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Dubai - UAE Country Profile
Expatriates and foreign visitors - both male and female - can enjoy a relaxed and pleasant lifestyle in Dubai. There is virtually no crime, the city is clean, apartments and villas are modern and spacious and, surprisingly to many, the climate is not only tolerable, but also extremely pleasant for most of the year. Dubai is to the Middle East what Hong Kong is to Asia: a capitalist jewel buzzing with activity. Most visitors to the region stop here for at least a day to browse the shops, eat in the restaurants and soak up the atmosphere of a city oozing wealth and a general air of self-satisfied confidence. Split into two by a long creek, a water taxi is an ideal starting point for orientation purposes and an opportunity to admire the modern, palatial architecture, the hallmark of a successful Arab state. There isn't much here that isn't glistening new. Even the traditional souks that attract thousands of visitors each year are packed with up-to-the-minute gadgets and the latest designer wear.
GEOGRAPHYThe second largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf. It has an area of some 3,900 square kilometers. Outside the city itself, the emirate is sparsely inhabited and characterized by desert vegetation. Dubai lies between 55°16 East and 25°16 North.
CLIMATEDubai has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Sunny, blue skies can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter. Temperatures range from a low of about 10.5°C/50°F to a high of 48°C/118°F. The mean daily maximum is 24°C/75.2°F in January rising to 41°C/105.8°F in July.
LANGUAGEWhile Arabic is the official language, English is very widely spoken, especially in business. Given the large size of the expatriate population, several other languages are also used in everyday life, headed by Hindi, Urdu and Farsi.
POPULATIONCurrent population approx. 1.67 million, set to increase to 3.5 million by 2010. 80% comprises of Expatriates - Arab, Asians, European, and others.
RELIGIONMostly Muslim, of which 16 per cent are Shiite and the remainder Sunni.
TIMEDubai Time is + 4 Hours GMT or 4 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time. GMT is used for all 24 of the world's time zones. You can get the right Dubai Time by dialing the 'speaking clock' 140 for English and 141 for Arabic.
ELECTRICITY220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are widespread.
COMMUNICATIONSPublic Telephones: Public telephones in Dubai take coins and pre-paid phone cards. The Telecommunications provider in Dubai is Etisalat - Emirates Telecommunications Corporation. Website: www.etisalat.ae
Dialling Telephone and Mobile Numbers in Dubai: The local city code for Dubai is 04 and if you are making an international call to Dubai, you would dial Country Code: 971, City Code: 4 and then the Tele/Fax number. To dial a Mobile Number from within the UAE, you dial 050 and then the number. If you are dialing a mobile phone number anywhere in the UAE from outside of the UAE, you would dial, Country Code: 971, City Code: 50 and the the Mobile Number.
Phone Cards: Phone cards are available from bookstores, grocery stores, Etisalat offices and are of denominations of Dhs 30 upwards.
Post: Airmail letters and parcels take about five days to reach Europe.
SHOPPINGOne of Dubai’s greatest visitor attractions is its superb shopping. The city draws large numbers of ‘shopping tourists’ from countries within the region and from as far a field as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.
As an open port with low import duties, Dubai’s retail prices are reasonable and the variety of products available is virtually unrivalled. Free of tax, many top brand-name products are cheaper in Dubai than in the countries of their origin. Even sending flowers UAE delivery is achievable at very competitive rates.
Whatever the visitor’s tastes — be it couture from Paris or Milan, hi-tech electronics from Japan, or a piece of silver Bedouin jewelry — he or she will find it at the right price in Dubai. In addition to the souk districts and shopping malls, there are many top-class department stores and boutiques throughout the city.
MallsAttractive modern shopping plazas are conveniently located throughout the city, housing a wide range of shops, boutiques, supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food outlets.
SouksFoodstuffs: These range from the traditional narrow streets of the spice souk just a stone’s throw from the Creek, to the modern fish souk with the many varieties caught in Gulf waters, and the fruit and vegetable souk with its bustle and vivid colors
Gold: Dubai’s most famous market of all is the gold souk, where narrow streets are lined with shop windows glinting with bracelets, necklaces and earrings in 18, 21 and 22 carat gold. Bars of 24 carat in any form and weight, and bullion coins in 22 and 24 carat are also available. Prices are very reasonable and largely determined by weight, rather than design and craftsmanship.
Carpets: In Deira Tower’s shopping mall, carpet traders from countries across the Gulf — Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan — have established a carpet souk where prices in the 40 shops range from a few hundred dirhams to many thousands.
Consumer goods: In Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi Street is noted for its electronic goods shops while nearby Cosmos Lane is lined with stores selling the textiles of West and East, from cool printed cottons to exotic brocades.
Further out from the city centre, Karama is Dubai’s bargain basement with an array of busy shops selling toys, household goods, textiles, fashions, accessories and much more.
ALCOHOLAlcohol is available in all clubs and restaurants and pubs/bars, that are located in hotels. Restaurants outside a hotel are not allowed to sell or serve alcohol. Muslims are not permitted to buy alcohol. Residents need an Alcohol License to purchase alcohol.