Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates, directly in the Arabian desert. The city has no river bodies or natural oases, but it does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to be deep enough for large vessels to pass. Dubai is a major tourist destination and its port, Jebel Ali, built in the 1970s, has the largest man-made port in the world. Dubai is increasingly developing as a hub for service industries such as technology and finance.
Of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has the largest population. Dubai’s population mainly included expatriates, and the citizens of the United Arab Emirates constituted the minority. According to the UAE Ministry of Labor, more than one million residents of Dubai, or 83% of the population, were born abroad. Most foreigners come from India (51%), followed by Pakistan (16%). Dubai is home to some 100,000 Western expats.
The official language of Dubuai is Arabic, but English is widely spoken, especially in the business sector. Since most of the traffic and shop signs, restaurant menus, etc., are in both English and Arabic, one could quite easily live in this city without speaking Arabic. Persian, Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Tagalog are also widely spoken.
Dubai has a desert climate with temperatures ranging from 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to 118 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. Rains are rare and residents of the United Arab Emirates refer to the weather as “seven months in paradise and five more in hell.” The warm weather makes it acceptable to wear shorts and t-shirts, however, as Dubai is a Muslim city, visitors should be aware of its attractions: shoulders should be covered, and women should avoid wearing tight clothing.
All visitors, except nationals of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC), which includes visitors from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, will need to have a visa sponsored by a local entity such as a hotel or travel company. British citizens entitled to reside in the UK and expatriate AGCC residents of certain nationalities and professions may qualify for automatic 30-day visit visas on arrival, but regulations must be checked before traveling.
There are various items that should not be brought into the UAE, including alcohol, pornography, ivory, drugs, walkie talkies, cordless and remote phones, religious items (crosses, buddhas, videos with biblical images), firearms, ammunition, draggers, knives, swords and spears.
The unit of currency is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (Dh), and there are 100 fils in each Dirham. The Dirham is available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 notes and in 25 fils, 50 fils. For everyday purchases, such as groceries, cash and credit cards are often used. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours a day.
The most popular neighborhoods for expats are areas like Jumeirah, Umm Sequim, Emirates Lakes, Emirates Hills, Mirdiff for villas, and Bur Dubai & Sheikh Zayed for apartments. Each of these areas is appreciated for its proximity to good schools and shopping. Most expats tend to rent, as until recently they were not allowed to own property in the UAE. However, starting in the summer of 2002, this began to change. Today, many expat subdivisions (including Dubai Marina, The Greens, The Meadows, Arabian Ranches, Palm Project, etc.) are available with the option to purchase.
For expats who rent a house in Dubai, their rent is usually paid by check. To open a bank account, you will need a passport and a visa (or application). An employment contract or letter of no objection from a sponsor and a document that can identify one as a local resident, such as a utility bill or driver’s license, may be sufficient. Non-residents cannot open bank accounts.
Due to the large expat population, the educational system in Dubai is extremely diverse. English is the most common language of instruction. Most British curriculum schools have waiting lists and the availability of other schools will vary depending on the time of year the student is enrolling. Local schools generally have three terms: fall, which runs from mid-September to mid-December; Spring, which runs from the beginning of January to the beginning of April; and Summer, which runs from mid-April to early July.
For university education, many expats tend to send their children back to their home country or to western countries. Although Dubai has plans to increase more accredited universities, they continue to send 90% of all potential high school students to India for a stronger tech education. A considerable number of foreign accredited universities have been established in the city during the last ten years. More and more ‘A’ level and International Baccalaureate educational institutions are being established in the region.
Driving is the most popular mode of transportation in Dubai, where people drive on the right side of the road. Holders of valid licenses from certain countries will be able to “exchange” their licenses for one from Dubai. These countries are: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman , Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Anyone holding a license from a country that is not listed above will need to take a local driving test. Front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts in cars and it is illegal for children under the age of 10 to sit in the front seat. Taxis are plentiful and neighborhood buses are readily available, but most people prefer to drive. If it suits you, the abra, a water taxi that crosses Dubai Creek, is another option. There are also buses that provide transportation to many destinations, including outside of Dubai and throughout the Emirates.
Stores in Dubai are generally open for longer hours than in other countries. Many are open from 10:00 a.m. M. At 10:00 p. M., With the exception of Fridays, when they can be open from 4:00 p.m. M. At 10:00 p. M. Some of the smaller stores maintain the ancient tradition of closing for siesta from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dubai has international food companies, appliance stores, and pharmacies, all selling a wide variety of items at competitive prices. There are outlets to suit most shapes, sizes, and budgets. There are also many local tailors who make just about anything at a reasonable cost.
For children, Dubai is comparable to many large cities in Europe or North America with a wide range of activities designed especially for the little ones. Some of the most popular attractions for children in the area are Softball Parks, Wild Wadi Water Park, Dubai Zoo, Cyber Games Park, Children’s City, Wonderland Theme Park, and Magic Planet. There are many activities available both on the weekends and after school, from sports to the arts. One important thing to remember is that the burning Dubai sun can be very dangerous for young children. It is essential that they drink a lot of water and use sunscreen.
Like most major cities, Dubai’s malls are a popular hangout for teenagers. To help teens learn more about local culture and customs, a good source of information is the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding. This organization hosts a variety of opportunities, such as visits to the mosque with explanations and “question and answer” sessions.
Dubia has an impressive nightlife, a variety of sports and beach clubs, etc., where singles, married couples and families can easily meet other people who share their interests. Most of Dubai’s residents have at some point been new to the city. This being the case, Emiratis are eager to welcome newcomers and are well known for being welcoming, hospitable, tolerant and friendly.