The emirate of Dubai is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. It has the largest population in the UAE (2,106,177) and the second-largest land territory by area (4,114 km2) after Abu Dhabi, the national capital. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature. The city of Dubai is located on the emirate’s northern coastline and heads up the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. Dubai is nowadays often misperceived as a country or city-state and, in some cases, the UAE as a whole has been described as ‘Dubai’.
The earliest mention of Dubai is in 1095 AD, and the earliest recorded settlement in the region dates from 1799. The Sheikhdom of Dubai was formally established in 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Butti Al-Maktoum when he persuaded around 800 members of his tribe of the Bani Yas, living in what was then the Second Saudi State and now part of Saudi Arabia, to follow him to the Dubai Creek by the Abu Falasa clan of the Bani Yas. It remained under the tribe’s control when the United Kingdom agreed to protect the Sheikhdom in 1892 and joined the nascent United Arab Emirates upon independence in 1971 as the country’s second emirate. Its strategic geographic location made the town an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, Dubai was already an important regional port.
Today, Dubai has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a global city and a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. Although Dubai’s economy was historically built on the oil industry, the emirate’s Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The city has become symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, such as the world’s tallest Burj Khalifa, in addition to ambitious development projects including man-made islands, hotels, and some of the largest shopping malls in the region and the world. This increased attention has also highlighted labor and human rights issues concerning the city’s largely South Asian workforce. Dubai’s property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008–2009 as a result of the worldwide economic downturn following the financial crisis of 2007-2008. However, a 2013 report by the Oxford Business Group said that Dubai was making a gradual recovery with help coming from neighboring emirates.
As of 2012, Dubai is the 22nd most expensive city in the world, and the most expensive city in the Middle East. Dubai has also been rated as one of the best places to live in the Middle East, including by American global consulting firm Mercer who rated the city as the best place to live in the Middle East in 2011
In 2012, the Global City Competitiveness Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Dubai at No. 40 with a total score of 55.9. According to their 2013 research report on the future competitiveness of cities, in 2025 Dubai moves up to 23rd place overall in the Index.
Sightseeing and main attractions
1. Gold Souk
A trip to the Gold Souk truly demonstrates why Dubai has earned itself the title City of Gold. It’s worth visit even if you have no intention of buying, just to soak in the atmosphere of shop windows glinting with 18, 21, 22 & 24 carat gold, showing-off the abundant riches of this part of the world. Gold is aggressively promoted with special offers & raffle draws during Dubai Shopping Festival & Dubai Summer Surprises. The sheer scale & variety of gold on offer is impressive – earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets & pendants. Many different shades of gold are available: white, pink, yellow and even purple gold. Gold prices here are among the lowest in the World and are largely determined by weight; also varying depending on whether it is machine-made or by a craftsman.Location/Direction: Al Sabkha Road, DeiraOpen: Daily AM 09:00-13:00 PM 16:00-22:00
2. Spice Souk
The shops are lined up in the narrow alleys close to the shores of the Creek offering all sorts of goods to merchants and sailors coming afar as well as tourists who wish to experience the exotic aroma of the variety of spices. Some of the famous items bought by visitors are; Saffron, incense, rose water, vanilla sticks, henna, shisha and mixed herbsLocation/Direction: Adjacent to the Gold Souk, Al Sabkha Road, DeiraOpen: Daily AM 09:00-13:00 PM 16:00-22:00
3. The Creek (Abbra & Dhow cruises)
Historically, the creek (which is an inlet river from the sea) was the main artery of commerce activity in Dubai since the beginning of 19th century. It served as a minor port for Dhow (wooden ships) coming as far away as India and East Africa. From the year 1955 onwards, the creek has undergone several dredging plans in order to allow vessels with higher loads to cross and unload their goods.
