Go Big or Go Home: Dubai

Innovation Posted Feb 9, 2016 by Liza Vilnits

Apparently the Kardashians aren’t the only family that travels to Dubai…earlier this month my mom decided that visiting one of the richest countries in the world would be an extravagant and memorable enough adventure to celebrate my grandma’s 85th birthday.

20160122_040811Memorable and extravagant are understatements describing my stay in this intriguing and bourgeoning desert city of the United Arab Emirates. And I’m not certain if Dubai has an official slogan, but I am certain that if I could pick one, nothing would be more fitting than “Go Big or Go Home.”

A little history: Until 1966 Dubai was mainly known for its souks (Arabic for markets) and sea trade, but that year oil was discovered, money started pouring in, and the building boom began. In 1971 the United Arab Emirates was formed and its leaders focused on making Dubai a global city that served as a symbol of modern, high-quality construction, visionary leadership and a sought-after business and tourism destination.IMG_1314

Since then, the city of Dubai and its leaders have become passionate about discovering new ways to push boundaries, whether it’s in architecture, which Dubai is known for, or with its distinctive technologies. You may interpret these developments as forward-thinking and useful, or just unnecessary – I’ll let you decide!

Here are a few of things I came across during my travels:

  • Motion sensor escalators – Just what it sounds, an escalator that detects someone approaching about a foot or two away and then starts.
  • Hand sensor toilet flusher – Not too far off from what we have here i.e. automatic flushers but these require hand placement over the sensor.
  • Portable charging devices – This is not an unheard of concept but it’s not quite commonplace now (at least for us) to expect portable charge boxes on restaurant tables, right next to the napkins.
  • “Smart” grocery shopping – In theory, similar to what we know as online grocery delivery services like Peapod, except this is a huge, virtual touch-screen grocery store found at the shopping mall.



In line with the theme of pushing boundaries, Dubai is very fond of breaking records. Among the city’s biggests, firsts and bests:

  • Burk KhalifaWorld’s tallest building – The Burj Khalifa tower is over 2,000 feet high, 160 stories. It holds SEVEN different world records including the world’s highest elevator installation and the world’s highest outdoor observation deck!


  • 20160123_022033World’s biggest shopping mall – Aside from fulfilling all of your high-end and designer shopping needs, The Dubai Mall also houses a luxury hotel, movie theatre, indoor aquarium and underwater zoo, ice skating rink and indoor theme park (yes, it was as overwhelming as it sounds).


  • First indoor mountain resort – Ski Dubai is in another one of the city’s extravagant shopping malls – The Mall of the Emirates – and features 5 different slopes including the world’s first indoor black diamond run (I guess when you live in the desert the thought of snow sounds more appealing than it may to us New Englanders!).


  • Jumeirah_palm_island_dubaiWorld’s largest man-made islands – The Palm Islands are a collection of three different island projects, two of which mimic the shape of a palm tree and the third mimics the shape of the globe. The smallest of the three is the closest to completion and houses the luxurious and imaginative Atlantis hotel.


  • World’s only 7-star rated hotel – The beautiful Burj Al Arab hotel is the one you might picture when you think of Dubai – it’s the one that looks like sail boat! It sits on the Jumeira beach coastline and is absolutely breathtaking.


Whether hearing about Dubai’s extravagance impresses you or frustrates you, no one can deny the fact that the city serves as a symbol of “what could be.” Whether that symbol is one of a promising future or needless excess is a matter of opinion, but there is no doubt that a visit to Dubai will stimulate the imagination.