There’s a major issue regarding misinformation and a lack of education about the Middle East. You might not think about Dubai, one of the world’s fastest-growing cities every day, but after reading this list you’ll be sure to give this incredible city a second thought.
With a growing population of 6 million people and an ever-increasing cityscape, Dubai is becoming one of the world’s most popular destinations. Located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is not only hot in temperature; it’s hot in terms of popularity. You won’t believe some of the amazing things that are being built in Dubai every year. Read on to learn about the incredible sites and features Dubai has to offer. Who knows? You might just find yourself planning your next vacation after reading!
You might not realize it, but Dubai has multiple manmade islands in its territory. In fact, the city of Dubai has two such islands: The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali. Both islands are made to look like palm trees, which is pretty amazing if you can get a birds-eye view of them. However, neither of the islands are completely finished. As you might imagine, it’s quite a job to make an island. The process of making these islands is called the World Islands Project and is currently underway.
The World Islands Project is actually a project in which 300 small islands will be laid and created to form a world map from above. Amazingly, every country, region, and many notable landmarks will be rendered into an island throughout this incredible project. In 2008, the World Islands Project had to take a break due to major financial issues. However, when the project began in 2005 the islands were estimated to cost $13 billion. At this time, not very many islands have been completed yet, but the project continues to move forward and one day we just might be able to see it!
If you saw a picture from Dubai just a few years ago, you probably wouldn’t recognize it. In 2005, the city was still mostly open desert with a few buildings peppered throughout the landscape. In the last decade, there has been massive growth in Dubai. The city looks completely different from what it was just a few years ago.
If you compare the picture below to one from a few years ago, you’ll see what an incredible difference there truly is. The once mostly empty landscape is now a flourishing city equipped with housing, gardens, fountains, islands, and countless skyscrapers. It’s amazing to think about how quickly a place can transform.
While there are major wealth gaps in Dubai, there are also major efforts to give charitable donations in the city. During Ramadan, a holy month in Islam, free food stands are spread across the city in an effort to help and serve people who cannot readily afford food.
A local manager in Dubai’s mall told reporters that they make an effort to put yogurt, juice, water, bread, tuna, and pre-cooked meals at these stands across the city. All of the food is completely free for the people who need it. This practice is something many cities across the world could implement as well. It’s important to help those around you.
Largest Aquarium in the World
It may seem that Dubai has the largest everything at this point. In Dubai’s enormous mall, which has a total area of 1,124,000 square meters and holds 1200 stores, is the Dubai Aquarium. The aquarium is located on the ground level of the mall and is the world’s largest indoor aquarium. Further, the world’s largest acrylic aquarium panel is located inside the Dubai Aquarium. The panel is in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Dubai Aquarium holds many amazing features including a glass-bottomed boat which you can ride and view over 33,000 aquatic animals. There’s even a cage diving activity you can do in order to swim with sharks. Other features surrounding the aquarium include the world’s largest candy store: Candylicious, a store spanning over 10,000 square feet, and an Olympic sized ice skating rink.
The World’s Highest Tennis Court is in Dubai
While many professional tennis matches will have spectators on the edges of their seats, this incredible tennis court will have everyone literally on the edge of a 1,000-foot tall building!
The top of the Burj Al Arab hotel has an amazing green roof which doubles as a tennis court. Before the Dubai Duty-Free Men’s Open, tennis giants Andre Agassi and Roger Federer were invited to play a match in a giant feat against anyone with a fear of heights for a friendly tennis match! Though the court isn’t regularly used, it’s still an incredible place to watch a game. Just make sure you stay very aware of your surroundings!
The Heat in Dubai is Problematic
The city of Dubai is located in the center of the desert. As you might imagine, this comes with a whole host of issues. There’s the threat of dangerous sandstorms not to mention the possibility that temperatures will reach 120 degrees and higher. With this kind of intense heat comes a great amount of health and safety concerns. Buildings and homes must be extensively air-conditioned otherwise parts of them might begin to melt! Not to mention the heat beaming in through residential windows could cause people to be cooked alive.
In order to keep people safe, construction engineers must install vertical cooling systems in every building. These systems use heavy-duty pumps to push water up through buildings and skyscrapers in order to cool them down and prevent major structural damage.
When you think of approaching a vending machine you probably think about types of soda or chips, but some places are taking vending to the next level. As types of vending machines continue to expand—for example, you can find vending machines in Japan that dispense everything from umbrellas to puppies—the realm of possibilities seems to be endless. In line with its extravagant ways comes one of the most opulent vending machines you could ever imagine.
If you’re an impulsive buyer, you might want to avoid Dubai’s solid gold vending machine. Using cash or credit, anybody who approaches this incredible machine can purchase authentic 24-carat gold. Purchasers can choose a variety of amounts, from solid gold bars to 2.5 grams. Due to the price of gold constantly being in flux, prices at this machine vary. A computer inside the machine updates the prices of each gold item about every 10 minutes. Imagine going to a vending machine looking for a Coca-Cola and returning with a solid gold bar! Only in Dubai.
Luxury Bus Stations
It may seem like everything in Dubai is luxurious. From police cars to shopping malls to bus stops, there is a widespread aesthetic of wealth and opulence in Dubai. While you might not pay much attention to the bus stops around you in Dubai, bus stops are not only closed off from the elements, but are completely air-conditioned. While this may seem excessive, it is actually an important safety feature due to the intensely high temperatures Dubai can reach.