The Creek happen to split Dubai in two parts, namely Deira and Bur Dubai and the traditional method of crossing from each side was carried out by Abbras (small wooden boats) which carry approx. 20 people and cost about 1 Dhs per person. There are 2 stations on each side of the Creek. You may rent an Abbra for an hour at around 150/200 Dhs (must be pre-agreed though). The RTA has introduced an air-conditioned ferry service covering the Creek until the Dubai Marina with different stops all along.
If you fancy a bit of luxury, several Dhow companies offer day as well as dinner cruises through the creek
4. Dubai Museum
Housed in the old Al Fahidi Fort (1780) and transferred to a museum in 1971. The museum depicts life in Dubai since pre-oil era and is divided into various sections; the old souk, Dhow building, desert and oasis life, archaeological finds and the pearl diving industry.Location/Direction: Al Fahidi Street (tel. 04-3531862)Open: Daily: 08:30-20:30 Friday: 14:30-20:30
The name is derived from Bastak area in southern Iran where merchants exchanged goods since the beginning of the 19th century. The Bastakia is considered the oldest area of Dubai and is adorned with old and restored houses built from Areesh and sand mixed with sea shells. One particular feature of the old buildings dating back to this era is the “wind tower” or illage, Barjeel in Arabic, which was the first form of air-cooling those days.
6. Heritage and diving village
The village is the extension of Bastakia area and bears a resemblance in architecture and tradition. The main attractions are Shk. Saeed Al Maktoum, the diving center and the heritage. Here you can stroll and find yourself in bygone days of old Dubai, where potters and weavers practice their traditional crafts at barasti (made of palm fronds) stalls. The village is open daily and is best visited during the shopping festival.Location/Direction: Bur Dubai Creek side (tel. 04-3937139)Open: Daily: 08:30-20:30
7. Textile Market
There is no better place to find some good bargains on the endless choices of clothing and textiles than in the textile Market. Most shops are wholesale and many are from India and Pakistan. Here you will find the best quality silk, pashmina, brocades and cotton. There are also many tailor shop who can tailor make your choice of thread with very reasonable prices.Location/Direction: Next to Dubai museumOpen: Daily: 09:00-13:00 16:00-22:00
8. Karama Market
Karama is one of the oldest and most populated areas of Dubai with low cost housing projects. It is famous for its counterfeit and copy of brand products. Karama offers very affordable shopping at bargain prices you cannot find elsewhere. From Gucci bags to fake Rolex, here is the best place to practice your bargain skills.Location/Direction: Metro station availableOpen: Daily: 09:00-13:00 16:00-22:00
9. Burj Al Arab
Tower of the Arabs (Arabic), is the tallest 5 star hotel in Arabia and the fourth on the world. It was designed by architect Tom Wright of Atkins. Opened in December 1999 and took some 6 years to construct. It has 202 suites with the biggest measuring 780 sq m. The restaurants (nine in total) are also unique in structure and design, the Al Muntaha which is located on the highest floor overlooking the Arabian Gulf and Al Mahara which is located on the lowest point and is accessed by a simulated submarine elevator.
As a visitor, you need to book a restaurant in advance; the following link will guide you on prices and formalities:
For reservations, you may email: BAArestaurants@jumeirah.com or call: +971 4 301 7600
10. Wild Wadi (water park)
Opened in 1999 and set in 12 acres of lush palms, pools and sands on Jumeira coast line, located just opposite the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel. Wild Wadi boasts over 30 rides and attractions in line with Arabian themes. It has 6 food and beverage outlets and a souvenir/swimwear shop.Location/Direction: Opposite Burj Al ArabOpen: Daily: 10:00-19:00Rates: above 1.1 m AED 235 pp Below 1.1 m AED 175 pp
For more information click this link:
For reservations, you may email: email@example.com or call: +971 4 348 444
11. Medinat Jumeirah
Not far away from Burj Al Arab and Wild Wadi Park lies the largest 5 stars resort in the UAE. The design resembles a traditional Arabian Town albeit the modern architecture. It comprises 3 exclusive hotels; Mina Salam, Al Qasr and Dar EL Masyaf chalets. The Medinat Souk is a joy to walk through, where you will be spoiled for choices, jewelry, fashion, galleries, souvenir shops and many variety of restaurants line up the narrow alleys.
