Home to sweltering summers, warm winters, some of the best shopping in the world, amazing buildings, and as one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, Dubai is definitely a place you should put on your must visit list. It is the top destination for luxury homes in the world, and boasts attractions for everybody, whatever you’re into. Because tourism is so important in the country, new attractions are constantly being built to attract new people, so you’ll find that there is always something to see and do. Flights to Dubai are readily available; however, before you make your way there, there are a few things it might be handy to know.
1. Men lead the way
Dubai is a male-dominated country, and has a male to female ratio of 3:1. Although it is a country where women are often oppressed, they are being granted more freedom now due to the women’s rights movement which is spreading across the Middle East. However men still make up most of the work force in Dubai. Dubai’s customs regarding respect for women are very different to Western customs. For example, instead of holding a door open for a woman, the man will walk ahead of her to lead a safe path.
2. Dubai is very diverse… and very crowded
Only 20% of people in Dubai are actually from Dubai. The other 80% are people who have moved there from other countries. Arabic is the official language of Dubai, but because of the amount of people from other countries, English is actually more widely spoken. Dubai is also shrinking. Because the population is increasing rapidly, it’s leading to more developments and therefore less space. Dubai is the first country to have it own man-made islands because of this. There are an estimated 10,000 new people arriving in Dubai each month.
3. Walk the streets with no name
In Dubai, it’s a good idea to carry around some paper and a pencil with you, because none of the streets have names. This makes giving and receiving directions extremely difficult, and it’s handy to be able to draw a map instead of just describing verbally. For this reason drawing skills are also handy in Dubai. Don’t even attempt to get something delivered without giving the delivery man a map first.
4. Have you said your daily prayers?
Devout Muslims pray five times a day, and since Dubai is a Muslim country, wherever you go, you’ll hear five calls to prayer a day. The calls to prayer are even played through loudspeakers in shopping malls, reminding Muslims that it is time to stop what they are doing and carry out their daily prayers. The earliest prayers begin early in the morning before sunrise, and the latest begin one and a half hours after sunset or later. However, there are other religious groups in Dubai, too, so not everybody takes part in this.
5. Tourism is huge
Contrary to popular belief, it is not oil which makes up the majority of Dubai’s economy. In fact, oil makes up less than 6% of Dubai’s GDP. It is actually tourism which makes up most of the economy, and with the huge amount of visitor Dubai receives each month, this doesn’t appear to be failing any time soon. Dubai is home to glorious weather and some amazing sights, as well as gorgeous beaches, so it’s no wonder it’s such as popular destination for tourists.
Dubai is extremely ambitious and is home to the tallest man-made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa. This building houses the world’s highest restaurant, the world’s tallest occupied floor, and the elevator with the longest distance to travel in the world. It also holds the highest fireworks display in the world. The building is 828 metres tall. Dubai is also home to the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, which is home to 1200 retail outlets, 160 food and beverage outlets and two department stores, as well as the world’s largest aquarium.
Although there are a lot of differences between life in Dubai and Western life, especially culturally, you’ll find that there are very few downsides to spending time in Dubai, and there is a wealth of things to see and do. Don’t forget to take plenty of sun lotion, and be prepared for scorching hot weather, but don’t worry, with all the amazing shopping, fun activities and amazing buildings in Dubai, you’ll be spending most of your time inside with air conditioning (except of course when the sun’s not so hot – then you’ll be basking in the sun on white sandy beaches!)