As a destination for tourists and travellers, Dubai is a one-off, with surprises around every corner. Very little about Dubai’s way of life is either mundane or ordinary: it is a place of drama and extremes, of ambition and aspiration. It’s hardly surprising that the city is such a magnet for architects, designers and their like: it offers tax-free living and it’s certainly a place that likes to show off. A shrinking violet Dubai is definitely not!

Dubai is well on course to becoming the number one shopping destination in the world. Its legendary shopping malls offer much more than merely a retail experience – they are places to eat, drink, socialise and relax. If you’re coming here with shopping in mind, don’t forget your travel insurance.

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Dubai has often been referred to as ‘tiny but turbocharged’, a phrase that neatly sums up the city’s meteoric growth in the past decade or two. As a tourist destination it is as good as unique, offering superb shopping, accommodation, food and sport, and generally enjoys very favourable weather. Crime is relatively rare, English is widely spoken, and tourists are respected and left alone without being hassled. That said, Dubai is still relatively conservative by Western standards where drunkenness and swearing in public are simply not tolerated. With that in mind, travel insurance is essential.

The social and cultural divides evident in Dubai are striking, especially to the first-time visitor, and they are not to everyone’s taste. The population is split between Emiratis themselves (who at 10% of the population are in a minority), expat Europeans and Americans, and workers from the developing world, particularly from India.

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Despite the global economic downturn, Dubai recorded a 1.7% increase in economic growth during the first quarter of 2011 and unemployment remained low. Tourism continues to prosper, with 30 new hotels having opened in 2011. To that end, the city is on track to reach the targets set in the Dubai Strategic Plan for 2015. One of the central parts of this plan is a new cruise terminal to boost cruise tourism. Another – and one which says a lot about Dubai – is the launch of a new hotel classification system to categorise the five-star properties into platinum, gold and silver categories. The standard of accommodation is generally high, although if you do find yourself staying in a cheaper hotel, ensure you have travel insurance.

One of the city’s most popular attractions for tourists is Dubai Museum. Appropriately enough, it is housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings. It offers a comprehensive overview of Dubai’s history and heritage. This is after all a city which only thirty years ago was little more than a desert settlement.

As with any destination, taking out travel insurance ahead of your trip to Dubai is highly recommended. If unforeseen events do occur, having your travel insurance to fall back on will save you a huge amount of time and money.