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Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature. The city of Dubai is located on the emirate's northern coastline and heads up the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. Dubai is to host World Expo 2020.
Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. By the 1960s,Dubai's economy was based on revenues from trade and, to a smaller extent, oil exploration concessions, but oil was not discovered until 1966. Oil revenue first started to flow in 1969. Dubai's oil revenue helped accelerate the early development of the city, but its reserves are limited and production levels are low: today, less than 5% of the emirate's revenue comes from oil. The emirate's Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The city has become iconic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Dubai has been criticised for human rights violations concerning the city's largely South Asian workforce. Dubai's property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008–09 following the financial crisis of 2007–08, but the emirate's economy has made a return to growth, with a projected 2015 budget surplus.
As of 2012, Dubai is the 22nd most expensive city in the world and the most expensive city in the Middle East. In 2014, Dubai's hotel rooms were rated as the second most expensive in the world, after Geneva. Dubai was rated as one of the best places to live in the Middle East by American global consulting firm Mercer.
|TIME ZONE :||UAE Standard Time (UTC+4)|
|AREA :||• Metropolis 4,114 km2 (1,588 sq mi)|
• Urban 1,287.4 km2 (497.1 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||24°57′N 55°20′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 72%|
• Female: 28%
|AREA CODE :||4|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+971 4|
|WEBSITE :||Dubai Emirate|
Dubai is a cosmopolitan metropolis and global city on the Arabian Peninsula. One of the ten most popular tourist destinations in the world, it is developing rapidly in tourism and trade. It calls itself one of the more modern and progressive cities in the Middle East, but it has been severely criticized for the mistreatment of workers, especially those whose home countries are on the Subcontinent. Critics investigating the labor situation, including professor Andrew Ross, of New York University, which opened a campus in the UAE in 2014, have been barred from entry by the local authorities. Dubai is sometimes mistakenly thought of as a country, though it is part of the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai is a commercial and cultural hub of the Middle East, it's a global transport hub, and has attracted world attention through many large innovative construction projects and sports events. The city is symbolised by its skyscrapers, including the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in addition to ambitious development projects including man-made islands, world class luxury hotels, and some of the largest and extraordinarily modern shopping malls in the world.
Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai's lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. As of 2013, Dubai was the 7th most visited city of the world based on air traffic and the fastest growing, increasing by a 10.7% rate. Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015. The emirate is also the most populous of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East". Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping centres, including the world's largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall. Dubai is also known for the traditional souk districts located on either side of its creek. Traditionally, dhows from East Asia, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Dubai Creek played a vital role in the sustaining the life of the community in the city and was the resource which originally drove the economic boom in Dubai. As of September 2013, Dubai creek has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is also referred to as "the City of Gold" as the Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops.
Dubai Creek Park in Dubai Creek also plays a vital role in Dubai tourism as it showcase some of the most famous tourist attractions in Dubai such as Dolphinarium, Cable Car, Camel Ride, Horse Carriage and Exotic Birds Shows.
A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai was ranked number 7 among the world's cities for international overnight visitors in 2013. It's essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure and liberal policies (by Islamic standards) that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Just a five hour flight from Europe and three hours from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the Indian subcontinent, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. Homosexuality is a crime in Dubai, and gay persons may be arrested for public displays of affection of any kind. There is not a single independent media outlet in the UAE. The country is not a democracy, and while there are laws in Dubai, they apply more to some than to others. This being said, Dubai is noticeably less draconian than many of its neighboring countries. Dubai has one of the largest per capita immigrant populations in the world, and the ethnic cuisine on display is superlative by international standards. Personal safety is not an issue in Dubai, and both women and men can walk freely at all hours of the day and night.
Despite the fact that Arabic is the official language, due to the fact that foreigners outnumber Emiratis by almost 4 to 1 in Dubai, it is safe to say that most of the population does not speak it. English serves as the lingua franca, and most Emiratis speak English to be able to communicate with the migrant workers who work for them. In fact, most shops are staffed by Indian or Filipino migrant workers rather than Emiratis.
The weekly day off is Friday. Since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday has been adopted for the public sector and schools. Government departments, multinational companies, and most schools and universities take Friday and Saturday off (after years of a mixed bag of Friday/Saturday and Thursday/Friday weekends). Some local companies still work half a day on Thursday with a full day on Saturday, but larger companies tend to permit time off work for their employees on Friday and Saturday.
Although stone tools have been found at many archaeological sites, little is known about the UAE's early inhabitants as only a few settlements have been found. Many ancient towns in the area were trading centers between the Eastern and Western worlds. The remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp, dated at 7000 BC, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming part of the city's present coastline. Pre-Islamic ceramics have been found from the 3rd and 4th centuries. Prior to the introduction of Islam to the area, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar). After the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph of the eastern Islamic world invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) found several artifacts from the Umayyad period.
The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095 in the Book of Geography by the Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. The Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi visited the area in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) for its pearling industry.
Dubai is thought to have been established as a fishing village in the early 18th century and was, by 1822, a town of some 7–800 members of the Baniyas tribe and subject to the rule of Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi.
In 1833, following tribal feuding, members of the Al Bu Falasa tribe seceded from Abu Dhabi and established themselves in Dubai. The exodus from Abu Dhabi was led by Ubaid bin Saeed and Maktum bin Butti who became joint leaders of Dubai until Ubaid died in 1836, leaving Maktum to establish the Maktoum dynasty.
Dubai signed the treaty of 'Perpetual Maritime Truce' of 1853 along with other Trucial States and also – like its neighbours on the Trucial Coast – entered into an exclusivity agreement in which the United Kingdom took responsibility for the emirate's security in 1892.
Two catastrophes struck the town during the 1800s. First, in 1841, a smallpox epidemic broke out in the Bur Dubai locality, forcing residents to relocate east to Deira. Then, in 1894, fire swept through Deira, burning down most homes. However, the town's geographical location continued to attract traders and merchants from around the region. The emir of Dubai was keen to attract foreign traders and lowered trade tax brackets, which lured traders away from Sharjah and Bandar Lengeh, the region's main trade hubs at the time. Persian merchants naturally looked across to the Arab shore of the Persian Gulf finally making their homes in Dubai. They continued to trade with Lingah, however, as do many of the dhows in Dubai Creek today, and they named their district Bastakiya, after the Bastak region in southern Persia.
Dubai's geographical proximity to Iran made it an important trade location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from Iran, many of whom eventually settled in the town. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port.
Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s; the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by the Great Depression in the 1930s and the innovation of cultured pearls. With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents starved or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf.
In the early days since its inception, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi. In 1947, a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the northern sector of their mutual border escalated into war.Arbitration by the British and the creation of a buffer frontier running south eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian resulted in a temporary cessation of hostilities.
Despite a lack of oil, Dubai's ruler from 1948, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, used revenue from trading activities to build infrastructure. Electricity, telephone services, and an airport were established in Dubai in the 1950s and, in 1959, the emirate's first hotel, the Airlines Hotel, was constructed. This was followed by the Ambassador and Carlton Hotel in 1968.
On 7 April 1961, the Dubai-based MV Dara, a five thousand ton British flagged vessel that plied the route between Basra (Iraq), Kuwait and Bombay (India), was caught in unusually high winds off Dubai. Early the next morning in heavy seas off Umm Al Qawain, an explosion tore out the second class cabins and started fires. The captain gave the order to abandon ship but two lifeboats capsized and a second explosion occurred. A flotilla of small boats from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Qawain picked up survivors but in all 238 lives were lost in the disaster.
In 1962 the British Political Agent noted that "Many new houses and blocks of offices and flats are being built... the Ruler is determined, against advice [from the British] to press on with the construction of a jet airport... More and more European and Arab firms are opening up and the future looks bright."
The asphalt runway was constructed in 1965, opening Dubai to both regional and long haul traffic. In 1970 a new terminal building was constructed which included Dubai's first duty-free shops.
