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Emirate of Dubai
Clockwise from top: Burj Khalifa; satellite image showing Palm Jumeirah and The World Islands; Dubai Marina; and Sheikh Zayed road
Clockwise from top: Burj Khalifa; satellite image showing Palm Jumeirah and The World Islands; Dubai Marina; and Sheikh Zayed road
Flag of Dubai
Location of Dubai in the UAE
Location of Dubai in the UAE
Coordinates: 25°15′00″N 55°18′00″E / 25.25000°N 55.30000°E / 25.25000; 55.30000
Country  United Arab Emirates
Emirate Dubai Dubai
Incorporated (town) 9 June 1833
Independence from UK 2 December 1971
Founded by Rashid bin saeed Al Maktoum
Seat Dubai
 • Type Constitutional monarchy[1]
 • Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
 • Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
 • Total 4,114 km2 (1,588 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2013)
 • Total 2,106,177
 • Density 463.17/km2 (1,199.6/sq mi)
 • Nationality 
53% Indian
17% Emirati
13.3% Pakistani
7.5% Bangladeshi
2.5% Filipino
1.5% Sri Lankan
0.3% American
5.7% other countries
Time zone UAE standard time (UTC+4)
Website Dubai Emirate
Dubai Municipality

Dubai (/dˈb/ doo-BY; Arabic: دبيّDubayy, IPA: [dʊˈbæj]) is an emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation. The main city of the emirate is also called Dubai. The emirate 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.[4] Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature.[5] The city of Dubai is located on the emirate's northern coastline and heads up the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area[6]

The earliest mention of Dubai is in 1095 AD, and the earliest recorded settlement in the region dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established on the 9th June 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 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[7] 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.[8] 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.[9][10][11] 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, in particular the world's tallest building, the 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.[12] Dubai's property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008–2009 following the financial crisis of 2007-2008,[13] but is making a gradual recovery with help coming from neighboring emirates.[14]

As of 2012, Dubai is the 22nd most expensive city in the world, and the most expensive city in the Middle East.[15][16] 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.[17]


In the 1820s, Dubai was referred to as Al Wasl in British documents. Few records pertaining to the cultural history of the UAE or its constituent emirates exist because of the region's oral traditions, which meant that folklore and myth were not written down. In local folklore, the name Dubai was called to the location as an attribution to a woman called Dabya (Arabic: دبية‎).

There have been many theories laid down to describe the origin of the word Dubai. One of those theories suggests that the word Dubai was used to describe the souq which was similar to the souq in Dibba.[18] Another theory states that the name came from a word meaning money as people from Dubai were commonly believed to be rich due to the thriving trading center of the location. An Arabic proverbs says "Daba Dubai" (Arabic: دبا دبي‎) meaning "They came with a lot of money".[19] According to Fedel Handhal, a researcher in the history and culture of the UAE, the word Dubai may have come from the word Daba (Arabic: دبا‎) (a past tense derivative of Yadub (Arabic: يدب‎), which means to creep); referring to the slow flow of Dubai Creek inland. The poet and scholar Ahmad Mohammad Obaid traces it to the same word, but to its alternative of baby locust (Arabic: جراد‎) and that's due to the widespread of locust in the area before settlement.[20]

There have been many theories written and publicized about the origins of the name Dubai, however there has not been any defined set reference that describes the nomenclature of the city due to lack of previous documentation.


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.[21] 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.[21] [22] Pre-Islamic ceramics have been found from the 3rd and 4th century.[23] Prior to Islam, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar).[23] 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.[24]

Al Bastakiya, Dubai

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.[24] Since 1799, there has been a settlement known as Dubai town.[25] 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.[26] On 8 January 1820, the sheikh of Dubai and other sheikhs in the region signed the "General Maritime Peace Treaty" with the British government.[21] 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 Falasa clan without resistance.[26]

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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[27][28]

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.[25] 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.[21]

The Al Ras district in Deira, Dubai in the 1960s

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.[29] 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.[30] Electricity, telephone services, and an airport were established in Dubai in the 1950s, when the British moved their local administrative offices there from Sharjah.[31] 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%.[32]

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.[33] In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: the UAE dirham.[25] 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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36]

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.[28] 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.


