36 asia There is something for every taste and interest in this 185-year-old city. Epicureans will appreciate the staggering diversity of cuisines from Indian, North Korean, Lebanese and Chinese to Italian, French and American. For local traditional Middle Eastern fare, be sure to sample the camel, bulgur wheat, cous cous, baklava and for a true authentic food experience, sample the street vendors. For the architecture and design enthusiast, Dubai is a delight. The world’s tallest building (2,722 feet to be exact), the Burj Khalifa o‹ers breathtaking and notfor the-squeamish views of the city on the 124th-floor observation deck. Coined the most luxurious hotel in the world, check out the Jumeriah’s seven-star Burj Al Abab where revolving beds, gold-plated ipads and chau‹eurdriven Rolls Royce’s are the order of the day. If it’s family activities you are looking for, exceptional playgrounds await. The infamous indoor ski resort at the Mall of the Emirates is ideal for skiing, snowboarding and zip lining with a glimpse of the resident penguin or two. Camping under the stars in the terracotta-colored dunes, reef diving, hiking and sea-kayaking are other ways to explore Dubai’s great outdoors. Just an hour’s drive away, the capital city of Abu Dhabi o‹ers an architectural array of parliament buildings, ministries and foreign embassies along with more culture, sports and leisure activities. As one of the richest cities, the glittering white domed mosques and date palm gardens feature another look at the local culture. No trip to Abu Dhabi would be complete without a visit to the marble and gilt-filled Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where you can view the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet along with the 12 of the world’s largest crystal chandeliers. The views of the skyline and sea are a bonus as you get your exercise by walking, cycling or roller-blading along the architectural marvel that is the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Auto enthusiasts will enjoy Ferrari World, a branded themed park named after the Italian automobile. And be sure to experience the local heritage of falconry at the Abu Dhabi International and Equestrian Exhibition. Culture can be found an hour and half drive away at the Louvre Abu Dhabi that boasts everything from prehistoric artifacts to contemporary works of art. The first branch of the Louvre to open outside of France, the museum houses 23 state-of-the-art galleries with works on loan from Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet and da Vinci. If time permits, be sure to see the art-rich city of Sharjah where the Bait Al Naboodah and Islamic museums are well worth a visit. Blissful blue skies and sunshine can be enjoyed year-round with November to April being the prime months to visit (summer can be very humid). No matter when you visit the UAE, experience all the local culture has to o‹er, ride a camel in the desert, and above all, enjoy. Cathy Whitlock is the author of Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction (Harper Collins) and a magazine writer specializing in travel, design and celebrity profiles for American Airlines Celebrated Living, The Hollywood Reporter, Architectural Digest and Traditional Home.