12. The Palm Jumeirah
An artificial Archipelago created by land reclamation and is one of three islands called the Palm Islands. The total expected shoreline when the Islands are finished is 520 km. The Palm Jumeirah consists of a trunk, crown with 16 fronds and a surrounding crescent shape island that forms 11 km breakwater. The reclamation costs reached 12.3 billion USD and 40,000 workers where hired to complete the project. In 2007, the island had become the world’s biggest artificial island. The Island features many exclusive themed hotels, signature villas, garden homes, canal cove towns, beaches, marinas and restaurants.
Opened in September 2008, the 5 stars Hotel Resort comprises 1500 guest rooms and suites with over 20 restaurants. Atlantis is famous for its water park which features 7 water slides and a 2.3 km river ride. with cascades, tidal waves and rapids, and the Mesopotamian-styled Ziggurat temple reaching over 30 metres into the sky and featuring seven water slides two of which catapult riders through shark filled lagoons, which is called as The Lost Chambers.]It is an underwater exhibit with over 65,000 fish and sea creatures including The Ambassador Lagoon, which is an 11-million-litre marine habitat, with a viewing panel looking into the mystical ruins of Atlantis that is Dolphin Bay, a 4.5- hectare dolphin education and conservation center allows guests the opportunity to meet and interact with dolphins.Location/Direction: The Palm JumeirahOpen: Daily: 10:00-18:00Rates: The Lost Chambers day visit 100 AED/ 27 USD Adventure day pass 225 AED/ 62 USD Aqua venture & Lost Chambers Combo 275 AED/ 75 USD Dolphin Encounter 620 AED/ 172 USD Dolphin Adventure 900 AED/ 250 USD The Royal Swim 1000 AED/ 277 USD
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For reservation call: +971 4 426 0000
14. Dubai Marina & JBR
An artificial canal city built along a 3 km stretch of the Arabian Gulf and accommodating approx. 120,000 people. Dubai Marina is the largest man made marina in the world. The Walk is a 7 km long pedestrian walkway runs around from the start of Dubai Marina till the end of Dubai Marina, with cafés and restaurants along the waterfront, and boats moored up alongside.
15. Jumeirah Beach Residence
Jumeirah Beach Residence is a 1.7 km long, belonging to the Marina project. It is the largest single phase residential development in the world and contains 40 towers (35 are residential and 5 are hotels). JBR can accommodate about 15,000 people, living in its apartments and hotel rooms. The Project has 6,917 apartments and costs 6 billion dirham and was completed in 2007. The Walk at JBR restaurant and shopping strip, which is adjacent to the beach behind JBR, is a very popular location for Al Fresco dining. There are five hotels, rated as 5 stars or 4 stars, three of which are purpose-built hotels, while the other two are converted residential towers.
Al Sufouh Tramway is a tramway being built in Al Sufouh, Dubai Marina. It will run 14.5 km along Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Marina to the Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates. It is expected to interchange with three stations of Dubai Metro’s Red Line. The Sufouh Tram will also connect with the monorail of the Palm Jumeirah at the entrance of the Palm from Sufouh Road. Upon completion in 2014 it will serve the residences of Dubai Marina. As of mid-2012, the project was expected to be completed by November 2014
15. Mall of the emirates – ski Dubai
Famous for housing the Middle east’s first ski resort and Snow Park, a family entertainment venue – Magic Planet and a 500-seat capacity Dubai Community Theater and Arts Center (DUCTAC) and more than 90 international dining and café options. The indoor ski resort is 22,500 square meters big and covered with real snow all year round that houses the world’s largest indoor snow park at 3000 square meters. Ski Dubai has maintained temperature of -2º to -4º and has five different slopes of varying difficulty and length with longest run of 400 meters. With a mountain resort theme, it is a home for 20 snow penguins and offers ‘Peng-friend’ encounter to guests. Qualified professional instructors offer skiing and snowboarding programs that are available for kids and adults.
