Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates and considered as an emirate of UAE. 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 (4,114 km2) after the capital, Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi and Dubai 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.
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 following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, but is 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.
Although stone tools have been found at many sites, little is known about the UAE's early inhabitants as only a few settlements have been found. Many ancient towns in the area were trading centers between the Eastern and Western worlds. The remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp, dated at 7,000 BC, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City. The area was covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coast retreated inland, becoming a part of the city's present coastline. Pre Islamic ceramics have been found from the 3rd and 4th century. Prior to Islam, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar). The Byzantine and Sassanian (Persian) empires constituted the great powers of the period, with the Sassanians controlling much of the region. After the spread of Islam in the area, the Umayyad Caliph, of the eastern Islamic world, invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) found several artifacts from the Umayyad period.
The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, in the "Book of Geography" by the Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. The Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi visited the area in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) for its pearling industry. Since 1799, there has been a settlement known as Dubai town. In the early 19th century, the Al Abu Falasa clan (House of Al-Falasi) of Bani Yas clan established Dubai, which remained an important dependent of Abu Dhabi until 1833. On 8 January 1820, the sheikh of Dubai and other sheikhs in the region signed the "General Maritime Peace Treaty" with the British government. In 1833, following tribal feuding, the Al Maktoum dynasty (also descendants of the House of Al-Falasi) of the Bani Yas tribe left their ancestral home of the Liwa Oasis, South-west of the settlement of Abu Dhabi and quickly took over Dubai from the Abu Fasala clan without resistance.
Dubai came under the protection of the United Kingdom by the "Exclusive Agreement" of 1892, in which the UK agreed to protect Dubai against the developing interests of France, Germany, and Russia in the Persian Gulf. Two catastrophes struck the town during the 1800s. First, in 1841, a smallpox epidemic broke out in the Bur Dubai locality, forcing residents to relocate east to Deira. Then, in 1894, fire swept through Deira, burning down most homes. However, the town's geographical location continued to attract traders and merchants from around the region. The emir of Dubai was keen to attract foreign traders and lowered trade tax brackets, which lured traders away from Sharjah and Bandar Lengeh, the region's main trade hubs at the time. Persian merchants naturally looked across to the Arab shore of the Persian Gulf finally making their homes in Dubai. They continued to trade with Lingah, however, as do many of the dhows in Dubai Creek today, and they named their district Bastakiya, after the Bastak region in southern Persia.
Dubai's geographical proximity to Iran made it an important trade location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from Iran, many of whom eventually settled in the town. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port. Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s; the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by World War I, and later on by the Great Depression in the 1930s. With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents starved or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf.
In the early days since its inception, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi. In 1947, a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the northern sector of their mutual border, escalated into war. Arbitration by the British and the creation of a buffer frontier running south eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian resulted in a temporary cessation of hostilities. Electricity, telephone services, and an airport were established in Dubai in the 1950s, when the British moved their local administrative offices there from Sharjah. After years of exploration following large finds in neighboring Abu Dhabi, oil was eventually discovered in Dubai in 1966, albeit in far smaller quantities. This led the emirate to grant concessions to international oil companies, thus igniting a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Indians and Pakistanis. Between 1968 and 1975 the city's population grew by over 300%.
On 2 December 1971 Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates after the former protector, Britain, left the Persian Gulf in 1971. In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: the UAE dirham. Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations. In 1973, the monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham was introduced throughout the Emirates.
During the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE; it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was reached that ended hostilities. The Jebel Ali port was established in 1979. Jafza (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to provide foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital.
The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived. Later in the 1990s, many foreign trading communities—first from Kuwait, during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, during the Shia unrest—moved their businesses to Dubai. Dubai provided refueling bases to allied forces at the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War, and again during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Large increases in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.
Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level (16 m or 52 ft above). The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate. Dubai is positioned at 25.2697°N 55.3095°E and covers an area of 1,588 sq mi (4,110 km2), which represents a significant expansion beyond its initial 1,500 sq mi (3,900 km2) designation due to land reclamation from the sea.
Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert. However, the topography of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern portion of the UAE in that much of Dubai's landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country. The sand consists mostly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city, the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha, give way to a north-south running line of dunes. Farther east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged red with iron oxide.
The flat sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which run alongside Dubai's border with Oman at Hatta. The Western Hajar chain has an arid, jagged and shattered landscape, whose mountains rise to about 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) in some places. Dubai has no natural river bodies or oases; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through. Dubai also has multiple gorges and waterholes which dot the base of the Western Al Hajar mountains. A vast sea of sand dunes covers much of southern Dubai, and eventually leads into the desert known as The Empty Quarter. Seismically, Dubai is in a very stable zone—the nearest seismic fault line, the Zagros Fault, is 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the UAE and is unlikely to have any seismic impact on Dubai. Experts also predict that the possibility of a tsunami in the region is minimal because the Persian Gulf waters are not deep enough to trigger a tsunami.
The sandy desert surrounding the city supports wild grasses and occasional date palms. Desert hyacinths grow in the sabkha plains east of the city, while acacia and ghaf trees grow in the flat plains within the proximity of the Western Al Hajar mountains. Several indigenous trees such as the date palm and neem as well as imported trees like the eucalypts grow in Dubai's natural parks. The houbara bustard, striped hyena, caracal, desert fox, falcon and Arabian oryx are common in Dubai's desert. Dubai is on the migration path between Europe, Asia and Africa, and more than 320 migratory bird species pass through the emirate in spring and autumn. The waters of Dubai are home to more than 300 species of fish, including the hammour. The typical marine life off the Dubai coast includes tropical Fish, jellyfish, coral, dugong, dolphins, whales and sharks. Various types of turtles can also be found in the area including the Hawksbill turtle and Green Turtle which are listed as endangered species.
Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city. The eastern section of the city forms the locality of Deira and is flanked by the emirate of Sharjah in the east and the town of Al Aweer in the south. The Dubai International Airport is located south of Deira, while the Palm Deira is located north of Deira in the Persian Gulf. Much of Dubai's real-estate boom is concentrated to the west of the Dubai Creek, on the Jumeirah coastal belt. Port Rashid, Jebel Ali, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and theme-based free-zone clusters such as Business Bay are all located in this section.
Dubai has a hot desert climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy, and humid, with an average high around 42 °C (108 °F) and overnight lows around 29 °C (84 °F). Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 23 °C (73 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F). Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades with accumulated rain reaching 250 mm (9.84 in) per year. Dubai summers are also known for the high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many.
Governance and politics
Dubai's government operates within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, and has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833. The current ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and member of the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU). Dubai appoints eight members in two-term periods to the Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE, the supreme federal legislative body.
The Dubai Municipality (DM) was established by the then ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1954 for purposes of city planning, citizen services and upkeep of local facilities. DM is chaired by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and comprises several departments such as the Roads Department, Planning and Survey Department, Environment and Public Health Department and Financial Affairs Department. In 2001, Dubai Municipality embarked on an e-Government project with the intention of providing 40 of its city services through its web portal, dubai.ae. Thirteen such services were launched by October 2001, while several other services were expected to be operational in the future. Dubai Municipality is also in charge of the city's sanitation and sewage infrastructure.
The Dubai Police Force, founded in 1956 in the locality of Naif, has law enforcement jurisdiction over the emirate; the force is under direct command of Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai.
Dubai and Ras al Khaimah are the only emirates that do not conform to the federal judicial system of the United Arab Emirates. The emirate's judicial courts comprise the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Cassation. The first Court of First Instance consists of the Civil court, which hears all civil claims; the Criminal Court, which hears claims originating from police complaints; and Sharia Court, which is responsible for matters between Muslims. Non-Muslims do not appear before the Sharia Court. The Court of Cassation is the supreme court of the emirate and hears disputes on matters of law only.
To maintain traffic, the Road & Transport Authority of Dubai has put in place a well defined system to ensure that the population follows traffic rules. There are heavy fines and a complete list of these fines can be found on the official website of Dubai Police. One can also check the fine imposed upon him and can also pay the fine online.
