About 20 years ago I was fascinated with Singapore. Don't get me wrong, I would still love to visit Singapore. However, my newest destination fascination is Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
About 8 years ago or so it became a hot destination for South Africans to visit. It is a shopping mecca with great hotels and resorts and lots of other interesting things.
Last night I happened to watch a show on Discovery called Really Big Things. It was incredible. They focused on a new resort development that Georgio Armani has designed. It is going to be the tallest structure in the world at over 135 floors. It is going to include hotel rooms, condos, restaurants, pools, gyms, a mall etc. They also showed an indoor ski facility called Ski Dubai. It is the largest indoor ski resort anywhere - along with chalet type buildings, hot chocolate cafes etc. Excess, wealth, and materialism seem to rule the day.
I am not sure why this country is so intriguing to me, perhaps it is the fact that it situated along the northeast coast of the United Arab Emirates and in the desert. I think it is the way it has literally sprung up as a tourist destination in an area not usually known for tourism. Overall I think it is the fact that it seems to bust wide open any presuppositions one might have about a country in this region, or an economy in this region, or facilities, infra-structure or any other measurable quality one might choose to weigh.
After some reading about the area, it appears like the largely expatriate work force lives in less than stellar conditions. Construction crews run 24/7 in this burgeoning economy and so it has become a magnet for poor laborers who are desperate to earn some money to send back to family. Isn't it true that anytime a few are making billions, there are a trail of people being overused and mistreated.
David and I would spend our last dollars on travel and pre-kids, while still in South Africa, we did that often :-). My list of places to go steadily increases and I think I am adding Dubai to it. So who knows, if I live another 35 years and we take one trip every two years, we could get to number 17 on my list....yikes, I had better move it further up and bump one of those other destinations farther down.