Tel Aviv is classified as a beta+ world city, being a major economic hub and the richest city in Israel, home to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and many corporate offices and research and development centers. Its beaches, bars, cafés, restaurants, upscale shopping, great weather and cosmopolitan lifestyle have led to it being a popular tourist destination for domestic and overseas visitors alike, and given way to its reputation as a "Mediterranean metropolis that never sleeps". it is the country`s financial capital and a major performing arts and business center. Tel Aviv`s urban area is the Middle East`s second biggest city economy, and is ranked 42nd among global cities by Foreign Policy`s 2008 Global Cities Index. It is also the most expensive city in the region, and 17th most expensive city in the world. New York-based writer and editor David Kaufman called it the "Mediterranean’s New Capital of Cool".
The ancient port of Jaffa has changed hands many times in the course of history. Archeological excavations from 1955 to 1974 unearthed towers and gates from the Middle Bronze Age. Subsequent excavations, from 1997 onwards, helped date earlier discoveries. They also exposed sections of a packed-sandstone glacis and a "massive brick wall", dating from the Late Bronze Age as well as a temple "attributed to the Sea Peoples" and dwellings from the Iron Age. Remnants of buildings from the Persian, Hellenistic and Pharaonic periods were also discovered.
The city is first mentioned in letters from 1470 BCE that record its conquest by Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III. Jaffa is mentioned several times in the Bible, as the port from which Jonah set sail for Tarshish; as bordering on the territory of the Tribe of Dan; and as the port at which the wood for Solomon`s Temple in Jerusalem arrived from Lebanon. According to some sources it has been a port for at least 4,000 years, In 1099, the Christian armies of the First Crusade, led by Godfrey of Bouillon occupied Jaffa, which had been abandoned by the Muslims, fortified the town and improved its harbor. As the County of Jaffa, the town soon became important as the main sea supply route for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Jaffa was captured by Saladin in 1192 but swiftly re-taken by Richard Coeur de Lion, who added to its defenses. In 1223, Emperor Frederick II added further fortications. Crusader domination ended in 1268, when the Mamluk Sultan Baibars captured the town, destroyed its harbor and razed its fortifications. To prevent further Crusader incursions, the city was ransacked in 1336, 1344 and 1346 by Nasir al-Din Muhammad. In the 16th century, Jaffa was conquered by the Ottomans and was administered as a village in the Sanjak of Gaza. Napoleon besieged the city in 1799 and killed scores of inhabitants; a plague epidemic followed, decimating the remaining population.
Jaffa began to grow as an urban center in the early 18th century, when the Ottoman government in Constantinople intervened to guard the port and reduce attacks by Bedouins and pirates.However, the real expansion came during the 19th century, when the population grew from 2,500 in 1806 to 17,000 in 1886.
Tel Aviv was founded on land purchased from Bedouins north of Jaffa. The sea wall, 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) high, remained intact until the 1930s, when it was built over during a renovation of the port by the British Mandatory authorities. During the mid-19th century, the city grew prosperous from trade, especially of silk and Jaffa oranges, with Europe. In the 1860s Jaffa`s small Sephardic community was joined by Jews from Morocco and small numbers of European Ashkenazi Jews, making by 1882 a total Jewish population of more than 1,500.
During the 1880s, “Ashkenazi” immigration to Jaffa increased with the onset of the First Aliyah. The new arrivals were motivated more by Zionism than religion and came to farm the land and engage in productive labor. In keeping with their pioneer ideology, some chose to settle in the sand dunes north of Jaffa.
The beginning of modern-day Tel Aviv is marked by the construction of Neve Tzedek, a neighborhood built by Ashkenazi settlers between 1887 and 1896.
As a major Mediterranean center, Tel Aviv is a magnet for international tourism likened by some to Barcelona and Miami. It is described as a top international tourism destination by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Toronto Star. According to the Tel Aviv Municipality, it has 44 hotels with more than 5,800 rooms. Tel Aviv has been called "the city that never sleeps" due to its thriving nightlife, young atmosphere and 24-hour culture.
Tel Aviv`s largest public park is Hayarkon Park, with other smaller parks such as Meir Park and Dubnow Park, located within the city center area. Seventeen percent of the city is covered in plants. Dizengoff Center was Israel`s first mall. Tel Aviv has branches of some of the world`s leading hotels, among them the Crowne Plaza, Sheraton, Dan, Isrotel and Hilton. It is home to many museums, architectural and cultural sites, with city tours available in different languages. Apart from bus tours, there are architectural tours, Segway tours and walking tours. The nightlife centers particularly around the city`s promenade area due to its many nightclubs and bars. NBA player Anthony Parker called Tel Aviv the best basketball city to go out in. The city has a wide variety of restaurants offering traditional Israeli dishes as well as international fare. More than 100 sushi restaurants, the third highest concentration in the world, do business in the city, and an Italian restaurant in Tel Aviv was called the best Italian restaurant outside of Italy by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.