29 Apr Dubai – An Emirate of Dreams
As per several written accounts, Dubai was supposed to be in existence even before the configuration of the United Arab Emirates, for as long as 150 years. But at that time, the landscape of this city was that of an uninhabitable desert, where only the Bedouin tribes could survive. Only a stream of water, an excuse for a creek, proved to be the lifeline. The camel was the only means of transport.
It was only closer to the 19th century that Dubai came into picture as travelers passing along the trading route that connected Mesopotamia to the Indus Valley, built it into a hub of sorts. Soon, signs of civilization grew, starting with the fishing village at the creek. It was then that the Bani Yas tribe came to reside here, and the leader family, the Maktoums, established their rein in this desert land, and the dynasty continues to rule over Dubai even today.
But, Dubai first made news on the world scene as late as in the ’60s, when, even as the British colonizers were just leaving the land, inhabitants there struck upon oil. And oil it is that has made Dubai a hotspot commercial and trade center if ever there was one. Within a short span of just four decades, the city reinvented its image and went on to become the role model for the several mushrooming cities, as well as the existing ones, all over the world. The economy of Dubai is reaching for the sky, and it is not just oil that is propelling it. Foreign admiration for the several man made wonders here has also helped Dubai evolve as a hot tourist destination. In fact, the city has also seen a major population explosion in the recent years, and stands approximately at 1.5 million as per the latest records. But Dubai is more cosmopolitan in its demographic makeup than any other city in the world, and the original Emirati inhabitants account for only a quarter of Dubai’s population. This is also seen as one of the reasons as to why ethnic conflicts haven’t really flared up in the city, as they have in the neighborhood regions of the Middle East.
Today, Dubai, as a tourist destination, boasts of some of the most spectacular and monumental structures, that has been attracting people from all over to witness man made creation in its full glory. And it seems that making grandiose, ambitious plans is almost a penchant, or fetish, for the rulers of this emirate. If Burj Arab wears the crown of being the tallest tower in the whole world, the man made islands, called as the ‘Three Palms and the World’, is a spectacular creation by itself.
Tourism has come to contribute almost 30% to the GDP of Dubai, and it looks like for many travelers, natural wonders have taken a back seat, when Dubai and its artificial magic is in questions.
o Dubai is the second largest emirate in the cluster of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and has a land area of almost 38885 square kilometers.
o It is located on the edge of the Dubai Creek.
o Dubai is actually not a city, but an emirate. But generally, Dubai as a term is used to refer to just a part of this emirate, known as Dubai city.
o The Dubai Creek partitions the city into two regions, which are the Diera district (in the north), and the Bur Dubai (to its south).
o Dubai has close proximity with three continents, namely Asia, Europe, as well as Africa.
o Dubai is the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates.
o The population here has reached the 1.5 million mark within just a short span of time.
o Almost 80% of the resident population in Dubai is comprised of foreign immigrants.
o Dubai boasts of the highest population in the whole of the UAE.
o The Al Maktoum dynasty has been ruling over Dubai right since 1833.
o The emirate earns much of its revenue mainly from trade, financial services as well as real estate, and has become a hot property for housing.
o Only 6 percent of the total revenue to Dubai’s economy is received from its trademark riches of natural gas and petroleum.
o The Dirham is the main currency of Dubai, as well as for the whole of the United Arab Emirates.
o Dubai is one of the only two emirates, the other being Abu Dhabi, to have the privilege of veto power in the legislature of the country, when it comes to matters pertaining to crucial aspects of the nation.
o The main hub for the gold jewelry business in the whole of Middle East lies in Dubai.
o The Burj Dubai is the tallest building in the world, as well as the tallest built man made structure ever.
o UAE’s first ever manmade island has been created in Dubai and is known as the Palm Island.
o As per recent updates and records, Dubai counts as the fastest growing city in the world.
o Even though the city is essentially located in a desert region, it now boasts of some of the best indoor ski slopes, for which snow weighing up to 6000 tons is used.
o In Dubai, the government has restrained from levying any kind of income tax or personal tax on the citizens of the city.
o Dubai as one of the highest per capita incomes in the world
o Since it is a desert region, the city receives only 13 cm of annual precipitation on a yearly average.
o Dubai has one of the most multicultural societies in the world.
o Dubai, however, is known to follow a class-based structure in its social makeup, and it is the migrant workers who form the lower class in the social hierarchy.
