IF you can imagine it, Dubai will create it. Islands in the shape of palm trees, or the planet? No problem.
Whale sharks swimming past your hotel room “window”? Easy, if you go to the Atlantis Hotel and are prepared to pay £6,000 a night for a room with floor-to-ceiling views facing into a giant aquarium.
In fact Dubai gets quite hung up on superlatives. It has the world’s tallest building in the Burj Khalifa (formerly the Burj Dubai), which soars to 800m (2,625 feet) and has more than 160 storeys.
The Burj Al Arab – the sail-shaped building – is perhaps the most recognisable hotel in the world and is the second tallest building to be used exclusively as a hotel, standing at 321m (1,050 ft).
If you want to do it, Dubai will find a way of making it so.
It was to this backdrop of “nothing is impossible” that I went to test the second largest of the Emirates’ sporting offers. The biggest challenge I could think to throw at the desert country was to say I wanted to go skiing or snowboarding.
But with the world’s third largest indoor ski slope situated at the centre of a shopping mall, Dubai could even achieve that.
Ski Dubai (www.skidubai.com) offers ski and snowboarding lessons as well as snow-play areas for tobogganing, tubing and even zorbing in a year-round winter wonderland.
While Ski Dubai is about creating a world alien to the desert, the country also knows how to play to its strengths.
With beautiful white sand beaches, watersports are an obvious offering but the range is vast.
I tried out waterskiing at the newly-renovated Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa where I was staying.
Its sports club also offers kayaking, windsurfing, banana boats and scuba diving.
And despite the still waters I was told at some times of the year the wind picks up enough to create waves suitable for surfing.
For a trip away from the Jebel Ali resort, the Atlantis hotel on Palm Islands offers a surreal experience.
The hotel has its own water park, open to visitors, which has water-slides that pass through a giant aquarium – home to sharks, rays and gruppa fish.
Luxury suites are also available which look into that world, creating a spectacular view from your bathtub or bed.
The undulating sand dunes are Dubai’s playground and a desert safari was the perfect way to escape the towering hotels, office buildings and flats and see some of the raw landscape.
Travco offers a range of packages from morning safaris to overnight stays at their desert camp.
We took an evening trip and added in some quad-biking at the beginning to see just how hard dune-bashing can be.
Then the convoy of four-wheel-drive cars hit the dunes, stopping to allow us to take pictures of the sunset before arriving at camp Morgam. There, traditional belly dancing and skirt dancing provided the entertainment at the Bedouin-style camp, with a barbecue and shisha pipes also on offer.
Many of the activities in Dubai are outdoor and the only thing the country struggles with is rain.It happens so rarely that when the torrential downpour struck during my visit, the country nearly ground to a halt with roads flooded and buildings leaking from every roof joint and window.
However, even then the Jebel Ali International Shooting Club stepped in to keep people entertained.
Another unique feature in the comprehensive portfolio of facilities offered by the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, this shooting club is set in 165 acres and has facilities for clay shooting in various disciplines, an indoor range and archery.
The country’s downfall is its seriously manufactured feel as it has striven to replace the former pearl trade with tourism.
Dubai is a theme park with everything but discovering its heart is a difficult task.