After years of exploration following large finds in neighboring Abu Dhabi, oil was eventually discovered in territorial waters off Dubai in 1966, albeit in far smaller quantities. The first field was named 'Fateh' or 'good fortune'. This led the emirate to grant concessions to international oil companies, thus leading to a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Asians and Middle easterners. Between 1968 and 1975 the city's population grew by over 300%.
As part of the infrastructure for pumping and transporting oil from the Fateh field, located offshore of the Jebel Ali area of Dubai, a number of 50,000 gallon storage tanks were built, known locally as 'Kazzans', by welding them together on the beach and then digging them out and floating them to drop onto the seabed at the Fateh field. These were constructed by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, which gave the beach its local name (Chicago Beach) until the Chicago Beach Hotel was demolished and replaced by the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in the late nineties.
Dubai had already embarked on a period of infrastructural development and expansion. Oil revenue, flowing from 1969 onwards supported a period of growth with Sheikh Rashid embarking on a policy of building infrastructure and a diversified trading economy before the emirate's limited reserves were depleted. Oil accounted for 24% of GDP in 1990, but had reduced to 7% of GDP by 2004.
Critically, one of the first major projects Sheikh Rashid embarked upon when oil revenue started to flow was the construction of Port Rashid, a deep water free port constructed by British company Halcrow. Originally intended to be a four-berth port, it was extended to sixteen berths as construction was ongoing. The project was an outstanding success, with shipping queuing to access the new facilities. The port was inaugurated on 5 October 1972, although its berths were each pressed into use as soon as they had been built. Port Rashid was to be further expanded in 1975 to add a further 35 berths before the larger port of Jebel Ali was constructed.
Port Rashid was the first of a swathe of projects designed to create a modern trading infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools and hospitals.
Reaching the UAE's Act of Union
Dubai and the other 'trucial states' had long been a British protectorate where the British took care of foreign policy and defence, as well as arbitrating between the rulers of the Eastern Gulf. This was to change with PM Harold Wilson's announcement, on 16 January 1968, that all British troops were to be withdrawn from 'East of Aden'. The decision was to pitch the coastal emirates, together with Qatar and Bahrain, into fevered negotiations to fill the political vacuum that the British withdrawal would leave behind.
The principle of union was first agreed between the ruler of Abu Dhabi,Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Rashid of Dubai on 18 February 1968 meeting in an encampment at Argoub Al Sedirah, near Al Semeih, a desert stop between the two emirates. The two agreed to work towards bringing the other emirates, including Qatar and Bahrain, into the union. Over the next two years, negotiations and meetings of the rulers followed -often stormy- as a form of union was thrashed out. The nine-state union was never to recover from the October 1969 meeting where heavy-handed British intervention resulted in a walk-out by Qatar and Ras Al Khaimah. Bahrain and Qatar were to drop out of talks, leaving only six emirates to agree on union on 18 July 1971.
On 2 December 1971, Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman,Umm Al Qawain and Fujairah joined in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The seventh emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the UAE on 10 February 1972, following giant non-Arab neighbour Iran's annexation of the RAK-owned Tunbs islands.
In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: the UAE dirham. In that same year, the prior monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham was introduced throughout the Emirates.
During the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE; it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was reached that ended disagreements. The Jebel Ali port was established in 1979. JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to provide foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital. Dubai airport and the aviation industry also continued to grow.
The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently, the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived. Later in the 1990s, many foreign trading communities—first from Kuwait, during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, during the Shia unrest—moved their businesses to Dubai. Dubai provided refueling bases to allied forces at the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War, and again during the2003 Invasion of Iraq. Large increases in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.
Dubai has a hot desert climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy, and humid, with an average high around 41 °C (106 °F) and overnight lows around 30 °C (86 °F) in the hottest month, August. Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 24 °C (75 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F) in January, the coldest month. Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades, with accumulated rain reaching 94.3 mm (3.71 in) per year. Dubai summers are also known for the moderate to high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many. The highest recorded temperature in Dubai is 52.1 °C (126 °F), reached in July 2002.
|Record high °C (°F)||31.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||23.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||14.3|
|Record low °C (°F)||6.1|
|Source #1: Dubai Meteorological Office|
|Source #2: climatebase.ru|
|23.4 °C (74.1 °F)||21.9 °C (71.4 °F)||23.2 °C (73.8 °F)||25.5 °C (77.9 °F)||28.8 °C (83.8 °F)||31.6 °C (88.9 °F)||32.7 °C (90.9 °F)||33.5 °C (92.3 °F)||33.1 °C (91.6 °F)||31.3 °C (88.3 °F)||28.6 °C (83.5 °F)||25.4 °C (77.7 °F)|
Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level (16 m or 52 ft above). The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate. Dubai is positioned at and covers an area of 1,588 sq mi (4,110 km2), which represents a significant expansion beyond its initial 1,500 sq mi (3,900 km2) designation due to land reclamation from the sea.
Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert. However, the topography of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern portion of the UAE in that much of Dubai's landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country. The sand consists mostly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city, the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha, give way to a north-south running line of dunes. Farther east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged red with iron oxide.
The flat sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which run alongside Dubai's border with Oman at Hatta. The Western Hajar chain has an arid, jagged and shattered landscape, whose mountains rise to about 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) in some places. Dubai has no natural river bodies or oases; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through. Dubai also has multiple gorges and waterholes, which dot the base of the Western Al Hajar mountains. A vast sea of sand dunes covers much of southern Dubai and eventually leads into the desert known as The Empty Quarter. Seismically, Dubai is in a very stable zone—the nearest seismic fault line, the Zagros Fault, is 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the UAE and is unlikely to have any seismic impact on Dubai. Experts also predict that the possibility of a tsunami in the region is minimal because the Persian Gulf waters are not deep enough to trigger a tsunami.
The sandy desert surrounding the city supports wild grasses and occasional date palms. Desert hyacinths grow in the sabkha plains east of the city, while acacia and ghaf trees grow in the flat plains within the proximity of the Western Al Hajar mountains. Several indigenous trees such as the date palm and neem as well as imported trees such as the eucalypts grow in Dubai's natural parks. The houbara bustard, striped hyena, caracal,desert fox, falcon and Arabian oryx are common in Dubai's desert. Dubai is on the migration path between Europe, Asia and Africa, and more than 320 migratory bird species pass through the emirate in spring and autumn. The waters of Dubai are home to more than 300 species of fish, including the hammour. The typical marine life off the Dubai coast includes tropical fish, jellyfish, coral, dugong, dolphins, whales and sharks. Various types of turtles can also be found in the area including the hawksbill turtle and green turtle, which are listed as endangered species.
Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city. The eastern section of the city forms the locality of Deira and is flanked by the emirate of Sharjah in the east and the town of Al Aweer in the south. The Dubai International Airport is located south of Deira, while the Palm Deira is located north of Deira in the Persian Gulf. Much of Dubai's real-estate boom is concentrated to the west of Dubai Creek, on the Jumeirah coastal belt. Port Rashid, Jebel Ali, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and theme-based free-zone clusters such as Business Bay are all located in this section.
One of the world's fastest growing economies, Dubai's gross domestic product is projected at USD 107.1 billion, with a growth rate of 6.1% in 2014. Although a number of core elements of Dubai's trading infrastructure were built on the back of the oil industry, revenues from oil and natural gas account for less than 5% of the emirate's revenues. It is estimated that Dubai produces 50,000 to 70,000 barrels (7,900 to 11,100 m3) of oil a day and substantial quantities of gas from offshore fields. The emirate's share in the UAE's total gas revenues is about 2%. Dubai's oil reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted in 20 years. Real estate and construction (22.6%), trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai's economy.
Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade stood at $362 billion in 2014. Of the overall trade volumes, imports had the biggest share with a value of $230 billion while exports and re-exports to the emirate stood at $31 billion and $101 billion respectively.