o The transport hub of the Emirates Airways is the Dubai International Airport, which not only operates for the emirate of Dubai alone, but also for the rest of the emirates in the UAE.
o In context of the international passenger traffic, the Dubai international airport is the 6th busiest international airport in the whole world.
o Cricket and football are the most closely followed sports in Dubai.
o The Dubai international Film Festival is a noted event that is held every year, and which attracts the biggest celebrities form all over the world.
o The nightlife party culture has caught on popularly in this city, and Dubai was listed as New York Times travel choice in 2008 for a good partying environment.
o Though infrastructure wise and economically Dubai is highly progressive and modern, the government regulates strict censorship to protect the cultural as well as political nature in the Emirate. Some of the major things considered to be a violation include drugs, homosexuality, Darwin’s theory of evolution, etc.
o The official language of the emirate is Arabic, but the other popular languages spoken here are English (which happens to be a lingua franca), Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, Persian, Bengali, Chinese, Tagalog and several others.
o Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates as per UAE’s Provisional Constitution.
o Apart from Muslims, the other prominent religious communities in Dubai are the Hindus, the Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and several others.
Climate: Since Dubai is essentially located in a desert region, it experiences a hot, arid climate almost all year long. There is constant sunshine in this part of the world, and the climate is usually idyllic which brings in tourists any time of the year. Dubai receives minimum annual rainfall, and the annual precipitation that the city gets on an average is just about 13 centimeters. The summers are hostile in this region, however, and thus, most buildings and malls are necessarily air-conditioned to keep citizens and tourists comfortable. If you are planning to travel to this city, it is advised that you do so during the pleasant and cold winter season, and preferably stay away from Dubai during the hostile and torturous summers, unless you want to just spend your vacation sitting inside your air-conditioned hotel.
Health: Dubai has an internationally acclaimed standard of the most advanced medical care, in both the sectors, primary health, as well as in public hospitals. The public hospital system is highly equipped to deal with even the most dire emergencies, while private health care also provides the best in terms of medical treatment. In order to ensure complete accessibility, the hospitals in the city are strategically situated to face any emergency. As many as 20 hospitals are dispersed all across Dubai. The Department of Health and medical Services offers affordable medical services and employs the best professionals from over the world. However, for tourists, the medical costs can be high, and thus you must decide on trips only when your health supports you.
Dubai boasts of a very highly life expectancy, which is almost 77.87 years for the females, and 72.73 years for males. The rate of infant mortality in this emirate is 9.2 deaths for every 1000 people of the population. 12.8% is the crude birth rate.
If you are planning to travel to Dubai, it is advised that you take necessary precautions to prevent being bogged down by the common infections there, particularly chicken pox (in 2006 itself, there were 3472 recorded cases of chicken pox). The other infectious diseases common in Dubai are Pulmonary Tuberculosis, as well as Viral Hepatitis B, that also account for a large number of cases. Another important health instruction that every tourist to the place is warned of is to take due care to avoid possibilities of getting a heat stroke, which can prove to be quite dangerous. Dehydration is also another threat to most tourists, and sometimes, many may even face problems related to breathing and respiration. During the summers, the temperature can go up to almost 50 degrees Celsius, and can be unbearable, particularly for tourists from the colder parts of the world, and thus it is advised that you avoid travel to this region during that specific time. The high amount of dust in this region can make a foreign national prone to some allergies and respiratory problems, and thus, you must make sure that you carry enough equipment for protection from the intolerable heat and the high levels of dust and sand.
Safety: nowadays, most tourists are largely concerned about the safety aspect in a destination location and they make sure to have a good knowledge of the whole scene beforehand. One of the biggest factors related to safety in Dubai would be to conform to the strict rules while you are staying there temporarily. The rulers there are highly intolerant towards violation of the basic rules that are meant to safeguard the essential values that are hailed in the Islam world. Thus, try to keep away form drugs as much as possible, particularly since there are a lot of exploitative drug marketing networks that can easily con unsuspecting tourists.
Another measure of safety to be taken is regarding your health, and it is advised that you avoid travel to Dubai when your health has not been good, since the medical care charges here are exorbitant for foreign nationals. There are also certain infectious diseases that you should take care of, particularly pulmonary tuberculosis, chicken pox, etc. you should also take enough precautions to avoid harmful heat strokes in the city which is common due to the high temperatures during the summer seasons.
