McDonalds, Burger King, Baskin Robins, KFC, Cold Stone Creamery, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse and thousands of other American-based restaurant chains can be found throughout the emirate, along with many other local and international eateries.
Not only does the booming restaurant industry provide an incredible variety of options, but most every establishment will deliver food to its customers throughout Dubai.
It is no surprise that this is a source of concern for parents whose children have access to the unlimited food options that have invaded the UAE.
One of the most unexpected examples of the variety of options that I encountered was a small Blue Bell Ice Cream shop in one of the emirate's many shopping malls. For those not familiar with the company, Blue Bell Ice Cream is a regional American brand that is only available in the southeastern U.S.—as well as Dubai.
For me, the sheer quantity of restaurants throughout Dubai, especially fast food establishments, was the most significant indication of the consumer-driven lifestyle. While in the UAE, I even found myself opting for quick and convenient meals. It was much easier to grab a meal during my commute to meetings than it would have been to find a healthy sit-down restaurant and eat a full meal.
Food, however, is only one facet of the abundance available to residents and visitors alike.
The Dubai Mall, for example, is one of the area’s most popular shopping venues and contains more than 1,000 shops, including designer boutiques, upscale clothing stores, as well as many furniture and art galleries.
The scorching heat prevents most outdoor activities during the summer, but Dubai’s locals flock to the shopping malls where they can not only shop and eat, but also visit one of several spectacular aquariums or even test themselves on an indoor ski slope.
Ski Dubai is a popular attraction that allows local residents to ski, snowboard and toboggan in a massive structure located inside the Mall of the Emirates.
I found that I could avoid spending time outside thanks to Dubai’s affordable transportation network, which includes a driverless train system that connects most of the city, extensive bus routes throughout the new and historic districts, and thousands of taxis that pack the streets.
Ultimately, Dubai’s exponential growth and fast-paced lifestyle have resulted in a risky trade of convenience for healthy living.
Andrew Faust is a writer and multimedia journalist studying health communication at The University of Georgia. This project was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Campus Consortium.