Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates and the name of the emirate’s main city. The modern emirate of Dubai was created with the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Dubai is one of the wonders of the modern world. A decade ago the sand was the ruler of this emirate located on the edge of the Arabian Desert with no discernible natural advantages. Nowadays the sand has been dethroned by the luxurious futuristic skyscrapers and the exclusive cozy villas scattered around the coastline. And all this is thanks to the vision of Dubai’s ruler - Sheikh Mohammed - and the belief in his subjects in his idea to turn his country into the center of international trading and tourism.
From within the high standards of luxury and convenience, visitors can experience exotic Arabia in the bustling souks or a night in a Bedouin tent with belly-dancing under the starlit desert skies, as well as a way of life that is still embedded in the Islamic traditions of an ancient land. Dubai's attraction lays in the contrast between the ultra-modern and the enchantingly traditional, which gives the city a personality like no other and visitors a variety of experiences to choose from. From desert oases and unspoiled beaches, camel races and old wind towers, to top-class shopping opportunities, avant-garde architecture and the finest international cuisine, Dubai has more than enough depth to satisfy even the most seasoned of travelers.
Facts and Figures
Capital: Dubai (city of Dubai)
Area: Total 4,114 km² (1,588.4 square miles)
Currency: Arab Emirate Dirham (AED); 1 EUR = 5.4 AED
Official language: Arabic, but also widely spoken are Persian, Malayalam, English, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Tagalog
Time zone: Dubai Standard Time (UTC+4)
Dialing Code: +971
Internet top-level domain (TLD): .ae
Emergency services: 999
Days of sunshine per year: 365
Average temperatures: 24ºC - 35 ºC (April
Main International Airports: Dubai International Airport (DXB),
Religions: 96% Muslim, Hindu, Christian, 4% other
Emir: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Population: metro 1, 492,000 (2006)
Population density: 345.65/km² (895.2/sq miles)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): USD 46 billion (2006)
Government offices: Saturday - Wednesday (7:30am - 2:30pm)
General businesses work: 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm from Saturday to Thursday
Banks: 8am to 1pm from Saturday to Wednesday and 8am to 12pm on Thursday
Before hopping aboard local transport, purchase a rechargeable pass (Nol card) from ticket offices or vending machines.
Metro: The high-tech Red and Green Lines link all major sights and neighborhoods between 5.30am and midnight Saturday to Wednesday, and to 2am Thursday and Friday. A Green Line station is close to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Bus: Slower but useful for going places not served by the metro.
Tram: Travels along Al Sufouh Rd between Dubai Media City and Dubai Marina.
Boat: Abras (traditional wooden boats) cross the Creek. The Dubai Ferry and water buses are good for sightseeing.
Taxi: Convenient, metered, fairly inexpensive and fast, except during rush-hour. The cost for a regular taxi from the airport to the Hyatt Regency hotel is about AED 70 and the taxi ride takes about 20 minutes (distance: 12 km).
What to wear
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but something slightly warmer may be needed for the winter months. Be sure to take some sort of jacket or sweater when visiting hotels or the cinema, as the air conditioning can be fierce.
Although the attitude towards dress is fairly liberal throughout the Emirates, a healthy amount of respect for local customs doesn't go amiss, especially when shopping or sightseeing. Short or tight clothing may be worn, but it will attract attention - most of it unwelcome.
Malls, health clubs and resort facilities are generally more accepting of what's fashionable, but when visiting government offices it is best to cover your shoulders and legs. It is especially recommended that you dress more conservatively during Ramadan.
In the evenings, restaurants and clubs usually have a mixt of western, Arabic and Asian styles. Again, ladies are advised to take a pashmina or jacket because of cold air conditioning.
The variety of food that this city offers is truly amazing and the food available in Dubai includes a variety of cuisines, like Chinese, Thai, English, Lebanese and American cuisine, the little-known Polynesian food, Mexican cuisine, Moroccan and Vietnamese dishes.
Dubai has numerous dining options and visitors are often bewildered by the sheer volume and diversity of choice across the emirate. Cuisine from around the world mingles in Dubai with restaurants offering a vibrant and varied mix of international flavors and impressive culinary standards..
The name of the currency in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates is the Dirham (AED) or Arab Emirate Dirham – also commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH). There are 100 fils in a Dirham. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 dirhams. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Foreign currencies and traveler’s cheques can be exchanged in licensed exchange offices, banks and hotels, a passport is required. Personal cheques can be a bit trickier and many places won't accept them. If you're shopping in the souks (markets) or in smaller shops, cash is the best option. Current exchange rates (Aug 2016): 100 USD = 367 AED.
A well-structured and expansive network of local and international banks, strictly controlled by the UAE Central Bank, offers a full range of commercial and personal services. Transfers can be made easily as there is no exchange control and the dirham is freely convertible. Banking hours are generally Saturday to Thursday, 8am - 1pm (some banks also keep later hours). Some banks have small branches based in malls, which are open in the evening.
Most banks operate ATMs, which accept a range of cards. Most ATMs, although linked to a specific bank, are part of a central network so you can transact with a bank card for a nominal charge. Common systems accepted around Abu Dhabi include American Express, Cirrus, Global Access, MasterCard, Plus System and VISA. ATMs can be found in all shopping malls, major supermarkets, most petrol stations and the airport. For international cards, the exchange rates used in transactions are normally competitive and the process is faster and far less hassle than using traditional traveler’s cheques.
‘Bureau de Change’ offices are all over Dubai and offer rates often better than the banks. You'll find them in all major malls and popular shopping districts. They are usually open Saturday to Thursday, from 8am - 1pm and 4.30pm to 8.30pm, and on Friday evenings. Many hotels will also exchange money and traveler’s cheques at standard (non-competitive) rates.