This time-lapse video shows the rate of Dubai's growth at one frame per year from 2000 through 2011. In the false-color satellite images making up the video, bare desert is tan, plant-covered land is red, water is black and urban areas are silver.
City level map of Dubai
View of Dubai Desert

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°16′11″N 55°18′34″E / 25.2697°N 55.3095°E / 25.2697; 55.3095 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.[37] 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.[32]

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.[38] 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.[38]

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.[39][40]

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 41 °C (106 °F) and overnight lows around 30 °C (86 °F) in the hottest month, August. Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 24 °C (75 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F) in January, the coldest month. Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades with accumulated rain reaching 94.3 mm (3.71 in) per year.[41] Dubai summers are also known for the high humidity level, which can make it uncomfortable for many.[42]

Climate data for Dubai
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 31.6
Average high °C (°F) 24.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 19
Average low °C (°F) 14.3
Record low °C (°F) 6.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 18.8
Avg. precipitation days 5.4 4.7 5.8 2.6 0.3 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.1 0.2 1.3 3.8 25.2
 % humidity 65 65 63 55 53 58 56 57 60 60 61 64 59.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 254.2 229.6 254.5 294.0 344.1 342.0 322.4 316.2 309.0 303.8 285.0 256.6 3,511.4
Source #1: Dubai Meteorological Office[43]
Source #2: (extremes, sun),[44], NOAA (humidity, 1974-1991)[45]

Governance and politics[edit]

Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833; the emirate is a constitutional monarchy with no elections (other than the a few thousand Dubai citizens participating in the electoral college for the Federal National Council of the UAE). 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.[46]

The Dubai Municipality (DM) was established by the then ruler of Dubai, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1954 for purposes of city planning, citizen services and upkeep of local facilities.[47] 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, Thirteen such services were launched by October 2001, while several other services were expected to be operational in the future.[48] Dubai Municipality is also in charge of the city's sanitation and sewage infrastructure.[49]

Law enforcement[edit]

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.[50] 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.[51]

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.[52]

Human rights[edit]

In 2013, the Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) released its annual International Human Rights Indicator (IHRRI) report that ranks the United Arab Emirates first among Arab countries and 14th globally for respecting human rights. The next Arab country on the list, Tunisia, was ranked at 72. The UAE was also ranked six spots ahead of the United States which was placed 20th overall. To acquire its 14th position, the UAE fared well across 21 individual categories, performing best in the education category with a 94 per cent finish for ensuring top education for all children.

The UAE earned a 93 per cent rating for providing right to health care followed by an 85 per cent rating for right to life. For its protection for residents the right not to be deprived of property arbitrarily, the UAE was scored at 80 per cent while the country was scored at 79 per cent for protecting the rights of foreigners. The UAE was marked at 76 per cent for the right of protection for honour and equally at 76 per cent for the right to marry. A rating of 75 per cent was given to the UAE for working to protect the right to an adequate standard of living and 75 per cent was also given for the country’s protection of the rights of the accused. The UAE’s right to liberty and security was ranked at 71 per cent while the right of assembly in the UAE earned 70 points. The UAE also earned a 70 per cent rating for providing rights to acceptable conditions at work. Freedom of expression was scored at 69 per cent by the human rights indicator. The right to liberty of movement within the UAE was also scored at 69 per cent. The right to be free of discrimination was ranked at 66 per cent in the country.[53][54]


Year Population
18221 1,200[55]
19001 10,000[56]
19301 20,000[57]
19401 38,000[55]
19541 20,000[55]
19601 40,000[58]
1968 58,971[59]
1975 183,000[60]
1985 370,800[61]
1995 674,000[61]
2005 1,204,000
2013 2,106,177
1 The town of Dubai first conducted a census in 1968. All population figures in this table prior to 1968 are estimates obtained from various sources.

Ethnicity and language[edit]

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.[62] 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.[63]

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.[3][64] A quarter of the population reportedly traces their origins to Iran.[65] 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.[66] There are over 100,000 British expatriates in Dubai, by far the largest group of Western expatriates in the city.[67] 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%.[68]

Arabic is the national and official language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people.[69] English is used as a second language. Other languages spoken in Dubai, due to immigration, are Urdu, Hindi, Persian, Bengali, Malayalam, Tulu,[70] Tamil, Kannada, Sinhala, Marathi, Telugu, Tagalog and Chinese, in addition to many other languages.[71]


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.[72] All mosques in Dubai are managed by the Government of Dubai and all Imams are also appointed by the Government. Any Imam caught preaching racial or religious hatred or caught promoting Islamic extremism is usually jailed and deported.[73]

Dubai also has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahá'í, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city.[74] 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.[75] Non-Muslim religious groups are permitted to openly advertise group functions and distribute various religious literature; however, outright proselytising is strictly prohibited under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation for engaging in behaviour offensive to Islam.[72]


World Trade Centre. Dubai has established itself as a prominent regional hub for finance, trade, tourism, and shopping.

