Introduction to Dubai
The emirate of Dubai is one of 7 emirates that make up the country called the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai is also the name of a city in the emirate of Dubai, well-known around the world for landmarks such as the Burj Al Arab hotel, the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world); sporting events such as the Dubai Tennis Championships; and less appealing issues such as jail sentences for kissing in Dubai, and companies such as Dubai World swimming in debt after over-enthusiastic purchases of expensive assets around the world in the mid- to late-2000s.
Dubai city ratings
- 23 Oct 2013 - Dubai was ranked as the overall best city to live in according to a Knight Frank report ranking cities for High Lifestyle Living, or a Global Living Guide, or something.
- Knight Frank is a UK based real estate consultancy with 370 offices internationally.
- Their survey was based on factors including education, climate, top quality restaurants, leisure pursuits, but the press release was vague on details of how the survey was carried out. Oddly they seemed to equate a good climate with a high number of sunshine hours, and thought that Mallorca and the Cayman Islands were top places for children to get an education.
- Survey seems to be relevant to wealthy individuals or families who have no need to worry about the basics - food, shelter, clothing.
- Actual report not supplied or found, just a press release which gave the following information:
- Auckland, NZ - 1st= for availability of leisure pursuits.
- Cayman Islands - 2nd= overall. They have a high ranking for education? Really?
- Dubai overall 1st with top ranking for education (what?), and high marks for climate (because of high number of sunshine hours).
- Geneva - 1st= for something but not clear what. Or 1st overall for families, or something.
- Hong Kong - 1st for high quality restaurants, and 1st= for something else but not clear what.
- London - 1st for nothing but did well in some categories.
- Mallorca - 2nd= overall. They also have a high ranking for education? Really?
- Nassau, Bahamas - 1st for hours of sunshine.
- New York - 1st for nothing but did well in some categories.
- Ottawa, Canada - 1st= for availability of leisure pursuits.
- Paris - 1st for nothing but did well in some categories.
- The director of Frank Knight Dubai clarified everything by saying "Hence, for the entrepreneur, Auckland, New Zealand achieved the number one spot scoring highly within political stability, ease of travel, suitable climate and an array of restaurants for personal and business entertainment. Geneva was the outright winner for those with family motivations, demonstrating strengths in education, security and leisure pursuits that outranked Singapore, London and Dubai who were 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively."
- We have the peculiar feeling after summarising this report that we just helped Frank Knight market themselves a little, which was possibly the point of the report, and it gave media publications the opportunity to publish articles with exciting sounding headlines like "Dubai the number one city in the world for lifestyle". Not clear if the press release was talking about the Knight Frank Global Wealth Report 2013 or something else - it would all make more sense if it was the GWR-2013, although we'd still wonder what criteria they use for rating cities for education.
- Confusingly, another Frank Knight report, The Wealth Report Global Cities Survey 2013 (in March 2013) had Dubai in 29th spot, and New York and London in 1st and 2nd place respectively. Even more curious, in the Quality of Life category, the report gave the top 5 cities as Zurich, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto, Frankfurt in that order. Now we really wish we'd read something from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) instead.
- 12 Jun 2013 - Dubai is the second most romantic city destination (Istanbul was the first) according to a survey by ... the "travel dating" website misstravel.com (as reported in the Gulf News - a Dubai based newspaper). Time for lots of lols and hahas. The survey was based on 24,000 or 71,000 (both figures reported) trips planned for summer 2013. Well, no one will dispute that Dubai is hot in summer, but sweaty rather than romantic comes to mind when thinking of a walk along the beach in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celcius. The next three most popular cities were Paris, London, and San Francisco in that order. Further explanation might put things into perspective for those scratching their heads. The website links up financially generous travellers (usually rich older men) who want to pay expenses for an attractive travelling companion (usually pretty younger women). The website says "Generous traveling member is expected to pay all travel expenses for Attractive traveling members" and "This is not an escort site, nor will we permit any type of escorting on this site. MissTravel.com is strictly an online dating service for people who are looking for a travel partner." So it is apparently not a website where richer men are paying for younger women to travel so they can have sex with them. Which is just as well because it is illegal for unmarried couples to have sex in Dubai. And for a bit more irony, the website is blocked in Dubai (and the UAE), as it is a dating website. Making it even more curious that a UAE newspaper would publish such a story - normally they are reasonably careful about not drawing attention to stories that paint Dubai and/or the UAE in a bad light.
