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Shiny Dubai from the sky

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Rebekah Ison

Dubai is testament to man's sheer determination to manipulate nature.

Out of sand, a luxurious modern city has risen, which largely seems to be hotels and mega malls.

Well dressed men and and high-heeled women step out of luxury cars as we arrive, late at night, at the JW Marriott Marquis, the world's tallest hotel. As we enter the lobby, I'm struck by how international the clientele is.

Dubai is obsessed with large and shiny. The world's tallest structure at 830m, the Burj Khalifa, looks like an artist's prediction of buildings in the future. But from the ground, I can't fit the whole awe-inspiring building into one photo.

The scale of this city is best appreciated from the air. A 40-minute Seawings scenic tour flies you over all of Dubai's big, man-made attractions, including the Burj.

The World, an artificial archipelago of tiny islands built into the shape of a world map a couple of kilometres offshore, is an incredible sight.

But the famous Palm Jumeirah, with its gigantic sprawling arms packed with thousands of residences, totally blows me away.

I'm also fascinated by the less dense outer parts of town, where azure blue swimming pools seem out of place against otherwise baron desert sand.

It's this contrast that makes you ponder the resources required to build Dubai.

Shopping is the city's collective pastime, with mega malls housing their own hotels for convenience. You need patience as well as cash to indulge. While the oppressive heat keeps you indoors, getting around just one of the big malls could take days.

Outside, I can't help noticing the amazing amount of construction going on ahead of the World Expo in four years time.

It's hard to imagine Dubai could get any more luxurious and excessive, but planners are certainly giving it a shot.

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: Numerous airlines fly from Sydney to Dubai. Qantas direct fares in November start from $A1537 return (www.qantas.com).

STAYING THERE: Take your pick from a seemingly endless list of hotels. The luxurious JW Marriott Marquis has more than 1600 rooms starting from around $US280 ($A371). Visit www. marriott.com

PLAYING THERE: Shop until you drop at one of the city's renowned mega malls before treating yourself to a luxurious spa treatment at the Marriott Marquis' Saray spa. You can also choose from the hotel's 14 restaurants before hitting the popular in house nightclub. A 40-minute Sea Wings tour is around $A600. Visit www.seawings.ae/seaplane-tour

Dubai is hot year round, but the winter months between November and March are more comfortable. For more info, visit www.dubai.com

* The writer was a guest of The JW Marriott, Qantas and Emirates.

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