Hotels in Dubai
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Dubai is on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates.
In the early 20th century, Dubai established itself as an important port that charged no tax on exports or imports. Trade funded improvements in infrastructure before oil was discovered in 1966, which transformed Dubai, as construction greatly increased. Today, Dubai’s economy is more reliant on trade, financial services and tourism, than oil revenue.
Dubai's most expensive hotels are in the historic centre, Bur Dubai, but cheaper alternatives can be found. Travellers on a tight budget are more likely to stay in the Deira area with its busy marketplaces, whilst families will gravitate to Jumeirah and its beach.
Neighbourhoods of Dubai
Bur Dubai is the historic centre of the city and its oldest buildings can still be found in the harbour area. To the north of Dubai Creek is Deira, which has numerous markets or souks and a couple of museums. To the south east, tourists will find the Inner Suburbs with a number of lavish waterfront restaurants and the Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, further east. South of the centre is the Central Business District on the Sheikh Zayed Road, which has Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, as well as the largest shopping mall and biggest fountain. East of here is Jumeirah and its beach. Cultural attractions include the Jumeirah Mosque and the Jumeirah Archaeological Site.
What to see and do in Dubai
Dubai has many famous attractions:
- IMG Worlds of Adventure: Fully air-conditioned, this is the largest indoor theme park in the world, with a surface area of over 1.5 million square feet. It has four different zones, a 12 screen cinema and numerous rides, shops and restaurants.
- Dubai Museum: This museum is housed in the Al Fahidi Fort, fittingly the oldest building in Dubai. It charts the cultural history of Dubai from a small settlement dependent on fishing and pearl-diving to the centre of commerce that it is today.
- Jumeirah Mosque: Unusually for the area, this mosque is open to the public, with one hour guided tours. An example of Fatimid architecture, this is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Photographs are permitted.
- Burj Al Arab: 321 metres tall, this iconic hotel was built in the shape of a dhow, a traditional sailing ship. Non-guests can tour the building and eat in one of its many restaurants, providing they have made a reservation.
- Gold Souk: This jewellery market in the Deira area is made up of nearly 400 shops. Bartering on the price is expected.
What to eat in Dubai
The finest in Emirati cuisine can be sampled in Dubai. For a mid-morning snack with your coffee, try luquaimat, which are like small doughnuts, covered in a date sauce and sesame seeds. For a starter, samboosa is a hot pastry, with a choice of filling. For a main course, Margoogat is stew filled with tomatoes, a choice of meats and spices. For dessert, chebab is a hot pancake, full of sour cheese and date syrup. To drink, try the sparkling Anatolian Fizz cocktail of fizzy wine and pomegranate molasses.
Typical events and festivals in Dubai
Dubai has a number of popular annual events, held outside the summer months. The Dubai Marathon takes place every January, with a record amount of prize money on offer. Every February sees the Dubai International Jazz Festival, with an impressive list of performers. In the last Saturday in March, the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race is held. Every year on 2 December, Dubai celebrates UAE National Day with fireworks and dancing.
How to move around in Dubai
Dubai has a two-line Metro (underground railway) which links all the major sites. The buses are cheap and comfortable, but slow. Wooden boats called abras can take visitors across the Creek in just a few minutes. Bikes can be hired.
The climate in Dubai
Dubai has a hot desert climate. Summers are hot and humid, with highs around 40 degrees Celsius during the day and temperatures only dropping to 30 degrees at night. Winters are cooler, with temperatures around 15 degrees, and comparatively wet with about 5 days of rain a month.
More interesting facts about and sights in Dubai
The crime rate in Dubai is one of the lowest in the world. This is possibly unrelated to the fact that the Dubai police drive sports cars.