Dubai's gross domestic product as of 2011 was US $83.4 billion.[76] Although Dubai's economy was built on the back of the oil industry,[77] revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 7% of the emirate's revenues.[9] It is estimated that Dubai produces 50,000 to 70,000 barrels (11,000 m3) of oil a day[78] and substantial quantities of gas from offshore fields. The emirate's share in UAE's gas revenues is about 2%. Dubai's oil reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted in 20 years.[79] Real estate and construction (22.6%),[11] trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai's economy.[80] Dubai's top exporting destinations include India (US$ 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.[81]

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"[25] 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.[82] 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.[83] 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.[84] Dubai's property market experienced a major downturn in 2008[85] and 2009 as a result of the slowing economic climate.[13] By early 2009, the situation had worsened with the Great Recession taking a heavy toll on property values, construction and employment.[86] 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.[87] 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.[88] 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.[89]

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.[66] 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).[90]

A City Mayors survey rated Dubai as 44th among the world's best financial cities in 2007,[91] 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).[92] 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),[93] 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.[94] Indians are top foreign investors in Dubai realty.[95]

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[96] 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.[97]

Tourism and retail[edit]

The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world.
Dubai Creek, which separates Deira from Bur Dubai, played a vital role in the economic development of the city.

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,[98][99] 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.[100][101] Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015.[102] The emirate is also 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.[103]

In 2012 a 16.4% increase in inflation affected the city's restaurant and hotel sector.[104] 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.[105]

Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East".[106] Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping centre, including the world's largest shopping centre, 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 Sub-continent.

Dubai is also known for the traditional souk districts located on either side of the stream. 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. Dubai Creek played a vital role in the sustainment of life of the community in Dubai originally and was the setting point which caused the economic boom in Dubai.[107] As of September 2013, Dubai creek has been proposed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.[108] Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is also known as "the City of Gold" as Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops.[109] 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. Possession of trace amounts of illegal drugs has resulted in long prison sentences for foreign citizens transiting in the UAE. Several people have been arrested for possession of trace amounts stuck to the soles of their shoes, adhering to their clothing, or in pocket lint.[110]

Dubai is currently the home of the famous former Cunard ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2. The ship was bought by developers Istithmar World in 2007 for US$100m at Port Rashid.[111][112] QE2's distinctive profile is a regular sight for travellers arriving into Dubai International Airport as the flight path takes aircraft over the port. In January 2013, the QE2's owners announced that the ship will be upgraded into a luxury floating hotel with 500 rooms and will be moored in an Asian harbour.[113] The refurbishment will be completed in collaboration with Oceanic Group based in Singapore.[114] The refurbisment is expected to be completed by 2015 and would include seven restaurants, 10 lounges, a cinema, a museum and a mall.[115]

Dubai bid for Expo 2020[edit]

On November 2, 2011 four cities had their bids for Expo 2020 already lodged, with Dubai making the last-minute entry. The delegation from the Bureau International des Expositions who visited Dubai in February 2013 to examine the Emirate’s readiness for the largest exposition, was impressed by the infrastructure, and the level of national support. In May 2013, Dubai Expo 2020 Master Plan was revealed.[116] Dubai then won the right to host Expo 2020 on November 27, 2013.[117] The event will bring huge economic benefits by generating activities worth billions of dirhams and may create over 270,000 jobs.[118]


Dubai skyline
Dubai skyline.


The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest man-made structure in the world.

