Dubai, its a name that has become one of the most famous and infamous, representing a city on the brink of superstardom. This is a city that craves the limelight, it lives for the attention of the world. If another city has something bigger and better than what Dubai's got, then Dubai must expand whatever it is thats been bested. This is what makes Dubai so popular though, its the bad boy in the back of the class, the city everyone loves to hate but cant resist visiting it just once more, or for the first time find out what all the fuss is about.
Travel in Dubai is simple. The emirate has as its one major city Dubai, where almost all the population and the visitors domocile. Dubai International Airport (DXB) is one of the busiest and fastest-growing in the world, bringing more and more visitors to Dubai each year. The Dubai airline Emirates is continually expanding its route schedule, bringing in more and more cities from different countries each year. With some wonderful new, and innovative, attractions under development, the future of travel and tourism in the emirate and the city in the future is assurred.
Dubai has a diverse and multicultural society. 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. Dubai has been criticized for perpetuating a class-based society, where migrant workers are in the lower classes. Despite the diversity of the population, only minor and infrequent episodes of ethnic tensions, primarily between expatriates, have been reported in the city.
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 US$ one billion. Large shopping malls in the city, such as Deira City Centre, BurJuman, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Ibn Battuta Mall as well as traditional souks attract shoppers from the region.
The diversity of cuisine in Dubai is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of the society. Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma diners in Deira and Al Karama to the upscale restaurants in Dubai's many hotels. Fast food, South Asian, Chinese cuisines are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though not illegal, is regulated and is sold only to non-Muslims, in designated areas. 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 four or five star hotels. Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Dubai.
Hollywood and Bollywood movies are popular in the city, which hosts the annual Dubai International Film Festival, which attracts celebrities from Arab and International cinema. Dubai has an active music scene, with musicians Amr Diab, Diana Haddad, Tarkan, Aerosmith, Santana, Mark Knopfler, Elton John, Pink, Shakira, Celine Dion, Coldplay, and Phil Collins having performed in the city. Kylie Minogue was paid 4.4 million dollars to perform at the opening of the Atlantis resort on November 20, 2008. The Dubai Desert Rock Festival is also another major festival consisting of Heavy metal and rock artists.
Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Dubai. Five teams — Al Wasl, Al-Shabab, Al-Ahli, Al Nasr and Hatta — represent Dubai in UAE League football. Current champions Al-Wasl have the second-most number of championships in the UAE League, after Al Ain. Cricket is followed by Dubai's large South Asian community and in 2005, the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved its headquarters from London to Dubai. The city has hosted several India-Pakistan matches and two new grass grounds are being developed in Dubai Sports City. 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, all of which attract sports stars from around the world. The Dubai World Cup, a thoroughbred horse race, is held annually at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.
However, In violation of WTA policy, Dubai refused to grant a visa for Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er to compete in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tour.
Dubai is known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars are found mostly in hotels due to the liquor laws. The New York Times listed Dubai as its travel choice for partying in 2008.
Culture is frequently subject to censorship in Dubai. Homosexuality, drugs, and the theory of evolution are generally considered taboo. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is banned, while in 2009 the International Festival of Literature in Dubai retracted an invitation it had sent to author Geraldine Bedell to present her book The Gulf Between Us due to the presence of a gay sheikh as a minor character.
The History of Dubai
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% of Dubai's $37 billion economy. 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.
Very little is known about pre-Islamic culture in the south-east Arabian peninsula, except that 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 years, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City. The area had been covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the coastline retreated inland, becoming a part of the city's present coastline. Prior to Islam, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar). The Byzantine and Sassanian empires constituted the great powers of the period, with the Sassanians controlling much of the region. After the spread of Islam in the region, the Umayyad Caliph, of the eastern Islamic world, invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations undertaken by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) indicate the existence of 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. Documented records of the town of Dubai exist only after 1799.
In the early 19th century, the Al Abu Falasa clan (House of Al-Falasi) of Bani Yas clan established Dubai, which remained a 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. However, in 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty (also descendants of the House of Al-Falasi) of the Bani Yas tribe left the settlement of Abu Dhabi and 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, with the latter agreeing to protect Dubai against any attacks from the Ottoman Empire. 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, which were the region's main trade hubs at the time.
Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1799, is the oldest existing building in Dubai. Dubai's geographical proximity to India made it an important location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from India, many of whom eventually settled in the town. Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s. However, Dubai's pearling industry was damaged irreparably by the events of World War I, and later on by the Great Depression in the late 1920s. Consequently, the city witnessed a mass migration of people to other parts of the Persian Gulf. 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 between the two states. 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. However, 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 and border disputes between the two states. Electricity, telephone services and an airport were established in Dubai in the 1950s, when the British moved their local administrative offices from Sharjah to Dubai. In 1966 the town joined the newly independent country of Qatar to set up a new monetary unit, the Qatar/Dubai Riyal, after the devaluation of the Persian Gulf rupee. Oil was discovered in Dubai the same year, after which the town granted concessions to international oil companies. The discovery of oil led to a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Indians and Pakistanis. As a result, the population of the city from 1968 to 1975 grew by over 300%, by some estimates.
On 2 December 1971 Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates after former protector Britain left the Persian Gulf in 1971. In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: the UAE dirham. In the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of Lebanese immigrants fleeing the civil war in Lebanon. The Jebel Ali Free Zone, comprising the Jebel Ali port (reputedly the world's largest man made port) was established in 1979, which provided foreign companies unrestricted import of labour and export capital.
The Persian Gulf War of 1990 had a huge impact on the city. Economically, Dubai banks experienced a massive withdrawal of funds due to uncertain political conditions in the region. During the course of the 1990s, however, many foreign trading communities — first from Kuwait, during the Persian 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 Persian Gulf War, and again, during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Large increases in oil prices after the Persian Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism. The success of the Jebel Ali free zone allowed the city to replicate its model to develop clusters of new free zones, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Maritime City. The construction of Burj Al Arab, the world's tallest freestanding hotel, as well as the creation of new residential developments, were used to market Dubai for purposes of tourism. Since 2002, the city has seen an increase in private real estate investment in recreating Dubai's skyline with such projects as The Palm Islands, The World Islands and Burj Dubai. However, robust economic growth in recent years has been accompanied by rising inflation rates (at 11.2% as of 2007 when measured against Consumer Price Index) which is attributed in part due to the near doubling of commercial and residential rental costs, resulting in a substantial increase in the cost of living for residents.
Climate in Dubai
Dubai has a hot and, at times, humid climate (drier during extreme heat) with many months recording temperatures of over 40 °C (104 °F). The highest recorded temperature in Dubai is 47.3 °C (117.1 °F), and the lowest recorded temperature is 7 °C (45 °F). Rainfall is generally light, with a mean of about 150 millimetres (6 inches) per year; precipitation is usually centered around the months of January, February and March. However, heavy rain is not uncommon in Dubai during the winter months and January 2008 saw a record of 120 mm (or 5") of rain falling in just 24 hours. The mean humidity in Dubai is approximately 60% and is higher during the cooler winter months.