Dubai has made no secret of its desire to do everything on a grand scale. The country boasts the world’s biggest shopping malls and even the world’s biggest natural flower garden. And now, the Gulf emirate has finally cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest airport.
Although it’s not yet complete, the Al-Maktoum International Airport opened its doors to passengers this weekend. The first plane to land at the new hub , a flight from Budapest, was welcomed with a water cannon salute when it touched down.
The new facility is the country’s second airport and is located about 50 miles away from Dubai International Airport, already one of the world’s busiest gateways. Last year, 57 million passengers passed through its terminals.When the new airport is finished, it will have five runways and be capable of welcoming 160 million passengers a year. It also will have the capacity to handle about 12 million tons of cargo. The new airport is in the middle of a special economic zone in Dubai, which includes one of the world’s biggest man-made harbors and a huge terminal for container ships. Officials believe the new airport will play an important role in shaping Dubai as a center for trade, commerce and tourism.
Despite all the fanfare, only a few airlines have signed on to use the new airport so far, although officials are confident that other carriers will soon follow suit.
Dubai has a lot of big things. At 688 feet, the Dubai Eye will be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world and part of the $1.5 billion Bluewaters Island entertainment project. At almost 12 million square feet, the Dubai Mall sits in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Now, a multi-national company plans to build the world’s largest man-made lagoon to the tune of $7 billion.
The yet to be named project will be nearly four times bigger than the current largest lagoon and have swimming, water sports and other water based leisure activities. If all goes as planned, developer Crystal Lagoons Corp that holds patented technology for building giant crystalline lagoons, hopes that their project will quickly become a popular warm weather destination.
“Caribbean landscapes are no longer exclusive to tropical destinations,” said Crystal Lagoons CEO Kevin P. Morgan in an Economic Times report.
Crystal Lagoons has bigger plans, too. “Based on our track record in the Middle East, we have proven that our technology can add value to a top destination, making beachfront real estate a reality anywhere in the world,” said Morgan.
London may be known for its rainy climate but one hotel in the British capital has decided loaning out umbrellas just wasn’t cool enough for its elite clientele — not when you could loan out Burberry trench coats instead.
The Maybourne Hotel Group — which runs a number of high-end hotels in London — is placing the designer raincoats in suites so that guests can ward off the weather. Visitors can use the Burberry coats for free during their stay, but will have to cough up around $1,500 if they want to take them home.
Trench coats are just one of many luxurious perks hotels are offering to woo guests. Over the years, we’ve seen all sorts of cool and surprising things on loan to travelers.If you’re staying at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, there’s no need to worry about picking up a cramped rental car. The hotel will set guests up with a nice set of free wheels — all you have to do is decide if you want to hit the road in a Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Cadillac, Mercedes or Bentley.
Earlier this year, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai announced it was letting guests play with an iPad during their stay. Of course, being Dubai, they’re not just handing out any old iPad — their blinged-out devices are plated in nothing less than 24-carat gold.
And finally, if you’re tired of everything in your suitcase, you can put together a killer new outfit thanks to the Fred Segal lending library at the Loews Santa Monica Hotel. The program lets hotel guests borrow a range of accessories such as expensive purses, necklaces and sunglasses from the upscale clothing retailer.
Have you come across any other lavish hotel perks?
Getting arrested is probably far down the list of most people’s travel concerns. After all, we’re usually focused on checking museums and monuments off our bucket list — not engaging in illicit activity. But seemingly innocuous behavior can get you into trouble in many parts of the world, including things like wearing bikinis and chewing gum.
The British Foreign Office has released a warning about strange foreign laws after a report revealed that nearly a third of Britons seeking consular assistance were arrested or detained abroad. They say many travelers don’t realize that activities that are perfectly legal at home could get you locked up or fined in another country.
A few of the unusual foreign laws they highlighted include:Venice: It’s illegal to feed pigeons here.
Nigeria: Taking mineral water into the country could land you in hot water.
Singapore: Chewing gum on public transit is a big no-no.
Japan: Watch out if you have allergies. A lot of nasal sprays are on this country’s black list.
Wondering what other laws could get you locked up abroad? Here are a few more we rounded up:
Dubai: Kissing in public could land you in jail in this conservative country.
Thailand: Stepping on the local currency — which bears the image of the king — is seen as disrespecting the monarch and could get you arrested.
Greece: Wearing stilettos at archaeological sites in Greece will get you into trouble. The pointy shoes are banned because of the damage they cause to the historic monuments.
Germany: It’s against the law to run out of gas on the autobahn. Stopping unnecessarily on this fast-paced high way is illegal, and that includes those who forget to fill up their tank.
What other unusual foreign laws have you come across?
China recently announced it had built the biggest building in the world and now it’s set to build a massive art gallery to house its national treasures.
At more than 430,000 square feet, the Pingtan Art Museum will be the largest private art museum in Asia. In fact, the art gallery is so big that China will create an artificial island on which to place it.
The new island, known as Pingtan, will be built in China’s Fujian province and the museum will be housed in a smaller secondary island connected to the first. The museum — which looks like some sort of futuristic sea creature — will be made out of concrete and shells with the inside of the structure built to look like historic caves.China isn’t the first country to create an artificial island to give itself more space. Here are a few other man-made pieces of land that might be of interest to travelers.
Uros Islands. The Uros people live on islands in Peru’s Lake Titicaca. Their floating islands are made of reeds which need to constantly be replaced to keep the islands from disintegrating.
Mexcaltitan. This man-made island off the coast of Mexico is home to 800 people and is believed to be the birthplace of the Aztecs.
The World Islands. Dubai certainly has a high profile when it comes to creating unique artificial islands. This archipelago off the coast of Dubai was meant to look like a miniature version of a world map, although the project was never finished and the islands are slowly sinking into the sea.