By 2014, China had emerged as Dubai's largest international trading partner, with a total of $47.7 billion in trade flows, up 29% from 2013. India was second among Dubai’s key trading partners with a trade of $29.7 billion, followed by the United States at $22.62 billion. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was Dubai’s fourth trading partner globally and first in the GCC and Arab world with a total trade value of $14.2 billion. Trade with Germany in 2014 totalled $12.3, Switzerland and Japan both at $11.72 billion and UK trade totalled $10.9 billion.
Historically, Dubai and its twin across Dubai Creek, Deira (independent of Dubai City at that time), were important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centres were headquartered in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai has a free trade in gold and, until the 1990s, was the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade" of gold ingots to India, where gold import was restricted. Dubai's Jebel Ali port, constructed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made harbour in the world and was ranked seventh globally for the volume of container traffic it supports. Dubai is also a hub for service industries such as information technology and finance, with industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority), is one such enclave, whose members include IT firms such as Hewlett-Packard, EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, Dell and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sky News and AP.
The government's decision to diversify from a trade-based, oil-reliant economy to one that is service- and tourism-oriented made property more valuable, resulting in the property appreciation from 2004 to 2006. A longer-term assessment of Dubai's property market, however, showed depreciation; some properties lost as much as 64% of their value from 2001 to November 2008. The large-scale real estate development projects have led to the construction of some of the tallest skyscrapers and largest projects in the world such as the Emirates Towers, the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Islands and the most expensive hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Dubai's property market experienced a major downturn in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the slowing economic climate. By early 2009, the situation had worsened with the Great Recession taking a heavy toll on property values, construction and employment. This has had a major impact on property investors in the region, some of whom were unable to release funds from investments made in property developments. As of February 2009, Dubai's foreign debt was estimated at approximately $80 billion, although this is a tiny fraction of the sovereign debt worldwide. Dubai real estate and UAE property experts believe that by avoiding the mistakes of the past, Dubai's realty market can achieve stability in the future.
The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) was established in March 2000 as a secondary market for trading securities and bonds, both local and foreign. As of fourth quarter 2006, its trading volume stood at about 400 billion shares, worth $95 billion in total. The DFM had a market capitalisation of about $87 billion. The other Dubai-based stock exchange is NASDAQ Dubai, which is the international stock exchange in the Middle East. It enables a range of companies, including UAE and regional small and medium-sized enterprises, to trade on an exchange with an international brand name, with access by both regional and international investors.
Dubai is also known as the City of Gold, because a major part of the economy is based on gold trades, with Dubai's total gold trading volumes in H1 2011 reaching 580 tonnes, with an average price of US$1,455 per troy ounce.
A City Mayors survey ranked Dubai 44th among the world's best financial cities in 2007, while another report by City Mayors indicated that Dubai was the world's 27th richest city in 2012, in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Dubai is also an international financial centre and has been ranked 37th within the top 50 global financial cities as surveyed by the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index (2007), and 1st within the Middle East.
In 2012, the Global City Competitiveness Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Dubai at No. 40 with a total score of 55.9. According to its 2013 research report on the future competitiveness of cities, in 2025, Dubai will have moved up to 23rd place overall in the Index. Indians, followed by Britons and Pakistanis are the top foreign investors in Dubai realty.
Dubai has launched several major projects to support its economy and develop different sectors. These include Dubai Fashion 2020, and Dubai Design District, expected to become a home to leading local and international designers. The AED 4 billion first phase of the project will be complete by January 2015.
An historical district on the south side of Dubai Creek, with attractions from abras to souks to floating restaurants to the famous Creek
A diverse mix of residents and tourists at the beach. It is a mixed Little Europe, Karachi and Manila. Jumeirah is much favoured by Europeans due to easy access to the beach. Jumeirah Beach, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Mosque are the top attractions. Marina is a mega-development full of skyscrapers. Also covering the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
Mega man-made port, location of the new airport, Dubai World Central, the venue for Expo 2020, and the entry point to the Palm Jebel Ali
The international code for UAE is +971, for Dubai, add a 4 afterwards for land lines.
GSM – Those with GSM phones can expect auto roaming from their home countries. As roaming fees are quite high (easily 3 USD per minute and often more for a call to Europe) and incoming calls are also charged, consider to buy a local prepaid GSM SIM card, designed especially for tourists, from one of the two cellular providers of the UAE:
- Etisalat - product Ahlan - 90 Dirhams - available at the Duty Free Shop (arrival hall) of Dubai Airport
- Du - product Visitor Mobile Line - 70 Dirhams - available at theTelefonika kiosk in the arrival hall of Dubai Airport.
Using these products, calls to Europe will be charged at maximum of about 0.55 USD per minute. Incoming calls are free of charge.
Phone booths – Phone booths are located on most streets. Phone cards can be purchased from hotels and tourist shops.
Internet cafés can be hard to find. The usual rate per hour is 3-4 AED. There are a number of cafés on Al Musalla Rd/Al Mankhool Rd in Bur Dubai, including one at 38 Al Musalla Rd and one at Computer Plaza next to the Ramada Hotel. A number of Internet cafes are found in Satwa too. In Satwa there is the French Connection in the Al Wafa Tower on Sheikh Zayed Rd (opposite side of road from the Dusit Hotel), which has wi-fi access and nice cakes/pastries. In Al Qusais, there is an internet café a 5 minute walk northwest from the Dubai Youth Hostel. Turn right out of the gates and walk to LuLu's Hypermarket. The café is located inside the food court and charges AED 4.00 per hour. Note that the Skype website is currently blocked. Gaming cafes aimed at teenagers are dotted around, notable examples including Escape gaming zone (opposite lulu hypermarket in al barsha), Que club in al barsha and behind Lamcy plaza.
Surprisingly, the malls do not have internet cafés. Dubai Mall offers free Wi-Fi throughout. Mall of the Emirates offers free Wi-Fi, but you must have a local phone number. Many coffee-shops, restaurants and attractions also have free Wi-Fi, and you'll usually have to ask for the password. Most hotel business centres are equipped with internet cafés, but are expensive.
Etisalat, UAE's telecom operator, offers a roaming, post paid Wi-Fi internet connection known as iZone . Most coffee shops and malls across Dubai provide this service. Prices are available on the website. For those still using dial-up internet Etisalat provide a service when you can plug into any phone line and the line will be charged 0.5 dhs a minute
Dubai International Airport (DXB) has free Wi-Fi in the terminal. Bring your laptop to use free Wi-Fi at some hotels. There are many free public Wi-Fi spots in Dubai.
Emirates Post service is pretty efficient. You will need to rent a P.O. Box as postal service to the door is not the standard.
Newspapers and radio
Thanks to the large influx of expatriates, Dubai has a wide selection of English-language newspapers and radio channels.
- The Gulf News.
- The Khaleej Times.
- The Gulf Today.
- The National.
- 7 Days.
- Emirates Business 24/7.
- Channel 4 - Plays current songs from the UK and US. 104.8FM
- Dubai Eye - Western oriented talk with focus on business, sport, lifestyle and entertainment. Owned by Arabian Radio Network. 103.8FM
- Dubai 92 - Mainly 90's music. Popular with British expats. Owned by Arabian Radio Network. 92.0FM
- Virgin Radio 104.4 - Chart music. Operates under franchise from Virgin Radio International. Owned by Arabian Radio Network.
- City 101.6 - Broadcasts Indian music.
- Radio 1 - Current western hits. Owned by Gulf News Broadcasting. 104.1FM
- Abu Dhabi Classic FM - Despite its name, this station broadcasts classical and jazz music across the UAE. In Dubai it is on 87.9FM
International newspapers are also available in most hotels and airport terminals. Carrefour and Borders bookstores sell British and American newspapers. Todaily, a local printing house, can furnish newspapers and periodicals from around the world daily.
