11.05.2012 - Travel

Dubai: the American capital of United Arab Emirates

The world’s tallest skyscraper, the one and only seven-star hotel on the planet, the largest aquarium, an artificial archipelago The World and Palm Islands are all located in a place where 10 years ago was a desert. Today, Dubai is without exaggeration the most splendid city in the world. How does a small settlement in a decade turned into a modern metropolis, and why does the so-called “Dubai’s tourism boom” exist today?


Every year,  to the largest city in the United Arab Emirates comes to rest about 10 million tourists. Dubai tours in travel agencies are sell-out: they have a 50 % share of all proposals of Ukrainian tour operators. “The situation with the incredible popularity of Dubai is surprising, our agency tries to figure out why it is so for more than six months. By 2012, this city has never been so popular among Ukrainian tourists”, – says Alexey Kostin, an employee of an Ukrainian travel agency. Worldwide metropolis has gained popularity a bit earlier – in 2008. Dubai soon won a reputation as the city of wealth and luxury. How could a small desert village turn into a major metropolis of the Middle East?

The settlement, which produced pearls, became the Perl of Arab Emirates

Until the 1940s, Dubai was a small settlement. The locals were mainly involved in pearling, which was exchanged for food. But when the Japanese learned how to produce pearls artificially, the demand for natural jewelery disappeared. This fact has caused a crisis in Dubai. Situation has changed radically with the discovery of oil: after this the “built-up wave” has begun in Dubai. And today the city is unthinkable without construction cranes – Dubai seems to hold a record for most building objects.

Today, Dubai is known to us as the largest mall in the Middle East and a beautiful resort area. The emphasis on the tourism industry here started recently, but the number of tourists in Dubai during the year can compete with the major cities of the world. What awaits tourists in Dubai?

Hot or very hot

Whenever you come to Dubai, you will meet a bright, burning sun. The sky is cloudless in the city 360 days a year. Rain is a rare phenomenon, so an umbrella for locals is something unthinkable. In summer the temperature reaches 50 degrees Celsius. UAE is a country where life is impossible without air conditioning. All premises in the city, taxi, subway, and even small commercial shops in the bazaars are air-conditioned. On average, residents pay monthly up to $100 just for the work of conditioner in a two-bedroom apartment.

Immoral tourists of moral state

Dubai is a Muslim city, which results in a number of local cultural characteristics. Do tourist need to comply with them? The answer is simple – yes. Although in the past five years the native population gives up their traditions for visitors, the same rules and penalties for non-compliance are quite severe. Local authorities in this matter is reduced to the statement “Do no harm to the locals with your behavior”. That is, if someone from the local population would think that tourists behavior seems to be too frank, moral police in the presence of an existing complaint may penalize freethinkers. How to behave to not get into trouble?

The girls here do not wear skirts above the knee, and things that reveal the shoulders and chest area. Posters with the words “Respect local customs – dressed decently” hang on almost every turn. Of course, there is no need for tourists to wear the hijab, but the wardrobe for a trip to Dubai has to be the most modest. Guidebooks advise beauties to bring more long skirts and relatively closed blouses.

For newlyweds, who arrive in Dubai on their honeymoon, it is best to keep their emotions in public. Local traditions impose veto even on kisses on the cheek, holding lady’s waist, and other manifestations of attention. People of homosexual orientation, who arrive in Dubai, must be especially careful, because even today homosexuality is punishable by death.

But there are also pros for European tourists in Dubai’s traditions: you can not worry about your safety. Dubai is considered a very safe city, crime rate in which is incredibly low, due to, again, religion.

Sorry, but is there someone here who speaks Arabic?

If you are studying Arabic and would like to practice your language skills in the Arab-speaking environment, Dubai- is the worst city for such a linguistic practice. Most of the people here speak English.

The Americanization of Dubai took place not only in the linguistic sphere. The system of institutions of food, education, development of parks and the layout of houses – everything bears the imprint of American culture. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the largest share of financial resources invested in the development of Dubai belongs to American investors.

“Buddy, we’ll go by taxi!” or a dream Ellochka Liudoedochka

The transport system in Dubai is considered to be one of the best in Asia. Despite the new and unique underground, locals and tourists prefer to use private cars or taxis.