Ethnicity and language
According to the census conducted by the Statistics Centre of Dubai, the population of the emirate was 1,771,000 as of 2009, which included 1,370,000 males and 401,000 females. The region covers 497.1 square miles (1,287.5 km2). The population density is 408.18/km² – more than eight times that of the entire country. Dubai is the second most expensive city in the region, and 20th most expensive city in the world.
As of 2005, 17% of the population of the emirate was made up of Arab UAE nationals, with the rest comprising expatriates. Approximately 85% of the expatriate population (and 71% of the emirate's total population) was Asian, chiefly Indian (51%) and Pakistani (16%); other significant groups include Bangladeshis (9%) and Filipinos (3%) and a sizeable community of Somalis numbering around 30,000, as well as other communities of various nationalities. A quarter of the population reportedly traces their origins to Iran. In addition, 16% of the population (or 288,000 persons) living in collective labour accommodation were not identified by ethnicity or nationality, but were thought to be primarily Asian. There are over 100,000 British expatriates in Dubai, by far the largest group of Western expatriates in the city. The median age in the emirate was about 27 years. The crude birth rate, as of 2005, was 13.6%, while the crude death rate was about 1%.
Arabic is the national and official language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. English is used as a second language. Other languages spoken in Dubai, due to immigration, are Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Bengali, Malayalam, Tulu, Tamil, Kannada, Sinhala, Telugu, Tagalog and Chinese, in addition to many other languages.
Article 7 of the UAE's Provisional Constitution declares Islam the official state religion of the UAE. The government subsidises almost 95% of mosques and employs all Imams; approximately 5% of mosques are entirely private, and several large mosques have large private endowments.
Dubai also has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahá'í, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city. Non-Muslim groups can own their own houses of worship, where they can practice their religion freely, by requesting a land grant and permission to build a compound. Groups that do not have their own buildings must use the facilities of other religious organisations or worship in private homes. Non-Muslim religious groups are permitted to openly advertise group functions; however, proselytising or distributing religious literature is strictly prohibited under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation for engaging in behaviour offensive to Islam.
Dubai's gross domestic product as of 2011 was US $83.4 billion. Although Dubai's economy was built on the back of the oil industry, revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 7% of the emirate's revenues. It is estimated that Dubai produces 50,000 to 70,000 barrels (11,000 m3) of oil a day and substantial quantities of gas from offshore fields. The emirate's share in UAE's gas revenues is about 2%. Dubai's oil reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted in 20 years. Real estate and construction (22.6%), trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai's economy. Dubai's top exporting destinations include India (US$ 5.8 billion), Switzerland (US$ 2.37 billion) and Saudi Arabia (US$ 0.57 billion). Dubai's top re-exporting destinations include India (US$ 6.53 billion), Iran (US$ 5.8 billion) and Iraq (US$ 2.8 billion). The emirate's top import sources are India (US$ 12.55 billion), China (US$ 11.52 billion) and the United States (US$ 7.57 billion). As of 2009 India was Dubai's largest trade partner.
Historically, Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent of Dubai City at that time), were important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centres were headquartered in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai has a free trade in gold and, until the 1990s, was the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade" of gold ingots to India, where gold import was restricted. Dubai's Jebel Ali port, constructed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made harbour in the world and was ranked seventh globally for the volume of container traffic it supports. Dubai is also a hub for service industries such as information technology and finance, with industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such as Hewlett-Packard, EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sky News and AP.
The government's decision to diversify from a trade-based, oil-reliant economy to one that is service and tourism-oriented made property more valuable, resulting in the property appreciation from 2004 to 2006. A longer-term assessment of Dubai's property market, however, showed depreciation; some properties lost as much as 64% of their value from 2001 to November 2008. The large scale real estate development projects have led to the construction of some of the tallest skyscrapers and largest projects in the world such as the Emirates Towers, the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Islands and the most expensive hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Dubai's property market experienced a major downturn in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the slowing economic climate. By early 2009, the situation had worsened with the Great Recession taking a heavy toll on property values, construction and employment. This has had a major impact on property investors in the region, some of whom were unable to release funds from investments made in property developments. As of February 2009 Dubai's foreign debt was estimated at approximately $80 billion, although this is a tiny fraction of the sovereign debt worldwide. Dubai real estate and UAE property experts believe that by avoiding the mistakes of the past, Dubai's realty market can achieve stability in future.
