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Dubai City: an overview

Updated on March 16, 2012

Dubai city is positioned in United States Emirates, an Islamic country that has been populated for Millenniums prior to the huge advancements that country has undertaken over the recent decades. Since 3000BC United States Emirates has been used primarily for agricultural land until the 90’s where it has been turned into the super city it is now. Anyone travelling to Dubai in the modern day will find that all their needs and expectations will be fulfilled, tiny but rapid-paced the city state is a highly developed tourism destination that provides a world class experience of everything that can be offered. The city is highly populated, but most of this is made up of English speaking tourists. The crime rates are very low and the city is exciting. The city is somewhat unlike other places, it is only calm during the summer months as it receives very heated summer weather. Dubai has struggled financially in the past but still remains a thriving tourist destination on the world scale.

Dubai 1990
Dubai 1990


The land on which Dubai now lies has evidence to show that it has been inhabited by humans for up to 10,000 years from just after the last ice-age. At around 3000BC the area was only populated by nomadic herders of sheep, cattle and goats and the Magan copper mining society who ruled the world’s copper trade at the time. Dubai as a city did not actually become a city until very recently, only in the last decade or two. In the early 90’s the city was barely even there, just a trade stop in the desert, but just before the turn of the century the city had grown very quickly and continues to grow in the same manner to this day. In the past the city changed powers reasonably regular, first owned by families and groups then later owned and ruled by the UAE government. With the 20th century came a new opportunity for the city to grow financially and they reconnected with Britain offering a new trading port, this opened up a whole new economy for the country and helped fund what it has become.

Dubai History Timeline
Dubai History Timeline | Source

City's position

The city of Dubai is positioned on the Persian Gulf coast on the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level, only 16m above. An important fact is that the term “Persian Gulf” is banned in the country and must not be referred to as to not cause offence, the term that should be used is the Arabian Gulf even though the United Nations disagree. The UAE is positioned Dubai lies directly in the Arabian Desert but because it lies close to the sea it provides a climate which is pleasant during most of the year except during summer when they experience average temperatures of above 40̊C. Before settlement the landscape was incredibly barren as the area was a salt-crusted coastal plain, in the immediate area the fine sand was made out of crushed shells and coral. Further towards the surrounding city-state border the sand is dyed a red colour due to high levels of iron oxide in the earth. The coastal waters that surround the city are regularly calm due to the gulf being sheltered from the Arabian Sea. UAE borders with Saudi Arabia and on a world map is positioned in the centre of a terrorism and war hotspot. In actual fact the city is really not affected by its neighbouring countries and has a clean record with crime.

Map of the United Arab Emirates
Map of the United Arab Emirates | Source
Dubai main street at nigh time
Dubai main street at nigh time


Travel congestion is becoming a continuous problem for the city and much research shows that it is now the most congested city in the Middle East and tops the world’s car ownership. "We need transportation policies and legislation to create the desired balance between demand and supply. Dubai is a vehicle-oriented city. It has a car ownership rate of 541 cars per 1,000 population. This figure exceeds that of cities like New York [444 cars per 1,000 population], London [345 cars per 1,000 population] and Singapore [111 cars per 1,000 population]," Dr Abdul Malek said. He also made estimation that if this current trend continues by 2020 there will be 5.3 million registered cars in Dubai. Dubai has a reasonably strong public transport system but not effective at controlling the congestion. It boasts a huge bus system that transports around 30 million people every week, a large taxi service and train connections with 47 stations, 37 above ground and 10 below. Transport chiefs say that ideas from the past are flawed and ineffective such as the bottleneck turns, so before 2020 they say that 500km of new roadway will be constructed and the metro public transport will be improved all costing an estimated $12 billion.

In 2009 Dubai's GDP reached to AED 174.6 billion dollars. In 2010 Dubai is expected to see a real GDP growth of 2.5%. Dubai's GDP growth has been growing at a steady pace over the past few years.
In 2009 Dubai's GDP reached to AED 174.6 billion dollars. In 2010 Dubai is expected to see a real GDP growth of 2.5%. Dubai's GDP growth has been growing at a steady pace over the past few years.
Top: 1993 Middle: 1999 Bottom: 2006 These three images of a main street running through the city show the huge advancements in the cities growth between the years of 1993 and 1999 and 1999 and 2006.
Top: 1993 Middle: 1999 Bottom: 2006 These three images of a main street running through the city show the huge advancements in the cities growth between the years of 1993 and 1999 and 1999 and 2006. | Source

Domestic Growth

The economy of Dubai has been considered to be the trade and tourism centre of the gulf region, a figure that mostly shows this is its standard growth estimation at 16.7% in 2004. Dubai has also been rated highly in three major rankings; 44th among the world’s best financial cities, it was recorded as the 33rd richest city in 2007 and 37th in MasterCard’s world’s most financial cities 2007 (1st in the Middle East). These rankings represent a huge achievement for the city as it is one of the most recently developed on the list. Dubai’s gross domestic product (GDP) as of 2008 was US$82.1 billion, in the past their economy was based upon the oil and natural gas industry but now it only accounts for 6% of the emirate’s revenues. The government’s decision to diversify its trading sectors has led to the tourism-orientated change for the city. They released a lot of new land for housing and this resulted in a lift in property prices between 2004 and 2006. The problem was that by November 2008 the property market had actually dropped dramatically by as much as 64%. The result of this is that the property market shifted to building some of the most monumental structures (mostly skyscrapers) on earth to this day. The area which Dubai inhabits is 4,114 square kilometres and the metro area is 1,287.4 square kilometres. The architecture of Dubai includes some of the largest man made islands which have increased Dubai’s land mass from around 3,900km squared to what it is now.


