Lying on the southern shores of the Gulf, Dubai is the second largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ranks as the country's leading commercial centre. Abu Dhabi, which is the federal capital, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah are the other six emirates. Situated on the banks of the Dubai Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf, which divides the city into the Deira district to its north, and Bur Dubai on its south, the city also ranks as the UAE's most important port and commercial centre. Located at the crossroads between East and West, the emirate's long-standing trading tradition has for centuries brought visitors from throughout the Middle East and neighbouring regions.

Today, Dubai plays host to an increasing number of visitors from all over the world. The city attracts travellers seeking something new and different, offering international facilities combined with the adventure of the Middle East -
an exotic destination with a cosmopolitan lifestyle. The Ruler's office, together with many head offices of major companies, Port Rashid, the Dubai World Trade Centre, customs, broadcasting stations and the postal authority are all situated in Bur Dubai. Deira is a thriving commercial centre containing a huge range of retail outlets, markets, hotels and the Dubai International Airport. Bur Dubai and Deira are linked by Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud bridges, as well as Al Shindagha tunnel which passes under the Creek.

As well as being a commercial and shipping hub, Dubai is a popular destination for a relaxing beach holiday, an adventurous desert experience, exciting nightlife or a weekend away to shop in the electronics and gold markets. Dubai has beautiful white beaches, clear blue sea, top class international hotels, and many fine and varied restaurants.

Dubai, the UAE and Economic Policy
With the exception of foreign policy and defence, each emirate enjoys considerable autonomy in managing its own affairs. The local government of Dubai is committed to liberal, free market policies and to the creation of a business environment conducive to commercial activity. This approach is well illustrated by the incentives available to investors in the Jebel Ali and Airport Free Zones and by the continuing high level of public sector investment in the infrastructure.

Special Fascinations
Dubai offers the visitor a fascinating kaleidoscope of contrasts - a distinctive blend of modern city and timeless desert, East and West, old and new. An exotic destination with a cosmopolitan lifestyle, Dubai combines the comfort and convenience of the western world with the unique charm and hospitality of Arabia. Dubai offers superb facilities for sports and recreation, from golf and water sports to desert safaris, dhow cruises, and sunshine, clean and uncrowded beaches.

One of Dubai’s greatest attractions for visitors is its superb shopping, which is an integral part of life in Dubai. Being an open port with low import duties and no taxation, the city offers unbeatable value. Most major brand name products are readily available, and are often less expensive in Dubai than in their country of origin.

Modern shopping malls are conveniently located throughout the city.

Local markets, Bazaars and souk shopping can be entertaining as well as profitable. The sheer variety of goods available in the winding alleys is bewildering, from gold and the latest in electronics, cameras and wrist watches to spices, silks, household appliances and sports goods. Dubai’s major shopping areas include Al Rigga Road, Al Karama, Al Dhiyafa Road and Bani Yas Square.

Some of the more popular shopping areas are listed below:

Gold Souk One of the largest retail gold markets in the world
Deira Old Souk Specializes in spices though a variety of other goods are available
Al Sabkha Souk Known for competitive prices on electronics
Al Karama Offers excellent prices on clothing, toys, accessories and furniture
Deira Covered Souk Textile market

Consolidating its reputation as a commercial hub, Dubai is also known as the sporting capital of the Middle East and is host to a variety of international sporting events including chess, snooker, sailing, tennis, powerboat racing and horse racing. For the visitor, Dubai offers a wide range of sporting facilities from golfing to horse riding and jet skiing.

Other Places of Interest

Al Boom Tourist Village

This village designed in traditional architectural style has a number of restaurants, an amusement park and a marina

Dubai Creek

Natural water inlet cutting through the centre of the city

Dubai Museum

Located within the walls of the Al Fahidi fort which was built around 1787

Dubai Zoo

Dubai Zoo houses many Arabian animals in their native habitats and is a member of the World Zoo Organisation which ensures that it meets all international standards


A mountain resort converted from the ruins of an ancient fort

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House

Built in the late 1800's, this restored palace is situated at the mouth of the creek


Well known family fun park with a wide variety of water attractions

General Information

Area and Population
Dubai has an area of 4,043 sq km and is home to almost one million people.

Tap water is quite safe to drink but visitors usually prefer locally bottled mineral water and this is generally served in hotels and restaurants.

Medical Care
Dubai has many well-equipped hospitals. The Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services runs Dubai, Rashid, Al Maktoum and Al Wasl hospitals. Dubai Hospital is one of the best medical centres in the Middle East, with specialised clinics; Al Wasl is a specialised maternity and gynaecology hospital. The Department also operates a number of outpatient clinics, of which one is situated in Jebei Ali.

Business Hours
The weekend has traditionally been Thursday afternoon and Friday, but some organisations now close on Friday and Saturday, working through Thursday afternoon instead. Government offices are open from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm (Saturday through Wednesday).

Private sector office hours vary, but are generally from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, reopening at either 3:00 pm or 4:00 pm and closing at 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm. Shop hours are similar in their opening times, but remain open until 9:00 - 10:00 pm.

Department stores, boutiques, the souks and many food shops remain open on a Friday, apart from Prayer Times (11:30 am - 1:30 pm), while larger shops reopen on a Friday afternoon around 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Embassies and consulates are generally open from 8:45 am to 12:30 pm and are closed on Fridays and in most cases on Saturdays, but will leave an emergency number on their answering machines.

Credit Cards
American Express, Diners Club, Visa, MasterCard etc are generally accepted in the main hotels and larger shops.

Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Some restaurants include service; otherwise 10 per cent is adequate.

Weights and Measures
Officially the metric system is followed, although British and American standard weights and measures are understood by most merchants. Local weights and measures are also used occasionally, but seldom for international trade.

The Khaleej Times, Gulf News and Gulf Today are daily English-language newspapers. Arabic newspapers include Al Bayan, Al-Ittihad and Al-Khaleej. Foreign newspapers are readily available in hotel bookshops and supermarkets. 'What's On' is a colourful monthly magazine that covers social and cultural events within the UAE.

Most leading hotels receive international news and entertainment broadcasts via satellite. Many satellite networks transmit a wide variety of programmes and many international television networks are headquartered in Dubai Media City. The city is also the headquarters of the Dubai Internet CIty.

Locally, there are four channels: Dubai 2,10 and 41 which show Arabic programmes, and Dubai 33, which broadcasts in English. Emirates Dubai Television broadcasts by satellite throughout the world in Arabic and English. Reception from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the Gulf region is usually possible and programme details are published in the local press.

The English-language service of UAE Radio Dubai broadcasts daily on 92Mhz FM 24 hours a day, with main news bulletins at 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 2:30 pm and 8:30 pm.

Telecommunications are excellent, both within the UAE and with the outside world. Telephone calls within Dubai city are free. Direct dialing is available to all countries.

Photo Gallery of Dubai



(please click to view photos)

Links to Dubai (Official Website of the Dubai Municipality) (Just Click Dubai) (Dubai City Guide) (Dubai News)


(Sources: The official website for the Ministry of Information and Culture in the UAE:; ''Dubai City' by Dubai Municipality, 1999)