I visited outlandishly wealthy Dubai, known as the 'city of gold,' and was surprised by how much fun you can have even without billions

Dubai Mall Worlds Second Largest Mall (30 of 61)

  • The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known worldwide for its extravagance and wealth. Business Insider international correspondent Harrison Jacobs visited in November, expecting it to be wildly expensive and out of reach for all but wealthy travelers.
  • But he and his travel partner found that Dubai was a melting pot of Arabic, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures with a variety of cheap, delicious food, efficient public transportation, five-star hotels available for budget prices, and a thriving art scene.
  • As they quickly learned, if Dubai’s luxury attractions like high-end shopping malls and ultra luxurious hotels don’t interest you, you can easily have a blast in the city without breaking the bank.

Three decades ago, Dubai was little more than just desert.

But an oil boom in the United Arab Emirates produced unprecedented wealth for the small Gulf nation. Dubai’s rulers have taken that wealth and turned it into a bustling city with things designed to be the biggest and most extravagant of the world — the tallest building, the second-biggest mall, the most luxurious hotel, and so on.

Nicknamed the „city of gold,“ Dubai has increasingly become known as a home for the world’s rich.

Last year, around 5,000 millionaires moved to the United Arab Emirates — a figure higher than the number of millionaires moving to Switzerland or Singapore, traditional places for the world’s millionaires and billionaires to park their money. There are now 88,700 millionaires total in the UAE.

With those figures and the Lamborghini and Dom Perignon-bedecked „Rich Kids of Dubai“ in mind, one would think visiting Dubai as a budget traveler wouldn’t work out particularly well.

I (Harrison, here!) spent a week in the city in November, along with my travel partner and Business Insider contributor Annie. Our fears were unfounded.

Though Dubai’s tourism board may emphasize high-end shopping boutiques and swanky resorts to would-be travelers, the city’s real attraction is its melting pot of Arabic, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures.

Add in efficient public transportation, a thriving art scene, and an oversupply of five-star hotels giving away rooms at discount prices, and you can easily have a blast in the city without breaking the bank.

Here’s what it was like to visit Dubai:

SEE ALSO: I visited Singapore, the outlandishly wealthy setting of ‚Crazy Rich Asians.‘ You don’t need billions to have a good time.

DON’T MISS: I stayed at a hotel on Dubai’s massive artificial island shaped like a palm tree and it’s more surreal than any photos can show

Our trip to Dubai began with $1,145 ticket on Dubai-owned Emirates Airlines. I’d always wanted to fly Emirates, the world’s fourth-best airline, and was willing to splurge. While there were options as cheap as $400 with a layover, Emirates turned out to be worth the extra dough. It was the best economy experience I’ve ever had.

Read More: I flew 13 hours nonstop on the world’s biggest passenger plane, the $446 million Airbus superjumbo jet, and it’s about as good as economy can get

When I got off the plane, I noticed that you can pick up the metro directly from the airport. Depending on where you are going it’s between 4 and 8.50 Dirhams ($1.09-$2.31).

But with the bags, we decided to take a car with Careem, a ride-hailing app founded in Dubai and popular all over the Middle East. Prices are very reasonable. It cost 50 Dirhams, or about $14, for the ride to the hotel.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Source: Business insider

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