Dubai

UAE

Dubai is an emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation. The main city of the emirate is also called Dubai. The emirate is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. It has the largest population in the UAE (2,106,177) and the second-largest land territory (4,114 km2) after the capital, Abu Dhabi.

Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. Although Dubai’s economy was historically built on the oil industry, 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 symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

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.

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 has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833; the emirate is a constitutional monarchy with no elections (Other than the few thousand Dubai citizens participating in the Electoral College for the Federal National Council of the UAE). The current ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and member of the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU). Dubai appoints eight members in two-term periods to the Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE, the supreme federal legislative body.

Dubai also has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahá’í, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city. Non-Muslim groups can own their own houses of worship, where they can practice their religion freely, by requesting a land grant and permission to build a compound. Groups that do not have their own buildings must use the facilities of other religious organizations or worship in private homes.

Dubai Creek, which separates Deira from Bur Dubai, played a vital role in the economic development of the city. 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 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. It is distinct from other members of the UAE in that a large part of the emirate’s revenues are from tourism.

Geography

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.

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.

Climate

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 high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many.

Government and Politics

Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833; the emirate is a constitutional monarchy with no elections (Other than the few thousand Dubai citizens participating in the Electoral College for the Federal National Council of the UAE). The current ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and member of the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU). Dubai appoints eight members in two-term periods to the Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE, the supreme federal legislative body.

The Dubai Municipality (DM) was established by the then-ruler of Dubai, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in 1954 for purposes of city planning, citizen services and upkeep of local facilities. DM is chaired by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai, and comprises several departments such as the Roads Department, Planning and Survey Department, Environment and Public Health Department and Financial Affairs Department.

Demographics of Dubai

Year    Population
1822    1,200
1900    10,000
1930    20,000
1940    38,000
1954    20,000
1960    40,000
1968    58,971
1975    183,000
1985    370,800
1995    674,000
2005   1,204,000
2013    2,106,177

Ethnicity and Language

According to the census conducted by the Statistics Centre of Dubai, the population of the emirate was 1,771,000 as of 2009, which included 1,370,000 males and 401,000 females. The region covers 497.1 square miles (1,287.5 km2). The population density is 408.18/km² – more than eight times that of the entire country. Dubai is the second most expensive city in the region and 20th most expensive city in the world.

Arabic is the national and official language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. English is used as a second language. Other languages spoken in Dubai, due to immigration, are Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Bengali, Malayalam, Tulu, Tamil, Kannada, Sinhala, Marathi, Telugu, Tagalog and Chinese, in addition to many other languages.

Religion

Dubai also has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahá’í, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city. Non-Muslim groups can own their own houses of worship, where they can practice their religion freely, by requesting a land grant and permission to build a compound. Groups that do not have their own buildings must use the facilities of other religious organizations or worship in private homes.

Non-Muslim religious groups are permitted to advertise group functions openly and distribute various religious literature; however, outright proselytising is strictly prohibited under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation for engaging in behavior offensive to Islam. Strict prohibition extends to small Muslim groups such as the Ahmadiyya.

Economy and Attractions

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Burj-al-arab

Dubai has established itself as a prominent regional hub for finance, trade, tourism, and shopping. Although Dubai’s economy was built on the back of the oil industry, revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 7% of the emirate’s revenues. Real estate and construction (22.6%), trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai’s economy. Dubai’s top exporting destinations include India (US$ 5.8 billion), Switzerland (US$ 2.37 billion) and Saudi Arabia (US$ 0.57 billion). Dubai’s top re-exporting destinations include India (US$ 6.53 billion), Iran (US$ 5.8 billion) and Iraq (US$ 2.8 billion). As of 2009, India was Dubai’s largest trade partner. 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 centers 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 harbor 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, and IBM, and media organizations 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. 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 is also known as the City of Gold, because a major part of the economy is based on gold trades. 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 center and has been ranked 37th within the top 50 global financial cities.

 Tourism and Retail

Dubai Creek, which separates Deira from Bur Dubai, played a vital role in the economic development of the city. 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 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. It is distinct from other members of the UAE in that a large part of the emirate’s revenues are from tourism.