The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) was established in March 2000 as a secondary market for trading securities and bonds, both local and foreign. As of fourth quarter 2006, its trading volume stood at about 400 billion shares, worth $95 billion in total. The DFM had a market capitalisation of about $87 billion. The other Dubai-based stock exchange is NASDAQ Dubai, which is the international stock exchange in the Middle East. It enables a range of companies, including UAE and regional small and medium-sized enterprises, to trade on an exchange with an international brand name, with access by both regional and international investors.
Dubai is also known as City of Gold, a major part of economy based on Gold trades in Dubai, Dubai's total gold trading volumes in H1 2011 reached 580 tonnes (average price US$1,455).
A City Mayors survey rated Dubai as 44th among the world's best financial cities in 2007, while another report by City Mayors indicated that Dubai was the world's 27th richest city in 2012, in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Dubai is also an international financial centre and has been ranked 37th within the top 50 global financial cities as surveyed by the MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index (2007), and 1st within the Middle East.
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. Indians are top foreign investors in Dubai realty.
Dubai has launched several major projects to support its economy and develop different sectors. These include Dubai Fashion 2020 which is believed to be fully unveiled by fall of 2013 and Dubai Design District, expected to become a home to leading local and international designers. The AED 4 billion phase 1 of the project will be complete by January 2015.
Tourism and retail
Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai's lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. As of 2010, Dubai was the 7th most visited city of the world with 7.6 million visitors a year. Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015. Dubai is the most populous emirate of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates. It is distinct from other members of the UAE in that a large part of the emirate's revenues are from tourism.
In 2012 a 16.4% increase in inflation affected the city's restaurant and hotel sector. In early August 2013, plans for Dubai's first underwater hotel the Water Discus Hotel were publicly revealed. Developed by Polish company Deep Ocean Technology, the Water Discus will be the world's largest hotel of its kind and will be in addition to two underwater suites in existence at Dubai's The Palm: Atlantis accommodation venue.
Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East". Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping malls, including the world's largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall. The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region and from as far as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. Most boutiques, some electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets operate on a fixed-price basis, other outlets do allow negotiation.
Dubai is also known for souk districts located on either side of the creek. Traditionally, dhows from East Asia, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is known as "the City of Gold" and Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops. Dubai Duty Free (DDF) at the Dubai International Airport offers merchandise catering to the multinational passengers using the airport.
Drug laws are very strictly enforced. Several people have been arrested, and some sentenced to four years in prison, for "possession" of trace amounts stuck to the soles of their shoes, adhering to their clothing, or in pocket lint.
Dubai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. Many modern interpretations of Islamic architecture can be found here, due to a boom in construction and architectural innovation in the Arab World in general, and in Dubai in particular, supported not only by top Arab or international architectural and engineering design firms such as Al Hashemi and Aedas, but also by top firms of New York and Chicago. As a result of this boom, modern Islamic – and world – architecture has literally been taken to new levels in skyscraper building design and technology. Dubai now boasts more completed or topped-out skyscrapers higher than 2/3 km, 1/3 km, or 1/4 km than any other city. A culmination point was reached in 2010 with the completion of the Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower), now by far the world's tallest building at 829.8 m (2,722 ft). The Burj Khalifa's design is derived from the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture, with the triple-lobed footprint of the building based on an abstracted version of the desert flower hymenocallis which is native to the Dubai region. The completion of the Khalifa Tower, following the construction boom that began in the 1980s, accelerated in the 1990s, and took on a rapid pace of construction unparalled in modern human history during the decade of the 2000s, leaves Dubai with the world's tallest skyline as of 4 January 2010.
Transport in Dubai is controlled by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), an agency of the government of Dubai, formed by royal decree in 2005. The public transport network has in the past faced congestion and reliability issues which a large investment programme has addressed, including over AED 70 billion of improvements planned for completion by 2020, when the population of the city is projected to exceed 3.5 million. In 2009, according to Dubai Municipality statistics, there were an estimated 1,021,880 cars in Dubai. In January 2010, the number of Dubai residents who use public transport stood at 6%.