There are certain strict taboos in a highly censored place like Dubai, and it is necessary that you conform to them for the short period of your stay here. Homosexuality is an offence, and so is Darwin’s theory of evolution. Stray clear of these few things and you will be safe from being convicted for violation of the law of the land.
The other safety measures to be taken include the common ones, which most tourists follow for travels to any part of the world, like taking care of your belongings all the time, avoiding contact with strangers, and so on.
Shopping: Dubai is a paradise for shoppers simply for the range of its shopping malls and the latest style and fashion that every shopping store is abundant with. The best thing bout shopping in Dubai is the attractive price range on the various items and products that the shops and markets here offer. Here’s a guide to direct you to the best places to shop when in Dubai.
o One of the popular shopping malls in Dubai is the Ibn Battuta Shopping mall that is located in Jebel Ali.
o Another popular shopping mall, one of Dubai’s first major ones, is the Bur Jaman Centre that also boasts of the best range of restaurants and cafes as well. This mall is located in the Khalid Bin Waleed Street in Bur Dubai.
o Another one on the list of the best malls to shop in Dubai is the visually-appealing Wafi City Mall that is known more for its attractive atrium roofs shaped in the form of pyramids than the range of products available here. But the mall doesn’t fall behind in that aspect as well, and boasts of an array of over 200 retail stores, as well as a full-blown family centre which includes a theatre, and restaurants as well.
o The Wafi city Mall is located in the Al Garhood region, near the Grand Cineplex. The first shopping mall to be purpose-built is the Al Ghurair Centre, which was constructed by the Al Ghurair family way back in 1981, on Riqqa road in the Deira region. Some of the best range of collections in merchandise can be easily found here.
o Al Mulla Plaza is the oldest mall to be built in Dubai, which is located between the two emirates, Dubai and Sharjah, on the dubai-sharjah Highway.
The transportation in Dubai is efficiently regulated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), and is an added bonus to the city’s tourism sector. Most travelers do not face many hassles getting here and even traveling within the city. Here’s a detailed introduction to Dubai’s transportation status.
a) Airports: The Dubai International Airport functions as the most important center for UAE’s Emirates Airline. It in fact, is quite a state of the art airport if ever there was, and has several excellence awards to its credit, not only for design, but for service as well. This airport is located at the Al Garhoud district, almost 4 kilometers to the southeast of Dubai. The largest operating airline at the Dubai International Airport is the Emirates Airline. Apart form this, the other frequent airlines operating from this airport are the Emirates SkyCargo and the FlyDubai airlines.
Another airport under constyruction is the Dubai World central International Airport in the Jebel Ali Airport City. Emirates is one of the most popular airlines to this part of the world.
b) Sea ports: tHe two important commercial seaports that are in service in Dubai are the Port jabel Ali and the Port Rashid, which are used as hubs for international trade routes. For local use, the common ports used are the Port Saeed and the Dubai Creek. In fact, the traditional way of ferrying passengers across from Bur Dubai to Deira is facilitated through Dubai Creek.
c) Public Transportation: the Roads and Transport Authority famously run an efficient public transport bus system that runs along a network of 193 routes across the city. Even the taxi system in the city is extensive, and is in fact the most popular means of public transport in the whole of the Emirate. The Dubai Metro project is still under construction and is expected to greatly improve the public transport in the always crowded city. The Downtown Burj Dubai Tram System is also planned to function as a popular means of public transport by 2011.
There is no dearth of spectacular attractions for tourists in Dubai. Here’s a list of some great places to visit when in the Emirate.
One of the most impressive regions in the city is the Shaikh Zayed Road that marks the spectacular progress of the Emirate in all its glory. There are some splendid buildings here, like the Emirates Tower Office, the Dubai World Trade Center, and several others.
The desert Safari is a must for visitors to Dubai, and so is a trip to the magnificent Jumeirah Beach. All the fun beach activities are played out here in full form.
Ski Dubai is another spectacular destination for those who want to experience snow in the middle of a desert. The Dubai Museum is a haven for history-loving tourists.
Attractions for Kids:
Apart from the several splendid places to visit in Dubai, there are also several water parks meant solely for the complete entertainment of children. Some of the famous ones are the Wild Wadi Water Theme Park and the Wonderland theme Park Dubai, apart from several others.