Taxis in Dubai are not only relatively cheap form of transport, but it is also very convenient. Courteous drivers, mostly Indians or Pakistanis, work for a single state rate. In Dubai there are special female taxis. They are intended solely for the fairer sex, painted in pink, and the drivers are women wearing pink uniforms. These taxis can be seen at the maternity homes, most shopping centers and hospitals.

Metro in Dubai was built quite recently – in 2009. Subway ridership is much lower than in Kiev and is only 135 000 people per day (compared to the metro in Kiev where are more than 2 million people per day). Metro operates from 6 am to 11 pm daily, except Friday – the day of prayer.

Finally, there is an exotic form of transport – a small local shuttles, Abras. Abras connect the two shores of Dubai, and carry passengers from the Spice Market (Deira) to the Old Market (Bar Dubai). The ferry, which occupies few minutes, costs only 1 dirham, that is about 2 hryvnas.

If among all modes of transport your favorite is “11 tram”, that is on foot, Dubai will quickly eliminate this hobby. The fact that the city was never adjusted to walking: you will not fing sidewalks along the roads or even trails. And it is not surprising, because most of the year in Dubai is very hot, which will turn an ordinary walk in the tour of hell.

Ice-cream for the children,  shopping for the women”

Dubai is truly a massive shopping center, because here are flocking products from around the world. Well-known international brands, prestigious accessories, stylish collection of clothing, exclusive perfumes, designer furnishings – everything your heart desires, if only the purse was full of local currency – dirham. The presence of such a huge range of goods from all corners of the globe is explained by the absence of taxes. All that is needed is to pay the 4 % duty on the border. Many shops, beauty shops, cafes and restaurants, parks and playgrounds, even movie theaters – that’s what awaits visitors of Dubai’s malls. The largest shopping center in the world is located in Dubai and is called the Dubai Mall. There are so many parking spaces near the center, that someone say, that there was a visitor who has forgotten place, where he staged the car and looked for it every day during the week.

Probably, it is impossible to imagine the country without the eastern market. Of course, in Dubai there are such places for shopping as well. One of the markets in the UAE is the Gold Souk. Gold is the highest standard you can buy at the lowest price in the world – $8 per gram. A maze of narrow streets will amaze tourists with plenty of jewelery and accessories. Traditionally, these markets doesn’t have fixed price for the goods. Typically, the cost is determined by the seller itself, and therefore can be safely argue.

What to see?

The desire of Arabs to have all “most-most” is completely embodied in the architectural wonders of Dubai. The list of places to visit in the largest city in UAE saturated with the word “most”, which only encourages visitors to see all the places listed below.

• Burj Dubai – the tallest skyscraper in the world, officially opened on January 4, 2010. Its height is 828 meters, it has 163 floors.

• Burj Al Arab – the only seven-star hotel in the world, has the shape of the sail. It is considered to be the most luxurious and expensive hotel in the world.

• Fountain of Dubai- one of the largest and tallest musical fountain, located near the Burj Dubai skyscraper.

• The largest aquarium of the world, located in the largest mall in the Middle East, “Dubai”.

• The World – an archipelago near the coast of UAE in the shape of the continents of the Earth.

• Palm Islands- a group of artificial islands. It employs a 5-kilometer monorail, the first in the Middle East.

• Mountain Resort Ski Dubai – the first mountain range under a canopy in the Middle East, one of the world’s largest man-made resorts, with an area of 22.5 thousand square meters (an area of 3 football fields). The resort is covered with artificial snow all year. It can accommodate a half thousand visitors.

• Bastakiya – the old city. Most of the local buildings were constructed in the late XIX – early XX century. Once it settled wealthy merchants from Persia. Today the area is actively being restored.

In the words of one of the characters in the movie “The Beach”, salvation from exhaustion is traveling. Especially when you go to rest with the family. “I always advise my clients to go where the whole family can rest,” – said Alexei Kostin, and adds, – “Dubai is an ideal place for families: moms are happy while shopping, the children enjoy an incredible number of attractions and unseen structures, fathers will love the local food . Arrange a small summer in the middle of cold season – it is the best slap in the face of adverse weather conditions”.

Karina Koreyba