Five main routes – E 11 (Sheikh Zayed Road), E 311 (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road), E 44 (Dubai-Hatta Highway), E 77 (Dubai-Al Habab Road) and E 66 (Oud Metha Road) – run through Dubai, connecting the city to other towns and emirates. Additionally, several important intra-city routes, such as D 89 (Al Maktoum Road/Airport Road), D 85 (Baniyas Road), D 75 (Sheikh Rashid Road), D 73 (Al Dhiyafa Road now named as the 2 December street), D 94 (Jumeirah Road) and D 92 (Al Khaleej/Al Wasl Road) connect the various localities in the city. The eastern and western sections of the city are connected by Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Shindagha Tunnel, Business Bay Crossing and Floating Bridge.
The Public Bus Transport system in Dubai is run by the RTA. The bus system services 140 routes and transported over 109 million people in 2008. By the end of 2010, there will be 2,100 buses in service across the city. In 2006, the Transport authority announced the construction of 500 air-conditioned (A/C) Passenger Bus Shelters, and planned for 1,000 more across the emirates in a move to encourage the use of public buses.
All taxi services are licenced by the RTA. Dubai licensed taxis are easily identifiable by their cream bodywork colour and varied roof colours identifying the operator. Dubai Taxi Corporation, a division of the RTA, is the largest operator and has taxis with red roofs. There are four private operators: Metro Taxis (orange roofs); Network Taxis (yellow roofs); Cars Taxis (blue roofs); and Arabia Taxis (green roofs). In addition, Dubai Taxi Corporation has a Ladies Taxi service, with pink roofs, which caters exclusively for female passengers, using female drivers. The Dubai International Airport taxi concession is operated by Dubai Taxi Corporation. There are more than 3000 taxis operating within the emirate making an average of 192,000 trips every day, carrying about 385,000 persons. In 2009 taxi trips exceeded 70 million trips serving around 140.45 million passengers.
Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB), the hub for the Emirates Airline, serves the city of Dubai and other emirates in the country. The airport was the 15th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic handling 40.9 million passengers in 2009. The airport was also the 2nd busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic. In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, the airport is the 7th busiest cargo airport in world, handling 1.927 million tonnes of cargo in 2009, a 5.6% increase compared to 2008 and was also the 4th busiest International freight traffic airport in world. Emirates Airline is the national airline of Dubai. As of 2009, it operated internationally serving 101 destinations in 61 countries across six continents.
The development of Al Maktoum International Airport (IATA: DWC) was announced in 2004. The first phase of the airport, featuring one A380 capable runway, 64 remote stands, one cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of cargo and a passenger terminal building designed to accommodate five million passengers per year, has been opened. When completed, Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International will be the largest airport in the world with five runways, four terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo.
A $3.89 billion Dubai Metro project is currently operational. It currently consists of two lines (Red line and Green line) which run through the major financial and residential areas of the city. The Metro system was partially opened on September 2009. UK-based international service company Serco Group is responsible for operating the metro. Dubai Metro is the world's second cheapest metro transportation system after Tehran Metro in Iran. The metro comprises the Green Line which runs from the Etisalat Station to the Creek Station (though Creek Station is still not operational and stops at Dubai Healthcare City Station, just before Creek Station) and the Red Line, the major back bone line, which runs from Rashidiya Station to Jebel Ali Station Jebel Ali. A Blue and a Purple Line have also been planned. The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue Lines) will have 70 km (43.5 mi) of track and 43 stations, 37 above ground and ten underground. The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. All the trains run without a driver and are based on automatic navigation.
Palm Jumeirah Monorail
The Palm Jumeirah Monorail is a monorail line on the Palm Jumeirah. It connects the Palm Jumeirah to the mainland, with a planned further extension to the Red Line of the Dubai Metro. The line opened on 30 April 2009. Two trams systems are expected to be built in Dubai by 2011. The first is the Downtown Burj Khalifa Tram System and the second is the Al Sufouh Tram. The Downtown Burj Khalifa Tram System is a 4.6 km (2.9 mi) tram service that is planned to service the area around the Burj Khalifa, and the second tram will run 14.5 km (9.0 mi) along Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Marina to the Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates.
