I am certain most of you have heard or seen a lots of people taking a trip to Dubai in recent years. Dubai a city in the UAE, must been seen to believe. It’s a city with magnificent and startling architecture combined with man-made islands jutting out on the coastline. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), is an Arabian Peninsula nation located along the Persian Gulf bordered by Saudi Arabia on the south, Oman on the east and on the north and west, it shares maritime borders with Iran and Qatar respectively with the capital being Abu Dhabi.
In December 1971, the Emirate of Dubai, united with Abu Dhabi emirate and five other emirates to form the United Arab Emirates (simply referred to as ‘the Emirate’ most times). The citizens of the Emirates are called Emiratis.
Dubai, our interest today is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates. The city of Dubai is located on a small creek in the northeast part of the state. The city is the second largest emirate after Abu Dhabi. The citizens in Dubai form close to 15% of the population. 85% of the popultion are from other countries mainly Asians, Indians, Pakistani, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and others.
CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE
Dubai is a diverse society. Although the culture has been influenced mainly by the cultures of Persia, India, and East Africa, the culture in Dubai mainly revolves around traditional Arab culture. The architecture, buildings and folk arts are Arabian and Persian inspired but the impact of Arab and Islamic culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are easily seen as well. An Emirati male wears a Kandura (an ankle-length white tunic woven from wool or cotton) and a female wears Abaya (black over-garment that covers most parts of the body). From the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country, Muslims are called to prayer fives times a day. Fridays and Saturdays are weekends in Dubai. This is a compromise between Friday’s holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday. Apart from the Islamic holidays which are observed by the Emiratis, other holidays observed in Dubai are the UAE day which falls on December 2nd (marks the formation of UAE) and New Year. The official language is Arabic however the national recognised languages are English, Persian, Hindu and Urdu. The currency is Dirham.
Dubai is known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a buoyant nightlife. Seven of the world’s tallest hotels are in Dubai. The city is also a home to several man-made islands and archipelagos. Mainly the Palm Islands and The World.
The Palm Islands is made up of three artificial islands (Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali) on the coast of Dubai. From the air, the archipelago resembles a stylized palm tree within a circle. The first and smallest of the three projected islands, Palm Jumeirah is the one completed. This island takes the form of a palm tree, topped by a crescent. The tree shaped Palm Jumeirah island is known for its glitzy hotels, luxurious apartment towers and upmarket global restaurants.
The Palm Jebel Ali island, after completion will take a similar shape like Palm Jumeirah. The island will be host to a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers and will add a total of 323 miles of non-public beaches to the city of Dubai.
Deira Islands will be five and eight times bigger than Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah respectively. The monumental project when completed will host among others two storey townhouses, different types of Premier Villas ( grand & vista), luxurious beach side hotels, cafes and restaurants.
The World Islands
The World or The World Islands is an ongoing artificial archipelago of about 300 small islands to be constructed in the shape of the world map. It’s 2.5 miles off the coast of Dubai in the Persian Gulf. The first of the series of this project to be completed is Europe.
Other fascinating sights in Dubai include;
At the center of Downtown Dubai is the Dubai Fountain which is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. It is sited on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake and was designed by the company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. The fountain is illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors. It is 275m long, shoots water up to 500 ft into the air and goes along with a range of music from Arabic, Classical to Contemporary.
Burj Khalifa, an outstanding edifice in Dubai, is the tallest structure in the world. It’s sometimes described as the ‘vertical city’ or ‘a living wonder’. Burj Khalifa elevates the city with its captivating artistry .The 200 plus story structure has 160 habitable levels, the most of any building in the world. It was previously called Burj Dubai (tallest building in Dubai) but was named after the Emir and President of UAE after it inauguration. It has a total height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft) and a roof height of 828m(this excludes the antenna).
The Dubai mall, a shopping mall in Dubai is the largest mall and entertainment destination in the world. The 20 billion dollar complex is located in the downtown. It has over 1,200 retail outlets; 160 food and beverage outlets. The mall offers an unrivaled retail mix combined with a world class dining, entertainment and leisure attractions. It is one of the most visited sites in the world attracting over 50million visitors a year.
Dubai Desert Safari
Having the opportunity to experience the Dubai’s desert safari is a must. It is the ultimate travel experience. Get thrilled with the dazzling red Dunes scenery as you drive across the desert. You have the option of touring the desert in a 4×4 vehicle, ride on a camel or to even surf a sand board down the sand dunes. As the Sun sets, you can relax and enjoy a delicious BBQ and traditional entertainment at the desert campsite. You could opt for a morning, evening or overnight safari.
Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai
Get flooded with euphoria as you experience the number one water park in Europe and Middle East. The Aquaventure waterpark offers an adrenaline pumping fun. Get up close and personal with Sharks and Rays. Also experience the record breaking rides and slides or relax on the 700m private beach.
The 10 million liter tank aquarium is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. It measures 51 meters in length, 20 meters in width and 11 meters in height. The aquarium is sited on the ground level of the Dubai Mall and it’s home to thousands of aquatic animals made up of over 140 species. You will find over 300 Sharks and Rays in this tank, which includes the largest collection of the Sand Tiger Sharks in the world. Right above the aquarium is the underwater Zoo which brings visitors up close with creatures likes Penguins, Piranhas, Crabs, Water Rats, Sea Horses and Jellyfish. King Croc which is regarded as nature’s rare phenomenon and one of the world’s largest reptiles can be found in the Zoo.
Dubai Miracle Garden
This is another sight to behold. The 72,000 meter flower garden is the world’s largest flower garden. The garden has a total of 45million flowers with re-use of waste water through drip irrigation.
Gold to Go ATM
This is a side interest in Dubai. The Gold to Go ATM sited in the mall allows you to buy a gold bar size of 2.5 grams to an ounce as well as a 24-karat gold coin. The price on the vending machine is updated automatically every 10 minutes to reflect real time fluctuations in the market.
Ferrari World is an amusement park on the Yas Island located in the sister city, Abu Dhabi which you can crossover to see. It is the first Ferrari branded theme park as well as the largest space frame structure ever built. You will also find there, ‘Formula Rossa’ the world’s fastest roller coaster. The spectacular structure offers adrenaline filled rides, state of the art simulators and live shows. The park which opens 365 days in a year, also provides to visitors stores and selection of restaurants (Italian particularly) that serve authentic Italian cuisine making it the place to experience the true Ferrari story. Dhabi offers a unique experience for visitors of all ages.
Annual entertainment events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), Dubai Food Festival (DFS) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) attract over 4 million visitors from all over the world.
The climate of the UAE is subtropical (hot, humid summers and mild winters). The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 45 °C (113 °F) on the coastal plain. Areas located in The mountains have a considerably lower temperature as a result of the high elevation. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C (50 and 57 °F). Dubai experiences brief and infrequent rainfalls. The annual rainfall occurs between December and March with no significant change in temperatures. It should be noted that, the climate in Dubai varies from region to region. Temperatures and humidity differs in relation to the coastline and the desert. January, February and March are considered as Dubai’s most comfortable period of the year.
There are selected countries that get visa on arrival. Others will have to get an advance visa. Check the UAE websites for more information on acquiring visas.