Your comprehensive travel guide to Dubai - All in one place!
Dubai is the United Arab Emirates' holiday hot spot. This city of high-rises and shopping malls has transformed itself from a desert outpost to a destination, where tourists flock for sales bargains, sunshine, and family fun. Dubai is famous for sightseeing attractions such as the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building) and shopping malls that come complete with mammoth aquariums and indoor ski slopes.
But this city has many cultural highlights and things to do. Take a wander around the Bastakia district, and you'll discover the Dubai of old, then cruise along Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow, and you'll soon realize there's more to this city than its flashy veneer.
Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf shoreline of the United Arab Emirates and is generally at sea level (16 m or 52 ft above). The emirate of Dubai shares outskirts to Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the upper east, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is enveloped on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). Dubai is actually featured with a desert backdrop having sand dunes, oases as well as wadis (dried river beds). Dubai is also blessed with some magnificent offshore islands, coral reefs and salt marshlands. You will be surprised to know that Dubai also has a range of mountains located close to Gulf of Oman.
Islam is inextricably intertwined with the very fabric of UAE society. Muslims see the Qur’an literally as the word of God, and it issues very specific moral guidelines, dealing with all issues of daily living. For this reason, the book itself is strongly revered and must be respectfully treated. Although the most open of Arab societies in its culture, the Muslim tradition in Dubai is no different.
Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, is marked by prayer, fasting and charity. As an Islamic country, Dubai culture is no different and many restaurants and cafes close during daylight hours. Non-Muslims should not eat, drink or smoke in public, but do so only in private or at specially closed off hotel restaurants.
Relative to its size and oil wealth, the UAE has a small population, estimated at 2,624,000 in 1997. Before 1970, the local population was tiny (estimated at eighty-six thousand in 1961) and lacked most of the technical skills needed for a modern society. The commercial production of oil triggered rapid population growth as a result of an increase in the national population from improvements in diet, health care, and living standards and the importation on a large scale of mostly male foreign laborers. The latter factor has generated a dependence on expatriate labor; the UAE has become a multiethnic society, and Emirati nationals account for only about 20 percent of the population. This has created an imbalanced population composition in favor of males; in 1997, there were 1,755,000 males and 869,000 females.
About two-thirds of the immigrants are Asians, mainly from India, Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. The remainder are Arabs, Europeans, and Americans.