Due to it being surrounded by a desert, Dubai reaches unbelievable temperatures. It isn’t that uncommon for highs to climb above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Waiting for the bus can be a very uncomfortable and even dangerous experience. At the very least, it will leave you an incredible sweaty. If you are young, elderly, or have a health condition, taking the bus and waiting in the heat could cause a serious issue for you. It’s great that Dubai has come up with a solution so that their public transportation is more accessible and more comfortable.
Camel Here, Camel There, Camel Everywhere
Camels are an important part of everyday life in Dubai. They’re used for much more than racing and are actually an integral part of the economy. At the market you can buy camel milk as well as camel meat, however, it is difficult to find camel meat at restaurants in Dubai.
Not only are there camel races and camel food items, but also just outside the city limits of Dubai you can go on amazing camel safaris. Camel safaris are a great way to expose you to life outside the city and to see how the Bedouins live their daily lives in the hot desert heat. You get to ride a camel during these excursions as well as participate in fun activities such as bread making, sheesha, and henna. And don’t forget to grab some souvenirs! You can buy camel milk chocolate during these safaris to bring home to your friends and family. Talk about exploring Camel-lot!
Largest Theme Park on Earth
Currently, a major theme park project is under construction in Dubai. Dubailand is an amusement park to top all amusement parks. It is twice the size of Disney World and is projected to be the largest tourist attraction on Earth. 200,000 visitors are expected to visit Dubailand every day.
The project was announced in 2003 and is constantly being improved and changed as construction continues. About $55 billion has been spent so far on Dubailand construction. Currently, there are 22 projects under construction.
Tourism Causes Culture Clash
Muslim culture in the Middle East encourages women to dress modestly and cover most of their bodies in public. Dubai is ruled under Muslim law and many women do practice a modest way of dressing there. However, due to the heavy amount of tourism in Dubai, there is a certain amount of tolerance for foreign cultures and less modest ways of dressing. The picture below perfectly illustrates this meeting between cultures—a tourist woman is sunbathing in a bikini next to a woman completely dressed in Muslim clothing on the beach.
If you do visit Dubai though, it is strongly recommended that you dress modestly. It is important to show respect to the places you are visiting and to try not to cause anyone to become offended or uncomfortable. Though the city tolerates foreigners who dress less conservatively than natives, it helps to be considerate. The city of Dubai is a melding of Western modalities and conservative Islamic belief. This melding will likely continue as Dubai builds more and more tourist attractions every year.
Being Too Handsome Can be a Problem
Omar Borkan Al Gala, a journalist from Dubai, had to leave Saudi Arabia because he was too handsome. Authorities were concerned because they believed this handsome UAE reporter had the potential to corrupt naïve and impressionable women at the annual Janadriyah Festival, a cultural festival that lasts two weeks every year in Saudi Arabia.
The handsome Al Gala had been a successful male model and as he made efforts to perform his job as a reporter at the festival, more and more girls began to recognize him. The female admirers asked for Al Gala’s autograph and photo. Things started off slowly but quickly escalated until female fans completely surrounded Al Gala. The authorities noticed and intervened, asking Al Gala not only to leave the festival but also to return to Dubai all together.
With so many people come more vehicles and with a lot of vehicles comes a lot of traffic jams. Though not every resident of Dubai has a fancy automobile, many people do have quite luxurious rides. These amazing cars pile up every day as they honk and yell in an effort to get the jam to move forward. The picture below is worth a thousand words. You probably have seen traffic jams before, but have you ever seen one that looked quite so luxurious?
With the rapid growth and constant construction of Dubai as well as the ever-rising population size in the city, traffic is predictable and will probably only continue to get worse. While the city is making efforts to lessen the traffic issues they currently are experiencing, it seems the billions of dollars they’re spending to improve transportation infrastructure aren’t doing that much. However, in 2009 the Dubai Metro opened and has helped to increase public transportation usage in lieu of vehicle usage. These solutions come at a cost, though. Dubai spends about $790 million every year on transportation infrastructure.
Growing Growing Growing
Dubai is on a rapid growth spree with no signs of letting up any time soon. Construction seems to be in a permanent state of work as the city enlarges its infrastructure every day. With all that construction occurring comes the need for a lot of tools. Dubai is home to more construction cranes than any place on Earth. In fact, Dubai holds 25% of the world’s construction cranes. Now that’s a lot of cranes!
Next on the list of cities with the most construction cranes is Sydney, Australia. You might be wondering what American city has the most construction cranes. Believe it or not, it’s Seattle, Washington! That’s right, Seattle is the U.S. city with the highest number of construction cranes—not New York City or Los Angeles, which is what you might’ve been thinking. With construction continuing to be on an upward trend in Dubai, it looks like they’ll stay number one on the construction crane front for quite some time.
It may not be shocking that a city with an ATM that dispenses gold contains the largest gold market in the world. Everywhere you look, you’ll see objects encased in gold. From telephones to wallpaper, gold is an abundant and present commodity in Dubai.
Due to its popularity, more than a few locals in Dubai have become extremely skilled metalworkers, specifically with gold. You can bring any everyday object to a gold craftsman and have it plated in the precious metal. However, just because gold is abundant doesn’t mean it comes at a cheap price. You’ll have to pay quite a chunk of change if you want your cellphone plated in gold. At this point, I’m sure it’s no surprise to read that Dubai is one of the most expensive cities in the Middle East.
