When trying to understand Dubai, one must first realize that it has two historical phases. The first, between the 5,000 years to 47 years ago, involves natural socioeconomic, ethnocultural and religiopolitical progressions not too dissimilar to neighboring areas.
The second phase began in 1966 following the discovery of vast quantities of black gold underneath its ancient deserts, which proved to be the catalyst behind the transformation of the sleepy, agrarian Dubai into one of the richest and most glamorous metropolitans in the world, under the astute and forward-thinking leaderships of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004), who came into power on August 6, 1966, and his son, Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (b. 1948), who came into power following the death of his father.
The discovery of oil also paved the way for the creation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from seven of the eleven Trucial States of the British colonial era: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. It is worth noting the Dubai that most of us are familiar with today refers to the city inside the emirate (principality) of the same name – sort of like New York, New York.
Today, Dubai is more than just a cavalcade of skyscrapers rising in the middle of the desert. It has successfully achieved its objective of becoming the region’s new financial, trading, art, technology and property hub. Standard of living for its 2.1 million inhabitants (probably the most ethnically diverse in the world) stands at $47,439 - marginally higher than the United States. In addition, the crime rate here is very low, with violent crimes rarely heard of.
However, a common criticism directed at Dubai is the perceived excesses in spending. The oil wealth, influx of foreign investments and the growing presence of the ultra-high net worth individuals have all conspired to propel an almost insatiable drive to be the most beautiful, most expensive, tallest, strongest, widest, longest and more – some at the expense of common sense and rationality.
Be that as it may, this development has also undeniably presented the locals and tourists here with the opportunity to sample some of the most wickedly extravagant pleasures in life, according them with a taste of the lifestyles of the millionaires and billionaires of the world. With that in mind, join our countdown of the ten most expensive things tourists and residents alike can take part in.
10 Most Expensive Sandwich in Dubai: $84
So you think nothing can beat the traditional goodness of the plain grilled cheese sandwich or flavorful steak sandwich? Think again. Frenchmen Michel Rostang, a two-star Michelin Chef and owner of the Rostang Brasserie in the Atlantis hotel and resort in Palm Jumeirah, concocted a simple, yet sinfully delicious sandwich made out of two slices of plain white bread, a little butter and an even smaller sprinkling of black Périgord truffles (which retails for over $100 per ounce). Top it all off with some salt, and you have the breakfast of healthy Dubai-based millionaires.
9 Most Expensive Pizza in Dubai: $120
The 3rd Avenue Café, located on the first floor of the Dubai Mall, is a cross between a gourmet restaurant, rotisserie and an Italian bistro. However, this identity crisis sort of explains the restaurant’s signature dish, the wood-fired Astice e Tartufo (Lobster and Truffle) pizza. Created by Chef Fabrizio Pellegrini, the pizza features the meat of a French blue lobster, Sicilian cherry tomatoes, truffles, real gold leafs and asparagus on a bed of sauce and cheese.
8 Most Expensive Restaurant in Dubai: Up to $161
How does a $33 bowl of chestnut and pheasant soup sound to you? Or a $50 tomato and pepper confit? What about a $161 serving of Maine lobsters? If the thought excites you, well, head on over to the At.mosphere in Dubai, the world’s highest restaurant at 1,350 ft high. Located on the 22nd level of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, At.mosphere is the poshest, swankiest and most luxurious fine dining establishment in all of Dubai.
7 Most Expensive Round of Golf In Dubai: $271
They say a perfect round of golf is priceless – and in the eyes of many, the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Club is one of the few that are capable of consistently delivering a uniquely satisfying experience to professional and amateur golfers alike. Home to the $2.5 million Dubai Desert Classic, the acclaimed 7,301-yard, 72-par Majlis course is viewed as one of the finest in the 52-leg European Tour – and certainly the best in the region. For just $271, you can tread the same paths that the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els once did.
6 Most Expensive Cupcake in Dubai and the World: $1,010
We’re back at the Dubai Mall once again, but this time, to the boutique café, Bloomsbury. To commemorate its one year anniversary in 2012, the owners added a new item to the menu, ‘The Golden Phoenix’. Priced at approximately $1,010, it is the “Most Expensive ‘Edible’ Cupcake” in the world. Using premium organic flour and butter from England, along with Italian Amedei Porcelena chocolate, high quality Ugandan vanilla beans and edible gold sheets, the Golden Phoenix is, by all accounts, a feast to the eyes and taste buds.
5 Most Expensive Cocktail in Dubai: $7,438
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, you have to walk into the Skyview Bar at the stunning Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. Even Rick Blaine from Casablanca wouldn’t be able to turn down the chance to try the seven thousand dollar cocktail, fascinatingly named ‘27.321’ (Skyview is located on the 27th floor of the 321 ft. tall building). Made from, among others, a 55-year Macallan and self-made bitters, the cocktail comes with its own oak stirrer made from aged brewing barrels.
4 Most Expensive Hotel Room in Dubai: $24,000
After a long day of wining, dining, golfing, cupcaking and cocktailing around Dubai, it stands to reason that you should retire to a room of a standard you are accustomed to. Where else but the Royal Suite at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven star hotel.
For just $24,000 (more than the annual wage of three quarters of the world’s working population), you can stay in a two story, 8,396 sq. ft. suite of marble, oak and gold. There will also be a team of butlers to cater to your every need, a personal library in case you have an urge to read or write, a ten-seat dining table, a luxurious lounge to entertain guests, a spa and a rotating bed. The level of opulence and luxury here will astonish even the most jaded amongst us.
3 Most Expensive Valentine's Date in Dubai: $27,225
If flowers, movies and dinner no longer holds sway for your special one, perhaps a visit to the Madinat Jumeirah on the next Valentine's Day is due. For just $27,225, you and your lover will be treated to a Rolls Royce ride to your Presidential or Royal Suite, before being whisked away for a helicopter ride across the city. Dinner will feature customized dishes prepared by gourmet chefs. There will be live entertainment, flowers, cocktails, massages, and much more throughout the day and magical evening.
2 Most Expensive Mobile Home In Dubai & the World: $3.27 Million
Forget about the levels of luxury you would normally associate with high end RV's or motorhomes, because Marchi Mobile’s eleMMent PALAZZO takes things to a whole new level. The extravagantly furnished mega caravan comes with a fireplace, a rooftop balcony, a king-sized bed and underfloor heating. But that’s not all! At the touch of a button, the whole RV will automatically convert into a trendy lounge with a cocktail bar and flashy lighting.
1 Most Expensive Purse in Dubai: $3.8 Million
Rounding off our top ten list is the Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse, a heart-shaped handbag made from 18 carat gold and embedded with 4,517 diamonds weighing almost 382 carats. Designed and crafted by ten craftsmen from the world famous jeweler, House of Mouawad, the purse took over 8,800 hours to complete. During its unveiling in 2010 at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, company chairman Pascal Mouawad stated that the masterpiece was “designed to mesmerize”.