Dubai has been called the “shopping capital of the Middle East”. Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping center, including the world’s largest shopping center, Dubai Mall. The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region and from as far as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Sub-continent. The traffic movement is controlled by the RTA wing of Municipality called Baladiya. Pre-paid cards are used to pay Public Transport fares. Dubai is also known for the traditional souk districts located on either side of the stream. 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 sustainment of life of the community in Dubai originally and was the setting point which caused the economic boom in Dubai. As of September 2013, Dubai creek has been proposed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is also known as “the City of Gold” as Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops. Dubai Duty Free (DDF) at the Dubai International Airport offers merchandise catering to the multinational passengers using the airport.

Transport

Transport in Dubai is controlled by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), an agency of the government of Dubai, formed by royal decree in 2005. The public transport network has in the past faced congestion and reliability issues which a large investment programme has addressed, including over AED 70 billion of improvements planned for completion by 2020, when the population of the city is projected to exceed 3.5 million. In 2009, according to Dubai Municipality statistics, there were an estimated 1,021,880 cars in Dubai. In January 2010, the number of Dubai residents who use public transport stood at 6%.

Road

Five main routes – E 11 (Sheikh Zayed Road), E 311 (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road), E 44 (Dubai-Hatta Highway), E 77 (Dubai-Al Habab Road) and E 66 (Oud Metha Road) – run through Dubai, connecting the city to other towns and emirates. The eastern and western sections of the city are connected by Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Shindagha Tunnel, Business Bay Crossing and Floating Bridge.

Air

Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB), the hub for the Emirates Airline, serves the city of Dubai and other emirates in the country. The airport was the 15th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic handling 40.9 million passengers in 2009.The airport was also the 2nd busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic. In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, the airport is the 7th busiest cargo airport in world, handling 1.927 million tons of cargo in 2009, a 5.6% increase compared to 2008 and was also the 4th busiest International freight traffic airport in world.

Metro Rail

A $3.89 billion Dubai Metro project is currently operational. It currently consists of two lines (Red line and Green line) which run through the major financial and residential areas of the city. The Metro system was partially opened on September 2009. Dubai Metro is the world’s second cheapest metro transportation system after Tehran Metro in Iran. The metro comprises the Green Line which runs from the Etisalat Station to the Creek Station (though Creek Station is still not operational and stops at Dubai Healthcare City Station, just before Creek Station) and the Red Line, the major back bone line, which runs from Rashidiya Station to Jebel Ali Station Jebel Ali. A Blue and a Purple Line have also been planned. The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue Lines) will have 70 km (43.5 mi) of track and 43 stations, 37 above ground and ten underground. The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. All the trains run without a driver and are based on automatic navigation.

Palm Jumeirah Monorail

The Palm Jumeirah Monorail is a monorail line on the Palm Jumeirah. It connects the Palm Jumeirah to the mainland, with a planned further extension to the Red Line of the Dubai Metro. The line opened on 30 April 2009. The first is the Downtown Burj Khalifa Tram System and the second is the Al Sufouh Tram. The Downtown Burj Khalifa Tram System is a 4.6 km (2.9 mi) tram service that is planned to service the area around the Burj Khalifa, and the second tram will run 14.5 km (9.0 mi) along Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Marina to the Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates.

Dubai has announced it will complete a link of the UAE high-speed rail system which will eventually hook up with the whole GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) and then possibly Europe. The High Speed Rail will serve passengers and cargo.

Waterways

There are two major commercial ports in Dubai, Port Rashid and Port Jebel Ali. Port Jebel Ali is the world’s largest man-made harbour, the biggest port in the Middle East, and the 7th-busiest port in the world. One of the more traditional methods of getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is by abras, small boats that ferry passengers across the Dubai Creek, between abra stations in Bastakiya and Baniyas Road. The Marine Transport Agency has also implemented the Dubai Water Bus System. Water bus is a fully air conditioned boat service across selected destinations across the creek. One can also avail oneself of the tourist water bus facility in Dubai. Latest addition to the water transport system is the Water Taxi.