Major Fashion Hub
Though you may think of New York, Paris, London, or Milan when you imagine the world’s most prominent centers for fashion, Dubai is actually an up and coming fashion hub in the world. The epicenter of fashion in the Middle East, Dubai is quickly making a name for itself as a go-to spot for innovative fashion.
Every year there is a major fashion show in Dubai. The city even has an area specifically dedicated to fashion. Local designers are making worldwide names for themselves in Dubai and have been featured in fashion shows in Paris and New York City. Though the fashions in Dubai are sometimes more conservative than the fashions of the West, they are still lauded for their creativity and craft. Get yourself familiar with designers in Dubai, because you’ll most likely be seeing more and more of them in the future.
Once a Major Source of Pearls
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Dubai’s major source of the industry was pearl farming. Later petroleum became a major source of income and now, the main source of industry in Dubai is tourism.
During the First World War, the pearl industry collapsed in Dubai. The Great Depression, as well as the invention of the cultured pearl in Japan, played a large role in the collapse of the pearl industry in Dubai. However, they soon moved on to other sources of income and continue to grow in amazing ways each year.
Premarital Sex is Illegal in Dubai
Having sex before marriage in Dubai is a serious offense. Engaging in sexual activity before legal marriage can end up in jail sentences or deportation. Further, public displays of affection are seriously discouraged and frowned upon in the Muslim city of Dubai. If you travel there, it is strongly suggested that you refrain from any sort of PDA from holding hands, to kissing.
In the past, there have been numerous instances of expats being put in jail after the discovery of premarital sex. Unfortunately, in these instances, things are pretty misogynistic and the man’s word is given much more credence than the woman’s. Distressingly, several foreign women have been thrown in jail after making an attempt to report that they were raped to local authorities.
Though there is a great deal of leniency when it comes to tolerating Western culture in Dubai, there are certain cultural lines that cannot be crossed. The UAE is more conservative than many Western countries and many ways of interacting on a day-to-day basis differ between the two cultures. In Dubai, it is not tolerable to display public affection and engaging in such acts can have legal repercussions.
Married couples are permitted to hold hands while out in public, but this is the extent of permissible PDA in Dubai. There is absolutely no kissing allowed and any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is publicly shameful. It is important to be very mindful. Shaking hands of a woman should not occur unless she initiates the contact, for example. Keep your hands to yourself and you should be all right.
Dubai is growing at an amazing pace and is actually considered to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. In Dubai, in 1968 there were only 13 registered vehicles there. However, that small number has grown quite a bit since then.
The traffic in Dubai is so intense these days. Due to construction and development, the roads can become quite congested. Not to mention foot traffic isn’t that common due to the high temperatures Dubai reaches. Amazingly, double-decker roads have been built in Dubai to help ease the traffic issues that arise in Dubai.
The city of Dubai’s police department employs an elite force made up entirely of female officers. This special all-female police force was originally founded in order to deal with issues relating to fraud and theft in Dubai. However, this force also has the important task of handling issues that arise with city dwellers relating to gender that are otherwise considered to be inappropriate for male officers to handle.
The officers in this police force are selected from the UAE’s entire population of female police officers. These women have experience working in police stations, surveying criminals, providing bodyguard protection for important people, and using weaponry. Every member of the police force must have the ability to speak Arabic as well as English. Though members of the force say that it is sometimes difficult to get male members of society to listen to their authority, the special force is still lauded for its progressiveness.
Luxury Cars are Often Abandoned in Dubai
Amazingly, there is a huge amount of luxury car abandonment in Dubai. If you tour the parking lots of Dubai, you will find thousands of BMWs, Mercedes, Ferraris, and Porsches, completely abandoned. In fact, the BBC reported that a Ferrari Enzo, which is worth $1 million, was found completely abandoned in the Dubai airport parking lot.
You’re probably wondering why this is occurring. Though there isn’t one reason, in particular, it is speculated that the Sharia Law could be to blame. This law states that if you stop making car payments, or fall behind, you will have to go to prison. For this reason, these cars are potentially the property of people who have fled the country in order to avoid going to jail.
There are Hefty Class Divides
As an up and coming global center for business, there are hundreds of skyscrapers being erected every year in Dubai. The population of workers who help construct these enormous buildings is largely made up of immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. There are around 3.2 million people living in Dubai and immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh make up over 50% of Dubai’s population while 17% of the city is made up of Emiratis and the remaining 43% are generally wealthy foreigners from other parts of the world.
The economic divide between these sectors of the population is enormous. Many immigrant workers live their day-to-day lives in uncomfortable, impoverished conditions and are often taken on busses back and forth between labor camps with dorms, while native Emiratis have their rent, education, and medical bills paid for by the government and upper-class foreigners earn huge salaries from their white-collar jobs.
A City is Being Built Within Dubai
The Mall of the World is currently well underway in Dubai and is a building so large, it can actually be considered a mini-city within the city of Dubai. This center is 50 million square feet and is completely climate and temperature controlled so nobody will have to endure the intense summer heat. Inspiration has been taken from London’s Oxford Street and New York’s Broadway Avenue. Massive domes, making it completely sealed off from the outdoors, will cover the entire urban center.
The Mall of the World will hold an impressive 20,000 hotel rooms, parking space for over 50,000 cars, and of course, hold the world’s most enormous shopping ball. The main incentive for this massive project is to increase tourist interest and travel in Dubai. Space will also be extremely technology-based, with 3-D printers creating meals, drones delivering services, and mobile app purchasing.