Prices in Dubai
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$32.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$68.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$126.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$10.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$15.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.22|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$3.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.70|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$80.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$58.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$92.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.30|
84 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
211 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Dubai's main airport is the Dubai International Airport . Its eventual replacement, Dubai World Central , is now open to passenger flights but is only serving a few flights currently. You can also enter Dubai by using Sharjah International Airport in the nearby emirate of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi International Airport in nearby Abu Dhabi.
Airlines often have price wars to glamorous destinations like Dubai and this can work to your advantage by careful planning and comparison of the various airlines serving Dubai. Emirates is Dubai's official airline carrier which connects Dubai to over 100 destinations while FlyDubai is Dubai's low-cost carrier. Etihad has shuttle services from their exclusive check in facility in Sheikh Zayed Rd or Central Business District of Dubai to and from Abu Dhabi Int'l Airport, you can also fly with Sharjah's low-cost carrier; Air Arabia which flies to over 46 destinations within the Middle East. Low fares from North America are most often found on Qatar Airways.
Dubai International Airport is the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of Dubai's flag carrier Emirates and its low-cost wing flydubai. In fact, it has grown at such a furious pace that the present terminals are bursting at the seams, especially during the peak hours around midnight. Frequent visitors from countries granted automatic visa on entry may wish to purchase an e-gate card to speed up immigration formalities and save passport pages. The e-gate card office is situated in the upstairs food court area of the terminal 1 departures concourse. The card will cost 200 AED. Note: If you intend to buy an e-gate card in Dubai, you must have entered UAE via Dubai airport.
Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International Airport opened to passenger flights in October 2013 and has grand ambitions to be the largest airport in the world, capable of serving 160 million passengers a year. (For comparison, London Heathrow has around 70 million.) For time being, though, it's only served by low-cost carriers Wizz Air and Jazeera, and Emirates is not planning to shift until 2025 or so. The airport is located in Jebel Ali at the far western end of Dubai, nearly 60km from central Dubai and about 110km from Abu Dhabi. A train line is planned, but for time being the transport options are taxi, which will cost over 100 Dhs to most points in the city, and bus lines F55/F55A. F55 connects Al Maktoum airport with Ibn Batuta Metro Station during the day, while F55A runs between Al Maktoum airport and Al Satwa Bus station during the night. Buses depart every hour from the airport.
Sharjah International Airport is located in the emirate of Sharjah. It is only 30min by road from Dubai and takes an increasing number of international flights as Dubai airport struggles to keep up with demand. The principal carrier here is Air Arabia, a low-cost carrier serving the Middle East and South Asia. The airport is fairly basic but is being expanded. A taxi ride to Dubai will typically cost AED50. A bus service by Air Arabia also runs from the Airport to the Rashidiya Metro Station in Dubai. Rashidiya metro station is located close to the Dubai International Airport.
Dubai's only international road border is with Oman at Al Wajajah. Expatriate residents of Oman will require an official permit to exit Oman by road. Visitors do not require the permit. There is an OMR3 charge per vehicle to exit Oman and, if returning, retain the charge receipt as it will be required to re-enter. Ensure that insurance is valid for the UAE (preferably before commencing the journey). Temporary UAE insurance can be purchased at the border for a premium price.
There are also road borders between the neighbouring Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Oman at the Al Burami Oasis which divides the sister cites of Al Ain and Al Burami, Oman.
Dubai is a very car-oriented city and most visitors will choose to take taxis instead of the public transportation system. You can easily find them at the taxi queue or you just simple wave at one on the road, but this could be just difficult during rush hours. Also some of them even refuse short rides in jammed areas.
Signage is terrible in Dubai, and taxis often get lost. The best thing to do is navigate from well-known landmarks, such as hotels. GPS devices are often outdated. Street and road names can be very confusing, because the different transliterations from Arabic, you will notice that the slight variance in the spelling is very important.
You can find a lot of Rent-A-Cars that will give you a vehicle with very cheap rates and only an International Driving Permit, if you don’t have an UAE one. Some agencies also offer a car hire service with drivers, an option much more comfortable for visitors, specially if the driver speaks English and knows the way around the city better that most taxi drivers.
Some of the best car rental companies are: Careem Car Services, that offers an easy booking system with a real-time tracking app and, if you need it, you can hire a car with child sit. DotTransfers also offers additional services like an executive transportation and limousine service with fair rates and good booking assistance. Ahdab International Luxury Transport is a highly experienced team of professionals but their rates tend to be quite expensive.
The Government of Dubai operates a network of buses linking Dubai city with the capitals of the other six emirates of the UAE. The buses run under the name Emirates Express and operate from various bus terminals in Dubai.
- To/from Abu Dhabi: Buses operate every 40 minutes from 06.20 from both Dubai's Al Ghubaibah bus station and Abu Dhabi's main bus station. The two-hour journey cost AED25.
- To/from Sharjah: Frequent buses run between Dubai and Sharjah. There are several different routes and buses depart from various bus stations in Dubai including Al Karama, Gold Souq, Baniyas Square, Jebel Ali and Al Ittihad Square. Fares are at AED7 as of December 2010.
- To/from Al Ain: Buses operate every hour from both Dubai's Al Ghubaibah bus station. The two-hour journey costs AED15.
- To/from Fujairah: The bus to Fujairah leaves from the Rashidiya Metro station and takes about 3 to 4 hours.
For timetables see the website .
Dubai is a trading hub for dhows from around the Indian Ocean. Travellers wanting to arrive in the city this way will probably need to make their own arrangements with the captain of the vessel. Most of the dhows sail to Iran; some also head to Yemen and Somalia. Emulating Michael Palin and heading to India on a dhow is difficult-to-impossible.
Dubai has an international cruise terminal at Port Rashid. During wintertime Costa Cruises has bases at least two of its cruise ships (Costa Luminosa, Cost Fortuna) at Dubai.
Valfajr Shipping Company runs a boat service that leaves Bandar Lengeh and Bandar Abbas in Iran supposedly every second day and docks in Port Rashid in Dubai, returning the following day. Crossing the Persian Gulf takes roughly 6 hours. A two-way first class ticket costs USD145 (IRR1,450,000) as of February 2010 and two-way economy class tickets cost USD122 (IRR1,220,000). The ticket includes lunch (Iranian style).
Transportation - Get Around
Dubai's public transport system is probably the best in the Middle East, especially after the launch of the metro, but it's still a very car-oriented city and most visitors end up taking taxis quite often. The Wojhati journey planner can suggest the best way to travel.
A day pass valid for unlimited rides on the metro, tram and buses costs Dh22, while theNol Silver stored-value card costs Dh20 (including AED14 worth of balance) and gives a 10% discount on both metro and bus fares. Both are available at metro stations and major bus stations. The Silver card is useful for public transport users who stay in Dubai for more than a day. Check out at the end of your trip (this includes buses).
|Red ticket||Dh 2||Rechargeable ticket; suitable for tourists, valid for 90 days; however should only be used in one type of transport ticket (e.g one zone ticket cannot be reloaded with two zone ticket or day pass even after used up), can store up to 10 journeys.|
|Silver card||Dh 20 (Dh 14 value)||Rechargeable ticket, valid for 5 years. Recommended if staying for more than a year.|
|Gold card||Dh 20 (Dh 14 value)||Rechargeable ticket, can be used in Gold Class.|
|Blue card||Dh 70||Personalized card, with online services like transaction history and online recharge.|
Dubai's 52km long Red Line, opened in September 2009, is the second metro in the Arab world after Cairo. While the line does not serve the old city centre, it's handy for zipping along Dubai's long coastline and includes stops at the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Mall of the Emirates. The Green Line, which burrows through the city core, opened in September 2011. You can transfer between the two lines at Union Square and Khalid Bin Al Waleed (BurJuman). There are also Blue and Purple lines under construction with opening dates in the next few years.
