Dubai is not only a major workplace for construction professionals but also a veritable playground of contemporary sights and traditional delights.

Traditional delights

Deira, on the northern bank of the Dubai Creek is the place to go to sample more traditional Arabic culture. Within the huge souks (a market or market quarter) you can gorge your senses on exotic spices, fragrant perfumes and all manner of wares.

Gold, too, is still traded here as it has been for centuries, while the modern world is fully represented in the newer electronics souk.

In the city's historic Bastakia Quarter on the waterfront are the famous wind-tower houses. Built around 1900, the houses employ an early form of air conditioning whereby the slightest summer breeze is caught and then made to flow down to the living areas below.

The graceful silhouettes of the dhows slicing effortlessly through the waters of the Gulf are one of traditional Dubai's most abiding images. Cruises down the Dubai Creek are available at a price or you can simply watch these working vessels off-loading for the Deira souks, or have a look at their birthplace in the Dhow building yards in the Jaddaf District.

Six miles up the coast is Sharjah, once the most important port on the Arabian lower Gulf. Points of interest here are the Al-Hisn Fort, the picturesque Al-Arsah Souq and several museums and galleries. Kalba, a traditional fishing village, is also to be found in the Sharjah Emirate, while just south of the town you can find the oldest mangrove forest in Arabia.

If all Dubai's water-sport activities aren't enough then a visit to Hatta in the Hajar Mountains offers the prospect of a cool dip just over the border in Oman. Here you will find the famous rock pools within a canyon running with water all year round.

On the border with Oman is the oasis city of Al Ain. This prosperous, modern city exists right next door to the far less prosperous city of Buraimi in Oman. This vivid contrast offers a fascinating glimpse of past and contemporary Arab fortunes as several forts, and lively souks.

If you’re missing the rigors of the M25, M62 or M11 then why not go on safari and crash a four –wheel drive through the awesome dunes of the Wadi Oasis?

Contemporary Sights

One of the most defining images of modern Dubai - until the next one - is the extraordinary Burj Al Arab Hotel, which claims to be the only seven-star hotel in the world.

Designed by UK-based architects WS Atkins & Partners to suggest the shape of a dhow boat sail, the hotel is 10 miles south of the city, and at 321m high it is the world's tallest.

If you're missing the rigors of the M25, M62 or M11 then why not go on safari and crash a four -wheel drive through the awesome dunes of the Wadi Oasis?

Those who prefer it wetter will enjoy the Wild Wadi water adventure park, while this increasingly important centre for world sports also boasts the Dubai racing club, a wealth of golf and tennis facilities, and water sports galore.

Dubai Land - dubbed the biggest theme park in the world - achieves the improbable by supplying year round skiing and snowboarding facilities, and promises six themed worlds to be divided into 200 individual projects, including eco-tourism resorts, museums, spas and a whole lot of shopping.

Yes the shopping is good too. Enjoy the climate-controlled, cappuccino-flavoured famous names you're used to, or seek out more traditional collectables at any of the souks.

Sometimes referred to as the Las Vegas of the Gulf, Dubai's spectacular and ever-present neon street signs are worthy of a visit all by themselves.