Tourist Hot Spot
Dubai is growing at an incredibly rapid rate and lots of people are noticing. Some of the world’s most famous celebrities have visited Dubai in recent years. It’s amazing to think about how much attention this city is getting considering how recent its development has been—the first skyscraper in Dubai wasn’t built until 1979.
Even Kim Kardashian-West has been spotted visiting Dubai recently! Perhaps the most famous member of the Kardashian family, famous for their hit television show, Keeping Up with The Kardashians, visited the United Arab Emirates in order to host a master class on makeup. She stayed at the famous resort on the Palm Jumeirah and traveled with her brother-in-law Scott Disek. Kim also visited the shopping mall, went dune buggy driving, and visited a center for children in Dubai with special needs.
All Big Everything
In an attempt to bring attention and attraction to Dubai, it seems everything is being built to massive scales. Americans may be familiar with the mentality that bigger is better, but in Dubai the biggest is best. Everywhere you look there are giant buildings and attractions in Dubai.
Dubai is home to the tallest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa, a giant at 2,722 feet tall. Not only that, but the world’s largest indoor ski facility, indoor aquarium, and biggest mall are located in Dubai. There are even plans to build the largest amusement park in Dubai. It seems there are no limits to the grandeur of this amazing city.
Dubai’s Airport is a Huge Source of Income
The airport in Dubai contributes around $22 billion per year to the UAE GDP. Amazingly, oil only constitutes 2% of Dubai’s revenue. The bulk of the money coming into Dubai comes from the transportation, commerce, trading, financial service, retail, and tourism industries.
Due to the high amount of revenue that comes from tourism, it may not actually be so surprising that so much money comes from the airport in Dubai. Dubai International Airport employs over 90,000 people and holds over 400,000 jobs. It is actually the busiest international airport in the world and the airport with the highest number of passengers per flight. It even has the largest airport terminal in the world, Terminal 3.
Largest Indoor Ski Park
As you might remember, the mall in Dubai is famous for its extravagance and grandeur. Not only is the mall home to countless shops and restaurants, it also features Ski Dubai. This indoor ski resort is the largest in the world, measuring in at 22,500 meters.
It’s pretty amazing to think about an indoor ski resort. This park is filled with snow, an indoor snow park here has an area of 3,000 square meters. Furthermore, the resort has some incredible features including an 85-meter-high indoor mountain containing 5 slopes, which change in intensity, steepness, and difficulty level. Some of these slopes include a 400-meter long run, an indoor black diamond run which is actually the only indoor black diamond run to exist.
Dubai Has Artificial Islands
Interestingly, Dubai has actually reclaimed a few islands offshore and built them up with a massive amount of sand. The island, Palm Jumeirah, is a palm-tree shaped island and Dubai has made a claim that it is actually the eighth wonder of the world. Believe it or not, the islands were built up with enough sand to fill 2 and a half Empire State Buildings.
There are two more islands, Jebel Ali and Deira, which are in various stages of development. Currently, the Palm Jumeirah houses 30 hotels and resorts. Additionally, yachts and speedboats can be rented for private tours around the islands. Talk about an island in the sun!
Dubai Has 400 Skyscrapers
In 1991, the World Trade Center was the only skyscraper to exist in Dubai. However, a lot has changed since then and a lot of construction has occurred.
Currently, the Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai is known as Skyscraper Avenue. Both sides of the long street are lined by tall, amazing feats of architecture. One of these buildings is the Burj Dubai, which is the tallest building in the world. It’s hard to imagine how many buildings there will be 20 years from now.
There is a Massive Amount of Oil Produced in Dubai
Enough oil is produced in the city of Dubai to fill 4 and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools per day! That’s about 50,000 to 70,000 barrels worth of oil or 11,000 ml. However, oil isn’t even the main source of income in Dubai.
In 1991, Dubai produced 400,000 barrels of oil every day. Though you might suspect oil was the major source of income in Dubai, it is actually quite a small percentage of the GDP. The main source of income in Dubai currently is tourism and real estate. That’s not actually so surprising considering all of the incredible attractions being built constantly in the city every day.
Less Strict Dress Codes
Unlike some areas in the region, the rules regarding women’s dress in Dubai are not set in stone nor are they necessarily strict. People visiting the city are permitted to wear revealing clothing in Western-style and women who live in Dubai do not have to cover their heads unless they choose to.
That being said, it is important to be mindful when dressing in Dubai. If you are visiting and wear a provocative outfit, you may face some backlash or uncomfortable situations with locals. Further, if someone complains about your dress to the authorities, you may run into some trouble with the law. It is also important to keep in mind that the relaxed rules regarding women’s outfits do not apply to religious situations. For example, if you are visiting a mosque you must wear proper attire. Clothes that cover your body and headscarves are required for entry into all mosques in Dubai.
Shop ‘til You Drop
Dubai is currently building quite an amazing project—The Mall of the World. This mall, as you might’ve guessed from the name, is being constructed to be the world’s largest mall. Not only will it be huge, but also this mall is not your typical shopping center. The mall will contain an enormous, climate-controlled, indoor city. A great way to escape the heat, this “city” will cover an expanse of 8 million square feet. The “city” will hold 100 hotels, which are expected to house at least 80 million visitors every year. The indoor city will also include a park designed to be more amazing than London’s Hyde Park.
