Welcome to Dubai, “the desert’s most exciting city”! Situated on the north-eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Dubai is the second largest of the seven emirates which comprises the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country where the dust of the desert is clearing to reveal one of the most vibrant and dynamic international cities of the 21st century.
Wedged between Europe and Asia and buttressed by Africa, Dubai is building energetically on the advantages of its location, centuries-old trading savvy and oil wealth. From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for its residents and visitors.
Dubai embraces a wide variety of scenery in a very small area. In a single day, visitors may experience everything from rugged mountains and awe-inspiring sand dunes to sandy beaches and lush green parks, from dusty villages to luxurious residential districts with manicured golf courses and from ancient houses with wind towers to ultra-modern shopping malls.
Dubai is both a lively international business and IT hub and a laid-back tourist escape; a city where the sophistication of the 21st century walks hand in hand with the simplicity of a bygone era. These contrasts give Dubai its unique flavour and personality; a cosmopolitan society with an international lifestyle, yet with a culture deeply rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia.
Since time immemorial, Dubai has been a meeting place, bringing together the Bedouin of the desert interior with the pearl-diver, the merchant of the city with the sea-going fisherman. It is still playing the role of intermediary between these vastly different cultures, the only difference being that air travel has significantly increased the number of visitors to the country.
At first glance, the city presents a predominantly modern face, an ever-changing skyline of new developments, from striking glass and concrete towers to gracious modern buildings incorporating traditional Arabian architectural motifs and features.Traditional Arab hospitality and a delightful winter climate complemented by a crime-free environment have contributed in recent years to create an ideal atmosphere for the development of Dubai as a destination for leisure and recreation.
Dubai has a sub tropical and arid climate; sunny blue skies and high temperatures may be expected most of the year and rainfall is infrequent and irregular, usually falling on an average of 25 days per year, mainly in the winter.
Temperatures range from a low of around 10 degrees Celsius in winter to a high of 48 degrees Celsius in the summer. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees Celsius in January, rising to 41 degrees Celsius in August.
Culture and customs
Dubai’s culture is firmly rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia. In some parts of the world, Islamic fundamentalism has given the ‘outside’ world a very extreme and different view of the religion. In contrast to this image, however, Dubai is very tolerant and welcoming; visitors are free to practice their own religion, alcohol is served in hotels and in restaurants and the dress code is liberal. Women face little discrimination. Among the most highly prized virtues are courtesy and hospitality and visitors are charmed by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people.
The official language of the UAE is Arabic, although English, Hindi and Urdu are spoken widely, particularly in the business sector.
(Courtesy of Dubai Tourism and Dubai Explorer)