Dubai is a member of the United Arab Emirates, the cluster of sheikdoms along the Arabian Sea. Located at the crossroads between East and West, the emirate's long-standing trading tradition has for centuries brought visitors from throughout the Middle East and neighbouring regions. Now modernized, Dubai continues to attract many with its international facilities and its exotic, yet cosmopolitan lifestyle. Dubai has the best prices in the Arab Gulf states for gold, electronics, perfumes and is a tax-free city. It also has good beaches and excellent resort hotels. The town was the residence of the British political agent for the former Trucial States from 1954 until 1971. Known as the Venice of the Gulf, Dubai is the chief port and commercial center of the United Arab Emirates.