The plans to build this incredible mall were announced in July of 2014. It is expected to take 10 years to complete the project, so we’re already halfway there. It is no wonder that Dubai is such a tourist haven. Once this incredible mall and all those hotels are built it’s sure to be an even more popular destination. Who knows? Maybe you’ll visit Dubai next!
A Quarter of the World’s Cranes are in Dubai
With so much construction going on in Dubai, it might not be so surprising that the city holds about 24% of the world’s construction cranes. There are about 125,000 cranes in the world and Dubai has 30,000 of them.
That number will most likely rise, too. There is a high demand for construction machinery and equipment as well as vehicles and laborers in Dubai. The real estate boom is continuing to grow in the Middle East and the UAE with no sign of letting up any time soon. In fact, the city’s budget for infrastructure and growth in 2017 was $12.88 billion. That’s the highest budget in the world for an area the size of Dubai. Just think of all those cranes!
Dubai Has an Extremely Low Crime Rate
Dubai has an impressively low level of crime, reporting a nearly 0% rate of illegal activity. Perhaps in part due to the city being ruled under Muslim law, harsh penalties help to deter most inhabitants of the city from breaking the rules. The city is largely populated by foreigners who know that they could be imprisoned or deported if they were to break even the smallest of rules in Dubai. Surely, this is incentive to stay under the radar.
Furthermore, the city of Dubai is proud of its impressive police force and sees their legal enforcement system as something to show off. This may be why every police car in Dubai costs the same average amount as full college tuition in the United States! If you travel to Dubai you’ll see luxurious police cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and even an Aston Martin worth 1.79 million dollars!
The Hotel's Gold Could Completely Cover 46,265 Mona Lisa Paintings
Astoundingly, the Burj Al Arab luxury hotel is covered with a massive amount of gold leaf. The interior is decorated with 1,790 square meters of 24-carat gold leaf—that’s enough to cover 46,265 Mona Lisa sized paintings! Talk about a gold plated existence!
The hotel Burj Al Arab is the forth-tallest hotel in the world and is considered a “7-Star Hotel.” Interestingly, about 39% of the hotel is not habitable; it just exists to add to the impressive stature of the hotel. Make sure you have extra cash to spend if you’re planning on spending a night here—the Royal Suite costs $20,000 per night and an average room costs around $1,500!
It is Fashionable to Keep Exotic Animals as Pets
Though it is illegal to keep exotic animals as pets in Dubai, it still remains to be a major fashion trend. Wild animals are dangerous to live with, but many buyers in Dubai continue to fall for the fad of keeping animals like tigers and cheetahs as pets. Imagine seeing a panther hanging out the side of someone’s Ferrari on an afternoon!
Though it is illegal to own these pets, the trade of exotic animals over the Internet has become quite common. For a very pretty penny, these “pets” are smuggled out of their natural habitats and into buyer’s luxury homes. All for the sake of fashion. Hopefully, this fad doesn’t last too long.
Safe Family Locations
Dubai is conscious regarding the public spaces it provides for people and their feelings of comfort and safety. There are beaches that only permit women and families to enter their grounds. This means you won’t find any single men roaming these sandy shores. Furthermore, people who choose to visit these safe beaches are required to dress modestly.
The dress code at this beach is specifically targeted towards women—they are required to be fully covered when entering the beach grounds. Locals, due to the dress code aligning with their religious practices, have particularly appreciated the beach. This space allows for a more reserved, less Westernized environment to flourish. Bikinis are not allowed, which helps those who have modest dress codes to feel more comfortable. One local woman commented that these family only beaches are wonderful because they do not allow loud music, smoking, and large boisterous groups to make locals feel uncomfortable while they enjoy beach time.
It'll be Difficult to Find an Address in Dubai
Something got looked over in the midst of Dubai’s amazingly rapid growth—street signs! Instead of having a standard address system, residents of Dubai draw maps on their letters or write specific instructions such as: “After the white mosque, first street to the left, gold door.”
When visitors come to Dubai from the airport they are strongly advised to carry a map around so that they point out where they are going to drivers. Otherwise, they won’t have any way of communicating where they are going!
License Plates are a Symbol of Social Status in Dubai
It might be funny to think of, but license plates are bought and sold for over $14 million in Dubai. 1-digit-numbers are the most desired, followed by 2-digits, and so on. Who knew something that we take for granted could be such a prized commodity?
Most of us could care less about what our license plate says, but in Dubai, they mean a lot more. License plates symbolize status, power, and prestige. People spend millions to get number plates that mean something to them. However, the more numbers they use, the cheaper the plate is and the less social prowess they can boast from it.
In 2015, Dubai’s GDP was greater than $105 billion. The city’s wealth is visible in numerous ways from their luxury squad cars to their massive buildings. One perhaps more surprising display of wealth, though is the rather popular practice of owning exotic animals. People in Dubai own animals such as monkeys, baboons, and lions—oh my!
It seems the wilder the animal the more it is desired to be a pet. It is often inferred that the more exotic the pet, the more wealthy the owner of the said the pet is. The social status that comes with this practice seems to be the biggest incentive for it, which can be a bit of an issue. In 2017, the government banned the practice of owning and keeping exotic pets. However, people still break the law. Not without consequence, though. Owning a lion or a tiger can get you 6 months in jail and a $136,000 fine. Now that’s a wild risk!
