In recent years, the Middle East region has enjoyed rapid growth as a tourist destination. At the forefront of this growth has been Dubai, a state that has successfully and dramatically diversified its economy into tourism in order to reduce its economic dependence on dwindling supplies of oil. Despite this success, however, little attention has been paid to tourism development in general, and tourism planning processes in particular, in Dubai. In addressing this gap in the literature, this paper explores tourism planning in Dubai in relation to the political economy of oil-rich “rentier” states. Reviewing tourism policy and processes in Dubai, it reveals that an apparent hybrid model of tourism planning has been adopted. However, underlying control of tourism development reflects the authoritarian political structures in the emirate, pointing to potential future challenges.