Lying on the south-eastern coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is one of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This bustling city is a striking blend of time-honoured traditions and earnest futuristic vision. Its symbolic skyscrapers, vibrant nightlife, up-scale shopping malls, gold souks, luxury hotels and mind-boggling historic sites are a few of the things that beckon a huge number of international travellers every year. The more astonishing thing about the landscape of this emirate is the presence of both expansive deserts and beaches. Stunning beaches like Jumeirah and Al Mamzar are great venues to relax by the sea, whereas the Arabian Desert is apt to try dune bashing and sand skiing. Also, water skiing is possible off the coast of Dubai, as the calm waters of the gulf and sunny weather here serve as an ideal base for water sports.
Similarly, the city holds a number of parks, namely Mushrif Park, Al Safa Park and Al Mamzar Beach Park that are perfect for spending a wonderful day at leisure. Al Qusais, Jumeirah and Al Sufooh are major archaeological sites here that could be of interest to history lovers. Additionally, the Heritage & Diving villages in Dubai are ultimate spots to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the region.
As the Al Fahidi Fort (housing Dubai Museum), Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House and Grand Mosque are impressive examples of the architectural splendour of the past; landmark attractions like Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, Cayan Tower and Pentominium showcase the engineering excellence of the modern times.
Lying on both sides of the Dubai Creek are a number of traditional markets, locally known as ’souks’, that are a major attraction of the city. Spice souk, gold souk and fish souk are just to name a few of them. Offering travellers a chance to indulge in some sort of bargaining; shops at these souks deal in bakery products, textiles, coffee pots and hookahs. The city is also a home to numerous hi-end shopping malls, such as Mercato Shopping Mall, Wafi Shopping Mall and Burjuman Centre, where one can splurge extravagantly on international brands.
In the recent years, the city has evolved as the sports capital of the Middle East and organises an array of sports events round the year. Camel and horse racing, sand-skiing, football, golf, and tennis are some of these events that attract a horde of sports enthusiasts to this city. Apart from sports, Dubai also hosts a number of cultural and entertainment events like Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai Airshow and Dubai Jazz Festival.
The city is an apt destination to try Middle Eastern cuisines, including Iranian, Arabic and Lebanese food. However, the cuisine specific to Dubai is Emirati, which is a fine fusion of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Dates, camel meat, rice, vegetables and aromatic spices are major ingredients of Emirati food. Not to be mentioned, Dubai is also a major commercial hub and organises numerous workshops, business conventions and trade shows annually.
Earliest human settlements in Dubai dates back to around 3000 BC, when nomadic herders dominated the region. Later in the 3rd century, the Sassanid Empire took charge of the region and ruled until the 7th century. Thereafter, Umayyad Caliphate introduced Islam to the region. For thousands of years, pearl diving and fishing had been known to be practised in this part of the world.
Initial records of the existence of any town in the region were from 1799, when the Bani Yas clan made Dubai a dependency of Abu Dhabi. Around 800 members of the clan settled at the mouth of the Dubai Creek. Further in 1833, Dubai became an exclusive sheikhdom after the Al-Maktoum dynasty acquired the region. Owing to its strategic location, the city soon transformed into a hub for sea trade, pearling and fishing.
During the 1920s, the development of artificial pearl and the Great Depression led to the decline of the international pearl market. This subsequently made Dubai to look for new alternatives for sustainability and this led to the establishment of this city as a major re-export ports in the world.
In the year 1966, the discovery of oil in the region was a turning point in the history of Dubai and the then UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum wisely utilised the oil-generated revenues for urban planning and development. Further, Dubai along with Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah were clubbed together to form the UAE in 1971.
Since the late 19th century, efforts have been taken to develop the city into a prominent tourist destination. As a result, Dubai has now become home to some of the most stunning man-made marvels, palatial hotels and upscale shopping malls. It also serves as a hosting ground to numerous internationally acclaimed entertainment and sporting events.
Situated on the south-eastern side of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is bordered to the south by Abu Dhabi and to the northeast by Sharjah. In the southeast, Dubai is surrounded by the Sultanate of Oman.
Hatta, a minor inland exclave of Dubai, is bounded on three sides by Oman and to the north and west by Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman, respectively. This city spans an area of approximately 3,885 sq. km and is situated on the banks of Dubai Creek, which segregates it into the northern Deira district and the southern Bur Dubai. The famous Palm Deira Island lies in the south of Diera, whereas a majority of the real estate development could be seen in the west of the Dubai Creek along the Jumeirah coastal belt.
Being located in the Arabian Desert, this city mainly consists of sandy desert. The sand here is white, mainly comprising crushed corals and shells. The Al Hajar Mountains extend along Dubai's border, separating it from Oman at Hatta. Although, this city has no river or oases, Dubai Creek is the only natural inlet here, which has been dredged to make it capable of holding large vessels.
A vast expanse of sand dunes covers most part of southern Dubai, which further continues to become a desert, known as The Empty Quarter. Date palms and wild grasses are found in the sandy desert, which surrounds the city. Desert hyacinths are common in sabkha plains in the east of Dubai, while ghaf trees and acacia grow in flat plains that lie close to the Western Al Hajar Mountains.
This city experiences an arid subtropical climate with clear blue sky and sun shining round the year. Usually, summers are blowy and humid with the maximum average temperature at around 41 degree Celsius and minimum being at about 30 degree Celsius.
The winter season is warm with an average maximum temperature of 24 degree Celsius and night temperature being averaged at 14 degree Celsius. Scanty rainfall occurs in Dubai with showers hitting the region mostly during winter months.
Sandstorms are also known to hit the city occasionally. They mostly carry desert sand and reduce visibility. Sandstorms are results of the creation of low pressure area above Dubai, which forces north-westerly winds to blow from Saudi Arabia. These storms may last from a couple of hours to several days.
How to reach
Dubai International Airport (DXB), one of the busiest in the world, is the main airport in the city. It hosts frequent flights to and from about 260 destinations from across the world. Besides, there are two more airports, namely Abu Dhabi International (AUH) and Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) that are approximately, 117 and 40 km, respectively from Dubai.
The city also holds a cruise terminal located at Port Rashid. Cruises from major port cities of the world like Singapore, Sydney, New York, Istanbul, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Venice and Miami halt at this terminal.
An impressive network of roads connects Dubai with neighbouring cities, towns and villages. A multi-lane highway connects the city with Abu Dhabi and the bordering countries of Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Public transport in Dubai is operated by its Roads & Transport Authority (RTA). Major means to travel within the city include metro trains, buses, water buses and abras (i.e., water taxis).
One can go for NoI cards (electronic rechargeable cards), if willing to travel by a metro train or bus and prevent themselves from the hassles of purchasing tickets again and again. However, vending machines for tickets are available at metro and bus stations as well as at a few shopping malls and the airport.
Cosy and air-conditioned local buses operate on various routes that connect different parts of the city. Moreover, a driverless monorail links Palm Jumeirah with Dubai Marina. Means of water transportation comprise air-conditioned water bus and the cheap abra (water taxi). Taxi and car rental service could also be availed, in case one needs a personalised trip.