Construction workers on the site of Dubailand

Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

Dubailand Theme Parks

Theme parks around the world are being transformed into resorts. Developers are building luxury hotels, restaurants and satellite parks to entice guests to linger longer. Five star dining, 18 holes and spa services extend guests' visits and offer a respite from the frenzy of theme park crowds. The Walt Disney Company even ventured into permanent theme-living in 1994 when it created Celebration, Fla., an idealized community.

Dubailand, however, will one-up even the most elaborate destination resorts and theme towns. Nearly every major park project includes its own mini-city, complete with hotels, villas, shops, golf courses and even schools. Entertainment and spectacle are woven into every project in the form of rides, attractions and extravaganzas. Let's take a look at some of Dubailand's most intriguing undertakings.

The Dubai Snowdome will integrate ice, slopes and alpine fun into a desert climate. Tourists with an appreciation of paradoxes -- as well as residents and emiraties wanting to escape the heat -- will be able to ski, toboggan and skate without heading north. An enormous, 246-foot-high transparent dome will protect 6,000 tons of snow from soaring temperatures. The US$1 billion project will also boast an ice castle, aquariums, spa and a passel of penguins. Fantastical crystal towers and iceberg-shaped homes allow for themed living. Remarkably, the Dubai Snowdome will be the emirate's second indoor ski run. The Mall of the Emirate's Ski Dubai already dazzles children who have never seen snow with slushy ice and oversize plush characters based on Islamic symbology.

Dubai's existing indoor ski run, Ski Dubai.

Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

Dubailand does not ignore its desert locale. Guests wishing to soak up sun and cool off in the pool will be able to do so at Aqua Dunya, an enormous water park inspired by the tales of Rakaan and his ship, the Desert Pearl. Three islands incorporate aspects of Rakaan's adventures, and a five-star hotel shaped like a cruise ship sits moored in a desert oasis. Themed residences and timeshares complete the aquatic fable.

For all its snow domes and water parks, Dubailand does not neglect amusement park traditionalists. The Great Dubai Wheel will be the largest observation wheel in the world when it opens in 2009. It will dwarf the London Eye and allow visitors to see vistas of about 31 miles.

In the next section, we'll learn about several other extravagant Dubailand attractions.