Dubai has announced it will complete a link of the UAE high speed rail system which will eventually hook up with the whole GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) and then possibly Europe. The High Speed Rail will serve passengers and cargo.
There are two major commercial ports in Dubai, Port Rashid and Port Jebel Ali. Port Jebel Ali is the world's largest man-made harbour, the biggest port in the Middle East, and the 7th-busiest port in the world. One of the more traditional methods of getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is by abras, small boats that ferry passengers across the Dubai Creek, between abra stations in Bastakiya and Baniyas Road. The Marine Transport Agency has also implemented the Dubai Water Bus System. Water bus is a fully air conditioned boat service across selected destinations across the creek. One can also avail oneself of the tourist water bus facility in Dubai. Latest addition to the water transport system is the Water Taxi.
The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab and Bedouin culture. In contrast, the city of Dubai is a highly cosmopolitan society with a diverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. Since 2006, the weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday's holiness to Muslims and the Western weekend of Saturday-Sunday.
In 2005, 84% of the population of metropolitan Dubai was foreign-born, about half of them from India. The city's cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals—first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanis in the 1960s.
Major holidays in Dubai include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and National Day (2 December ), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Annual entertainment events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) attract over 4 million visitors from across the region and generate revenues in excess of $2.7 billion.
The International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA), the world's leading events trade association, has crowned Dubai as IFEA World Festival and Event City, 2012 in the cities category with a population of more than one million.
Large shopping malls in the city, such as Deira City Centre, Mirdiff City Centre, BurJuman, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall as well as traditional souks attract shoppers from the region.
Khor Dubai, or Dubai Creek in English, is one of the few places in the city where old traditions could still be seen. Dubai Creek may become a UNESCO World Heritage Site if the authorities' bid is successful. In that case, it will earn a place among internationally famous sites such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Stonehenge.
Arabic food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma diners in Deira and Al Karama to the restaurants in Dubai's hotels. Fast food, South Asian, and Chinese cuisines are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though legal, is regulated and is sold only to non-Muslims, in designated areas of supermarkets and airports. Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol; however, alcohol is available in bars and restaurants within hotels. Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Dubai. Dubai is known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars are found mostly in hotels due to the liquor laws. The New York Times described Dubai as "the kind of city where you might run into Michael Jordan at the Buddha Bar or stumble across Naomi Campbell celebrating her birthday with a multiday bash".
Biryani is also a popular cuisine across Dubai with being the most popular among Indians and Pakistanis present in Dubai.
Dubai has a vast variety of cuisines for people from all over the world. One of the most popular cuisines in Dubai is Indian.
Dress and etiquette
The Islamic dress code is not compulsory. Most Emirati males prefer to wear a kandura, an ankle-length white shirt woven from wool or cotton, and most Emirati women wear an abaya, a black over-garment covering most parts of the body. On an average a UAE male national would have up to 50 kanduras as they keep changing their clothing to ensure the dress being kept clean. This attire is particularly well-suited for the UAE's hot and dry climate, the reason being that the white cloak reflects back the sunlight, for the same reason the UAE men wear white cloaks throughout the summer season while colorful cloaks are seen during the winters. Conversely, the black clothing that women are obliged to wear absorbs and concentrates the sunlight. Western-style clothing is, however, dominant because of the large expatriate population, and this practice is beginning to grow in popularity among Emiratis.
Prohibitions on "indecent clothing" are an aspect of the UAE to which visitors are expected to conform. Recently, many expatriates have disregarded the law and been arrested for indecent clothing, or lack thereof, at beaches. Western-style dress is tolerated in places such as bars or clubs, but the UAE has enforced anti-indecency prohibitions in other public spaces.
The United Arab Emirates is a part of the khaliji tradition, and is also known for Bedouin folk music. During celebrations singing and dancing also take place and many of the traditional songs and dances have survived to the present time. Yowalah is the traditional dance of the UAE. Young girls would dance by swinging their long black hair and swaying their bodies in time to the strong beat of the music. Men would re-enact battles fought or successful hunting expeditions, often symbolically using sticks, swords or rifles.