- 11 Jun 2012 - Dubai was in 8th spot as a tourist destination in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index 2012, with an estimated 8.8 million tourists and $8.8 billion of spending in 2012 (an average of $1000 spent per tourist). Top spot was London with 16.9m tourists and spending of $21.1 bn. Top ten places were London, Paris, Bangkok, Singapore, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Madrid, Dubai, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur in that order (by number of visitors, rankings were different if rated on total spending). Cities in 11th to 20th places were Seoul, Rome, New York, Shanghai, Barcelona, Milan, Amsterdam, Vienna, Beijing, Taipei. Dubai was in first place for the Middle East and Africa region - top ten destinations in order (ranked by estimated visitor numbers for 2012): Dubai, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Casablanca, Riyadh, Nairobi, Amman, Tunis.
- 12 Mar 2012 - in an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Global City Competitiveness Index, Dubai was ranked in 40th place out of 120 cities worldwide. Top five cities (in order) were New York, London, Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong. Dubai was the top ranked city in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi was a close second in 41st place). Rankings were based on Economic Strength, Physical Capital, Financial Maturity, Institutional Effectiveness, Social and Cultural Character, Human Capital, Environment and Natural Hazards, Global Appeal.
- 14 Feb 2012 - a survey of Best Student Cities in the World by QS (a university ranking group - unclear how much their opinions are worth) did not rank Dubai in their top 50 list (or anywhere at all apparently). Top 5 cities for university and college students were Paris, London, Boston, Melbourne, Vienna (in that order). The QS best university surveys do not have any Dubai or UAE universities included. QS website at www.topuniversities.com.
- 13 Feb 2012 - in the annual Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) World Cost of Living Survey 2012, Dubai came in at 94th place - down (as in cheaper) 16 places from 2011. Out of 130 (or 131 or 140?) cities surveryed, the most expensive were Zurich, Tokyo, Geneva, Osaka, Oslo (in that order). Cheapest was Karachi, then Mumbai. Living costs are for an expatriate lifestyle in the cities rated.
- 30 Nov 2011 - Dubai was in 74th spot in the Mercer Quality of Living rankings, and took the top spot amongst Middle East cities. Top 5 spots worldwide were held by (in order) Vienna, Zurich, Auckland, Munich, Dusseldorf and Vancouver (5th equal). In terms of safety, Dubai was in 39th spot.
- 31 Mar 2011 (The National) - Dubai was rated as one of the least safe destinations to visit in an online survey or poll of about 3,000 voters by a relatively obscure online travel agency in the UK. Unknown how many had actually visited Dubai vs just read the Daily Mail, or what sort of reputation the travel agency has but the results seem likely to reflect the fear that Britons have of going to jail in Dubai for drinking, kissing, having sex, or taking drugs; rather than fear of being mugged, assaulted, robbed, etc. And given that the travel agency apparently thinks Dubai is a country rather than an emirate in the country called the UAE, is an indication that its geographical knowledge is less than one would expect from a company in the travel business. Top of the list were Spain, France, Cyprus, New Zealand, Denmark. Bottom of the list were Dubai, Jamaica, Bulgaria, South Africa, Mexico (press release 07 February 2011). Back in August 2009, the UK Foreign Office did say that travelling Brits were most likely to be arrested in the UAE (relative to total number of Brits visiting). In one of many published criticisms of the survey, Mark Beer, chairman of the British Business Group in Dubai, reportedly said "Although alcohol is available, public drunkenness, illegal drug use and violence is not tolerated. I, for one, do not have a problem with this and if that is the type of tourist that is being put off from coming to the UAE, then one wonders if that is so bad?" And yes that really is his name.
