision of those on the ground. Planned projects include a safari park, opera house and district and Dubai expo, which will be significantly complemented by more than 600 hotels already built.

A fellow journalist reiterated her desire to relocate from South Africa at the earliest opportunity, her rapid descent into adoration of Dubai endorsed by our stay. Personally, I was both perplexed and overpowered by the arrogance, ambition and air of authority the city emanates. This is by no means a criticism, as this increasingly popular oligarchy of tourism continues to inspire awe and admiration, intrigue and intense fascination. That 2020 vision of world domination shouldn’t be doubted. Words, Adam Whittaker.

Check out the Dubai Tourism website for more information on your trip.

At.mosphere –

At.The.Top, Burj Khalifa –

Seawings –

Dubai Museum / Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) –

DP World Tour Championship – for more info visit