Traveling this holiday weekend? Whether you’re headed to New York or San Francisco, Singapore or Tokyo, we’ve put together a list of your destination’s must-see attractions and activities. So if you want to hit the tourist hotspots, or if you prefer to see how the locals live, these ideas will make your Labor Day planning a bit less laborious:
"Your Child in Gold" program will award two grams of gold for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) a child manages to shed over two months
Dubai has devised a rather unorthodox plan to incentivize its citizens to lose weight: Shed pounds, and we’ll give you some gold. And if you’re a child — we’ll give you double.
Participants will be awarded one gram of gold, worth just under $42, for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) in weight lost. But if a family has a child over 2 but under 14 years of age, then they will receive 2g for every kilo lost. Only two children can participate per family, and the minimum weight loss is 2kg to be eligible.
The Dubai Municipality launched the “Your Child in Gold” initiative during Ramadan. The website for the competition gives weight loss advice: “Ramadan is the most appropriate season to launch such initiatives as it reminds us about many health benefits of reducing weight and encourages us to take strong steps to change our bad lifestyles.”
Last week, the Kahleej Times reported 341 children had officially weighed in to participate in the 2-month program.
Quartz cited a 2012 BMC Public Health Journal study which found that the UAE is the sixth most obese nation in the world.
In Dubai's latest attempt to cement its place as the economic hub of the Islamic world, Sheik Mohammed announces plans to build the world's first temperature-controlled "city," which will double as the world's largest mall+ READ ARTICLE
Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has unveiled plans for the Mall of the World — a 48 million-sq.-ft. (4.5 million sq m) shopping center, to be the world’s largest, which will also form the world’s first temperature-controlled “city.”
Designed by developers Dubai Holding, the complex will be modeled on the cultural district around New York’s Broadway and Oxford Street in London, and is expected to draw 180 million visitors to the city annually — even during the sweltering 104°F (40°C) summer. (The complex will be opened to the elements during tamer winter months to allow fresh air to circulate.)
“The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai’s tourism infrastructure as soon as possible,” Sheik Mohammed said in a statement. “This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the 2 billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision.”
The ambitious project will include the world’s largest indoor amusement park and shopping mall, 100 hotels and serviced apartment complexes, an entertainment center to host 15,000 people, and a 3 million-sq.-ft. (300,000 sq m) “wellness district” for medical tourism. Buildings in the city will be connected by promenades stretching 4.5 miles (7 km). The plan is Dubai’s latest attempt to mark itself as the economic hub of the Islamic world; the UAE’s most populous city already boasts the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,722 ft. (829.8 m).
In addition, as countries around the world struggle to reduce their greenhouse emissions, the project could lead the way for environmentally responsible urban planning. Ahmad bin Byat, chief executive officer of Dubai Holding, said in a statement that technology used will “reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring high levels of environmental sustainability and operational efficiency.”
The cost and timeline of the project have yet to be released, but it is expected to be a highlight at the UAE World Expo trade fair in 2020.
The High Roller, a new attraction in Las Vegas that gives tourists a view of Sin City 550 feet up in the air, is already being discounted to try to boost ticket sales.
The High Roller opened this past spring as the focal point of the LINQ, an open-air shopping and dining district. The Ferris wheel-like attraction—an observation wheel that holds 40 passengers in each of 28 pods, modeled on the London Eye—launched to much fanfare in April. It is not a thrill ride per se, moving at only one foot per second and requiring a half-hour to complete a full circle, but the idea is that the views from 55 stories will prove thrilling. One man reportedly waited six hours to be among the first passengers to board a High Roller pod on opening day to the public.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and the idea of such a wait is especially laughable. From the beginning, many complained that the price of a High Roller ride was just too expensive. A basic daytime ticket originally cost $24.95, and a ride after 6 p.m. runs $10 more. (By comparison, a ride to take in the view at the 869-foot-high Stratosphere observation deck, usually costs $18 for adults, $12 for hotel guests, locals, and seniors, and $10 for kids ages 4 to 12.) The Las Vegas Sun reported that many High Roller ticketing options have quietly gotten cheaper, however, apparently to juice sales during the slow summer season.
The daytime adult ticket was dropped to $19.95 at least through Labor Day, and youth rates for kids ages 13 to 18 were reduced permanently to $14.95 during the day and $24.95 at night. (Kids 12 and under are free with a paying adult.) Family packs have also been introduced, with two adults and two youth tickets selling for $50 during the day and $80 at night.
The new pricing structure is hardly the only way Caesars is trying to fill empty High Roller pods. An ongoing Tuesday special cuts prices in half for locals (anyone with Nevada ID), and locals get $5 off on rides every other day. A Groupon for a $65 VIP High Roller package for two (valued at $109.90), with two rides, two souvenir photos, and two drinks, was introduced in mid-June and still hasn’t sold out. (It probably hasn’t helped sales that a water main burst in mid-June, flooding the LINQ pedestrian areas directly below the High Roller.)
Sure, everything goes on sale eventually in Las Vegas, where wheeling and dealing are ingrained in the culture. But it’s not a good sign for the future success of the High Roller that it appears to be forced to resort to deals and discounts within a few scant months of being the hot new thing on the Strip.
Meanwhile, plans for a second Sin City observation wheel, the 500-foot-high SkyVue, across the street from the airport and Mandalay Bay, seem to have been put on hold. While ground was broken for the SkyVue three years ago, last month the Las Vegas Sun put the crane and scaffolding on the site—the only physical progress on display—into the category of “eyesores to tourists and commuters” in the city.
Oh, and even as one High Roller competitor seems to have faded away in Las Vegas, forthcoming rides in other locations are poised to steal its thunder as the World’s Largest Observation Wheel. A 625-foot-high Ferris wheel-like attraction is in the works for New York City’s Staten Island, offering views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Not to be outdone, a 689-foot-high Dubai Eye observation wheel is planned as the centerpiece of manmade island in Dubai with a five-star hotel and a cluster of tourist and shopping facilities.
A touching bro-ment+ READ ARTICLE
Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet set a BASE-jumping world record after hopping from the tip of the Burj Khalifa—all 2,717 feet of it—in a stunt sponsored by the skydiving resort Skydive Dubai. Along with a peculiarly uncredited cameraman, the bros share a bro-ment as they soar around the building like unusually large gliders, trailed by twin plumes of dramatic red smoke.
“People think that you BASE jump because you’re crazy, you like to get scared,” either Fred or Vince said. (From the video, it’s not clear whom.) “But, I mean, we like to fly.”
High temperatures in Dubai didn’t stop droves of sci-fi and comic book fans from showing up clad in battle armor. At the annual Middle East Film and Comic Con, it’s as likely to see someone dressed up as Batman as somebody wearing a business suit. Although a multimillion dollar comic book collection gained the biggest buzz of the show, the convention featured tons of affordable merchandise, from Star Wars to Superman. For those who wanted to portray their favorite heroes rather than just own their likeness, there was even a program that digitally transformed con-goers into superheroes.