- 16 Mar 2011 (news reports) - Dubai voted as the most popular city to live in for 2011 out of 19 cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region according to the Best Arab City report by the Saneou Al Hadath magazine.
- 06 Oct 2010 (press release) - Dubai is considered to be the most desirable location for a head office in the Middle East according to a CB Richard Ellis survey of senior management personnel based in the GCC, of whom 31% voted for Dubai. As it happens, CB Richard Ellis themselves have an office in ... Dubai.
- 21 Sep 2010 - Dubai holds top spot in the Middle East as a financial center according to a Z/Yen Group Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) report, covering 75 financial centers.
Some city ratings were London (1, = to 2009 position), New York (2, -1), Hong Kong (3, =), Singapore (4, =), Tokyo (5, =), ... Dubai (28, -4), Qatar (34, +2), Bahrain (42, -1), Rekjavik (75, =). Guernsey and Munich were just ahead of Dubai, Dublin and Osaka were just behind.
- 15 Sep 2010 - Dubai is the 16th most expensive city in the world, and the only Middle East city in the top 20, according to the UBS Wealth Management Research 2010 update of its 2009 Prices and Earnings report, a city comparison of global purchasing power. If you're wondering why Abu Dhabi was apparently cheaper, it probably wasn't. But it wasn't included in the list of cities surveyed - the UBS report surveyed cost of living, salary levels and purchasing power of 122 goods and services in a total of 73 cities. Dubai comes in at 36th spot on salary levels, and 32nd spot for Domestic Purchasing Power. Report publication date 15 September 2010?
- Aug 2010 (news reports) - Dubai is rated at number 27 in the Foreign Policy magazine list of top cities in the world for 2009. Dubai had the same ranking for 2008, and is the only Arab city in the FP top 50 list.
Activities, entertainment and events in Dubai
Art and culture in Dubai
- Al Fahidi Fort
- Art galleries in Dubai - list of art galleries, locations, and brief description
- Bastakiya Quarter, Bur Dubai - good selection of art galleries an a restored historical area. Also a couple of cafes and boutique hotels.
- Heritage Diving Village, Al Shindagah
- Museums in Dubai - the Dubai Museum especially is worth a visit
- Round House, Jumeira 1
- Sheikh Obaid bin Thani House, Shindaga
- Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Shindagha
Business in Dubai
Crime in Dubai
Personal safety in Dubai
- Compared to most large cities, Dubai is a relatively safe place with regards to crimes of a personal nature (theft, pickpocketing, mugging, rape, assault, murder, etc).
- A particularly nasty incident was reported in August 2010. Three brothers allegedly attacked a pregnant woman and her husband in a shopping mall in June 2009 over a disagreement about a seating arrangement. The woman received treatment in a hospital for a dislocated jaw and ended up with permanent facial injuries, and her husband was beaten unconscious. Another man who attempted to intervene was also threatened and beaten. Two of the three accused did not appear at a court hearing in August 2010, and the one who did, denied the charges. The next hearing is on 14 October 2010. This abhorrent and traumatic incident stands out not just because of the vicious nature of the attack, but also because it is so unusual. Residents and visitors to Dubai shopping malls are not usually physically assaulted by someone if they don't like where they are sitting. Update 31 January 2012 - the three brothers were each sentenced to a month in jail and fined AED 12,000 between them by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance. To give some idea of perspective in terms of what crimes the UAE considers to be more serious than others, a day or so earlier the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced a 15 year old boy to up to 3 years in juvenile detention for sexual assault as punishment for allegedly kissing two 12 year old sisters (the father of the sisters made the complaint); and the two girls were charged with the same offence but the verdict was to deliver them to their parents for disciplining. So in the UAE, the conclusion one might come to is that it is much cheaper (in jail time terms) to beat someone up rather than kissing them.
