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In the 1820s, Dubai was referred to as Al Wasl by British historians. Few records pertaining to the cultural history of the UAE or its constituent emirates exist and because of the region's oral traditions, folklore and myth were not written down. The linguistic origins of the word Dubai are disputed; some believe it to have originated from the Persian language, while some believe that Arabic is its linguistic root. According to Fedel Handhal, a researcher in the history and culture of the UAE, the word Dubai may have come from the word Daba (a derivative of Yadub , which means to creep ); referring to the slow flow of Dubai Creek inland. The poet and scholar Ahmad Mohammad Obaid traces it to the same word, but to its alternative meaning of locust .
Dubai (English pronunciation) is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature.
The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, and the earliest settlement known as Dubai town dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in the early 19th century by the Al Abu Falasa clan of Bani Yas, and it remained under clan control when the United Kingdom assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892. Its geographical location made it an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port. In 1966, the year oil was discovered, Dubai and the emirate of Qatar set up a new monetary unit to replace the Gulf Rupee. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests. The modern emirate of Dubai was created after the UK left the area in 1971.
At this time Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and four other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates. The following year Ras al Khaimah joined the federation while Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations. In 1973, the monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham introduced throughout the UAE. A free trade zone was built around the Jebel Ali port in 1979, allowing foreign companies unrestricted import of labour and export capital. The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived.
Today, Dubai has emerged as a global city and a business hub. Although Dubai's economy was built on the oil industry, currently the emirate's model of business, similar to that of Western countries, drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. This increased attention has highlighted labour rights and human rights issues concerning its largely South Asian workforce. Dubai's property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the worldwide economic downturn following the Financial crisis of 2007/2010.
Dubai has a very hot arid climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy and dry, with an average high around 40 °C (104 °F) and overnight lows around 30 °C (86 °F). Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are cool and short with an average high of 23 °C (73 °F) and overnight lows of 14 °C (57 °F). Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades with accumulated rain reaching 150 mm (5.91 in) per year.
Geographical coordinates: 25° 15' 8" North, 55° 16' 48" East
Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf, in the northeast of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is the second largest emirate with an urban area of 3885 sq km and the city is roughly 35 sq km. However it will expand to twice that size with the addition of the man-made islands; the Waterfront, the three Palms, the World, the Universe, Dubailand, as well as the construction in the desert.
One of the most fascinating geographical aspects of Dubai, is its Creek, which divides the city into two regions. Dubai Creek is made up of a natural 9.5 mile inlet in the Persian Gulf, around which the city’s trade developed. North of the Creek is called Deira, and Bur Dubai refers to the south where it joins the tourist and residential developments of Jumeirah along the coast.
Dubai also has the highest population, sharing its borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast.
Due to the city’s unique geographical location it enjoys a strategic position which allows it to connect to all local Gulf States, as well as to East Africa and South Asia..
Dubai authorities have encouraged organisations to implement various festivals and events throughout the year in order to attract tourists to the city, making sure their stay is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.
Dubai Marathon : a charitable funding event which allows one to take part for a small fee with the chance of winning a hefty cash prize. There are three types of races enabling the event to attract a wider scope of entries: the ‘fun run’ which is only a 3km run for those who have not got the best fitness levels, the over 15’s run which is a 10km road race and the long distance, 50km marathon which is only suitable for 18 year olds and over.
Dubai Shopping Festival: although Dubai is well known as a shopper's paradise throughout the year, the month of January is particularly good for bargain hunters. Throughout January, over two million visitors flock to Dubai for the month-long Shopping Festival, which seems to involve every shop in the city, with concerts, children’s entertainment, firework shows and other events offering a welcome break from the city-wide shopping frenzy.
Dubai Desert Classic : this is the most popular golfing event in the UEA, many of the world’s leading swingers return every year for the chance to play for the generous prize money. The competition is held at the famous Emirates Golf Club and generally attracts many tourists, who particularly enjoy the exhilaration on the final day.
Dubai International Jazz Festival : this annual festival is held Dubai Media City and appeals to many tourists who have enjoyed the engaging line ups in the past and the warm friendly atmosphere. Recent line ups have included, Toto, Robin Gibb, Stanley Jordan and Jamie Callum.
