|At 828 meters (2,171 feet), the Burj Khalif is the world's tallest building, and far too large to fit in a single frame.|
On my unofficial List of Places I Never Want to Go, Dubai held second place for years. (Nothing could be worse than Vegas.) Everything I had heard made me want to avoid ultra-artificial Dubai: the excesses of the city's buildings, the commercialism of the malls, the environmental degradation from golf courses and ski slopes built in the desert, and the exploitation of immigrant laborers by the locals—a disdainful upper caste of billionaire oil barons.
Yet like it or not, Dubai was the transit point for my recent trip to Iraq.
After a mildly excruciating thirteen-hour direct flight from Washington, DC, we reached Dubai in the evening. Before landing, the plane arced above the city-state's towering downtown skyscrapers.