A kaleidoscopic array of beach, desert and city activities makes Dubai the first choice for anyone wanting a diverse, cultured, fun-filled holiday. This Arabian gem does everything better, bigger and bolder: look no further than the impressive Burj Khalifa, the iconic Dubai World Cup, or the dazzling beauty of the surrounding beaches and seas.
One of the seven emirates to make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a progressive, advanced city-state, with tourism soaring at an unbelievable pace. Plus, if you’re travelling from the UK, you won’t need a visa, and will be granted 30 days in the country on arrival.
Getting around Dubai is easy: metered taxis, water taxis, buses and the Dubai Metro provide safe and quick links around the city. Many hotels offer shuttle buses to the beach, shopping areas and places of interest as well.
Sand dunes and the desert collide with futuristic skylines and tropical blue waters: Dubai offers everything from shopping, to sand surfing, to skiing. It’s a diverse emirate, and the best way to first foray into Arabian countries and culture.
Dubai is divided into 10 diverse districts:
- Jumeirah: a favourite with Europeans due to beach proximity. This district is worth visiting for Jumeirah Beach, and the Jumeirah Mosque
- Downtown Dubai: home to the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain, Downtown is in fact in the centre of the city
- Dubai Marina: this huge development borders the world’s largest man-made port, Jebel Ali, and houses the highest concentrations of Westerners in Dubai
- Satwa: you’ll find the Gold Souk here, along with plenty of wonderful textiles and Indian restaurants, along with plenty of smaller gold souks and markets
- Karama: those on a budget will do well in this district, where cheaper food outlets and shops reside
- Bur Dubai: a historical part of Dubai, this district contains floating restaurants, the Creek, and plenty of souks to explore
- Deira: while Deira was once the financial centre, now it’s a commercial and residential area, with some brilliantly spicy souks
- Arabian Ranches and Emirates Hills: two expensive, residential districts
- Mirdif: lying underneath the flight path to Dubai International Airport, Mirdif, or Mirdiff, is another commercial and residential district, and has only recently been finished
- International City: another residential area, but in the centre of the desert. With great architecture and an influx of Chinese businessmen and women, it’s quickly becoming Dubai’s Chinatown.
Islam is Dubai’s national religion, and a tolerant version of Sharia law is followed, so it is necessary to follow social laws and act respectfully towards the Emiratis. Pay close attention to any advice handed out by your hotel, and you won’t encounter any problems.
Dubai’s population is 2.1 million, but nearly 85% of these inhabitants are foreign. Immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh make up a large proportion of the Emirate’s residents. Over 11 million tourists visited Dubai in 2013, and the number is rising rapidly.
With a history deeply rooted in the lives of the Bedouin, to the most advanced architecture and futuristic visions, Dubai combines past and present, and East and West.
Top Ten Facts about Dubai
- Weekends are Friday and Saturday, with most businesses shutting shop for the whole of Friday
- Dubai’s currency is the United Arab Emirates Dirham, or the Dirham
- 24% of all cranes on Earth can be found in Dubai
- The amount of gold used in the Burj Al Arab could cover 46,265 Mona Lisa paintings
- There’s no personal or income tax in Dubai, and the Emirate’s Free Zone offers tax-free business space
- Dubai is the fifth safest city in the world
- The state’s police force spend big money on their police cars: models include Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Aston Martins
- Next on the construction list is a climate-controlled city, with air-conditioned pavements
- Enough oil is produced to fill 4.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day
- Dubai’s indoor ski-slope makes over 6,000 tonnes of snow on a daily basis.