Disneyland or Dubai?

Man-made resort islands several kilometers long? An underwater hotel? A perfect replica of Elvis' Graceland? O.K., we made the last one up, but Dubai, the playground of the Persian Gulf, is developing a number of omigod attractions that combine wow factor with more than a hint of surrealism, all to capitalize on its burgeoning status as a short-break hot spot.

"It's a dream come true," says Hamza Mustafa, a sales executive at the city's Palm resort. "Ideas here become reality." Made up of two reclaimed islands in the shape of 7-km-long, stylized palm trees, the resort is the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!