Not satisfied with the biggest and best on land, the Emiratis have also set their sights on showcasing man’s supposed superiority over the sea. Reclamation is a big part of the Dubai renaissance and the results are spectacular. Our accommodation here is at the Atlantis hotel which is set on the outermost frond of a group of islands, reclaimed from the sea in the shape of a massive palm tree.
Wrapped around the resort is a massive aquarium that forms a backdrop to the famous Ossiano Restaurant as well as much of their lobby area.
SCUBA and snorkelling in the massive aquarium is available and I indulge in the latter among thousands of fish including sharks and rays.
South of The Palm is another group of reclaimed islands arranged to resemble a map of the world. These islands are being developed for sale. Each represents a country and for the right price the rich punter can own the country of his choice.
Last but by no means least is the world’s first 7 star hotel, the Burj al Arab set on its own man made island it is the preserve of the rich and famous. Built to resemble the sails of an Arab sailing boat (dhow) rooms here start at $2000 US per night. The architecture is spectacular and access is restricted to only those who have a reservation here. Riff raff is not welcome. We secure access by booking the pricey ($200 pp) afternoon tea set in the restaurant on the top floor. It is a decadent ending to a fascinating trip.