Dubai is a modern urban of glass and steel built on the water’s edge of a sprawling desert but is still a magnet for attracting wealthy expats.
The city is a playground for the rich and famous, with seemingly unlimited entertainment, sports and shopping.
But scratch the glittering surface and why lies beneath may not be what it seems at first sight.
Dubai has suffered as the world economy has jolted back to life after the financial crisis of a decade ago.
A few years ago, Dubai had a thriving property market with apartments in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, selling for $1,000 a square foot.
Now, agents say the price has plunged to $650 a square foot – still out of reach of the average expat who is finding living in Dubai is becoming more expensive even though property prices are dropping.
Most expats rent when they move to Dubai as their company’s housing allowance eases the cost of living.
Expats are important in Dubai. Around nine out of 10 of the population of 3 million are foreigners who have retired or work in the city. Buying a property can be a gamble as visas are linked to jobs and losing a job can mean leaving the country.
Other exclusive estates are for Emiratis only, but money talks loudly in Dubai and anyone with enough cash can easily rent a home.
Expats may find getting around the city is a major culture shock. Walking a few blocks, like residents do in London, Paris or New York is out of the question due to the searing heat. In the summer, temperatures in the Middle East state can rise as high as 110 Fahrenheit.
Luxury homes with swimming pools and gyms are built around self-contained neighbourhoods behind sturdy gates and walls to keep strangers and prying eyes out. Going out means driving.
Renting a luxury four-bedroom villa comes at a price – around $4,750 a month.
Apartments are just as expensive in the prestige Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall districts.
Dubai Marina is a mid-market zone. A two-bedroom apartment rents for around $3,000 a month.