- Pickpocket theft in Dubai is becoming a problem in 2010 apparently, with men (or perhaps women occasionally) dressed in abayas (the long black garmet that is traditionally worn by UAE and Gulf national women) with their faces covered, sticking their hands into victims' pockets and handbags to steal their wallets and other belongings. This happens mostly in shopping centers and other crowded locations. Emirates 24-7 reported on 17 December 2010 about the increasing number of thefts, and that due to the sensitivity in the UAE about male security guards and police searching apparently female suspects, it is difficult for victims to report a crime successfully. This story is not entirely new. Several years previously there were reports of similar crimes in Dubai. Be careful rather than be afraid would be an appropriate comment. Dubai is a long way from Amsterdam on the pickpocket threat scale, at least for now. And hopefully the authorities will overcome their timidness at dealing with men disguised as Emirati women before the problem escalates. Advice to visitors (and residents) is to be alert if someone dressed in an abaya is standing or walking very close to you, especially if you are male. Genuine Emirati (and Gulf) Arab women will almost always keep a significant distance from men who they are not related to or married to.
Theft in Dubai
- Property theft from cars, apartments, villas, is uncommon but does exist, especially villas during the summer when many residents leave for several weeks.
- Car theft is relatively uncommon. When it does happen, it is usually because owners leaver the car unattended with the motor running while they go and do an errand.
Road rules in Dubai
- Road rules in Dubai sometimes seem inconsistent or odd, and inconsistently enforced, to say the least.
- Traffic offences receive punishments that seem disproportionate to the potential danger level of the offence.
- For example, a police sergeant doing some two-wheel driving and other stunts in a large 4wd on a major Dubai highway (Sheikh Zayed Road) received a fine of AED 1000 in July 2010.
- In the same month in Dubai, a different motorist who made a rude hand gesture at another driver received a one month jail sentence.
- So the message seems to be that you can drive with no respect for other road users, but at least be polite about it. Wait ... that doesn't make sense ...
Financial crime and fraud in Dubai
- Financial crime, extortion, fraud, money laundering, etc exists and there are various ways people can be, and are, scammed or conned out of money.
- For example bogus or abandoned property ventures, fraudulent job advertisements, con artists performing magic tricks to double your money or similar activities. Be alert.
- Cheque fraud and bad debts - many residents discovered in 2007-2009 that bouncing a check in Dubai could cost them some jail time.
- The recipient of a bounced check is entitled to report the signer of the check (including company executives with signing authority) to the police, who can then arrest the signer.
- The amount is irrelevent in terms of the crime of check fraud, however the jail term might be longer if the amount was larger.
Drugs in Dubai
- Drugs in Dubai are a problem but not as significant as in many other countries. Gang warfare and drug cartels don't really have much of a foothold in Dubai, at least not as far as the general public is concerned.
- The biggest issue for most residents and visitors will be the possibility of spending a few years in jail if caught with substances illegal in the UAE but not in their home country (some over-the-counter pain killers such as codeine for example), or failing a drug test in the UAE after partaking of something in another country (smoking a joint at an Amsterdam coffee shop for example).
Sex crimes and kidnapping in Dubai
- Sex crimes in Dubai and kidnapping - Dubai and the UAE authorities are attempting to deal with the sex trade. Women are lured to the UAE under false pretences (for example for seemingly respectable jobs), locked away and forced to serve as prostitutes.
- The kidnapping of, or at least the deception of, women for this trade usually occurs in other countries rather than in the UAE itself, although it has happened in the UAE also. The point being that generally women in the UAE do not have to fear being abducted under normal everyday circumstances.
- For children the UAE is probably safer than most western countries in terms of them being kidnapped, molested, and/or abused. But unfortunate incidents do occasionally happen so as a parent, don't be entirely complacent.
- Prostitution is illegal but exists. Many bars and nightclubs in Dubai will have a few ladies that are ready to be your new friend for a price, and it is not uncommon for men to be propositioned on the street in some areas. Or for women to be asked at what price they are available. For women, this type of question, whilst offensive, is not usually threatening - the enquirer can normally be dismissed or ignored.
- Kidnapping for financial gain is rare. If or when it does happen, it seems to be more likely to do with arguments over debts. For example, in July 2010, three Bangladeshi labourers appeared in court on a charge of kidnapping as a result of them bundling one of their colleagues into a car and allegedly holding him to ransom. The colleague had apparently borrowed AED 500 and not paid it back. The gang were arrested after Dubai Police tracked down mobile phone numbers from the licence plate (which had been spotted by a security guard) and asked them to visit the police station, which they did, with the victim in the car (reported in 7 Days 12 July 2010).
