Dubai, the second-largest of the seven Arab Emirates was once a small trading post whose inhabitants, the Bedouin, roamed the vast sandy expanses as nomads. Today, the Emirate and namesake capital Dubai City is the product of 20 years of intensive development and has been utterly transformed into a modern, cosmopolitan, technologically advanced metropolis where the majority of the Emirates population reside. Unlike Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s wealth is not based on oil revenue – being just 6 per cent of GDP – but as a consequence of the population’s entrepreneurial spirit. The Arabic tolerance of other peoples’ customs and lifestyle, their reverence for courtesy and hospitality and the genuine warmth visitors receive makes for a thoroughly enjoyable stay, whether on business or vacationing.
Dubai Vacation / Holiday Travel
Seafaring visitors will dock in the largest man-made harbour in the world, Jebel Ali, constructed in the 1970’s; those arriving by air will fly into Dubai International Airport (DBX), now one of the busiest international airports handling some 6,000 weekly flights, operated by 130 different airlines. In 2010, DBX saw a 15% increase (from the previous year) in airport traffic, transporting a staggering 43,180,638 air passengers to 220 destinations across the globe. British Airways and Virgil Atlantic are one of the many airlines who offer scheduled daily flights as well as holiday packages to this exciting and growing metropolis, now one of the Top 10 most visited cities in the world.
Best ways to get around Dubai
Getting around the Emirate is easy via its top-class highways either by taxi, or with a hire car but note that visitors MUST obtain a temporary local driving license to do so and this can easily be arrange by the car rental company. However if you are looking for a stress-free way to take in the city why not book a guided tour with a knowledgeable native. You’ll be guaranteed an informative tour of all the ‘must see’ locations in the city.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) run the Dubai bus service which though extensive is insufficient for the growing number of individuals who either live or work in the bustling metropolis. Another form of transport is the Abra, considered to be one of the oldest forms of water transport – there are two types, a rowing abra, or motorised abra and these generally run between 5am and 12 midnight transporting travellers between Dubai City and Deira.
And finally, there’s the brand spanking new Dubai Metro ‘Red Line’ that opened in 2010, now said to be running from Al Rashidiya to Jebel Ali with 27 out of the 29 new stations in use, and estimated to be capable of transporting 11,000 passengers per hour! The Green line runs between Al Nahda and Healthcare City.
Dubai city is bisected by Dubai Creek, a sea-water inlet and the focus of bustling activity as dhows load and unload their often colourful cargo using these ancient trade routes as they have done for thousands of years’. Much of the produce ends up in the souks (markets), notably in the Deira side of Dubai City where a multitude of alleyways have escaped the frenzied redevelopment and the scent of spices hangs heavily in the air.
Shopping for gold in Dubai
If Gold is on your shopping list then head for the larger alleys in Deira where local sellers offer rings, ear rings, bangles, necklaces and brooches in shop windows at remarkable prices, probably cheaper than anywhere else in the world.
The fish souk in Deira is a place of frenetic bargaining during the mornings and evenings as local fishermen offload their catch of fresh fish to stall holders and the public. The fishy smell of rock cod, mackerel, red snapper, king fish, barracuda, tuna, crab, king prawn, lobster, sea bream, squid, pomfret, shark, sardine and other species permeates the air.
Luxury hotel accommodation in Dubai
Dubai offers one the cream of the crop when looking for luxury hotel accommodation. Quoted as being ‘home to the world’s most luxurious hotel’, the Burj Al Arab, owned by the Jumeirah hotel chain offers guests suite-only accommodation in a stunning piece of modern architecture that climbs some 321 meters into the sky above. The magnificent Royal Suite features a private elevator and private cinema, and offers its extravagant inhabitants a luxurious rotating four-poster canopy bed to recline upon, and for an extra charge one may utilise the chauffeur driven Rolls Royce for all those essential shopping trips, for what else is there to do in Dubai but shop!
Dubai Business Travel
Business travellers as well as tourists, require a visa to enter Dubai but this can be handled upon arrival at the Dubai International Airport where they’ll stamp your passport with a 30-day visit visa at no charge.
The recently-developed commercial and transportation infrastructure, the latest cargo handling facilities along with Dubai’s location means the port is served by an ever growing number of international freight lines. Moreover, feeder services to Iran and other countries, and Dubai’s status as a leader in intermodal freight trade means that sea to air transfers are amongst the fastest in the world at its ‘cargo village’. Specialist storage facilities like cold stores for reefer container shipments and abundant low-cost warehousing makes Dubai a trans-shippers heaven.
Freight aside, the ease of recruitment of highly skilled engineers and craftsmen from across the globe, now resident in Dubai, means that business can be set up swiftly and efficiently. Energy is extremely cheap and plentiful and the ‘Free Zone’ Authority offers excellent administrative support services. Outside the Free Zone, the usual Emirates business laws apply with 51% business ownership afforded local partners. However, this is a small price to pay for concessions such as exemption of import duty, and full repatriation of capital and profits.
Information technology companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have established a presence in Dubai Internet City, a technology park created by the Dubai government to create and nurture emergent technologies.
Planning your trip to Dubai
There are plenty of activities in Dubai from shopping to visiting museums. The following resources will help you plan your trip to Dubai.