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All That Glitters in Dubai

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been experiencing a boom since the development of its oil and gas reserve in the 1960s, leading to a growth of exportation in the 1970s. The massive building and expansion in Dubai, as evidenced by some of the world’s tallest and most intricately designed skyscrapers, resort complexes and even man-made islands, continues today, and there is no doubt that the city is becoming a rising star in the spa world.

Divided in half by Dubai Creek, an inlet of the Persian Gulf,1 Dubai is the main port and commercial center of the UAE, and the principal shipping, trading and communications hub of the Persian Gulf region. Originally founded as a small fishing village around the end of the 18th century, by the 20th century it had become a major port and wealthy commercial town.

Dubai has a population of 1.37 million people,2 with 85% being expatriates.3 The majority of these expats are from the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines; however, there also is a large number of professionals from Europe and Australasia.2 It is interesting to note that many native Middle Easterners migrated to Dubai because of war in their homeland, in addition to opportunities for employment. Professionals from other countries, namely Europe and Australasia, are attracted to Dubai because of its wealth of opportunity, as well. A staggering 78% of the population is said to be male and, with its population increasing at a 6% rate, it is clearly one of the fastest-growing urban areas on the globe.2

“Economical growth has stimulated extensive demographic growth,” says Daniella Russell, director of Wafi Health & Leisure Group in Dubai, which includes Cleopatra’s Spa. “Most educated and broad-minded people from all over the world started coming into Dubai with the desire to live and work here. Another strong factor influencing Dubai’s rapid development was that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are rich in oil and gas, which brings high disposable income to the residents and creates demand for luxury items and well-being experiences as the life habit. Massive volumes of tourism also contribute to our business success here.”

With projects such as The Atlantis resort and a spa on The Palm Jumeirah, which recently opened in September and was the first, and flagship, development on this artificial island created to cater to tourism, Dubai will surely continue its boom. The same holds true for its spa industry.

Growth potential