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Dubai is the quintessential home of sand, sun and shopping. A century ago, it was a tranquil town whose coral-and-gypsum huts housed Bedouin traders and pearl divers. Today the merchants have gone, and international and science-fiction skyscrapers stand alongside the mosques and wind towers of Old Dubai.

Cheap flights, accommodation and holidays to Dubai

The audacity of the city's rulers is breathtaking. Running out of coastline to build hotels? Build vast artificial islands with 120km of new beachfront. Need better connections with the world? Build up an award-winning international airline in 15 years. Need some publicity? Stage the world's richest horse race, million-dollar lotteries, international tennis and golf tournaments, and a month-long shopping festival.

Dubai is really two towns merged into one and divided by Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai), an inlet of the Gulf. Deira lies to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Both districts are home to traditional architecture and bustling souqs, but the old city centre is in Deira. Glittering new office buildings along Sheikh Zayed Road (known as Trade Centre Road) in Bur Dubai threaten to supplant it as the city's real centre of gravity.

The Deira covered souk has more of an Indian flavour than an Arabic one. It sells just about everything, but notably textiles, clothes, kitchenware, walking sticks, and all the henna you'll ever need.

Dubai's waterfront epitomizes the city's personality. If you do only one touristy thing in Dubai, make sure to visit Dubai Creek. The best way to see the grand trading port is from the water. You can book a pricey cruise or hire an abra (small boat) for an hour or so; ask the captain to take you to Al-Maktoum Bridge and back. Also take some time to walk around the dhow wharfage on the Deira side of Dubai Creek, to the west of the abra dock. Dhows bound for ports from Kuwait to Mumbai (Bombay) dock here to unload everything, including kitchen sinks.

No holiday to Dubai would be complete without a visit to Deira's celebrated Gold Souq, which attracts buyers from all over the world. Pass through its wooden lattice archways and you'll find great dazzling heaps of gold chains, rings, earrings, bracelets and every other kind of jewellery. Once you've haggled for all the gold, you can haggle for the silver jewellery also in the Gold Souq.

On your Dubai holiday, you'll find plenty of water sports, including jet-skiing, water-skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing, offered by dozens of operators. It costs a fortune to maintain the greens, but golfing is a huge draw and Dubai has most of the Arabian Peninsula's courses. If it's too hot to don the requisite collared shirt and slacks, consider a visit to the slides at Wild Wadi Waterpark or one of the city's two indoor ice skating rinks. Dozens of health clubs make working out a breeze.

Dubai has a reputation for its bold and innovative architectural wonders. To meet the anticipated future demand for travel to Dubai, several hotel and leisure developments are underway across the United Arab Emirates. Disruption is to be kept to a minimum but please note that the developments are not under the control of the tour operator, and they may not be made aware of them in advance.

Traditional package holidays to Dubai are available with several leading tour operators, and can represent excellent value for money. Alternatively, for greater flexibility, and equally competitive prices, you may prefer to choose a hotel in Dubai from the selection of Dubai hotels available, and add this to a flight to Dubai, to create your ideal holiday to Dubai. If you are visiting family or friends you may not need to book accommodation in Dubai at all, and may wish to only search for flights to Dubai.

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If you are unable to find the holiday in Dubai that you are looking for, or would like more information about staying in Dubai, or flying to Dubai, please call to speak to our dedicated travel team, who are on hand seven days a week to help you find your perfect stay in Dubai.