There is Robot Camel Racing in Dubai
Just as the national pastime in the U.S. is baseball and Canada’s main sport is hockey, the national sport in Dubai is camel racing. However, the camel can only support so much weight and race at the same time, so only children can participate in the racing of actual camels.
The need for children to race the camels has caused major humanitarian issues in the past. Children have been illegally trafficked into the United Arab Emirates for the sole purpose of participating in camel racing. Luckily, this process has largely been halted due to an unlikely solution. In Dubai, child-sized robots are used to participate in the beloved sport of camel racing. This isn’t a sport for those with shallow pockets though, robots range in price from $300 to $10,000!
It may be a surprise to read that the majority of residents in Dubai aren’t actually from the United Arab Emirates. Interestingly, only about 17% of people living in Dubai are citizens of the UAE. This is for multiple reasons, but a large reason why is that the city is constantly being constructed by foreign workers who travel to Dubai to make money.
About 83% of the population in Dubai is made up of immigrants who come from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. The large immigrant population means the city is alive with many different cultures. However, there are issues that have arisen due to the mixed population of Dubai. There is an enormous wealth gap between immigrant workers and the citizens of the UAE. Wealthy citizens enjoy the riches of Dubai, the golden cars and luxurious mansions, while workers who come to Dubai to perform construction often have to endure very poor working conditions as well as poor living conditions. Citizens of the UAE receive free medical care, free education, and free rent. In contrast, immigrant workers often live in labor camps and have to work outside in the blistering heat for very little money compared to citizens.
Dubai is Hotter Than Hot
Dubai is located in the desert, which means it is very sunny almost every day and rarely rains. During January, the coldest month of the year in Dubai, temperatures average at 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 57 degrees Fahrenheit during the nighttime. While many people dread January temperatures in the places they are living, this time of year is probably a welcome respite from the insane heat for residents of Dubai!
On the other end of the seasonal spectrum, summertime in Dubai is not an enjoyable time of year. Summers are hot, windy, and humid. Temperatures average at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, cooling down to around 86 degrees Fahrenheit at night. On extreme days though, temperatures can grow even higher. Make sure you bring a hat and lots of sunscreens if you choose to travel to Dubai!
There's Zero Debt Tolerance in Dubai
There are strict rules in Dubai regarding debt. If you rack up debt and aren’t able to pay it back, you could be in serious trouble. Residents who fall into default on credit cards or miss any payments that they owe are immediately sent to jail or deported.
For many foreigners, Dubai offers well-paying jobs, tax-free salaries, and up-scale accommodations that are hard to resist. However, the high rolling lifestyle can be addictive and many individuals find it difficult to balance their spending habits with their paychecks. In this way, many end up racking up debt, which results in their deportation. Yikes!
Dubai is Competing to Have the Biggest and Best Everything
Dubai seems to be racing against itself when it comes to building and creating the largest of everything. With massive construction projects constantly underway, it’s hard to keep up with what superlative the city is proposing to create next.
Dubai is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world and is even said to be home to the best hotel in the world—The Burj Al-Arab. Furthermore, Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. This enormous skyscraper can be seen from 95 km away and is actually 163 stories tall. If that wasn’t already enough, the city is building the largest indoor shopping mall, has the biggest aquarium, the tallest hotel, and the most extravagant indoor ski park. It’s hard to compete with that!
Luxury Cop Cars
Dubai is centered on luxury and opulence so much so that even their police cars are incredible examples of ample wealth. These cops ride around in cars most people would only dream of owning one day—Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Mercedes Benz.
As you might imagine, these fancy squad cards cost quite the pretty penny. Every squad car costs about as much as the average university student’s tuition in America. Furthermore, there is very little crime in Dubai. There are strict punishments for breaking laws. For example, if you are late on insurance payments you could face prison time or prison time. It seems that these harsh penalties have the intended effect because there is almost no crime in Dubai. The city is actually ranked as the 9th safest city in the world through Numbeo’s Crime Index Rate.
Gold Plated Everything
Not only can you find gold ATMs and gold vending machines in Dubai, but you can get pretty much anything you can think of plated in gold. People in Dubai aren’t afraid to show off their massive amounts of wealth. If it isn’t enough to have a massive mansion, porches, or luxury yachts in your possession, not to worry. You can actually get your entire car plated in gold!
It’s becoming a common trend to completely cover cars in gold in Dubai. Everything from Ferraris to Corvettes, to Bentleys, can be found in all gold versions. If gold is too pedestrian for you, try encrusting your Mercedes-Benz in diamonds like the Saudi Prince Waleed or a Porcelain Bugatti. Just make sure to bring your sunglasses, you might be blinded by the shininess if you’re driving in Dubai!
There are ATMs that Dispense Gold Bars
Believe it or not, there is an ATM that pays in 24-carat gold. You can get bars, coins, and even wearable jewelry from said ATM.
When a customer approaches the ATM, they make a selection and pay with cash or credit card. The machine, “Gold and Go,” then dispenses whatever the consumer has ordered. Known between locals and tourists alike, the Gold and Go has become a sensation. It is located in the Dubai Mall and needs to be replenished with gold at least twice a week!
Ancient Past Time
The oldest sport and one of the most popular past times in Dubai is the sport of camel racing. However, there has been much controversy surrounding the act of camel racing. Due to weight restrictions, only children can jockey camels in the races. The use of children in camel races has raised major concern and international controversy because it violates human rights. In 2004 though, a solution was found. Now, robot jockeys are used for the sport.