Dubai has given birth to some of the largest and most extravagant buildings on earth creating a huge amount of tourism interest. Firstly one of the most famous buildings in the city, Burj al Arab, it finished construction in 1999 and became the world’s tallest hotel with sixty floors and it remained the world’s tallest hotel until 2009. The huge sail shaped building cost around $650 million to construct and characterizes itself as the only “7 star” hotel on earth. Another monumental structure in Dubai is the world’s largest indoor ski runs, with five runs the largest being 400m long it is an incredible structure seeing especially that it is positioned in one of the hottest places on earth. Dubai also boasts the first Dynamic skyscraper in the world where every level rotates separately, it offers very expensive apartments cost ranging from $4 million to $40 million. Lastly but in some respects the most impressive architecture in Dubai is the world’s tallest structure Burj Khalifa standing at almost 830m tall. The building officially opened on July 4, 2010, and cost upwards of $1.5 billion dollars to construct. Unfortunately the building’s completion coincided with the global financial crisis and even 10 months after its completion only 75 of the 900 apartments were vacated.

Burj Al Arab lit up at night time
Burj Al Arab lit up at night time
Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and gradient, the longest run being 400m with a fall of over 60 meters. It boasts 3000 square meters of snow!
Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and gradient, the longest run being 400m with a fall of over 60 meters. It boasts 3000 square meters of snow!

Burj Khalifa

World’s tallest building Burj Khalifa stands at 829.84m. The decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government's decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism based. According to officials, it is necessary for projects like Burj Khalifa to be built in the city to garner more international recognition, and hence investment. The window cleaning of the building is a huge task, most of the floors are cleaned using a huge water cleaning system, the top inhabited floors are cleaned by specialists (36 men, takes 4 month) and the top tiers and glass spire are cleaned using a system developed in Australia which cost AU$8 million. Critics have a lot to say about the building, that it isn’t environmentally friendly like it should be and that it is a general waste of money as there is so much wasted space in the building.

Dubai's population growth between 1996-2005
Dubai's population growth between 1996-2005

Population and Crime Rates

The population of Dubai has being growing at an expediential rate, back when the area was far less populated in 1822 there was only 1,200 people inhabiting the area and in 44 years it had only risen to 59,000. Suddenly the population leaped and all the way up to 2005 the population doubled every 5-10 years. In 2005 it was recorded at around 1.1 million, and by 2007 it was once again recorded and stacked up to 1.55 million people of which approximately 76% are males. This major difference in gender can be attributed to the large number of male labourers who have come to the country for work without their families. Around 350 thousand workers residing outside or in temporary residents mean that during the day there can be almost up to 1.9 million residents in the city. On December 22nd, 2011, the population of Dubai reached the 2 million mark according to the population clock of the Dubai statistics centre. This figure meant that Dubai had now become the most populated city in the whole of the United Arab Emirates, which has a total population standing around 8.9 million. The population increase rate in 2011 was at 5.1% attracting 100,000 new residents every year, this figure has been predicted to rise every year into the future with statisticians saying that the total population may be at 4 million by 2017. This seems very possible with the city attracting around a million outsiders every day meaning that the daily population would be over 3 million.

Crime in Dubai has always been low and is always dropping, with the city aiming to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world they continue to hold a solid track record. Between 2009 and 2010 the crime rate decreased by 24% because according to the head of department they increased their forces by around 70%. The countries crime rates give a lot of peace of mind to those travelling there, with around 7 out of a million being affected by crime while the international average is around 50 per million. These statistics show that the city shows a low level of tolerance for crime and therefore it is an incredibly safe place to travel to or live in.

People and Culture

The United Arab Emirates culture is still based on Islamic religion and the Arab lifestyle. Although Dubai in the city while still have very large influences from Western lifestyles prominently the city is run and shown using the Arab lifestyle. Dubai is obviously an Islamic country with most of the population scattering to Mosques all over the city to pray five times daily as is required of them by their religion. Because of the religion tourists have to abide by the general etiquette of clothing when in public, it is not banned but respect is still required and most people where the traditional clothing which covers most of the body which is effective also at protecting people from the harsh, hot climate. Shopping is a huge part of the countries culture and the Dubai Summer Surprises and Dubai shopping festival attract over 4 million people every time they occur, these events generate an estimated $2.7 billion. The food around the city is mostly Arabic but for westerners there are plenty of destinations which offer that choice of food. Alcoholic beverages are limited around the city and a licence is required to purchase it, but in hotels and such this is not required and the same laws and regulations apply that normally would. Dubai is a hugely culture based country but at the same time smells of wealth with the size of the buildings/attractions and the experiences on offer.

Would you consider travelling to Dubai

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thank you for the information- even more excited to go now

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Dubai is a great place to live in. If you are moving to Dubai and need of storage space you can check out Allied Movers.

    • kashmir-ladakh profile image


      5 years ago from usa

      Nice place to travel.

    • acewebdesign profile image


      6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Dubai is actually an awesome travel place!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I knew Dubai was one of the most popular tourist sites and one of the richest cities in the world. My husbands company ships product there, mainly fast foods for Arbys and Hardys. Interesting hub. I enjoyed learning about this city! Thank you and welcome to HP, Susieq42

    • registerdomains profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Awesome informative hub on Dubai. Very good research. Very comprehensive. Great hub. Voted up.


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