Coordinates: 25° 18 N | 55° 20 E
Dubai’s Population: 1,182,439 (2006 est.)
As the relative ease of international travel increases, countries seeking to compete for tourist dollars have become more creative in their efforts to market themselves as unique destinations. The United Arab Emirates, to take one example, chose to adopt the philosophy “Build it, and they will come.” Later this year, the first of the world’s three largest man-made islands (Palm Jumeirah) will be ready to receive visitors and residents. An extremely ambitious project born
of millions of tons of sand and rock, the Palm Islands, which are large enough to see from space, include plans to eventually add numerous marinas, resort hotels, luxury apartments, upscale boutiques, and water parks. Shaped like date palm trees with 17 fronds and protected from the Persian Gulf by cement seawalls, they will be connected to the growing city of Dubai via two kilometer-long, trunk-like causeways.
Ben Keene is the editor of the Oxford Atlas of the World.