Are You a Jumeirah Jane or GI Jane?

If you have shopped until you have dropped while in Dubai and would rather experience the life of Jumeirah Jane, as the nonworking wives of the healthy expat CEOs here are known, you might indulge in one of the many decadent spas found here.

There is a surplus of luxury hotels that strive to outdo each other and five stars no longer suffice. Many countries focus their attention on tourism attractions, museums and theaters, but here, it is the top-notch hotels that allure the foreigners.

Are You an Adrenaline Junkie?

But if you are no Jumeirah Jane (named after Dubai's Jumeirah Palm Island) and more of GI Jane or Action Man, you can get your fix in an array of adrenaline junkie sports: kite surfing and wake boarding, sand boarding or the ubiquitous dune bashing.

I sampled the latter, which is a roller coaster ride through the dunes, which I have to mention is actually not much different from the city taxi driver death rides. They all seem to be convinced they are Romans driving round the Coliseum.

Our sand-dune driver Fouad from Arabian Adventures, who had gained experience from transporting oil workers in the desert, deflated his 4x4 tires to get better traction in the sand.

He tore up and down the vertiginous dunes at incredible speeds and seemed to barely maintain control of the vehicle, but the descent was always remarkably smooth.

Camel Humps and Bedouin Camps

We were also taken to a camel farm where we could see the exotic creatures up close and personal. I was mesmerized by their eyes and beautiful long lashes and I discovered the hump is not to store water but is a fatty tissue reserve for energy.

My next visit, I vowed I would go see camel racing; they are now ridden by remote-control robot jockeys after the government banned child jockeys because of criticism.

Our next stop was to witness the most wonderful sunset to rival the famous Santorini sunset or any Grecian island for that matter. Meanwhile we also saw some boys and to my surprise, girls who were sand-dune buggying in full dress.

I am of course reminded that the United Arab Emirates is a forward-thinking Muslim country and that the worldwide conception of Islamic nations is often in stark contrast to the reality.

It was even remarked upon by President Bush in his January visit to the UAE that women's rights and their freedom are a central focus here.

On our drive to the Bedouin camp that evening, we came across a falconer; falconry is an ancient art that has long been popular with the Emirati and was a status symbol among their rulers.

Upon arrival to the camp, we were given strong Arabian coffee with cardamom and dates before going for a camel ride. I dined on the ultimate Arabian meat-orientated feast: shawarma (chicken or lamb sliced from spit), mezze, falafel (mashed chick peas, sesame seeds, rolled into balls and deep fried), hummus (ground chickpeas, oil and garlic) and fatoush (lettuce, tomato, small pieces of fried Arabic bread).

Inhale the Delights of an Arabian Shisha

My family finished the evening inhaling the delights of shisha, a Middle-Eastern tradition that began hundreds of years before the invasion of the big American cigarette companies.

In fact, in numerous cafes and restaurants, one can lie on long cushions and inhale tobacco through a large water pipe that has been soaked in fruit shavings such as strawberry, apples or grapes.

I did start to feel a profound insignificance in the silence of the desert night and away from the relentless excesses of the city in the land of perpetual sun and clear, blue skies.