• Photo: Peter Guttman/Peterguttman.com

Jumeirah Beach

Dubai's beach strip runs 11 miles south from Bur Dubai to the new developments around Dubai Marina. For years this stretch of sand was an unappreciated treasure used only by fishermen, but it became a major weapon in Dubai's arsenal when the emirate started luring tourists.

Commonly known in the brochures as Jumeirah (also spelled Jumeira) because of its northernmost district, the strip has lengthened over time to include neighboring Umm Suqeim and the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah to the south, and Al Wasl, Safa, and Media city districts, which rest inland. The newest and largest hotels are located at the southern end, farthest away from downtown.

Jumeirah's large resort hotels are a huge tourist draw, with high-quality restaurants, exciting nightlife, and private beach clubs that have first-rate sports facilities on and off the water. The low-rise residential districts that back the beach are popular with Western expats, and you'll find a range of smaller malls, independent spas, establishments geared for medical tourism, boutiques, and excellent ethnic restaurants here.

The Dubai canal cuts through the center of the district, and it seems this new strip of water has injected life into the previously sleepy areas stretching inland and northwards toward downtown. Here there are several shopping strips that usually offer a point of difference to the larger malls, and a plethora of eateries on offer.

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