Dubai is one of the seven emirates and the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The Dubai Municipality is sometimes called Dubai city to distinguish it from the emirate.
Written accounts document the existence of the city for at least 150 years prior to the formation of the UAE. Dubai shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within a federal framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions such as civic law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local facilities. Dubai has the largest population and is the second largest emirate by area, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to possess veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature. Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum dynasty since 1833. Dubai's current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE.
The emirate's main revenues are from tourism, trade, real estate and financial services. Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6% (2006) of Dubai's US$ 37 billion economy (2005). Real estate and construction, on the other hand, contributed 22.6% to the economy in 2005, before the current large-scale construction boom. Dubai has attracted attention through its real estate projects and sports events.
Opened in November 2008, Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping center and is home to around twelve hundred retailers. It is the size of more than fifty football pitches and features an ice rink, a hotel, and is the gateway to the Burj Dubai; the tallest building in the world. The mall is home to a number of the world's best known stores including Bloomingdales, Marks and Spencer and Montblanc. Designers such as Stella McCartney also have outlets in the complex and world famous jewellers Tiffany & Co. have a branch located there. No trip to Dubai would be complete without an outing to Dubai's latest shopping spectacular.
Address: Financial Center Road (Interchange 1), Dubai
Phone Number: (4) 437 3200
Email Address: email@example.com
Transport: The Dubai Mall Shuttle Bus:The mall has 12 shuttle buses operating routes to the mall from a number hotels in and around Dubai. Check website for details. www.thedubaimall.com
Hours: Saturday - Friday 10am to Midnight
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The recently opened Dubai Aquarium is fast becoming one of the Emirates most popular attractions. Featuring the largest viewing panel and one of the biggest tanks in the world, visitors have the opportunity to experience the incredible underwater domain of thousands of creatures of the deep. Highlights include feeding time for the enormous Sand Tiger Sharks and the majestic Stingrays. The aquarium and zoo is home to over thirty-thousand types of sea life and provides an exciting, educational day out for adults and children alike.
Address: Dubai Mall, Financial Center Road (Interchange 1), Dubai
Admission: Aquarium Tunnel: Child AED20 Adult AED25 Aquarium Tunnel & Underwater Zoo AED50
Bateaux Dubai Dinner Cruise
The Bateaux Dubai Dinner Cruise provides visitors to the Emirate with a unique and memorable way in which to view the older part of Dubai. The two and a half hour cruise departs from just beyond the Al Maktoum Bridge and makes its way along the Creek past many of the city's most famous landmarks. Guests can take advantage of unobstructed views thanks to the non-reflective glass surround and extensive outside deck area. A four course a-la-carte meal is served during the cruise (diners with specific dietary requirements are requested to arrange at the time of booking) and alcohol is available to purchase on board. Musical entertainment is provided care of the Bateaux Dubai musicians and DJ. Booking is required in advance through the reservation line.
Address: Dubai Creek (opposite the British Embassy) Bur Dubai
Phone Number: +971 4 399 4994
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: Boarding begins at 7:45pm. Departure from dock 8:30pm
Admission: From 325 AED per person for 4-course meal, welcome beverage and cruise.
Jumeirah Beach Park
One of the main reasons holidaymakers flock to Dubai is to take advantage of the stunning beaches. If visitors aren't staying somewhere with access to the sand and sea, and don't want to pay 100AED plus to use a hotel's facilities, then Jumeirah Beach Park is a brilliant alternative. It cost just 2AED per person to enter the park, or 20AED per car. The beaches are clean and safe and, unlike some of the other public areas in Dubai, are not populated with 'gawkers'. There are even designated 'women only' sessions. The park section of the beach is equipped with BBQ facilities and seating areas. There are also showers and toilets on the beach, and lifeguards on duty at all times.