Dubai Tennis Championships : this is one of the most exciting events that brings together some of the best tennis players in the world, including Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. The Dubai Open is held at the Aviation club, and the championships consist of an ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and a WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).
Dubai Art Fair : this event has been held since 2007 at The Madinat Jumeirah. The Art fair does well to lure some of the best artists from around the world, enabling them to come and flaunt their work.
Dubai Desert Rock : this two-day event in March attracts many tourists from around the globe who appreciate music festivals. CSM, the organisers, have gathered over the recent years some of the best artists such as, The Prodigy, The Darkness, Iron Maiden and Megadeth.
Emirates World Series-Dubai World Cup : every year Dubai is home to the world's richest horse race, with a six million US dollar prize fund ensuring the presence of the world's best horses, jockeys and trainers. The action takes place at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, where state-of-the-art facilities and a superb track provide race goers with a unique and atmospheric venue at the city’s largest social event.
The Bride Show : during April, Dubai plays host to the annual Bride Show, which features a variety of events centered on the theme of weddings. The event attracts hundreds of exhibitors from all over the region, with the main events being held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.
Festival of Taste : held at The Madinat Jumeirah, this is strictly dedicated to the lovers of food. It runs for a period of one week, where top global chefs come and prepare their most delicious specialties for various social events and even give tips on cooking and presentation.
Dubai Summer Surprises : commonly known as DSS, is represented by a life size yellow springy mascot, Modhesh, which adds comical value and is especially attractive to the younger generation. DSS was implemented in order to encourage tourists to visit at the peak of Dubai’s heat wave. The 10 weeks of DSS are divided into separate themes such as food, the arts, adventure and nature, as well as hotels in the city offering special ‘shopaholic’ packages in order to attract more guests.
Motexha Textile Show : this annual trade fair is the largest of its kind in the Middle East and attracts exhibitors and shoppers from right across the region. The main fair is located at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre and features over 500 exhibitors spread throughout 30 international pavilions that cover every branch of the clothing and textile industry.
Desert Rhythm : this two day music festival is fairly new to Dubai. Its second fixture was only launched in 2007 and was a huge success. Artists such as Mika and Kanye West along with other famous singers introduced themselves to the UAE for the very first time.
UAE Desert Challenge : this rally is part of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and is the last race that starts off in Abu-Dhabi and finishes in Dubai. The duration of the rally lasts for five days and is very popular with fans of fast cars and bikes.
Dubai Rugby Sevens : every year, the Dubai Exiles Rugby Club plays host to the first round of the IRB Sevens Series, with 16 international teams competing over three days for the prestigious trophy. The three days of competition are accompanied by various other shows and events designed to keep visitors of all ages entertained, while those new to rugby will find the fast and furious matches a good introduction to the sport.
Dubai international film festival : this encourages independent and art-house cinema to get a better recognition from the public with special guests attracting large audiences, such as George Clooney and Morgan Freeman.
National Day Festival : Dubai's National Day Festival is an annual day of celebration to commemorate the Emirates' independence from Great Britain, with many of the city's leading monuments opening their doors to the public and putting on special events throughout the day.
Ramadan : Oct – September, depending on the Lunar Calendar. The Muslim festival of Ramadan lasts for a whole lunar cycle of 30 days and is observed by Muslims all over the world. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must refrain from consuming anything for pleasure between the hours of sunrise and sunset, in all forms of food, drink, cigarettes and even sex being prohibited. Non-Muslims in Dubai are also expected to observe the strict abstinence rules during this time, as breaking them in public is seen as highly offensive and disrespectful. The sighting of the moon that signifies the end of Ramadan brings about several days of wild celebration, with locals and visitors alike indulging in feasts and parties across the city.
Diwali : Nov – Dec, depending on the Lunar Calendar. Due to the large expatriate Indian community in Dubai, the festival of Diwali is also considered to be a significant celebration throughout the city. It is the Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’, making sure bright lights and fireworks are spread around the city. Indian restaurants take part in the celebration across the city and on the streets parties are held with traditional desserts offered.