Single tickets range from AED2-8.50, or double that for use of the "Gold" first class carriage if a rechargeable smart card is used. A single non-rechargeable ticket cost starts at AED6 for a trip within one zone, AED8 for two zones, etc. Tickets can be purchased in automated machines, ticket offices or at the gate information clerk. Cash and payment cards are accepted (Visa and MasterCard). Trains run every 3–5 minutes from 05:50 to midnight every day except Thursday and Friday, when services are extended to 05:50-01:00 limited to 13:00-23:59, respectively. All stations are air-conditioned and there's a large network of feeder buses. If you plan to travel late in the evening, check station working hours as the last train may depart earlier that the official system operating hours.
A 5 km monorail system shuttles passengers across the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis hotel. It connects with the Dubai Tram. This is not a part of the rest of Transport, and therefore, need to buy separate ticket (15 Dirhams one-way and 25 Dirhams return).
The latest of Dubai's modern transportation system is the Dubai Tram, which opened on November 12, 2014. It provides commuters a comfortable transit service around the prime business and leisure districts of Dubai. The Dubai Tram operates for 19 hours daily running for 14.5 kilometers along Al Sufouh Road. It passes around the vibrant Dubai Marina where passengers are treated to breathtaking sights of towering skyscrapers and luxury yachts, and then travels down Jumeirah passing by the iconic Burj Al Arab.
The Dubai Tram connects with the Dubai Metro at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers and DAMAC stations, and links with the monorail of Palm Jumeirah. Outside of Europe, the Dubai Tram is the first tram system that uses the state-of-the-art ground cable system which eliminates the unsightly and dangerous overhead cables.
Dubai Public transport is a cheaper means of travelling within the several districts of Dubai. A map of the bus system can be found online, as well as detailed route maps and timetables. Public buses are clean and cheap, but unfortunately not very comprehensive and (on some routes) quite infrequent. The bus system is most useful for getting between different areas of central Dubai, or between the various suburbs, rather than general transport. Taxis or a fair amount of walking will also be required if you visit Dubai without a car of your own.
You will require a Nol card or ticket for fare payment. Cards can be purchased from most bus stations, metro stations, and sometimes from the bus driver.
The main bus stations are Gold Souq Market (in Deira) and Al Ghubaiba bus station (in Bur Dubai). The flat fare is AED2, but might be higher for hour-long rides to distant suburbs. Clear route maps and timetables are placed inside a few bus stands. Ramadan timings differ. The front seats are reserved for women.
Probably the single most useful service for the casual tourist is Line 8, which starts at the Gold Souq, takes the tunnel under the Creek to Heritage Village, and then sets off down Jumeirah Rd (just behind the beach) and all its hotels and malls, up to Burj al-Arab and Wild Wadi. It terminates near the Internet City, while its 8A variant goes down a little further and also serves the Mall of the Emirates.
By Hop-on Hop-off bus
For a good, hop-on hop-off tour try Big Bus Tours. It runs two routes: the blue route through Jumeirah and the recently constructed areas, and the red route centred on the older parts of Dubai. The hub for both routes is Wafi City mall, and an AED220 ticket covers 24 hours of riding.
Taxis ply the streets of Dubai and are relatively easy to spot with their cream bodies and coloured roofs. The easiest place to find them is at the taxi queue at one of the malls or outside a hotel. Waving down a taxi on the road is possible, but can be difficult during rush hours. At peak times (7-9AM & 4-7PM workdays, and Friday evenings) demand exceeds supply, and not only are taxis hard to find, but those who deign to pick you up may demand crazy off-meter fares or refuse short rides in congested areas entirely. If you accept an off-meter quote, ensure that the driver clearly says 'Dirhams' as occasionally the word metamorphoses into 'Dollars' when you reach your destination. Also, the drivers of Dubai Taxi Corporation go through their shift change between 4-6PM daily and it can be more difficult to find taxis during this time. The standard of driving in Dubai ranges from poor to wild - taxis are some of the worst on the roads. Taxi drivers are pretty good at knowing where the main shopping malls and hotels are, however less well known places will mean the driver calling his brother-in-law to get directions, whilst he drives around in circles on your time - hence it is a good idea to have a rough idea of where you are heading or what a nearby landmark is.
Taxis are metered at 1.82 dhs/km during the day and 1.82 dhs/km at night, so no haggling is necessary. The rates of all taxi companies — Dubai Transport, National, Cars, Metro, and Arabian — are identical, so just take the first one that comes along. Street pickups attract a standing charge of 5 dhs during the day and 5.50 at night (10PM-6AM). From the airport, there is a standing charge of 25 dhs; there is a surcharge of 20 dhs for going to Sharjah. A minimum total fare of 12 dhs applies. Taxis are exempt from the Salik road toll charges.
Beware of unmarked hotel taxis and limousines though: while some of these are metered, they are not tied to the official rates, and can be much more expensive. One way to spot whether a taxi is official or not is to look for a meter: no meter, don't get in.
If you can't find one otherwise, you can attempt to call Dubai Taxi on 04-2080808 (each franchise has its own booking number but one central system), there's a surcharge of 3 dhs to book. The booking system was notorious for its unreliability but with a significantly increased taxi fleet, many taxis now deliberately wait in unofficial holding areas waiting for bookings. As a result, on a good day it can be possible to book a taxi and have it arrive within less than five minutes. If you absolutely have to get somewhere at a certain time (say, the airport or a meeting), it's still best to book a hotel taxi in advance, and get their estimate of how bad the traffic will be.
Women should travel in the back of the taxi as some drivers see it as a sexual invitation if you get in the front.
Taxi drivers are usually friendly, but may have a different ideas on hygiene.
There are a countless number of Rent-A-Cars that will provide a mode of transportation for very cheap rates and very little paperwork. An International Driving Permit is not necessarily required, but hire companies may not rent a car without one.
Some agencies will hire out cars complete with drivers. Visitors taking advantage of this option will need to make certain that their driver knows his way around as many do not.
When driving on the main roads, such as Sheikh Zayed road, the junction numbers are not in logical order. Junction 13 is just after Junction 18 and are rarely as shown on the maps. Road names can also be very confusing with slight differences in spelling (due to different transliterations from Arabic) being very important. The construction work that is taking place throughout and around Dubai can make finding your destination a challenge. Temporary road layouts change with alarming regularity and temporary signs can be misleading or non existent. As GPS maps are not up to date (and usually not anyway available to rent with hire cars), you will be very well off with a printed map (you can get an excellent one in Virgin stores, for example. There is a Virgin Megastore on the top floor of City Center).
Driving during morning and afternoon peak hours is not recommended, as traffic slows to a standstill and even a simple trip across a bridge can take up to 45 minutes. There is also a scarcity of parking spaces in many parts of the city.
With such a mixture of nationalities residing in the city, driving styles are mixed to say the least. Both dangerous and experienced driving will be witnessed or experienced frequently, and bear in mind that Dubai has one of the highest per capita road death rates in the world. There is zero tolerance for alcohol and driving with stiff penalties meted out including jail and deportation.
See Salik for information about tolls on certain routes in Dubai. If you rent a car, usually a Salik tag will be provided by the car hire company and you will be charged separately (normally 5 dhs a gate) when returning the car.
An easy way of crossing Dubai Creek is by abra, a small ferry. Abra stations are located along the Creek on both the Bur Dubai and Deira sides, and the system of filling the boats is remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 dirham, payable to the driver after the boat has left the station, and affords a very picturesque view of the city. Abras set off very regularly, and the service is available round-the-clock.
Air-conditioned water buses are a way to avoid the abra crowd and the heat. They are part of the public transport system, so a Red Nol ticket or a Nol card is required. Tickets can be purchased at the water bus station. The fare each way is 2 dirham. The water bus also features a 'tourist route' round trip – while it is convenient, it can get quite expensive (50 dhs per adult, 25 dhs per child).
The Creek is also the home of many boats offering more comfortable (and correspondingly more expensive) tours, often in boats designed to resemble dhows. Prices tend to be higher, particularly for dinner cruises with on-board entertainment.