Hollywood and Indian movies are popular in Dubai (UAE). Since 2004, the city has hosted the annual Dubai International Film Festival which serves as a showcase for Arab film making talent. Musicians Amr Diab, Diana Haddad, Tarkan, Aerosmith, Santana, Mark Knopfler, Rick Ross, Elton John, Pink, Shakira, Celine Dion, Coldplay, Keane, Phil Collins, Kavita Krishnamurthy, A R Rahman, and Roxette have performed in the city. Kylie Minogue was reportedly paid $3.5 million to perform at the opening of the Atlantis resort on 20 November 2008. The Dubai Desert Rock Festival is also another major festival consisting of heavy metal and rock artists.
One of the lesser known sides of Dubai is the importance of its young contemporary art gallery scene. Since 2008, the leading contemporary art galleries such as Carbon 12 Dubai, Green Art, gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, and The Third Line are bringing the city on the international art map. Art Dubai, the growing and reputable art fair of the region is as well a major contributor of the contemporary art scene's development.
The largest Cinema Hall in UAE is Reel Cinemas located at Dubai Mall. It has 22 screens available with a total of 2800 seats.
Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Dubai. Five teams (Al Wasl FC, Al-Ahli Dubai, Al Nasr SC, Al Shabab Al Arabi Club and Dubai Club) represent Dubai in UAE Pro-League. Al-Wasl have the second-most number of championships in the UAE League, after Al Ain. Dubai also hosts both the annual Dubai Tennis Championships and The Legends Rock Dubai tennis tournaments, as well as the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament and the Dubai World Championship, all of which attract sports stars from around the world. The Dubai World Cup, a thoroughbred horse race, is held annually at the Meydan Racecourse. Dubai also hosts the traditional rugby union tournament Dubai Sevens, part of the Sevens World Series. In 2009, Dubai hosted the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens. Auto racing is also a big sport in Dubai, the Dubai Autodrome is home to many auto racing events throughout the year.
The school system in Dubai follows that of the United Arab Emirates. As of 2009, there are 79 public schools run by the Ministry of Education that serve Emiratis and expatriate Arab people as well as 145 private schools. The medium of instruction in public schools is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language, while most of the private schools use English as their medium of instruction. Most private schools cater to one or more expatriate communities.
The New Indian Model School, Dubai (NIMS), Delhi Private School, Our Own English High School, the Dubai Modern High School, and The Indian High School, Dubai offer either a CBSE or an Indian Certificate of Secondary Education Indian syllabus. Similarly, there are also several reputable Pakistani schools offering FBISE curriculum for expatriate children.
Dubai English Speaking School, Jumeirah Primary School, Jebel Ali Primary School, Cambridge International School, Jumeirah English Speaking School, King's School and the Horizon School all offer British primary education up to the age of eleven. Dubai Gem Private School, Dubai British School, Dubai College, English College Dubai, English Language School Pvt., Jumeirah English Speaking School – Arabian Ranches, Jumeirah College and St. Mary's Catholic High School are British eleven-to-eighteen secondary schools offering General Certificate of Secondary Education and A-Levels. Emirates International School, The Cambridge International School and Wellington International School provides full student education up to the age of 18, and offers International General Certificate of Secondary Education and A-Levels. Deira International School, Dubai International Academy and Jumeirah English Speaking School offer the International Baccalaureate program with the IGCSE program. Dubai American Academy, American School of Dubai and the Universal American School of Dubai offer curriculum of the United States.
The Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates is responsible for accreditation of schools.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) was established in 2006 to develop education and human resource sectors in Dubai, and license educational institutes.
