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Sometimes called the Manhattan of the Middle East, Dubai has set out to become the region’s cruising and tourism hub.

It hosted more than 400,000 cruise passengers in the 2012-13 season and is joining forces with Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, and neighbouring Oman to invest millions of dollars in cruising infrastructure over the next few years.

By mid-2014, Dubai’s cruise terminal will be able to handle five ships simultaneously. Abu Dhabi is building a new terminal that will accommodate three or four ships at a time and is also developing facilities on the islands of Delma and Sir Bani Yas for cruise passengers.

Oman is planning to build a new terminal at Muttrah, one of three ports open to cruise ships.

The idea is to capitalise on the amazing monuments and fascinating history of the area to create an array of itineraries that will ignite the local market and appeal to everyone else.

As more of our readers head over to Dubai, we help you on your journey with a list of 15 things to do in the city, which features in the Autumn edition of Cruise Passenger magazine.

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations:

  • Zoom to the top of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in high-speed lifts that travel at 10 metres per second and stop at the 124th floor  for a dizzying, 360-degree view of the city, the desert and the sea. Booking in advance is much cheaper than paying at the door.
  • Venture into Dubai’s “outback’’ and experience the expansive red desert with rolling sand dunes and an unforgettable sense of timelessness. You can also watch a falconry display in the desert or head to a Bedouin camp for a camel ride.
  • If you have a head for heights, you can get a fantastic bird’s eye view of Dubai by taking a sky dive over Palm Island.
  • Ski in the desert at Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates, one of the city’s landmark attractions and the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort. You can also go snowboarding and bobsledding.
  • No one leaves Dubai without indulging in some retail therapy. You can shop till you drop at Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping mall at the base of the world’s tallest building. It may be packed with designer names but there is also plenty of affordable entertainment here, including the world’s largest suspended aquarium that is so huge it even offers glass-bottom boat rides above the sharks and rays.
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For the full destination report, pick up a copy of Cruise Passenger magazine, Autumn edition with Queen Mary 2 on the cover from your local newsagent.