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With sunshine all year round, Dubai is the ideal destination for beach lovers. Those looking for some action can enjoy a plenitude of top quality water sports. Among the water sports being offer is paragliding and windsurfing. Many of the beaches have facilities to play a game of beach volleyball. Alternatively, hire a jet ski or go deep sea fishing. Surfing is possible but surfing options are limited as Dubai does nor experience large waves. Surfing conditions are more suitable for beginners. Entertainment and recreational activities are available at many of the beach resorts. Winter months are popular with tourists due to milder temperatures while in summer temperatures can reach 45 C with high humidity. It is best to visit the beaches in the early morning and evening in summer to avoid the scorching temperatures. Tourists can wear beach clothes while on the beach, however before leaving the beach change into something more culturally appropriate. Alcohol is not permitted in public areas and there are no beach bars.
This white sandy beach is the perfect spot to relax and soak up the sunshine. Water sports are available at this beach. The water is part of the Arabian Gulf and is warm making it pleasant to go for a swim.
Jumeirah is a beautiful beach with white sand that stretches into the distance. There are many hotels and private clubs along this beach with some areas open to the public. This beach is famous and frequented by many tourists. This beach is located approximately 25 minutes from the city center by car. Burj Al Arab Hotel and Jumeirah Hotel are 2 top class hotels located at this beach. Although the beach is popular, it is spacious and therefore not very crowded. Barbecue facilities are available and lifeguards are on duty.
Al Mamzar Park
There is a public beach at Al Mamzar Park. At this public area there are playgrounds and picnic areas, making it a good choice for families. Food kiosks offer refreshments. Al Mamzar Park is a 25-minute drive from the city center. There are chalets in the area.
This beach is also know as Kite Beach due to its popularity among kite surfers.
Jebel Ali Beach
Jebel Ali beach is located farther out from the city center as it is a 40-minute drive. There are seldom any waves at this beach. This area is also well known for golfing. Resorts. hotels and apartments are accommodation options in this area.
Dubai is practically synonymous with shopping and could be called "Do buy". Low tariffs and a huge amount of cargo passing through its port ensure that practically anything is available at fairly competitive rates, although the appreciation of the Dirham and the plentiful supply of shoppers means that Dubai is no longer a bargain basement shopping city. You'll also find products in Western chain stores, still with the original tags quoting euro or sterling prices, being sold with a 20-30% mark-up once converted to dirhams. The best things to buy are textiles, electronics and gold; electronics are believed to be much cheaper, while there is a wide selection of textiles and gold.
Dubai shops suffer from the standard developing world shopping phenomenon of having no storeroom and no stocks in reserve, even in the mega-malls – and for clothes shopping this may mean that you struggle to find the style you want in the size you want. Shops open as early as 9AM and stay open to 10PM, and on weekends to midnight or 1AM.
Remember to haggle in the souks, as discounts are almost always available and even in situations where the item will not become much cheaper, the customer is always expected to "play the game" of haggling. A simple question of "what's your best price?" will often result in a shop-keeper going to extraordinary lengths to sell his stock. Prices in the malls and other Western shops tend not to be negotiable. Far from being a bad thing, this allows the canny visitor to work out comparative prices for common souvenirs – an invaluable aid when a shop-keeper in a souk is asking for a higher price.
Dubai Shopping Festival has been the biggest shopping event in the Middle East since 1996. Almost every shop has a sale, starting in January and ending February. There's also a very similar Dubai Summer Surprises trying to pull in punters during the summer low season.
Dubai is known for its gigantic malls and is a magnet for shoppers. Among the dozens of malls, two stand out due to their size and quality. Several malls have a large supermarket where you'll find the lowest cost electronics, and groceries for self-catering. A Carrefour is also located near the Shindagha waterfront in Bur Dubai.
Shawarma is the most available food item on almost all streets (and cheap) in Dubai. It is the Arabic equivalent of the burger. It is meat that has been cooked on a skewer and then cut into thin strips and placed into a kuhbus (pita) bread with vegetables and dressing. It costs about 5 AED for either the plain-jane variety or the more exotic Lebanese and Iranian varieties. The shawarma sold by Indian restaurants are arguably the cheapest.
Another local snack is fala-fil (felafel, falafel), which is as cheap as shawarma.
Most of the American fast food chains have set up shop, including KFC, Chillis, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, and McDonalds. The beauty of the food in Dubai is that you will probably find cuisine for every taste. All food is halal.
Dubai has a big selection of budget Indian food. Dosa, vada, idlee, samosa, chapaati/roti, with generous servings of sabji (cooked vegetable stew) are available at throwaway prices, typically less than 10 dhs (US$2.50) per course. The more expensive stuff costs up to USD 5. Bur Dubai (particularly Meena Bazaar area) and Karama are the places that abound in these restaurants. Most of them are open from 7AM till 10PM or 11PM throughout the week.
Pork is eaten here mostly by non-Muslim Filipinos and Europeans. Pork sections exclusive for non-Muslims are found in Spinneys (numerous branches, including ones in Jumeirah and Dubai Marina), Al Maya Lal's (generally caters to Filipinos; there's a branch in Satwa) New Westzone Supermarket (has a branch in Satwa that's bigger than nearby rival Al Maya Lal's).
Sights & Landmarks
Dubai is a mixture of old and new, traditional and modern. From old traditional souks and historical buildings (now being preserved for cultural reasons or already part of the national heritage) to modern Dubai's overwhelming shopping malls, incredible artificial islands and giant modern skyscrapers that include the world's tallest building, Dubai is a world in itself and offers plenty of wonderful attractions.
The city has numerous museums and historical buildings, but Dubai Museum is a must see for a first-time travellers to the Emirates. It provides a glimpse of the old life of Dubai, its people and their culture and heritage. A number of other museums are located in nearby Sharjah.
Dubai has a justified reputation as a concrete jungle, but there are nice pockets of greenery within the city, such as Safa Park. The city parks are modern and very well-maintained, with the most popular located in Jumeirah.
Dubai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. Many modern interpretations of Islamic architecture can be found here, due to a boom in construction and architectural innovation in the Arab World in general, and in Dubai in particular, supported not only by top Arab or international architectural and engineering design firms such as Al Hashemi and Aedas, but also by top firms of New York and Chicago. As a result of this boom, modern Islamic – and world – architecture has literally been taken to new levels in skyscraper building design and technology. Dubai now has more completed or topped-out skyscrapers higher than 2/3 km, 1/3 km, or 1/4 km than any other city. A culmination point was reached in 2010 with the completion of the Burj Khalifa(Khalifa Tower), now by far the world's tallest building at 829.8 m (2,722 ft). The Burj Khalifa's design is derived from the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture, with the triple-lobed footprint of the building based on an abstracted version of the desert flower hymenocallis which is native to the Dubai region.The completion of the Khalifa Tower, following the construction boom that began in the 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s, and took on a rapid pace of construction unparalleled in modern human history during the decade of the 2000s, leaves Dubai with the world's tallest skyline as of 4 January 2010. At the Top, Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest observatory deck with an outdoor terrace is one of Dubai’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 1.87 million visitors in 2013.
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب, Tower of the Arabs), a luxury hotel, is frequently described as "the world's only 7-star", though its management has said it has never made that claim. A Jumeirah Group spokesperson is quoted as saying: "There's not a lot we can do to stop it. We're not encouraging the use of the term. We've never used it in our advertising."
Burj Khalifa is an 828 metres (2,717 ft) high skyscraper in Dubai, and the tallest man-made building in the world. The tower was inspired by the structure of the desert flower named as Hymenocallis. It was constructed by more than 30 contracting companies around the world with 100 nationalities of workers. It is a building icon.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Dubai has many museums to be explored. Dubai Museum, Gold and Diamond Park Museum, Al Shindagha, Dubai Heritage and Diving Village, Al Sheef and Sheikh Saeed’s House are the major ones.
