Welcome to Dubai

It’s no secret that Dubai likes to do things big. The world’s tallest building? They’ve got it. The largest fountain? They have that, too. The most expensive cocktail? You can get it at the Skyview Bar, though it will set you back AED 27,321. No city in the world is as skilled in the art of excess, and for many, this is Dubai’s appeal.

The emirate has long billed itself as a playground for grownups. Where else can you punctuate a day of shopping with a ski ride down the world’s largest indoor slope (never mind that it’s 27° outside), or soak up the rays on a man-made island?

Underneath all the gimmickry and glamour, however, lies a hidden depth. Dubai’s population is made up of over 150 nationalities, each of which has left its mark on the cultural landscape. In the backstreets of Deira, a curious bystander can watch Pakistani expats practice an ancient wrestling form known as kushti. A culinary adventurer can gorge on Iraqi barbecued fish, or South Indian dosas. The city is full of hidden gems, for anyone wishing to find them.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in United Arab Emirates:
    Approx 6 million
  • Inhabitants in Dubai:
    Approx 1.8 million
  • Official language
    Arabic (English as business language)
  • Currency
    UAE Dirhams (AED or DHS)
  • Time zone
    GMT + 4 hrs
  • Emergency number
  • Constitution
    Monarchy (run by the sheikh family Al Makhtoum)
  • Country phone code
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Metro, taxis and buses