My '5 stars' are for Dubai. I'm one of the authors and lived in the UAE for almost 8 years. I guess we do believe the hype, because we've lived it. Dubai is an extraordinary city, the country offers one of the best lifestyles in the world, and the Emirati people - Dubai locals in particular - are incredibly dynamic, funny, laidback, hospitable and tolerant. Having travelled all over the world (to over 50 countries) and recently moved to Europe, Dubai remains one of my favorite cities.
I'd rather not risk repeating what's in our books, but it's true that Dubai has glorious year-round weather (if you like it hot), access to some truly spectactular desert and mountain scenery, some of the world's best shopping (souqs, malls and a growing number of independent stores), restaurants, bars and hotels (and I'm not referring to Burj Al Arab), and a culture that is comprised of both the local and traditional, contemporary and multicultural, that is hybrid and mobile, fresh and alive. Unfortunately, however, we've been just as guilty as the next writers in focussing too much on the city's sun, sand and shopping. Fed up with people criticising the city as being souless (which we know it isn't) and without culture (which we know it has - many complex layers of local, regional and world cultures, in addition to a growing and buzzy arts scene) - in our update of this guide, we try to introduce people to the 'real Dubai' and 'backstreet Dubai' via boxed texts and walking tours that will take visitors off the beaten track. We're hoping these will guide travellers to get beyond the hype and experience more than the beach, desert safaris and malls, and taste a little of the real Dubai - the Dubai that keeps many expatriates in the city so long, and lures vistors back to the city time and time again.