In addition to the use of robot jockeys in Dubai, the UAE and Qatar have completely outlawed the use of human jockeys for use in the sport of camel racing. This was an important update to the sport and has helped to bring an end or at least decrease the abuse child slaves endured when they were being used as jockeys. With the use of robots came a new revival to the ancient sport. Camel racing brings in millions of dollars every year.
Dubai is Growing at an Extremely Fast Pace
Dubai is growing so rapidly each year that economists have voiced concern surrounding a potential financial and housing collapse in the near future. With the third-highest amount of skyscrapers in the world, the second biggest mall in the world, a population that is growing substantially in size each year, everyone is wondering if the rapid growth is sustainable.
In 2009, Dubai’s metro system was completed and features 42 stations. The system was amazingly built in 18 months! That’s much less than it takes most cities to build public transportation systems. Though the discovery of oil reserves initially put Dubai on the map, the city makes most of its money from tourism and trade of other commodities.
Alcohol Consumption is Limited
Due to religious beliefs, you will only find non-Muslims drinking in Dubai. Tourists are allowed to drink alcohol if it is purchased from licensed restaurants, hotels, and bars that are attached to hotels with licenses. If you are found drinking in a public place, including the beach, you can be seriously punished. It is considered extremely unacceptable to drink in public.
Further, you have to be careful about how much you consume. Dubai is severe regarding their rules about public drunkenness and has absolutely zero tolerance for anyone found drinking and driving. In order to actually purchase an alcoholic beverage from a store, you must have a special license, even if you are a tourist. However, you can buy alcohol at the airport and bring it back to your hotel. Though the rules in Dubai may come off as harsh, the city is known for having some of the highest quality alcohol in the world.
Texting and Driving Is More Common Than You'd Hope
While Dubai is at the forefront of some of the world's greatest industries, driving culture there is a lot different than in other places. Sadly, distracted drivers are one of the most common reasons for car accidents in Dubai, and in the UAE in general. Many of those accidents are caused by young drivers who text or use social media on their phones while driving.
In 2018, students from the American University of Sharjah pledged not to use their phones while driving in an effort to fight road fatalities. While their initiative is commendable, this issue is far from being completely solved. Still, no matter where you are, it's always advised to look both ways before crossing the street.
You Can Get Some of the World's Most Expensive Cellphones
The level of wealth among high-class people in Dubai is sometimes hard for common-folk to wrap their heads around. Most of us walk around with a smartphone that has limitless access to internet and the apps we need, but in Dubai, the latest iPhone can be disregarded as a peasant's gadget.
No matter how many new iPhones and Androids keep coming out, those advanced mobile phones will never be a custom-made item. As it turns out, custom-made smartphones, or simply ultra-expensive models are something you see in Dubai more than anywhere else.
Matchmaking Is Still Done Through the Newspaper
Say goodbye to dating apps or online dating. If you live in Dubai, it is totally an option for you to find your one true love in the classified section of whatever newspaper you're subscribed to. That's right, what used to be common before websites such as Craigslist or OkCupid came along is still going strong in some countries.
Dubai natives (or their parents or matchmakers for that matter) can post an ad in the newspaper specifying some personal information about the person and their desired spouse. People who think they could be a good match (or, again, their parents or matchmakers) may get in touch with them through the contact information in the bottom.
Marriage Is Taken Very Seriously
Sharia law speaks highly of proper marriage and frowns upon unjustified divorce. There are very specific circumstances under which a couple can divorce, and even then, there could be great consequences to such a decision.
This is why, in Dubai, married Muslim couples interested in terminating their marriage are advised to use the services of a marriage counselor or look for reconciliation before ultimately deciding whether or not they want to stay together. When you think about it, it sounds like a pretty good idea no matter where you live.
Fireworks Are a Big Deal
Dubai holds quite a few impressive world records. One of those records was achieved in 2014 on New Year's Eve when the city launched the biggest fireworks display in the world. The display included nearly 500,000 shells that were deployed over six minutes.
The display took months of planning, and the shells were fired from several launching spots stationed on the "World Islands," which is a group of artificial islands off the coast of Dubai. The previous record was held by Kuwait and included a little over 70,000 fireworks fired within a single hour.
Home of the World's Biggest Automated Car Park
Modern technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has the potential of making our lives easy and efficient. On the other hand, all that automation can result in loss of human connection and in people losing their jobs to robots and machines.
One of the things that have become almost fully automated is car parks, and Dubai is no different. In fact, Emirates Financial Towers has the biggest automated car park in the world, with parking spaces for more than 1,000 cars.
Next Level Public Transportation
The future of transportation is in autonomous vehicles. There are very few people who can own or use such cars around the world, but in Dubai, it is essentially public transportation. Much like in other great cities around the world, Dubai has an impressive metro system.
The Dubai Metro is nearly 46 miles long and it's completely driverless. It is the largest of its kind in the world, which means that even those in Dubai who can't afford a car, can still ride in style. So yeah, self- driving public transportation is totally a thing.
Watering the Desert
Fountains often make a great landmark in many popular destinations around the world. Just like the Bellagio fountains in Vegas, the Montjuïc fountain in Barcelona, or the Trevi fountain in Rome. All those fountains attract a daily crowd of numerous tourists.
