Inside Dubai Inc.

The ambitious emirate, already a tourism giant, wants to run U.S. ports and be the Wall Street of the Persian Gulf. Isn't that the American way?

Nasser Younes / AFP / Getty

A picture shows the towers of the Jebal Ali Free zone and Jumayrah luxurious area next to Dubai's Media City.

Without much oil under its sands, Dubai is no petro powerhouse. But you can't beat it for being the most colorful sheikdom in the Middle East--or the most ambitious. What other desert land can claim one of the world's largest indoor ski slopes, featuring fresh powder year round? While flying in on the stylish, state-owned Emirates Airlines, you might notice the artificial islands in the shape of a palm tree or the 56-story Burj al-Arab hotel, as tall as the Eiffel Tower, built like a billowing sail. Westerners are welcome, along with their vices. Europeans in bikinis mingle on the beach...

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