Culture

The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab and Bedouin culture. In contrast, the city of Dubai is a highly cosmopolitan society with a diverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday’s holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.

In 2005, 84% of the population of metropolitan Dubai was foreign-born, about half of them from India. The city’s cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals—first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanis in the 1960s.

Large shopping malls in the city, such as Deira City Centre, Mirdiff City Centre, BurJuman, and Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall as well as traditional souks attract shoppers from the region. Khor Dubai, or Dubai Creek in English, is one of the few places in the city where old traditions could still be seen. Dubai Creek may become a UNESCO World Heritage Site if the authorities’ bid is successful. In that case, it will earn a place among internationally famous sites such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Stonehenge.

Food

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Vegetarian combo

Arabic food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma diners in Deira and Al Karama to the restaurants in Dubai’s hotels. Fast food, South Asian, and Chinese cuisines are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though legal, is regulated and is sold only to non-Muslims, in designated areas of supermarkets and airports. Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol; however, alcohol is available in bars and restaurants within hotels. Dubai is known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars are found mostly in hotels due to the liquor laws.

Biryani is also a popular cuisine across Dubai with being the most popular among Indians and Pakistanis present in Dubai. Dubai has a vast variety of cuisines for people from all over the world. One of the most popular cuisines in Dubai is Indian.

Dress and Etiquette

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Traditional dress “Kandura”

The Islamic dress code is not compulsory. Most Emirati males prefer to wear a kandura, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton, and most Emirati women wear anabaya, a black over-garment covering most parts of the body. An average UAE male national could have up to 50 kanduras as they keep changing their clothing to ensure the dress being kept clean. This attire is particularly well-suited for the UAE’s hot and dry climate, the reason being that the white cloak reflects back the sunlight, for the same reason the UAE men wear white cloaks throughout the summer season while colorful cloaks are seen during the winters. Western-style clothing is, however, dominant because of the large expatriate population, and this practice is beginning to grow in popularity among Emiratis.

Prohibitions on “indecent clothing” are an aspect of the UAE to which visitors are expected to conform. Recently, many expatriates have disregarded the law and been arrested for indecent clothing, or lack thereof, at beaches. Western-style dress is tolerated in places such as bars or clubs, but the UAE has enforced anti-indecency prohibitions in other public spaces.

Entertainment

The United Arab Emirates is a part of the khaliji tradition, and is also known for Bedouin folk music. During celebrations singing and dancing also take place and many of the traditional songs and dances have survived to the present time. Yowalah is the traditional dance of the UAE. Young girls would dance by swinging their long black hair and swaying their bodies in time to the strong beat of the music. Men would re-enact battles fought or successful hunting expeditions, often symbolically using sticks, swords or rifles.

One of the lesser known sides of Dubai is the importance of its young contemporary art gallery scene. Since 2008, the leading contemporary art galleries such as Carbon 12 Dubai, Green Art, gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, and The Third Line are bringing the city on the international art map. Art Dubai, the growing and reputable art fair of the region is as well a major contributor of the contemporary art scene’s development. The largest Cinema Hall in UAE is Reel Cinemas located at Dubai Mall. It has 22 screens available with a total of 2800 seats.

Sports

Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Dubai. Five teams (Al Wasl FC, Al-Ahli Dubai, Al Nasr SC, Al Shabab Al Arabi Club and Dubai Club) represent Dubai in UAE Pro-League. Al-Wasl have the second-most number of championships in the UAE League, after Al Ain. Dubai also hosts both the annual Dubai Tennis Championships and The Legends Rock Dubai tennis tournaments, as well as the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament and the Dubai World Championship, all of which attract sports stars from around the world. The Dubai World Cup, a thoroughbred horse race, is held annually at the Meydan Racecourse. Dubai also hosts the traditional rugby union tournament Dubai Sevens, part of the Sevens World Series. In 2009, Dubai hosted the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens. Auto racing is also a big sport in Dubai, the Dubai Autodrome is home to many auto racing events throughout the year.