- There are occasional reports of both men and women being taken off the street against their will, and abused and raped. Sometimes these stories make it to the press, sometimes they don't, sometimes there's a question mark about what really happened. It's something to be aware of rather than frightened of, the reality is that Dubai is probably far safer for most people than how it sounds listening to horror stories that all the old-timers tell the newbies. All the same, keep your wits about you, and if you're standing drunk outside a bar at 3 am, it's probably wiser to take a taxi than to accept a lift home from those 4 hungry looking guys in the big 4wd that just pulled up.
- What women should be aware of is that although rape is a crime in the UAE, so is having sex outside marriage. And it seems to be a bit of a lottery as to whether police and the courts will treat the rape or the sex as a more serious crime. Reporting a rape can be seen as an admission of having had sex, and so the police officers listening to the victim might lock up the complainant instead of treating her as a victim of a crime. This situation results in women being apprehensive about reporting a rape. If you are a victim of rape, you could consider going to a hospital first to at least be sure of getting a medical exam before being locked up. And get a good lawyer as soon as possible. Bizarrely, there was even a case in 2009 where the rapist was punished for rape, and the woman was punished for having sex. This paragraph is not intended to put women (or men - yes it has happened) off from reporting a rape. Rapists are punished by the courts, and the UAE is aware of the anomaly, but sadly, change for the better sometimes takes a while. Emirates other than Dubai seem to be more likely to treat the offence of having sex outside marriage as being more serious than the rape offence, especially Sharjah. One rumour is that it is easier to prosecute, given that the potential offender has by default admitted to the crime by reporting the rape.
Crime rumours and facts in Dubai
Economy in Dubai
- 2012 growth forecast 6% - Farouk Soussa, Middle East economist for Citigroup Inc. (Bloomberg 30 March 2011). Forecast of 6% - Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (The National 12 September 2011).
- 2011 growth forecast 4% - Standard Chartered PLC (December 2010). Forecast of 3.5-4% - Farouk Soussa, Middle East economist for Citigroup Inc. (Bloomberg 30 March 2011). Forecast of 5% - Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (The National 12 September 2011). Forecast of 3.7% according to a Reuters poll of analysts (June 2011).
- 2010 IMF economic growth forecast -0.4% (contraction). Updated in October 2010 to growth of about 0.5%. UAE Statistics Bureau said Real GDP up 2.2% (21 March 2011)? Update 26 Sep 2011 (Reuters): Real GDP for Dubai rose from AED 286 billion in 2009 to AED 294 billion (US$80 billion) in 2010, an increase of 2.8%, according to data from the Dubai Statistics Center.
- 2009 economy suffered a 2.5% contraction according to Bloomberg 16 September 2010 reporting government estimates. IMF estimated contraction of 1.3% (October 2010 report).
- Total debt belonging to state owned companies in Dubai is estimated at about $109 billion by the International Monetary Fund (as of mid 2010).
Education and educational institutes in Dubai
Geography of Dubai
History of Dubai
- 1971 - The United Arab Emirates was formed with Dubai as one of the first 6 emirates (Ras Al Khaimah joined in 1972).
- History of Dubai - also a list of some historical buildings in Dubai
Important and famous people in Dubai
- Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - the Ruler of Dubai, the Vice-President of the UAE, and the Prime Minister of the UAE
Infrastructure in Dubai
Dubai growth 2008-2020 (EB 18 January 2008)
- Dubai road network to increase by 500 km from 2008-2012, costing AED 44 billion
- Number of registered vehicles increasing from 700,000 to 5.3 million
- Dubai population to increase from 1.5 million to 5 million or more from 2008-2020
- Dubai urban area increase from 500 sq km to 2,200 sq km (2008-2020)
- Dubai Creek crossings number 40 lanes in 2008, up to 49 by 2010, and 100 by 2020
- Highway interchanges increased by 95, with another 25 to be revamped by 2020
- Nine new inner and outer ring roads around Jebel Ali Port, Dubailand, Business Bay, Bur Dubai and Deira
Dubai road projects 2008-2020
- Shindagha Bridge and another bridge near the Deira Sheraton will form and internal ring road around Deira. Scheduled completion in 2009 with a total of 24 lanes.