Address: Opposite Chilli's Restaurant on the Beach Road, Jumeirah
Phone Number: +971 4 3492555
Hours: 8am - 10.30pm daily. Thursday and Friday till 11pm. Saturday for children and ladies only
Admission: 2 AED per person or 20 AED per vehicle
No visit to Dubai would be complete without a trip to the races
the camel races. This is a traditional sport in the UAE and hugely popular among local Emiratis who head to the race tracks early in the morning to watch these magnificent animals. The racing season runs from September to March and race tracks can be found in various locations around the Emirate and on the way to Abu Dhabi. In 2007 a brand new venue was built close to Nad Al Sheba racecourse and races are held early on Thursday and Friday mornings.Address: Nad Al Sheba Race Course, DubaiHours: Thursday and Friday mornings. Call Nad Al Sheba for exact times.Admission: Free
For a real taste of Arabia, visitors can take a trip into the desert with any number of tour operators into the rolling sand dunes surrounding Dubai. Tours usually include a thrilling 4x4 drive over the dunes, camel riding, a visit to a local Bedouin village, and end with a traditional Arabian barbeque under the stars, with a show of belly dancing.
Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum Museum
Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum's house dates back to the 19th century, and was built for Dubai's ruler with commanding views over the sea. It is one of the oldest residences in the city and has been restored as a museum exhibiting historical photographs and artifacts showcasing Dubai's history and development. Its architecture is also a fine example of the regional style with its wind towers and central courtyard, teak wood doors and windows and wooden lattice screens.
One of the city's newest and most interesting attractions is the region's first indoor ski resort, with real snow and five runs catering to both beginner and expert skiers and snowboarders. The monumental indoor snowdome can host up to 1,500 people. The longest run is 1,312 feet (400m), dropping 197 feet (60m), while a freestyle zone and quarter pipe cater specifically for snowboarders. Ski lifts, snow patrols and professional instructors help to create an authentic environment. A Snow Park at the bottom is ideal for children to play in the snow. Slope passes include ski clothing and equipment.
The imposing 19th-century Al Faheidi Fort houses the Dubai Museum, which has an impressive collection of military and cultural artifacts, as well as working models and life-size displays depicting various aspects of Dubai life such as the markets, an Islamic school, the desert, Arab houses and Gulf marine life. One of the most interesting exhibits shows the underwater world of pearl-diving. The fort was built in 1799 to guard Dubai from landward approaches, and was once the residence of the city's rulers as well as the seat of government until 1971.
The Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most photographed sights in Dubai. A fine example of modern Islamic architecture, this beautiful mosque is also one of the city's largest, with a majestic dome and twin minarets, and is one of the few mosques open to non-Muslims for tours.
Address: Al Jumeirah Road
Phone Number: (0)4 344 7755 Hours:
Tours are on Thursday at 10am; tours are also available on Sundays at 10am in summer
Admission: Tour fee: Dhs10
One of the most advanced water theme parks ever designed, the five-hectare (12-acre) water park at Wild Wadi offers families and thrill seekers hours of fun, relaxation and adrenalin-pumping action. Designed like an Arabian wadi (oasis), the park has an Arabian folklore theme and features some of the highest and fastest water rides outside of North America with 24 state of the art, high-adrenaline rides and slides. Rides for thrill seekers include Jumeirah Sceirah, a 108ft (33m) free-fall at 50 miles per hour (80km/hr), Master Blaster slides that are water roller coasters propelled uphill by high-powered jets, the white-knuckle ride at Rushdown Ravine or the high waves at Breakers Bay.Address: Jumeirah Beach Road, between the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab Hotel
Phone Number: (0)4 348 4444
Email Address: email@example.com
Hours: Daily from 11am. In January and February it closes at 6pm; from March to May at 7pm; from June to August at 9pm; and from September to December at 5pm
Admission: Dhs 150 (age 13+); Dhs 125 (children 4-12). For individuals staying either at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel or Burj Al Arab, access to the Wild Wadi Water Park is free
Boasting the city's tallest minaret at 230 feet (70m), the Grand Mosque is a notable landmark with its multi-domed style and impressive size. It is an important place of worship and can accommodate up to 1,200 worshippers inside. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Mosque.Address: Al Mussalla Road
The souks or traditional markets are popular with bargain hunters as well as sightseers and photographers. The most famous is the gold souk where the narrow streets are lined with shops selling everything golden from 24-carat bars to rings and elaborate necklaces and all at low prices. The tiny lanes of the traditional spice souk are scented with sacks of cinnamon, incense, spices, and dried fruit, while the modern fish souk bustles with activity and is redolent with smells of a more unpleasant nature. At the heart of the Bur Dubai souk lies Al Fahidi Street, selling the latest electronics, photographic equipment and home appliances at competitive prices. Other streets sell everything from materials and carpets to traditional coffee pots, loaves of unleavened bread and hubble-bubble pipes.Address: Both sides of the Creek, in Deira and Bur Dubai
Hours: Daily 7am to 12pm and 5pm to 7pm; Fridays 5pm to 7pm
The old Bastakiya district is a step back in time to the days before electricity and air-conditioning, where traditional courtyard houses were cooled by wind towers. Old Dubai was famous for its wind towers that lined the Creek on both sides, and today the narrow lanes festooned with the distinctively Arabian architecture is a popular historical attraction that has been marked for tourist development.
