Once a quiet fishing port, Dubai found itself transformed into a busy port of call on the ancient trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. When oil was discovered in 1966, it rapidly became an international business centre and modern tourist destination.
Today, Dubai ranks as one of the foremost commercial centres in the Middle East, a city whose ever-changing skyline harbours more and more conference centres, shopping malls skyscrapers and luxury hotels.
Dubai Creek still divides the city centre into two parts: Deira on the northern side and Bur Dubai to the south. Each offers an almost mirror image collection of souks, restaurants, hotels such as the Jumeirah, shopping malls and fine mosques.
Dubai's attraction lies in the contrast between the ultra-modern and the enchantingly traditional, giving the city its personality, and its visitors the chance to experience the best of both worlds. On the one hand, there are desert oases, unspoiled beaches, camel races and old wind towers. Yet, not far away, you will find top-class shopping malls, avant-garde architecture and the finest international cuisine.
Dubai developed as a port and its modern shopping malls carry on this tradition. As an open port with low import duties, Dubai can offer an incredible range of top brand names at cheaper prices due to the tax-free environment, and 'shopping tourists' are drawn from around the world to its paradise of air-conditioned malls, souks, boutiques and modern department stores.
For your children, there is plenty to keep them going: water parks, theme parks, beaches, playgrounds, mini-golf, indoor skiing, fishing, rollerblading and much more. Dubai is not just a rich person’s playground: it’s great for the kids too!
Of course, when they are safely tucked up in bed you can start to enjoy yourself. Thanks to its large and international population of expats, Dubai has an incredibly vibrant nightlife that centres on the large 4 and 5-star hotels because of the emirate's strict liquor laws.
Dubai enjoys a tropical desert climate, with blue skies and sunshine all year round. The hottest months are between June and September, when temperatures can soar to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures are only slightly more moderate the rest of the year, the coolest months being between December and March.
Arabic is the official language of the Emirates, and English is widely used.
If your nationality is on this list you will not require to make any visa arrangements before you travel to Dubai. Ensure you have checked the official guidelines before you travel.
While there is a risk – as there is across the world – of international terrorism, Dubai is a generally safe destination for international travelers. Drinking is allowed for non-Muslims and tourists are permitted to drink in licensed restaurants, hotels and bars attached to licensed hotels. It is, however, unacceptable to purchase and consume alcohol in public places even beaches.
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