Oil has turned the UAE into one of the world’s wealthiest countries and this city of around a million is where locals – and an ever increasing number of visitors – come to play. Boom times mean that 50% of employment is in the construction business in this expat haven, where up to 80% of the population is said to be immigrant. Built on a natural harbor, Dubai is a former fishing/pearling town, founded (when the ruling Al Maktoum family settled at this point) in 1833. While it’s always drawn expatriates, Dubai – and the Al Maktoum family struck it lucky and struck it rich with 1966’s oil’s discovery. Frantic development and influxes upon influxes of foreign workers and tourists followed. After Arabic and Persian, English is now the third most widely spoken language in the city. The Shopping Capital of the Middle East, as its known, has a proliferation of enormous hotels, mind bogglingly big malls and, for now at least, similar sizes of construction sites.
The surrounding Arabian desert, city’s architecture and monuments are awesome. Enticed by these and the city’s fabulous shopping and beaches more and more tourists are discovering Dubai, including vacationing GIs, visitors from neighboring Arab states and countries, Europeans and many cruise stopover visitors. Dubai offers great dining and trendy nightclubs are plentiful, whether you want to socialize Asian, American or European-style.
While Dubai does display an impressively modern image, there are still some important dos and don’ts. Public displays of affection should be avoided. The same goes for public consumption of alcohol (or ay kind of consumption or smoking in public during Ramadan – www.holidays.net/ramadan/). Don’t photograph Muslim women and don’t sit in such a way that the soles of your feet point at anyone.