Health Care

Healthcare in Dubai can be divided into two different sectors: public and private. Each Emirate is able to dictate healthcare standards according to their internal laws, although the standards and regulations rarely have extreme differences. Public hospitals in Dubai were first built in the late 1950s and continued to grow with public health initiatives. In the 1980s to 1998, more than 20 medical clinics were built within the Emirate. Dubai then followed the WHO’s policy of ‘Healthcare for all by 2000’.

A new initiative of the Dubai Health Care Authority was launched in 2007. UAE nationals make up less than 20% of the population in Dubai, as most of the population are from foreign origins. No laws forbid foreign nationals from using the national and public healthcare systems.

Media

Dubai has a well-established network, radio, television and electronic media which serve the city. Dubai is the home of the Arabian Radio Network, which broadcasts eight FM radio stations including the first talk radio station in the Middle East, Dubai Eye 103.8. Dubai-based FM radio stations such as Radio 1 and Radio 2 (104.1 and 99.3), Dubai92 (92.0), Al Khaleejia (100.9) and Hit FM (96.7) provide programming in English, Arabic and South Asian languages. Multiple international channels available through cable, while satellite, radio and local channels are provided via the Arabian Radio Network and Dubai Media Incorporated systems. The UAE’s most popular English radio station, Channel 4 FM, took to the air in 1997 and became the UAE’s first private commercial radio station.

Many international news agencies such as Reuters, APTN, Bloomberg L.P. and Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) as well as network news channels operate in Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. Additionally, several local network television channels such as Dubai One (formerly Channel 33), and Dubai TV (EDTV) provide programming in English and Arabic respectively. Dubai is also the headquarters for several print media outlets. Dar Al Khaleej, Al Bayan and Al Ittihad are the city’s largest circulating Arabic language newspapers, while Gulf News, Khaleej Times and 7DAYS are the largest circulating English newspapers.

Tourism

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Tourism Dubai

Dubai is a unique destination that is both a dynamic business center and a tourist paradise, offering more attractions, shopping, fine dining and quality hotels. From the timeless tranquility of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors. The emirate embraces a wide variety of scenery in a very small area. In a single day, the tourist can experience everything from rugged mountains and awe-inspiring sand dunes to sandy beaches and lush green parks, from dusty villages to luxurious residential districts and from ancient houses with wind towers to ultra-modern shopping malls.

Dubai enjoys, without a doubt, one of the best locations on the planet. Situated halfway between Europe and Asia, few destinations take more than 8 hours direct flying time to or from Dubai. Just overnight from London, four hours from Nairobi, three hours from Mumbai, 8 hours from Hong Kong and a direct flight from the United States or Australia, Dubai is definitely a destination of choice for vacationing, living and business.

Dubai offers a range of hotels to suit every taste, whim and budget! From the glitzy, opulent and of the most expensive and only seven star hotel in the world all the way through to the very affordable. Then there are the resorts in the desert where tourists can experience unmatched peace and tranquility. Whatever the choice, it will definitely be an unforgettable stay as a tourist or business traveler.

Dubai is ranked the second world’s most popular destination for shopping after the United States and ahead of popular shopping destinations like Singapore, France, UK, and Hong Kong among others. With a long history as a trading hub, today Dubai is synonymous with shopping. From souk to shopping mall, Dubai has it all – duty free, gold, electronics, textiles, cars – and is a true shopper’s paradise. Perfect for the shop-o-holics and for retail therapy!

Dubai has established itself as a major destination for an eclectic array of local and international events and earned its reputation as the sporting capital of the Middle East. Throughout the year, Dubai hosts a range of popular annual sporting activities, dazzling entertainment attractions, as well as conferences and exhibitions.

Dubai has emerged as a leading regional commercial hub with state-of-the art infrastructure and a world-class business environment. It has now become the logical place to do business in the Middle East, providing investors with a unique and comprehensive value added platform. With its strategic location, tax-free living and consistently strong economic outlook, Dubai is the ideal base for multinationals and other companies targeting markets in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Asian Subcontinent and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Definitely Dubai