- Dubai Outer Bypass in 3 phases, completion of all phases scheduled for 2009. Cost AED 960 million, length 72 km.
- Garhoud Bridge - new 13 lane bridge to replace current Al Garhood Bridge which will be demolished. Started February 2006, completion March 2008, cost AED 415 million
- Al Ittihad Road (Dubai-Sharjah Highway) - expansion to 8 lanes on 7.5 km stretch between Al Nahda Interchange near Sharjah and Al Garhoud Bridge. Cost AED 830 million, completion by end 2008.
- Arabian Ranches Interchange - 13 bridges on 3 levels, construction started June 2006 with completion by end of 2008. Cost AED 409 million.
- Double-decker road (first one in Dubai) - Doha Street with 3 lanes in Jumeirah direction, 5 lanes towards Al Khail Road. Completion by August 2008, cost AED 605 million. Part of the Ras Al Khor corridor project, cost AED 1.86 billion.
- Emirates Road expansion from 3 to 6 lanes in each direction. Completion by middle of 2008, cost AED 333 millioni.
- Al Khail Road expansion to 6 lanes in each direction.
Landmarks in Dubai
Living in Dubai
Politics and government in Dubai
Population and demographics in Dubai
Religion in Dubai
Shopping in Dubai
Tourism in Dubai
Transport in Dubai
- Private cars in Dubai - what many people use to get around, if they can afford one. Petrol is cheap, car prices in Dubai are moderate (avoid the really cheap ones), repairs are cheap and then expensive to fix the cheap repair, taxes are cheap, traffic fines are moderate to expensive but sometimes a bit random.
- Dubai Metro - above and below ground mass transit railway started in September 2009. Cheap, fast, clean, quiet, and efficient if there's a station near where you want to go. Expansion plans include more lines and stations but will take longer to be operational than originally planned. Summer heat makes walking more than a few meters to a station unpleasant.
- Dubai buses - many routes cover most of Dubai but can be slow due to bus timings and timetables rarely synchronised. Feeder buses to the Dubai Metro are a bit more on time. Cheap, clean, good a/c on the RTA buses.
- Dubai taxis - RTA operate taxi franchises in Dubai. Relatively cheap compared to other large cities in western countries. A surrogate public transport system to make up for the lack of other cheap alternatives (although that is improving). Convenient - it's usually easy to flag down a taxi at any time of the day or not on a main road, smelly in the summer if you get a driver who doesn't know what a shower is but complain to the RTA. Cheaper options with illegal private taxis are common - check newspaper classified ads if you're looking for a regular service.
Travel - Getting to and from Dubai
- Dubai International Airport (airport code DXB) - most visitors and residents fly into and out of Dubai. Some use Abu Dhabi Airport (airport code AUH). Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai's second airport, opened for passenger flights in October 2013.
- Oman is easily accessible by road and most nationalities can get a visa easily. Other Gulf contries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait) are accessible by road but visa requirements and border crossings, especially to Saudi Arabia, make this an unattractive option for non-GCC nationals.
- By sea is an option but rarely used except by people in the freight industry and/or people travelling across the Arabian Gulf/Perisan Gulf to Iran. An increasing number of tourists are visiting Dubai as part of a cruise around the Gulf countries and the new Dubai Cruise Terminal was opened in 2010.
- Dubai visas on arrival are available for some nationalities and GCC residents, Dubai visit visas or Dubai tourist visas are available for most other nationalities, and GCC nationals don't need a visa.
Weather and climate in Dubai
- Spring - hot
- Summer - welcome to the sauna, very hot and humid.
- Autumn - hot
- Winter - pleasant during the day but can be surprisingly cool at night.
Last update Wednesday 29-Jan-2014. Page development 4L 5C.