Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Much has been written about the phenomenon that is Dubai. Ibn Battuta never came here because in his day there was no Dubai - its equivalent then was Hormuz or Mughistan - both of which are now obscure places on the Iranian side of the Gulf which I visited this summer.
What will be the tallest tower in the world, Burj Dubai.
Dubai essentially came into being in 1833 when the Bani Yas tribe broke away from Abu Dhabi to set up its own independent principality under the leadership of the al-Maktoum family. Things marched along quite happily, in 1853 the British signed a perpetual peace treaty with the Trucial states as they came to be known, giving protection in return for trade. But in the 1960s the British resigned themselves to the fact that they no longer had the wherewithal to rule the waves or anything else, and they announced their intention to withdraw. The Trucial States were vaguely alarmed - oil had been discovered and security was paramount. Abu Dhabi and Dubai linked forces and by the time the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1973, had been joined by Ras al-Khaima, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman and Um Qawain. (Bahrain and Qatar decided to go it alone.) Even then, contrary to what most people believe, Dubai did not rely on oil for its existence, and in fact oil is only about 5% of the country's GDP. The city was always an entrepot and to a large extent it still is - in the early 21st century, Dubai is the undisputable regional face of the future regards trade, transportation and commerce. And it is still ruled by the al-Maktoum family.