This photo shows the 'The Executive Towers' group of skyscrapers under simultaneous construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on March 29, 2007. The Emirate's government's decision to move from an oil-based economy to focus on tourism industry triggered a real-estate development boom that has been going since 2004. Hanns-Peter Lochmann/DPA/Newscom/File
The sun sets behind the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai on May 31. The luxury hotel, the second-tallest in the world, is located on an artificial island and is shaped to resemble a boat's sail. Rooms range from $1,000 to $28,000 per night. Marcus Brandt/DPA/Newscom
Dubai is gearing up to inaugurate on September 9 its metro network - the first in the Gulf Arab countries, but it remains to be seen whether motorists will be willing to leave their cars behind. The transportation network is currently over capacity and experiences severe congestion. AFP/HO/RTA/Newscom
This photo shows the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, on May 31. The skyscraper towers 2,684 feet into the sky and is scheduled to be opened in the autumn of 2009. The $4.1 billion tower will be the centerpiece of the downtown development 'Downtown Burj Dubai.' Marcus Brandt/DPA/Newscom
Construction crews work at the courtyard of the Burj Dubai skyscraper on January 4. Stefan Puchner/DPA/Newscom/File
This photo, taken on September 7, 2007, shows an aerial view of the man-made palm-shaped islands in Dubai. Currently, only one of the three planned islands has been constructed. The islands will be home to residential and commercial centers and are constructed by rocks quarried in Dubai and sand dredged from the sea floor. Karim Sahib/AFP/Newscom/File
'Atlantis, The Palm' is a 1,539 room, ocean-themed destination resort located at the centre of the crescent of the man-made Palm Jumeirah. This $1.5 billion project resort will utilize over 100 acres, with a 42-acre water park marine and entertainment attractions. It will be home to one of the largest open-air marine habitats in the world, with some 65,000 marine animals in lagoons and displays including 'The Lost Chambers,' a maze of underwater corridors and passageways. Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM/Newscom/File
Pictured is the Dubai Marina district, a massive, man-made area that includes six apartment towers and 64 luxury villas. Phase two of construction has still yet to begin, will include over 200 high-rise buildings and will make Dubai Marina the largest man-made marina in the world. Ammar Abd Rabbo/ABACAPRESS.COM
The hotel 'Atlantis, The Palm' is pictured on its opening night, November 20, 2008. Jens Kalaene/Newscom/File
An ambitious luxury development of 300 small islands shaped like a world map is currently under construction. The project - the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai - will offer individual islands for sale. According to Reuters, the emirate may be reevaluating ambitious real-estate development plans in the wake of the global financial crisis, which caused a cash shortage in Dubai and depressed real-estate prices. WENN/Newscom/File
The British cruise ship, the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is seen at her new home in Dubai. On her retirement the luxury liner, which carried stars and Royalty for nearly 40 years, was meant to become a glittering hotel and the centrepiece of man-made Palm Jumeirah Island. But since she was delivered to the Gulf last November, the 70,000-ton QE2 - which saw action as a troop ship during the Falklands War - has been left at a quayside in industrial Port Rashid with little evidence of any renovation taking place. Zuma/Newscom/File
The United Arab Emirates has arrested more than 100 alleged dissidents since 2011 in a bid to maintain the Gulf state's reputation for stability.
ByPhillip Walter Wellman, Contributor
Luxury housing built on palm-shaped islands, airports with Fifth Avenue glitz, an artificial ski resort in the desert: This is the easy-going image that the United Arab Emirates projects to the world. But Dubai resident Ahmed Mansoor sees things much differently.