But these fountains have nothing on the Dubai Fountain situated in the Burj Khalifa Lake. This impressive fountain has a fully choreographed water system that holds two shows a day. The show is the biggest of its kind in the world and it can be seen from anywhere near the manmade lake.
Dubai Knows How to Party
The home of a predominantly Muslim population may not sound like the prime location for a record-breaking clubbing scene. Well, Dubai may be a lot of things but it sure isn't predictable of typical. In 2013, the world record for the longest club DJ session relay was broken in Dubai.
The session was a little longer than 4 hours, and it took a score of 119 DJs taking the stand one by one to complete it. Each of the DJs taking part in the event mixed one record, much to the enjoyment of the local party animals looking for a nice party.
Living in 3D
Remember when 3D printers were a novelty? People's jaws would drop to the floor at the sight of a machine using melted plastic to create a plastic cube. While toys and other small objects were the first to be printed using these new machines, it didn't take long for other applications of it to become reality.
Being the technological powerhouse it is, in early 2020, Dubai made history as the home of the first 3D commercial building. It took 17 days for a cement printer to print out all the pieces of the building. Once printed, it only took two days to put the pieces together and complete the building. So that means that the housing crises is solved, right?
Chain, Chain, Chain
If putting this list together has taught us anything it's that Dubai is a big fan of gold. With gold ATMs and the largest gold market in the world, it's no surprise that Dubai holds the world record for the longest gold chain.
The record was set in 2015 by the Dubai Gold & Jewelry Group, which has created a 22K gold chain that's a little longer than 18,116 ft. That's about as long as 78 Boeing 747s lined up nose to tail!
Smelling the Flowers
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but if we had to guess, we would say Dubai is not far behind it. In fact, we think that soon enough, the common phrase would be 'everything is bigger in Dubai'.
Home of the tallest building in the world and holder of numerous Guinness world records, Dubai is big on spectacles. One such spectacle (and world record) is the largest flower structure in the world. It is essentially a life-size sculpture of an Emirate Airbus A380 made of flowers.
Extreme sports fans are probably familiar with base jumping, paragliding or bouldering in distant corners of the earth. As it turns out, Dubai has a little something for everyone, even adrenaline junkies. We are talking about the longest urban zip-line in the world.
It is a 1.7 mile long zip-line (that's longer than the Golden Gate Bridge!), and those who venture it can almost fly above the Dubai marina at 90mph.
Love Is All Around
Some of the most popular locations for marriage proposals are Paris (or more specifically, the Eiffel Tower), the top of the Empire State Building, and Juliet's balcony in Verona, Italy. But if you're planning on popping the question anytime soon, you might want to start looking to the Love Lakes Dubai as the best place to do it.
Just like many of the impressive landmarks in the city, Dubai's Love Lakes are manmade. Officially speaking, the lakes are called the Al Qudra Lakes. However, they are more commonly known as the Love Lakes as they are shaped as two intertwined hearts.
Sleeping With the Fish
When planning a trip, one of the first things you want to take care of is accommodation. And we believe that about halfway through going over this list, you made sure that Dubai is on your personal bucket list. If you feel like splurging on your trip to Dubai and guarantee that your hotel room has an ocean view, consider staying at one of the Atlantis underwater suites.
Atlantis has two suites (Neptune and Poseidon) that are completely submerged under the water of the Persian Gulf, meaning you can sleep with thousands of marine creatures swimming in your walls.
You Can Literally Have Gold for Dessert
Those of you who are familiar with the ancient story of King Midas know he wished he could turn everything he touches into gold. At first, he enjoyed the newfound riches, but that's also what made him starve to death as all the food he touched turned to gold too, which he obviously couldn't eat. Well, apparently Midas has never visited the Scoopi Café in Dubai.
Scoopi Café serves gold ice cream, which is the most expensive ice cream in the world. This luxurious dessert is served in a Versace bowl and consumed with the help of a gold spoon.
Golden Facials Are Real
Luxury spa treatments are nothing new. It seems like wherever you look people are trying to harness the power of the earth's flora and fauna to preserve their youth. One such trend is using a golden mask in facial treatments.
You might think you can get some gold-colored beauty masks at any beauty product store, but the percent of actual gold in that mask would be minimal to non-existent. In Dubai, however, they don't settle for anything less than 24K of the real thing. The Jumeirah Zabeel Saray spa offers a full facial with such 24K gold mask.
You Can Get Lava Shells Massage
Lava shells are the latest trend in massage therapy. Unlike the regular hot stones sometimes used in massage therapy, the lava shells can emit heat for up to an hour, which makes for an out-of-this-world session of massage therapy.
The shells go through a special process through which they absorb heat and minerals, which later help the patient with pain and stress relief. You can't just get such treatment at any spa, but in Dubai, these aren't hard to come by as long as you don't mind paying up to 200 dollars for them.
Taking Chocolate to New Heights
The Burj Khalifa was mentioned several times in that list, which is to be expected from such an impressive, record-breaking structure, but did you know that Dubai has even managed to create a record-breaking replica of it?
The replica in question was created in 2014 and it was nearly 46 feet tall. Oh, and it was made of chocolate, which makes it the world's tallest chocolate structure.
Have you ever read a book so good you wished you could live in it? Well, thanks to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library in Dubai, you can be one step closer to living in a book. The library building is designed to look like an open book, which is so cool it's surprising no one thought of it sooner.
The seven-story building houses hundreds of thousands of books, which means that book lovers who walk in will never want to walk out.