VISITORS to Dubai, get ready to be dazzled - there is more to the 3,900 sq km emirate than just oil.
In fact, black gold contributes just 20 per cent of economic production, and increasingly, the emirate's revenues are coming from the trading, manufacturing and tourism sectors.
And no wonder, for all manner of activities, events and experiences await visitors after they check in to the hotel:
Tee off on one of the many championship golf courses carved out of the desert landscape.
Or if you prefer water sports, reel in the catch of the day on a deep-sea fishing trip, or spend a day scuba diving, water skiing, sailing or windsurfing in the calm blue waters off the Gulf.
Other sports you will not expect to find in a desert city include horse riding, motor racing, gokarting, and even ice-skating.
Go on a safari and be wowed by the vastness of the desert. Adventure junkies have thrilling four-wheel drive rides over the dunes to look forward to.
Other not-to-be-missed Arabian highlights include moonlit Arabian barbecues with traditional entertainment, camel racing, as well as a trip into the Gulf in a traditional wooden dhow.
Shop up a storm
Stock up on charming finds in the maze-like souks (marketplaces).
Hunt down that must-have Arabian coffee pot, hand-wrought silver and brass items, or breathtaking jewellery studded with semi-precious stones.
If you are after well-known international brands, make a trip to any of the gleaming, gargantuan malls to get your fix.
Look to the past
Delve into Dubai's rich heritage, tracing its development from its beginnings as a fishing settlement, through the discovery of oil in the 1960s, to today's cosmopolitan city.
Tour an array of archaeological and heritage sites, palaces, mosques, museums and old souks.
Taste of the Middle East
Do not leave Dubai without taking a culinary tour of the emirate and the region.
Famous must-try culinary creations include Arabic specialties such as hummus (chick pea dip), tabouleh (crushed wheat salad) and ghuzi (a whole roast lamb on a bed of rice and nuts).
Local dishes include matchbous (spiced lamb with rice) and hareis (slow-cooked wheat and tender lamb).
This article was first published in The Straits Times on January 9, 2007 as part of a Gulf States Travel special.