Dubai is the second largest Emirate in the United Arab Emirates and probably the most well known. Under the guidance of Shaikh Mohamed bin Rashid bin Maktoum, it has forged a reputation as one of the most important and vibrant cities in the Middle East. Dubai’s population in 2006 currently stands at 1.2 million.
Dubai combines two cities, Dubai and Deira. They are divided by the Creek and they are a paradise for sightseeing with their unique characters. You will be amazed at the diversity of architecture and cultures that this city emcompasses, ranging from traditional Arab houses to magnificent modern towers of steel and glass. Dubai is split down the middle by a creek which runs through the centre of the old part of town. The creek is the lifeblood of this area, a tightly spaced, densely populated urban area which provides moist of the hustle and bustle in the city. More recently, a development known locally as ‘New Dubai’ has been springing up on the other side of the city. It features luxury developments like Dubai Marina and the sprawling Emirates Hills residential development, as well as trading zones such as Internet City and Media city.
Facts for the Visitors
The winter months (November to March) are the most suitable for tourists, with the weather averaging a pleasant 30C and humidity on the low side. The summer months can become very hot, with frequent low visibility caused by sandstorms – with average daytime temperatures rarely dipping below 40C (and often rising about 45C) and high humidity to accompany the high temperatures at night. You will only need summer clothes when you’re here, however it is a good idea to bring a few light sweaters or cardigans as the air conditioning in some restaurants and malls can be chilly. Compared to Europe and the United States, taxis are very cheap in Dubai. They are also plentiful and you won’t usually have to wait more than a minute before one races past. An average 10km journey will set you back around Dh15 (around $3.50)
Lifestyle and Leisure
Dubai has something for everyone. From genteel activities in the sunshine to extreme sports and major professional events – all played out in some of the best sporting facilities in the world. If you enjoy observing the beauty of marine life, there are plenty of sites in and around the UAE where you can do so. There are also plenty of places to observe nature in the UAE. Bird watchers in particular have the chance to observe some unique specimens at Ras al Khor wildlife sanctuary. Dubai is famous for many things – and in the sporting fraternity – it has a fabulous reputation for world class golf courses. The most famous can be found at the Emirates Golf Club.
Tax and Visas
Visas Around 18 months ago the property ownership agreement was altered, allowing foreigners to own property outright for the very first time which also entitles you to a full residency visa. Visit visas are issued at Dubai airport and are valid for 60 days. Those requiring residence visas should either make an application to an Embassy in your home country before arriving in Dubai, or arrange the residence visa with the property agent/employer assisting you. This does not apply to members of GCC Countries. Any tax advantages Dubai offers are connected to the Jebel Ali Free Zone. The free zone was created in 1985 in an effort to diversify and strengthen Dubai’s economic base. This free zone offers facilities to satisfy the needs of virtually every business and industrial enterprise. The free zone is also noted for the considerable incentives it offers, most importantly that companies operating in the zone are not required to pay personal or corporate taxes for a period of 15 years. In addition, this 15-year period is renewable for another 15 years.
The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to some 13 cm a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 *C to a high of 48 *C. The mean daily maximum is 24 *C in January rising to 41 *C in July.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce.
UAE Dirham. US$1 = Dhs. 3.67 approx. 100 fils = Dh 1.
- Jan 1 2005 New Year’s Day
- Jan 21 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
- Feb 10 Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)
- Apr 21 Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet)
- Aug 6 Accession of HH Sheikh Zayed
- Sep 1 Leilat al-Meiraj (Ascension of the Prophet)
- Nov 3-5 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
- Dec 2 National Day
GMT+4, same as Muscat. Dubai is three hours behind Bangkok and eight hours ahead of New York.
Country dialling code – 971
Dubai Area Code – 4
Police – 999
Ambulance – 998
Fire – 997