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.[119] 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.[120] 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.[121][122]

Burj Al Arab[edit]

The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب, Tower of the Arabs) is a 7 star luxury hotel. Although the hotel is frequently described as "the world's only seven-Star hotel", the hotel management claims to never have done that themselves. The Burj al Arab's management company, Jumeira Group, describes the hotel as simply a "seven-star deluxe" property. A Jumeirah Group spokesperson is quoted as saying: "There's not a lot we can do to stop it. We're not encouraging the use of the term. We've never used it in our advertising."[123]

The Burj Al Arab is located on an artificial island 280 metres (919 ft) from Jumeirah beach on the Dubai shoreline and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. It is managed by the Jumeirah Group and built by Said Khalil. Construction started in 1994 and completed in 1999. The design, by Tom Wright of WS Atkins PLC, is designed to symbolize Dubai's urban transformation and to mimic the sail of a traditional Arab dhow. The hotel cost $650 million to build. At 321 metres (1,053 ft) and 60 floors, it was the world's tallest building used exclusively as a hotel until the completion of the Rose Rayhaan by Rotana in 23 December 2009, also in Dubai.

Burj al Arab

The design features a steel exoskeleton wrapped around a reinforced concrete tower. Two wings spread in a V shape to form a vast mast, while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium by a teflon-coated fibreglass sail. During the day, the white fabric allows a soft, milky light inside the hotel, whereas a clear, glass front would produce blinding amounts of glare and a constantly increasing temperature. At night, both inside and outside, the fabric is lit by colour changing lights. Near the top of the building is a suspended helipad supported by a cantilever which has featured some of the hotel's notable publicity events.

The hotel's interior was designed by Kunan Chew. It features the world's tallest atrium lobby at 180 metres. The atrium lobby is formed by the building's V-shaped span, dominates the interior of the hotel, and takes up over 1/3 of the interior space. Despite its size, the Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors, accommodating 202 bedroom suites. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world. The cost of staying at a suite begins at $1,000 per night. The Royal Suite is the most expensive, at $28,000 per night.

One of its restaurants, Al Muntaha, is located 200 metres above the Persian Gulf, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends 27 metres from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator. Another restaurant, the Al Mahara, which is accessed by a simulated submarine voyage, features a large seawater aquarium, holding roughly 35,000 cubic feet (990 m3) of water. The tank, made of acrylic glass in order to withstand the water pressure, is about 18 centimetres thick.

Sanitation issues[edit]

Currently, sewage is piped to one of Dubai's two main sewage treatment plants at Jebel Ali and Al-Awir. In 2009, Dubai's rapid growth and the failure to increase sewerage infrastructure commensurately meant that it briefly stretched its sewage treatment infrastructure beyond its limits. Sewage tankers were drafted in to supplement the piped sewage network and, because of the long queues and delays, some tanker drivers resorted to illegally dumping the effluent into storm drains or behind dunes in the desert. Sewage dumped into storm drains flowed directly into the Persian Gulf, near the city's prime swimming beaches. Doctors at the time warned that tourists using the beaches ran the risk of contracting serious illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis.[124] Dubai municipality says that it is committed to catching the culprits and has imposed fines of up to $25,000 and threatened to confiscate tankers if dumping persists. The municipality maintains that test results show samples of the water are "within the standards".[125] As of September 2009, these queues and illegal dumping are no longer reported to be a problem.[126]

Dubai Miracle Garden[edit]

On Valentine's Day 2013, the Dubai Miracle Garden, a 72,000-square meter flower garden, opened in Dubailand. It is currently the world's largest flower garden. It has 45 million flowers with re-use of waste water through drip irrigation. During Dubai's summer months from late May to September when the climate can get extremely hot with an average high of about 40 °C (104 °F), the garden stays closed.[127]


Dubai Bus
A Dubai Bus in Dubai Marina
Bus stop in Dubai.
An air conditioned bus stop
Dubai Metro on its opening day
The Red Line on the Dubai Metro. The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula.[128]
Abra on Dubai Creek
Abras are the traditional mode of transport between Deira and Bur Dubai.

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.[129] 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.[130] In 2009, according to Dubai Municipality statistics, there were an estimated 1,021,880 cars in Dubai.[131] In January 2010, the number of Dubai residents who use public transport stood at 6%.[132]


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.[133]

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.[134] 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.[135]

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.[136][137][138]


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.[139] 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[140] and was also the 4th busiest International freight traffic airport in world.[141] Emirates Airline is the national airline of Dubai. As of 2009, it operated internationally serving 101 destinations in 61 countries across six continents.[142]

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.[143] 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.[144]

Metro rail[edit]

Dubai Metro

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.[145] 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.[146] 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.[147] The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula.[128] All the trains run without a driver and are based on automatic navigation.