Approximately 10% of the population has university or postgraduate degrees. Many expatriates tend to send their children back to their home country or to Western countries for university education and to India for technology studies. However, a sizeable number of foreign accredited universities have been set up in the city over the last ten years. Some of these universities include Hult International Business School, Manchester Business School, RIT Dubai, Michigan State University Dubai (MSU Dubai), Middlesex University Dubai campus, the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani – Dubai (BITS Pilani), Murdoch University Dubai, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, American University in Dubai (AUD), Gulf Medical University Gulf Medical College, European university college(nicolas and asp postgraduate dental college), the American College of Dubai, Mahatma Gandhi University (Off-Campus Centre), Institute of Management Technology – Dubai Campus, SP Jain Center of Management, University of Wollongong in Dubai, University of Waterloo – UAE Campus, and MAHE Manipal. In 2004, the Dubai School of Government in collaboration with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC) were established in Dubai. In 2010 London College of Fashion began to run its thrice-yearly portfolio of fashion short courses which are run in Dubai using London-based tutors. The Dubai Public Libraries is the public library system in Dubai.
Healthcare in Dubai can be divided in two different sectors; public and private. While we are focusing on Dubai, each Emirate is able to dictate health care standards according to their internal laws, although the standards and regulations rarely have extreme differences. Public hospitals in Dubai were first built in the late 1950s and continued to grow with public health initiatives. In the 80’s to ‘98 there were more than 20 medical clinics built within the Emirate. Dubai decided to keep the momentum going by following the WHO’s policy of ‘Healthcare for all by 2000’ and kept building. 2007 launched a new year and a new initiative of the Dubai Health Care Authority, which opened to continue progress in regulations and movements in healthcare in regards to health care. UAE nationals make up less than 20% of the population in Dubai, making the rest of the population foreign. In the past there has been no laws forbidding foreign nationals using the national and public healthcare systems. Unfortunately due to the population overload of the international community, most hospital beds seemed to be used less for those from the homeland and more for everybody else.
Dubai has a well-established network, radio, television and electronic media which serve the city. Dubai is the home of the Arabian Radio Network, which broadcasts eight FM radio stations including the first talk radio station in the Middle East, Dubai Eye 103.8. Dubai-based FM radio stations such as Radio 1 and Radio 2 (104.1 and 99.3), Dubai92 (92.0), Al Khaleejia (100.9) and Hit FM (96.7) provide programming in English, Arabic and South Asian languages. Multiple international channels available through cable, while satellite, radio and local channels are provided via the Arabian Radio Network and Dubai Media Incorporated systems. The UAE's most popular English radio station, Channel 4 FM, took to the air in 1997 and became the UAE's first private commercial radio station.
Many international news agencies such as Reuters, APTN, Bloomberg L.P. and Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) as well as network news channels operate in Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. Additionally, several local network television channels such as Dubai One (formerly Channel 33), and Dubai TV (EDTV) provide programming in English and Arabic respectively. Dubai is also the headquarters for several print media outlets. Dar Al Khaleej, Al Bayan and Al Ittihad are the city's largest circulating Arabic language newspapers, while Gulf News, Khaleej Times and 7DAYS are the largest circulating English newspapers.
Etisalat, the government-owned telecommunications provider, held a virtual monopoly over telecommunication services in Dubai prior to the establishment of other, smaller telecommunications companies such as Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC—better known as Du) in 2006. Internet was introduced into the UAE (and therefore Dubai) in 1995. The current network has an Internet bandwidth of 7.5 Gbit/s with capacity of 49 STM1 links. Dubai houses two of four Domain Name System (DNS) data centres in the country (DXBNIC1, DXBNIC2). Censorship is common in Dubai and used by the government to control content that it believes violates the cultural and political sensitivities of Emirates. Homosexuality, drugs, and the theory of evolution are generally considered taboo.
Internet content is regulated in Dubai. Etisalat uses a proxy server to filter Internet content that the government deems to be inconsistent with the values of the country, such as sites that provide information on how to bypass the proxy; sites pertaining to dating, gay and lesbian networks, and pornography; sites pertaining to the Bahá'í Faith and sites originating from Israel. Emirates Media and Internet (a division of Etisalat) notes that as of 2002, 76% of Internet users are male. About 60% of Internet users were Asian, while 25% of users were Arab. Dubai enacted an Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law in 2002 which deals with digital signatures and electronic registers. It prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from disclosing information gathered in providing services. The penal code contains official provisions that prohibit digital access to pornography; however, it does not address cyber crime or data protection.