The natural seawater inlet that cuts through the center of the city is the historical part of Dubai where visitors can take an abra (small water taxi) and view the old trading port and the dhows from the water. A cruise to Al-Maktoum Bridge will pass many of the city's historic as well as modern landmarks. A stroll around the wharf offers a picturesque glimpse of Dubai's trading heritage, where dhows bound for distant places dock to unload their goods.
Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB), the hub for Emirates Airline, services the city of Dubai and other emirates in the country. The airport served a total of over 37 million passengers and handled over 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2008. The Dubai International Airport ranked 11th among international airports for total cargo traffic in 2007. A third terminal and a new concourse opened in October 2008, serving Emirates flights, and is the single largest building in the world by floor space. The new terminal will be dedicated to Emirates Airline and will fully support the new Airbus A380. A new concourse is also set to open in in 2011, and will be exclusively for the use of the Emirates A380. The development of Dubai World Central International Airport, currently under construction in Jebel Ali, was announced in 2004. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2010, and once operational the new airport will host foreign airlines and emirates with an exclusive terminal for them.
Dubai has a large bus system that services 69 routes and transported over about 90 million people in 2006. The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) announced in 2006 that an additional 620 new buses will be added to its fleet. In 2008, the Roads and Transport Authority introduced in door bus shelters. Most residents do not use the bus system and the main mode of transportation in Dubai is still a private vehicle.
Dubai also has an extensive taxi system, by far the most frequently used means of public transport within the Emirate. There are both government-operated and private cab companies. There are around 7,500 taxis operating within the emirate.
A $3.89 billion Dubai Metro project is under construction for the emirate. The Metro system is expected to be partially operational by 2009 and fully operational by 2012. The metro will comprise four lines: the Green Line from Al Rashidiya to the main city center and the Red Line from the airport to Jebel Ali. It also has a blue and a purple line The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue Lines) will have 70 kilometers of track and 43 stations, 33 above ground and ten underground.
In 2009, the monarail on the Palm Jumeriah is set to open. It is expected to be the first in the region. Also there are two expected trams to be built in Dubai by 2011. The first is the Downtown Burj Dubai Tram System and the second is the Al Sufouh Tram.
The Dowtown Burj Dubai Tram System is a 4.6 km tram service that is planned to service the area around the Burj Dubai, and the second tram will run 14.5 kilometres along Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Marina to the Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates.
One of the more traditional methods of getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is through abras, small boats that ferry passengers across the Dubai Creek, between abra stations in Bastakiya and Baniyas Road.
There are two major commercial ports in Dubai, Port Rashid and Port Jebel Ali. Port Jebel Ali is the 7th busiest port in the world.
In July 2007, the Salik road toll network was installed on Sheikh Zayed Road and on Al Garhoud bridge; the tolling stations are fully automated and collect toll of AED 4 (US$ 1.08) per transit.