Located in Al Fahidi Fort in Bur Dubai area, Dubai Museum is the most famous one in Dubai. It was opened in 1971 and is also called the Dubai National Museum. It depicts the ancient Dubai lifestyle and has collections of traditional photographs, weapons and ancient musical instruments. Military, cultural and social life of ancient Dubai can be explored through its artifacts. Pottery made of stones and metals is another attraction. This museum is normally open from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm from Saturday to Thursday, and from 1:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Friday. Entry ticket just cost a few dirhams, and is free with a Big Bus tour.
Gold and Diamond Park Museum
Gold and Diamond Park Museum is located on Sheikh Zayed Road in the Quoz area of Dubai. It exhibits Arabian, Indian and Italian jewelry, and has a guided tour of the jewelry manufacturing unit. It's great to watch the craftsmen working here and discover the jewelry production heritage of the United Arab Emirates. Exclusive items like purple gold, Australian pinkish pearls and Tahiti black pearls can be spotted here. With 52 retail outlets and 154 manufacturing units, the second phase of this park museum is marvelous, and visitors can get their own designs commissioned directly here. Open from 10 am to 10 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and from 4 pm to 10 pm on Fridays, entry to Gold and Diamond Park museum is free.
Things to do
- Abra ride. Best done at night in the cool weather and to enjoy the city lights. Abras can be hired for a private tour (for a price negotiable with the driver, but usually very cheap). This is quite a popular activity at sunset on a clear day, particularly if the driver is able to enliven the tour with stories about the structures on either side of the Creek. Just make sure that the purpose of one's abra hire is made clear at the outset – otherwise you will be in for a very expensive cross-river trip or a crowded private tour.
- Beaches and sea. There are endless water sport opportunities as Dubai has some of the whitest and sandiest beaches in the world. Ocean temperatures range from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer, there are few wave breaks and the strong winds can make swimming difficult. The water is also very salty so many prefer to use their hotel swimming pool. Diving activities have been severely affected by offshore construction work for the Palms and The World; consequently, long boat trips are necessary to reach wreck sites. Alternatively, one can make the 90 minute road journey to the East coast Emirate of Fujairah or the Sharjah enclave, Khor Fakkan, for top class diving on coral reefs supporting extensive marine life.
- Camel Race Track. One of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. You can watch the races, and you'll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. Vendors sell everything from beads to rugs and blankets, so you can purchase souvenirs.
- Desert safari or dune bashing. Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist desert drivers. The drivers will take you for a thrilling roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a traditional Arabic Bedouin campsite where you'll be offered lavish barbecue buffet dinner with music and belly dance to complete the atmosphere. The duration of tour is usually around five hours and cost per person at around AED 150. You may want to stay clear of the dune bashing if you get carsick easily. A desert safari is one of the best things to do while in Dubai. Another option would be renting/buying a 4x4 and joining the many growing 4x4 clubs in the UAE, but only if you're an extremely experienced driver and hold an international driving license. A majority of them have an online presence like Emarat 4x4 [www], Arabian OffRoad Academy, Dubai 4x4 and UAEoffroaders, among others. Neighbouring cities like Abu Dhabi also have their own clubs like AD4x4. For all of the Dubai-based clubs, membership is free of charge and they conduct trips for absolute beginners into the desert on a regular basis.
- Natural outdoors. Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting, and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the Emirate of Dubai, which extends into Hatta. There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes.
- Yacht charter. An easy way to explore the man-made Palm Islands and coastal skyscrapers. Fleets are available for hire from Dubai Marina from many of the yacht charter agencies.
- Dubai Creek cruise/ride. Dubai Creek is the foundation from which Dubai grew. It originally served as a port for trading vessels plying to and from India, Africa and the Middle East. Today a bit of the old shipping culture still remains. In and around the Creek one can see some of the original buildings that have served as customs houses and defense structures. You can book a ride (usually four hours) on the Dubai Marina cruise or rent a private boat to take you on an hour-long ride up and down the Creek.
- Burj Khalifa. Visit the tallest building in the world with the magnificent centrepiece of downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa is surrounded by hotels, must-visit shopping destinations and a world of entertainment options
- Golf. It may be a desert, but a lot of money and water is spent on irrigating opulent golf courses. Alternatively, for a more local flavor, try sand golf!
Festivals and events
Dubai Festivals are a fun way to take in a local activity while mixing with the residents of Dubai on your visit. There are many festivals throughout the year, so it is a good idea to check the Dubai calendar of events, or check with the concierge of your hotel upon arrival, to get an idea of what is happening during the duration of your stay.
Dubai Shopping Festival
This festival, started in 1996, usually takes place each February and is the biggest, longest running, and most popular festival of Dubai. The Dubai Shopping Festival is a huge retail event where tourists from all over the globe come to Dubai to take advantage of the deep discounts offered in most shops, enter in the daily car raffles, and marvel at the spectacular fireworks display over the city. It was estimated in 2009, that more than 3,350,000 visitors came to Dubai to take part in the Dubai Shopping Festival.
Dubai Desert Classic
This event marks it's 21st anniversary in 2010. The Desert Classic is known as the "crown jewel" of the PGA European Golf Tour's 3-stop Desert Swing. This event spotlights Dubai in the golfing world and grows in size and popularity each year. The event is promoted by golf in DUBAi, and the title sponsor is Omega. The scenes from this golf event are set against the gorgeous cityscape of the skyline of Dubai, an unmistakable image, and one visitors won't quickly forget.
Dubai Summer Surprises
Dubai Summer Surprises is the summer counterpart of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which takes place in the winter. For 10 weeks, many shops, hotels, attractions, and entertainment events take place in Dubai, with the goal of luring visitors to the shopping malls to take advantage of the deep discounts. Tourists from all over the world come to Dubai during this event to shop till they drop.
National Day Festival
Taking place each December to celebrate Dubai's independence from Britain, many of Dubai's most popular monuments, shops, and landmarks are open to the public and showcase different entertainment events. The events that take place during the National Day Festival vary from parachuting shows, camel riding and exhibitions, to many demonstrations and competitions. The festival take place over 4 days, and in keeping with the Dubai style, there is a spectacular daily fireworks display at Heritage Village and a colorful parade starting at the Sheikh Rashid Palace and ending at the Hatta Heritage Village. There are tons of daily giveaways, freebies and special activities for the children.
Dubai has supercharged the nightlife in the last decade and most international known brands have a sister location in town. Most 3-5 star hotels have bars and nightclubs for those interested in the nightlife. World-class DJs frequent Dubai's nightclubs, and many A-list musical celebrities are adding Dubai to their list of tour dates. There is nothing missing and during the high tides of the party time, the impression of being in Ibiza is not misleading. Most of the night life is geared at the beaches of Jumeirah or the Dubai Marina. Bur Dubai is more family-oriented (e.g. Dubai Fountain), while Deira was able in parts to maintain its more Arabic focussed style. Dubai is very popular with Arabic travellers, so an Arabic blend is added quite often
Dubai has several laws regarding alcohol which travelers should be aware of:
- Alcohol is available only at licensed premises, usually attached to hotels (most nightclubs and bars are in or attached to hotels, though they may have separate entrances).
- Alcohol is not sold on religious holidays. It was not sold during daylight hours in Ramadan, not even to non-Muslims. This law was relaxed in 2016.
- It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places, and there is a zero-tolerance policy on drunk driving. Anyone involved in a collision found with alcohol in their blood will usually get a month's jail sentence and fine.
- Alcohol can be bought only for home consumption at certain outlets in Dubai, and an alcohol license is required. Supermarkets only stock non-alcoholic beers. Even food items containing alcohol are not sold in supermarkets.
- Remember to carry some sort of identification when visiting a bar if you are young, as you will not be let in otherwise. The law prohibits anyone below 21 to enter.
