There's something about snapping a photo from thousands of feet in the air that draws a belly-aching nostalgia, whether you're familiar with the subject or not. Maybe it's the physical disconnection—or the dollhouse scale any metropolitan hub adopts when viewed from the seat of an airplane. Tiny, model-sized buildings and parks are just so much more digestible than exploring on foot. Dubai is no exception. The 1,500-square-mile area houses more than 2 million people, complete with enough luxury shopping stops to knock any wallet into a knee-buckling remission. But once you set yourself up hundreds of feet from the ground, the noise dissipates.
Dubai is a bucket list destination, ready to wow any traveler with its cloud-reaching skyscrapers—most of which are known around the world as feats of architecture in height or just eye-catching aesthetic. From above, it's hard to imagine that the space that now holds a wealth of business and enterprise that's around every corner was once a modest fishing village. The city hub has made leaps and bounds—but take a trip a couple of miles out of town into the Arabian Desert, and you'll be greeted with an entirely new (and age-old) scene: Earth-toned sand dunes stretched across the horizon and heavy-footed camels trekking toward the Western Hajar Mountains, which signals entry to Oman. Head south of Dubai and you'll find a topaz paradise, more commonly known as the Persian Gulf. There aren't many places in the world where you can take in such a range of environments in one camera frame.
The sad realization is that not all of us have seen the United Arab Emirates' most populous city from above—whether it's the view from an airplane or from a seat at one of the city's tallest buildings. While we can't possibly share all of Dubai's best angles in one set of photos, this can serve as motivation to get up there and take it in for yourself. Hey, just add it to the bucket list. You won't regret it.