The Magic Planet is one of the largest indoor family entertainment center in Dubai, totaling 9,000 square meters; Magic Planet has two entertainment zones, for children and young adults. It has a 12 Lane Cosmic 10 Pin bowling with ‘Glow in the Dark’ bowling balls and pins, 5 pool and billiards tables and 180 Amusement machines, and 12 other large attractions include: Carousel, Jumping Star, Soft play and Bumper cars.VOX Cinemas VOX Cinemas that provides Middle East with the only high-resolution 4K digital projection and has 14-screen VOX multiplex cinema including 2 VOX Gold screens, totaling 6038 square meters. It also offers VOX Gold screen for private bookings.
16. Mall of Dubai – Aquarium
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area and sixth largest by gross leasable area and is part of the 20-billion-dollar Downtown Dubai complex, and includes 1,200 shops. Opened in 2008 with over 12 million sq. ft. and has a 250-room luxury hotel, 22 cinema screens plus 120 restaurants and cafes. The Mall has over 14,000 parking spaces. In 2012, Dubai Mall continued to hold title of world’s most-visited shopping and leisure destination, and attracted more than 65 million visitors, an increase of more than 20 percent compared to the 54 million recorded in 2011.
The Mall’s Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, developed and operated by Oceanis Australia Group, officially earned the Guinness World Record for the world’s “Largest Acrylic Panel” (32.88 m wide × 8.3 m high × 750 mm thick and weighing 245,614 kg). The acrylic viewing panel is larger than Japan‘s Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (22.5 m wide × 8.2 m high and 600 mm thick). Its 750 mm thick acrylic viewing panel can withstand pressure of 10 million liters of water used in the aquarium, but its transparency gives visitors clear views of over 33,000 marine animals on display.
The Mall’s Dubai Ice Rink multipurpose venue uses refrigeration plant technology by developing 1.5 inches (38 mm) of ice bed, 2 times the thickness of an NHLice rink for Olympic-sized attraction. Dubai Ice Rink can host a capacity of up to 2,000 guests, when converted into a multi-functional hall with a multimedia system including a 20 m × 10 m LED screen. By incorporating the refrigerator technology of pushing in glycol through a network of pipes, and monitoring the cooling over a period of five to six days, the 38 mm ice-bed is tailored to withstand multiple activities in a safe environment.SEGA Republic, a 76,000 sq. ft. indoor theme park, was opened on 21 August 2009. Visitors can enjoy over 150 amusement games; The Redemption Zone hosts one of the region’s largest selection of redemption games as well as a huge selection of winnable merchandise for all ages. It is a park that is mainly dedicated to SEGA‘s icon Sonic the Hedgehog. The entrance to Sega Republic is located on the second floor of The Dubai Mall.
17. Burj Khalifa
“Khalifa tower” is the tallest man-made structure in the world, at 829.8 m. Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010,[and is part of the new 2 km2 development called Downtown Dubai at the ‘First Interchange’ along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai’s main business district. The tower’s architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer. The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.
Records accolades:Tallest existing structure: 829.8 mBuilding with most floors: 163Building with world’s highest occupied floorWorld’s highest elevator installationWorld’s longest travel distance elevators: 504mHighest vertical concrete pumping (for a building): 606 mWorld’s highest installation of an aluminum and glass façade: 512 mWorld’s highest nightclub: 144th floorWorld’s highest restaurant (Atmosphere): 122nd floor at 442 mWorld’s second highest swimming pool: 76th floor (world’s highest swimming pool is located on 118th floor of Ritz-Carlton Hotel at International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong).
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