Dubai is one of the United Arab Emirates, a collection of oil-wealthy and modernizing kingdoms located on the Persian Gulf coast adjacent to Saudi Arabia and in the same geographical neighborhood as Iran and Iraq. Unlike traditional Arab Islamic states, Dubai allows the free consumption of alcohol and pork. Women walk the streets freely withotut protective coverings. The rapid rate of development and construction in Dubai has attracted worldwide attention since the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Unlike the other kingdoms in United Arab Emirates, only 6% of Dubai's GDP comes from oil profits. To build a future for themselves, they are aggressively encouraging tourism and business ventures in their capital city, known as Dubai City or just simply Dubai. Going from being practically undeveloped during the 80s, Dubai is now jam-packed with skyscrapers.
Perhaps the most attention-grabbing development project is Burj Dubai, a skyscraper approaching 1km (3000 ft) in height which will be the tallest in the world when it is completed in 2009. Its architecture is modeled after that of a lotus flower. Not only will it be the tallest building in the world, but the tallest freestanding artificial structure of any kind.
The Dubai Waterfront, announced in 2005, will be 2½ times the size of Washington D.C. when it is completed. It will be largest waterfront and largest man-made development in the world, and house 400,000 people. The waterfront will feature a mix of canals and man-made islands.
Speaking of islands, Dubai is working one of the largest artificial island projects in the world, and they call it, yes, The World. It is an artificial archipelago, a series of islands modeled after the world itself. 250 to 300 islands are being constructed by pumping huge quantities of sand onto the sea floor. All the major bodies of land on the planet are represented, including Greenland and Antarctica. The whole development is surrounded by an oval breakwater and measures an area 6km (3.7 mi.) long by 9km (5.5 mi) wide. The average cost of purchasing an island is $25 million.
Dubai has completed a huge indoor skiing slope, one of the largest in a country where no snow falls. This is called the Dubailand Snowdome. The Snowdome is part of the even larger Dubailand, which is under construction for a cost of almost $900 million, and upon completion, will be the largest theme park in the world.
Dubai is also building a rotating skyscraper, the first of its kind. The list of construction projects in Dubai goes on and on. It's a wonder that a town with only just over a million people in 2007 can support this frantic pace of development.