Byline: Brian McSweeney
WELCOME to Dubai, where the local time is 5.45am and the current temperature is 39 degrees - and the sun's not even up yet.
No matter when you get off the plane in this Middle East metropolis, it's an assault on the senses.
Heat, noise, decadence, smells, luxury shopping, great hotels - and that's just in the airport.
By the time Dubai's skyline appears on the horizon you begin to get a feel for the scale of this luxury emirate.
Built from a small fishing village on Dubai Creek, the city has grown to become one of the premier holiday destinations in the world.
The UAE, where Dubai is the biggest emirate, is one of the safest destinations in the world. People of all races and religions mix freely and socially without prejudice of any kind.
A cultural bypass? Flick through the local Time Out and it's crammed full of exhibitions, art shows, galleries and theatre productions.
Most of Dubai's critics have never been to the Middle East and the millions who have seem to love it as they flock there year after year.
Yes, it can get uncomfortably hot in the middle of the summer but most of the year the unfettered sunshine and beach resorts make it a world-class destination.
And it's only a seven-hour flight from the UK. We flew Emirates from Glasgow on their award-winning daily service.
Even the journey to the Arabian Gulf is a wonderful experience as passengers enjoy world-class cuisine and cutting edge in-flight entertainment.
We stayed at the wonderful Shangri-La hotel in the middle of Dubai but many of the top places to stay in the city are further along the coast on the beach.
The five-star Shangri-La is ideally located in the city centre and is the perfect place from which to explore.
With five restaurants and two bars, it's a wrench to even leave the hotel but once you do there's loads to see.
It's a five-minute taxi ride to the Dubai Fountain on the man-made Burj Khalifa lake, which is in the centre of downtown Dubai. This fantastic attraction is the Middle East's version of the famous Belaggio fountains in Las Vegas.
It was actually designed by the same Californian company as the …