Yet nearly 2.2 million tourists went to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in the first quarter of 2022 alone. Tens of thousands of Americans visited the city and saw sights they could not see anywhere else. You can too, as long as you know some important facts about Dubai.
Fun Facts about Dubai
What are the history and climate of Dubai like? What are Dubai’s greatest tourist attractions? How can you respect local customs and remain safe in the city? Answer these questions and you can make the most out of this spectacular destination. Here are 19 facts you should know.
1. 20 Years Ago, Dubai Was a Desert
Humans have lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 125,000 years. Yet it was not until the 18th century that the town we know today as Dubai was founded.
At first, the town was a small fishing village, with a population of just a few hundred people. It was small and cramped, with most of the modern-day city being a desert. Farmers wouldn’t even use the land for growing plants or maintaining livestock because it was inhabitable.
In 1971, the United Arab Emirates was founded. The UAE became a wealthy nation virtually overnight due to its immense supplies of oil.
Oil was found off the coast of Dubai, so businessmen began streaming into the city to start businesses. Though the Gulf War caused many business people to leave, they returned once oil prices rose. Starting in the 2000s, they invested in the development of Dubai, which continues to this day.
2. Don’t Confuse the City With the Emirate
When people think of Dubai, they think of the city of Dubai. However, there is also an Emirate of Dubai. Read more: 25 Best Things to do in Dubai
The city of Dubai is the capital of the emirate, but the emirate also includes smaller communities and less-developed areas. When you are asking for directions or travel advice, make sure you specify that you are talking about the city.
3. Foreigners Love Dubai
Dubai’s population is just shy of three million people. Despite Dubai’s importance to the UAE, only 15% of the population consists of native UAE residents.
Dubai has a massive population of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi residents. Many of these residents are businesspeople who moved to Dubai to pursue various opportunities. You can find Indian and Pakistani communities and businesses spread throughout the city, especially in high-income areas.
The largest population of Western expatriates consists of British people. But you can find Americans as well as many people from Africa, particularly Somalia.
4. But Rain Clouds Don’t
The climate in Dubai is similar to climates you’ll find throughout the Middle East. It rains for only 25 days on average throughout the entire year. February is the month with the most rain on average, yet the city receives only 1.4 inches of rain during that month.
Despite the lack of rain, it is not extremely sunny in Dubai. There are 12 hours of daylight per day in June and only eight during January. You should expect to use streetlights to navigate the city, especially if you are staying out late.
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5. Make Sure to Go During the Cooler Months
Dubai makes up for the lack of sunlight with heat. During the spring and summer, the average temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the temperatures do drop off significantly during other parts of the year. In January, you may have days where the temperatures hover around 75 degrees. As you are planning a Dubai vacation, you should try going to the city during the winter or fall.
6. Weekends Are Not on Saturdays and Sundays
For years, the weekends in Dubai consisted of Fridays and Saturdays. In January 2022, Dubai changed its official weekends to align better with international financial markets.
However, their weekends and hours off are still a little different. Dubai businesspeople work between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. from Monday through Thursday. They work until noon on Friday, and their weekends run until Monday morning.
7. The Address System Is up and Running
When asked about interesting facts about Dubai, many people say that the city does not have an official address system. That used to be true. When residents used to send packages to each other, they would write instructions on how to find the recipient instead of writing an address.
Over the last few years, the Dubai local government has developed an address system. They have assigned codes to streets and buildings, allowing people to send packages with written addresses.
However, a lot of residents remain unfamiliar with the system. You should be able to provide instructions on how to get to the locations you want to get to.
8. You Can Use a Lot of Languages
The official language of the UAE is Arabic. If you are speaking to a government official or important businessperson, you should try to use Arabic. Even saying a basic greeting can help break the ice.
But Dubai is a multicultural city, and many people are familiar with English. You can also speak Hindi, Chinese, and Urdu, especially with Indian and Pakistani residents.
9. You Can Stay In Luxury
Dubai is perhaps the greatest city in the world for luxury hotels. Even if you are traveling on a budget, you can stay at a location with great amenities and personal services.
The Burj Al Arab has thousands of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, yet you can stay at the hotel for as low as $200 a night. You can use free high-speed internet, enjoy massages and manicures at the hotel’s spa, and eat breakfast at a buffet. We stayed at JW Marriott Dubai and The Habtoor Grand Dubai they were both magnificent and quite affordable.
10. The Burj Khalifa Is the King of Buildings
Ask anyone about Dubai facts, and they’ll talk to you about the Burj Khalifa. At 2,722 feet, it is the world’s largest building.
