Dubai, a modern city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has long relied on oil and other commodity exports but is taking steps to diversify its economy. Since the 1990s it has positioned itself as a luxury tourist destination, investing in grandiose resorts and attractions. It also has established free zones that encourage foreign investment by allowing companies to operate without a local partner.
The city is a shopper’s paradise, with malls and markets offering all manner of merchandise. A traditional market called a souk is the place to go for authentic Arabic goods. Whether you are looking for souvenirs or bona fide treasures, the souks of Bur Dubai and Deira offer a great deal of value.
Like many desert cities, Dubai has a hot climate year-round. The hottest months are in July and August, when temperatures can reach over 40°C. However, in the winter, Dubai can be surprisingly mild and enjoyable.
With wide highways and a heavy reliance on air-conditioning, vehicles are the main mode of transport in the city. This can lead to frustration, especially during rush hour, but the introduction of new roads and a driverless metro rail system have improved traffic flow.
Dubai is famous for its luxury hotels, but it has a host of other cultural attractions as well. The Islamic Arts Museum is a fine example, with its collection of rare manuscripts and artwork from the region. The Jumeirah Mosque is another must-visit site, its white stone in the mediaeval Fatimid style a striking sight.
Aside from its soaring skyline, the city has small stretches of sandy beaches, which have helped catalyze its tourism industry. To increase the area of available seafront, Dubai’s rulers have encouraged developers to build giant man-made islands off the coast, including the Palm Jumeirah, in the shape of a palm tree, and the World Islands, a cluster of small islands positioned to resemble the map of Earth when seen from above.
Sporting events, particularly golf and horse racing, have helped boost the local economy. Several of the most lucrative races on the European Professional Golfers’ Association Tour are held in Dubai. Other popular sports in the city include cricket, football, and tennis.
In the 21st century, Dubai has been working to bolster its image as a luxury tourism destination and has been positioning itself as a regional business hub. Its free zones have attracted multinational corporations seeking to take advantage of its geographic location and low tax rates. The local currency is the UAE Dirham. It is about 4 dirhams to the euro and 3.6 to the US dollar. The media is regulated by the government, but foreign outlets, such as the BBC and Associated Press, operate branch offices in Dubai Media City. Local newspapers and television are heavily censored, but there is a lively underground music scene.