- The authorities take disruptive behavior while intoxicated very seriously, which will lead to jail time or deportation.
- Prostitution is illegal but can be seen in bars. Both parties act illegally, but in rather (in-)famous clubs it can be rather obvious. Keep in mind that most hotels have a strict guest policy.
Things to know
The Emirati attire is typical of several countries in the Arabian peninsula. Women usually wear the "Abaya", a long black robe with a hijab (the head-scarf which covers the neck and part of the head). Some women may add a niqab which cover the mouth and nose and only leaves the eyes exposed. Men wear the "Kandurah" also referred to as "dishdasha" or even "thawb" (long white robe) and the headscarf (Ghotrah). The UAE traditional Ghotrah is white and is held in place by an accessory called "Egal", which resembles a sort of black cord. The younger Emiraties prefer to wear red and white Ghotras and tie it round their head like a turban.
The above dress code is not compulsory and many people wear western or other eastern clothing without any problems; but prohibitions on wearing "indecent clothing" or revealing too much skin are aspects of the UAE to which Dubai's visitors are expected to conform, and are encoded in Dubai's criminal law. The UAE has enforced anti-indecency prohibitions in all public places (aside from waterparks, beaches, clubs, and bars).
The laws concerning sexual morality restrict public and private acts.
Kissing in certain places is illegal and can result in deportation.
Sometimes, certain narrow exemptions to Islamic law are made for adult non-Muslims.
Adult non-Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol in licensed venues, typically within hotels, or at home with the possession of an alcohol license. Restaurants outside hotels in Dubai are typically not permitted to sell alcohol. Like other parts of the world, drinking and driving is not legal.
While Dubai tries to promote itself as the business and entertainment capital of the world, the government has a complex and at times frustrating work permit procedure that one should not attempt on their own unless they have prior experience. Therefore, it is best to go through official channels when looking for work in Dubai as spot inspections are frequent and if found working illegally, both the employee and the employer will be subject to fines and even deportation.
All the necessary forms and documents are written and processed in Arabic and is best left to a professional or a "P.R.O" to handle your paperwork.
There are rules about changing jobs and its frequency. This rules are equally applicable for all nationalities. They have to complete their contract period, which is 2 years. If the employee breaks his/her contract before the completion of 2 years, the new employer has to offer them salary above 5,000 AED in-order to avoid ban. Otherwise the employee has to wait until the completion of the left over months of his cancelled contract. If the employer breaks the contracts, then the employee can join another employer immediately irrespective of nationality, religion, cast or creed.
With the price of rentals ever soaring in Dubai and neighbouring Emirates, it is a good idea to discuss a housing allowance when negotiating a pay package.
Despite all of this, there are a few upsides, Dubai companies are generous with holidays averaging almost 39 days a year of paid vacation (including public holidays), a round trip ticket home once a year (depending on your contract) and the UAE government does not impose income taxes on foreign workers. Instead it imposes fees and charges on almost everything, so the cost of living in the UAE, and especially Dubai, is quite high.
Recruitment fraud is quite pervasive in this part of the world. Read your employment contract carefully before signing and do not pay any fees to recruitment agencies, as they are usually paid by the companies. Your passport is your personal property and cannot be withheld by the employer unless you are in a position of trust or are handling large sums of money.
Dubai has been accused by numerous organizations of effectively enslaving workers from Southeast Asia by allowing companies to take their passports without returning them and allowing salaries to go unpaid. Foreign workers, Western and otherwise, have no rights that will be upheld by the courts, and so they have no recourse should they feel their rights violated. Potential workers should be aware of this when considering work in Dubai.
Safety in Dubai
Dubai is a fast growing city that has its share of problems but nothing that using common sense can't avoid.
Driving and pedestrian safety has also been an issue given the different nationalities that share the road. Do not jaywalk or cross where there are no clear pedestrian markings. Speeding is common here, and the odds of you being knocked over are quite high unless you follow the rules. Avoid driving on the extreme left lane of highways to avoid being "flashed" and being forced to move a lane over. Road rage is also starting to become an issue given the increase in traffic jams and poor driving courtesy.
Rude hand gestures (the "finger" etc.) and profanity can lead to fines and jail times if reported, so keep your cool if you are cut off or are behind an erratic driver. In general, you will find those gestures and actions that some may find only slightly offensive in your home country—or perhaps not offensive at all—can at times be extremely offensive to the Dubai locals. Therefore, use a degree of common sense of what is right and wrong to help you stay out of trouble.
The United Arab Emirates might seem to have more relaxed laws than their other Arab counterparts, but the laws are still very different from most Western countries, and their laws are strictly enforced. A simple kiss in a public place, having an alcoholic drink in the wrong place or even losing your temper could land you a month or more in jail. Please exercise caution and common sense when visiting and make sure you are aware of all their laws or expect severe consequences that could seriously ruin your vacation.
Dubai strictly follows Islamic laws which should be respected by all travellers. Islam is the official religion, therefore do not publicly criticize or distribute material against it. Eating in public during the holy month of Ramadan is prohibited from sunrise until sunset and visitors should consume meals in the confines of their hotel or residence.
In conversations about politics and world affairs, avoid criticizing the ruling family of any of the seven Emirates or prominent business families. The United Arab Emirates does not have any formal relations with Israel, and the government publicly supports causes that involves the Palestinian people or Palestinian statehood.
Public display of affection are frowned upon and public sexual acts can lead to jail time followed by deportation. In 2008, a British couple were arrested and faced jail sentences because they had sexual contact on a beach in Dubai. If all tourists remain respectful, decent and ensure that they do not upset the local people, there should be no problems.
Homosexuality, along with all sexual relations outside of marriage, is a criminal offense with possible deportation or months of jail. Public displays of affection or cross-dressing may lead to jail time and/or deportation. They should be avoided completely in public to ensure that no problems arise. In 2013 a Norwegian woman reported she had been raped but then, following bad advice, rescinded it. She was then sentenced to sixteen months in jail for extramarital sex and filing a false police report. After public pressure she was pardoned and deported.
Women should dress sensibly and avoid wearing revealing outfits. This is especially true when traveling to districts like Karama, Deira and Bur Dubai, where the streets are packed with men, especially on evenings and weekends. While swimsuits and bikinis are a common sight on Dubai beaches, avoid sunbathing topless or wearing microbikinis—even in the private beach of a hotel.
Prostitution is illegal in Dubai but still it is visible at nightclubs, bars and other places. Law enforcement ignores partially the solicitation but penalties are high if something is too obvious or others call the police. The biggest problem is that many prostitutes don't have a legit residence permit so human trafficking and forced prostitution is an issue to keep in mind.
While petty crime is hardly reported or mentioned in the news, keep an eye on your wallet or purse when in crowded areas like Naser Square or Deira in general. If withdrawing large amounts of cash from ATMs or banking institutions, either conceal the notes or ask the institution's security to escort you to your vehicle. Cases have occurred where people have been robbed of large amounts of cash when in crowded places just because they were not careful.
Conmen are ever present in Dubai, especially the "Nigeria 419" scammers. Do not arrange meetings or entertain their requests or give any personal details. Should they not comply, individuals who will be happy to listen to their business propositions are the police.
Thanks to Dubai's new property boom and bust, real estate fraudsters are also popping up, so exercise extreme caution if you are interested in buying or renting.
Drug use and distribution are serious criminal offences, even when in the company of the person consuming the material, and can lead to a prison sentence of several years or even to be in front of the firing squad. Passenger baggage is screened quite thoroughly when entering Dubai. Even prescription drugs (without original prescription note) or ones that you bought over the counter in your country can lead to a prison sentence.
You need to be careful when you are a tourist in Dubai, like many places around the world, people have a keen eye for tourists and can cheat you. For example taxi drivers can drive a longer way to the destination given that you pay by meter or try to charge you 20 dollars when you are sure you heard them say 20 Dirhams: (they do sound rather similar).