The building is multi-use, so you can find a lot of different attractions inside. You can ride one of the world’s fastest elevators up to an observation deck that is nearly 1,500 feet off the ground. When you’re hungry, you can eat at Atmosphere Burj Khalifa, the highest restaurant in the world.
11. The Miracle Garden Is the World’s Largest Flower Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden contains more than 50 million flowers spread across 780,000 square feet of space. It is the world’s biggest natural flower garden, and you find virtually every species of flower inside the garden.
The garden also contains the world’s biggest floral installation, a life-size version of the Emirates A380 made entirely of flowers. When you need to take a rest, you can sit down in the sitting area under a canopy of flowers and look at fountains.
12. You Can Find Wildlife in Dubai
Despite Dubai’s rapid development, you can find many different animals in and around the city. As you might imagine, you can see camels and even go racing on them. But you can also see falcons, wolves, leopards, and Arabian oryxes in their natural habitats.
You can travel outside the city to conservation centers, including the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. If you prefer to stay inside the city boundaries, you can go to The Green Planet, which contains an entire tropical rainforest inside a bio-dome.
Shopping is one of the best things to do in Dubai. The Dubai Mall is one of the biggest malls in the world, covering more than five million square feet of space. You can purchase luxury items from retailers like Louis Vuitton as well as electronics and home furnishings.
If you want to shop and then visit some attractions, you should visit the Mall of the Emirates. The mall offers several clothing and fashion stores alongside theaters and VR experiences.
14. Dubai Loves New Year’s Eve
If you want to visit Dubai during the holidays, you should schedule your trip around New Year’s Eve. Dubai is home to one of the world’s largest fireworks shows, which takes place around the Burj Khalifa.
If you prefer something a little more relaxing, you can go on dinner cruises and desert safaris. You can watch live bands and dancers perform their works. You can also listen to live music at Dubai Opera and dance to the latest tunes yourself.
15. Don’t Worry About Your Safety
Dubai is a safe area, including for women traveling alone and families. You may encounter the same travel scams you see in other cities, including bump-and-grabs. You should follow the same safety precautions you take anywhere else, but you shouldn’t worry too much.
If you plan on worshipping in or touring the mosques, you should keep an eye out for the exits. Many of Dubai’s mosques can accommodate thousands of people at once, and stampedes can occur during emergencies. Move off to the side to avoid the crowds and head to the exits in a straight line.
16. Don’t Show Public Displays of Affection
Dubai is infamous for its strict regulations. Regardless of whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you must respect the local rules and deal with a little bit of culture shock.
Dubai takes public displays of affection very seriously. Kissing your significant other in public can result in a fine or deportation from the country. You may be able to hold hands with them in a restaurant, but you should not walk down the street while holding hands.
LGBTQ people can be imprisoned or executed for any romantic or sexual activity in the UAE, even in Dubai. Be very careful if you are an LGBTQ person traveling through the city. There are no official spots for LGBTQ people to hang out, and the police have used dating apps to entrap people.
17. Watch What You Say
The UAE also has restrictions on freedom of speech. You cannot criticize the government, police, or royal families in any way. Foreign nationals have been imprisoned for making satirical videos and tweets about the government.
The government regulates internet access. Though social media sites are free, you cannot access dating, LGBTQ, or selatious websites.
18. Prioritize Hygiene at the Dinner Table
UAE dining etiquette centers around keeping the food and yourself clean. You should wash your hands before you sit down to eat.
You should pick up glasses and finger foods with your right hand, even if you’re left-handed. Many people in the UAE use their left hands to clean themselves, so eating with your left hand would be seen as dirtying the food.
Do not put your personal items like your cellphone on the table. This will free up room for the plates and prevent you from knocking things over. You can leave papers on the table if you are conducting business or need to show someone something.
19. Be Courteous During Ramadan
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. Observant Muslims fast during the day and conduct prayers while they are awake.
It is a criminal offense to eat food in public during Ramadan. While you can eat food indoors, you should avoid doing so in front of other people so you don’t offend anyone.
You should avoid playing music or dancing in the street during the month as well. Try to dress conservatively and avoid houses of worship unless you are going to pray.
Learn the Most Important Facts About Dubai
There is no doubt that some of these facts about Dubai will surprise you. Dubai is a very young and dry city. Yet it is a hub for culture, finance, and religion.
You can enjoy many different attractions, namely the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Miracle Garden and at the same time, you can have a lot of fun taking in the beautiful architecture and exotic animals.
However, you must be mindful of etiquette. You should avoid displays of affection, criticisms of the government, and provocative behavior during Ramadan.
We have been lucky enough to visit Dubai and experience everything the city has to offer. Hopefully, these facts about Dubai will help you understand the city more and encourage you to plan a trip to this very unique city in the UAE.