Know this before traveling to Dubai

Location

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country, consisting of emirates which are similar to states. Dubai is not a country. Dubai is one of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates was founded in 1971 when all seven emirates convened and decided to merge into a single country.

Other Emirates of the UAE include Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.

Dubai is situated between 25^16’ North and 55^18’ East. It lies on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula to the south-west of the Arabian Gulf.

Dubai is the second largest emirate, after the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and covers an area of 4.114 square kilometres, equivalent to 5% of the total area of the UAE.

Climate

Located in the northern desert belt of Southwest of Asia, Dubai has a hot desert climate with two distinct seasons – Summer and Winter. Dubai’s tropical desert climate features:

  • Summers are extremely hot and humid with an average high around 41.8 ^C and overnight lows around 29.7^C. This period is characterized by hot weather, warm winds and high humidity and usually occurs around April to October. Due to the city’s close proximity to the sea the temperatures in Dubai are milder in summer when compared with other Gulf cities such as Kuwait and Riyadh. Most days are sunny throughout the year.
  • Winters are warm and short with an average high of 23^C and overnight lows of 14^C. The winter season has the most pleasant weather, making it ideal for outdoor activities. Most of the precipitation takes place during this season. Winter in Dubai usually begins from mid-October till the beginning of April.

Precipitation has been increasing in the last few decades with accumulated rain reaching 87.3mm per year. Most of the rainfall occurs during winter (January 15mm – February 31mm – March 18 9mm)

Currency

The United Arab Emirates dirham is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The term is officially abbreviated as “AED” while unofficial abbreviations include “DH” or “Dhs”,

The United Arab Emirates dirham was introduced in 19 May 1973 two years after the unification of the emirates. It replaced the Qatar and Dubai riyal at par. Since November 1997, the dirham has been pegged to: 1 USD = 3.6725 dirhams which translates to approximately 1AED = 0.2722USD

Language

Arabic is a widely spoken language throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. Arabic is the official language of Dubai, although English is widely spoken and is standard within the business community. Road signs, restaurants menus, maps, guides, currency, websites, and more are written in both languages.

As a foreigner in Dubai, you should focus on Modern standard Arabic (called fusha) This language is spoken by the majority of people in large cities and it is also used at international meetings and conferences conducted in Arabic.

Other languages in common use in the city include Hindi, Urdu, and Farsi.

Economy

Dubai’s GDP grew at 4.8 percent in 2013 before starting to decline and the drop accelerated last year 2018 after the property sector slumped and the number of tourists stagnated.

The city-state, one of seven sheikhdoms that make up the UAE, had expected to attract 20 million visitors annually by 2020 when it hosts the 6-month Expo.

During the past year, the emirate has taken a raft to boost the domestic economy and lure foreign investors by easing residency and the business rules, including allowing full ownership of businesses by foreigners outside free trade zones.

The emirate draws 70% of its revenues from fees on a host of transactions, some 24% from taxes and profits of government companies, and just 6% from oil.

Flag

The flag of the United Arab Emirates is a symbol of pride for Emiratis, the UAE flag is more than a mere symbol of the state. The UAE flag holds a national flag day every 2nd of December, which coincides with the appointment anniversary of his Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the first president of the UAE.

A young Emirati named Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah designed the UAE flag in 1971. The four colours reflect the unity of the Arab nations.

The colours signify the following:

Red: Hardiness, bravery, strength and courage.

Green: Hope, joy, optimism and love – Country’s prosperity

White: Peace and honesty – pure and clean

Black: Defeat of enemies, and strength of mind

Time Zone

United Arab Emirates Standard Time is the time zone for the UAE. It is given by Gulf standard time, being 4 hours ahead of GMT (UTC+04:00) and is collinear with neighbouring Oman. The UAE does not change clocks for daylight saving time.

Demographics

The UAE has a very diverse population of which only 10% are UAE nationals and the remainder is made up of expatriates. They have the 7th highest net migration rate in the world at 12.36, as any expatriate is allowed under law to apply for UAE citizenship after living in the country for twenty years without having crime records and can speak Arabic.

The largest group of non-UAE nationals are South Asian which is 58%, followed by other Asians 17% and western expatriates 8.5% followed by other backgrounds making up 16.5%.

UAE Emiratis are predominantly Sunni Muslims and all social and political matters are driven by sharia law. However, the UAE is tolerant of other religions and allows religious freedom to the expatriate population. These religions primarily include Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism. Muslims are not allowed to convert to a different religion and there are repercussions for those who try to encourage religious proselytize.

Yearly, millions of foreigners troop into the United Arab Emirates due to its rich history, attractions and simple lifestyle. Dubai is known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and lively night life. It is ranks as the UAE’s most important port and commercial centre.

Latest data released by Dubai Tourism disclosed that visitors reached 15.92 million in 2018, an increase of 0.8% over the previous year. If you have never visited the Arabian Peninsula, it is time to make Dubai a priority destination in your travel bucket list!

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Vivian Etefia

Written by Vivian Etefia

From years of experience, i noticed most people have limited access to relatable basic travel information: the wheres, whys & hows of travel & hospitality.

This blog seeks to address these issues. Let me inspire you to adventure in the world of travel.

I am Vivian Etefia. I am a travel professional based in Lagos, Nigeria