The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is also one of the most rapidly-developing and most exciting and vivacious cities in the world.
With almost constant sunshine and a growing reputation as an essential place to do business, Dubai has continued to attract world attention through innovative real estate projects such as the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa, and the globally-famous sail-shaped hotel, the Burj al Arab. The city boasts a number of world-class sports events, conferences and enormous construction and development across various industries.
Strategically located between Europe, Asia and Africa, Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. The city is known to be a low-crime and politically-stable one.
The city is unusual in that its population is comprised mainly of expatriates with the largest group of expatriates hailing from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and members of other Asian communities.
Entertainment and Sport
Dubai has many shopping malls - the new, vast Dubai Mall which hosts both an aquarium and ice skating rink, the Mall of the Emirates with the world’s first indoor alpine skiing slope, Ski Dubai. There is also the Ibn Battuta Mall, which is the largest themed mall in the Middle East and features impressive courts including China, Persia, India, Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia. For the more adventurous shoppers, the traditional souks are a must-see.
Dubai also has a vibrant and diverse nightlife, with many state-of-the-art nightclubs and bars in all corners of the city. It also offers a great range of activities from water sports in the sea to dune bashing in the desert.
Dubai is also host to some of the world’s best sporting events. Apart from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai’s impressive portfolio of world-class events includes the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, the Dubai Rugby Sevens and the Dubai World Cup, an annual horse racing event with over US $21 million worth of prize money hosted in the outstanding Meydan racing complex. The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and the FINA World Swimming Championships are the two new events in Dubai’s growing portfolio.
Dirham is the currency of Dubai. Interestingly the Dubai currency symbol is displayed as both AED and Dhs in many places. The Dirham is fixed against the US Dollar at the rate of Dhs. 3.67. Dollars are widely accepted in souks and shops. Other exchange rates (subject to change): UK: 5.8 AUS: 3.673 EURO: 4.85.
Language and Religion
The official language is Arabic but English, Urdu and Hindi are widely spoken. Islam is the official religion of the emirate, while there are also minority Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.
The Islamic dress code is not compulsory, unlike in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Most Emirati males prefer to wear a kandura, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton, and most Emirati women wear an abaya, a black over-garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is particularly well-suited for the UAE's hot and dry climate. Western-style clothing is, however, dominant because of the large expatriate population, and this practice is beginning to grow in popularity among Emiratis.
Dubai has a very hot arid climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy and dry, with an average high around 42 °C (108 °F) and overnight lows around 29 °C (84 °F). Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 23 °C (73 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F). Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades with accumulated rain reaching 250 mm (9.84 in) per year. Dubai summers are also known for the high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many.
Today, Dubai is an important tourist destination and port but is also increasingly developing as a hub for service industries such as IT and finance, with the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
The property boom is largely driven by mega-projects, whether off-shore such as The Palm and The World or inland such as the Dubai Marina, the Burj Dubai Complex, Business Bay and the Dubai Sports City amongst many others.
Dubai water is drinkable but bottled water is available and is reasonably priced.