Palm Jumeirah Monorail[edit]

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.[148] The line opened on 30 April 2009.[149] 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.[150][151]


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,[152] and the 7th-busiest port in the world.[82] 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.[153] 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.[154]


A traditional souk in Deira

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.[155]

In 2005, 84% of the population of metropolitan Dubai was foreign-born, about half of them from India.[64] 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[156] (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) attract over 4 million visitors from across the region and generate revenues in excess of $2.7 billion.[157][158]

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.[159][160]

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.[161] 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.[162] 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".[163]

Biryani is also a popular cuisine across Dubai with being the most popular among Indians and Pakistanis present in Dubai.[164]

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[edit]

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.[165] 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.[166] 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.[166] 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.[167] 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.[168] 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.[169]

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.[170] 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[171] have performed in the city.[162] Kylie Minogue was reportedly paid $3.5 million to perform at the opening of the Atlantis resort on 20 November 2008.[172] 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,[173] 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.[174] 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.[162] 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.


Cricket is followed by Dubai's large community of Indians and Pakistanis alongside the residents from other cricket playing nations (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, Australia and South Africa). In 2005, the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved its headquarters from London to Dubai. The city has hosted several Pakistan matches and two new grass grounds are being developed in Dubai Sports City. And lot of tournaments also take place in Dubai.[175]

Potential Olympic bid[edit]

Dubai had expressed great interest in a 2020 Olympic bid but had not formally announced it would bid. Dubai's hosting of Sportaccord 2010 has been a great way to show off Dubai's sport infrastructure. Dubai has already won the rights to host the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m).[176] Statement from Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum: "We will have to take an honest look at our weaknesses as well as our strengths," Sheikh Mohammed said on 25 April. "I can assure you of this, though: if we decide to make a bid for the Olympics, we will be in it to win".[177] On 29 July 2011, it was announced that Dubai would not bid for the 2020 Olympics but would instead focus on bidding for the 2024 Games (similar to Toronto).[178] As reported by Olympic news outlet Around the Rings, the United Arab Emirates Olympic Committee shifted the focus to 2024, event though "... as much of 70 percent of the 'hard' infrastructure was already in place or planned." Dubai was looking into the possibility of bidding for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, however they never submitted a bid.[179]


Dubai Knowledge Village was built to allow Universities to open branches and campuses in Dubai.

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.[62] 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.[180]

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.[181]

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,[182] RIT Dubai, Michigan State University Dubai (MSU Dubai),[183] Middlesex University Dubai campus,[184] 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), Amity University in Dubai,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.[185]


Iranian Hospital

Healthcare in Dubai can be divided into two different sectors: public and private. Each Emirate is able to dictate healthcare 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 1980s to 1998, more than 20 medical clinics were built within the Emirate. Dubai then followed the WHO’s policy of ‘Healthcare for all by 2000’ and continued to build

A new initiative of the Dubai Health Care Authority was launched in 2007. UAE nationals make up less than 20% of the population in Dubai, as most of the population are from foreign origins. No laws forbid foreign nationals from using the national and public healthcare systems.


View of Etisalat tower from Zabeel Park
Dubai media city.

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,[186] while Gulf News, Khaleej Times and 7DAYS are the largest circulating English newspapers.[187]

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.[188] Dubai houses two of four Domain Name System (DNS) data centres in the country (DXBNIC1, DXBNIC2).[189] Censorship is common in Dubai and used by the government to control content that it believes violates the cultural and political sensitivities of Emirates.[190] Homosexuality, drugs, and the theory of evolution are generally considered taboo.[162][191]

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.[192] 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.[193] The penal code contains official provisions that prohibit digital access to pornography; however, it does not address cyber crime or data protection.[194]

Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Dubai is twinned with the following cities:[195][196][197]

See also[edit]


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  • Syed Ali. Dubai: Gilded Cage (Yale University Press; 2010) 240 pages. Focuses on the Arab emirate's treatment of foreign workers.
  • Heiko Schmid: Economy of Fascination: Dubai and Chicago as Themed Urban Landscapes, Berlin, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-443-37014-5.
  • John M. Smith: Dubai The Maktoum Story, Norderstedt 2007, ISBN 3-8334-4660-9.

External links[edit]