Dubai is endowed with a range of premier attractions, from high-tech amusement centres and thrilling waterslide parks to traditional cultural icons including mosques, wind towers and souks. Every day spent in Dubai offers a new experience – be sure to sample the city’s many attributes during your stay.
The Dubai Museum, housed at the imposing Al Fahidi Fort, presents a fascinating opportunity to discover Dubai’s impressive history. The original fort was built in the late 18th century, and has served as a palace, prison and military installation. Touring the museum provides an interactive journey through history, featuring life-size dioramas recreating scenes from various key eras. Displays include ancient artifacts, galleries and a spectacular underwater exhibit depicting the history of pearl-diving. Nearby archaeological sites in Al Ghusais, Al Sufooh and Jumeirah, featuring artifacts well over a thousand years old, may be visited with the permission of the museum.
A tour of Dubai’s mosques is a rewarding experience – professional guides offer visitors an informative insight into Dubai’s Islamic culture, as well as the chance to view some of the city’s magnificent mosques up close. The Jumeirah Mosque and the Grand Mosque are two of Dubai’s most stunning architectural landmarks.
If heart-pumping thrills are more your style, Dubai boasts an impressive range of theme parks and amusement centres. The Wild Wadi water park is an enormously popular, state-of-the-art attraction. Featuring 24 rides, Wild Wadi caters for all ages and offers a huge range of waterslides, wave pools and amusements to beat off the desert heat. In a similar vein, Wonderland is an 18-hectare family fun park featuring a tremendous range of water rides and on-land attractions. Magic Planet at the Deira City Centre shopping mall and the Encounter Zone at the new Wafi Shopping Mall promise a variety of high-tech amusements for both children and adults.
Other famous Dubai landmarks include the Dubai Zoo, the World Trade Centre with its panoramic viewing deck, and the spectacular house of Sheikh Saeed. Day or night, there’s always an experience to be gained in the ‘City of Merchants’.
Arab friendship and hospitality is legendary. The Bedouin custom of offering food and shelter to strangers in the desert is preserved by today’s urban Arabs. From chaotic souks to corporate boardrooms, business starts with a tiny cup of cardamon-flavoured coffee… or two, or three.
This is just a part of the traditional expression of Arabic hospitality in which food, coffee, perfumes and incense are offered in a ritual still practiced by local Arabs entertaining guests in Dubai.
The population is deeply committed to the Islamic religion whose teachings include charity, justice, honesty and the importance of the family.
There are over 150 mosques and prayer houses in Dubai. The muezzin’s call to prayer forms a rhythmic pattern to life in the city. Muslims have a duty to pray five times a day, not necessarily in a mosque, but facing towards Mecca and reciting the prescribed prayers. The most important prayer is said in the mosque on the Islamic holy day, Friday.
Arab nationals in Dubai continue to wear their traditional dress. For men it is the white robe or dishdasha, with a white or red checked headcloth or gutra tied in place by a twisted black agal. The woman’s abba, or abbaya, is normally black and covers her from head to foot. Many women also wear a canvas mask called a burqa, which leaves only the eyes uncovered.
Weddings here are very different to western-style ceremonies – one unique part of the ritual is decorating the bride’s hands and feet with henna on the eve of the marriage ceremony.
Bedouin women were traditionally expert weavers. Floor mats, food mats, and bowls were woven from date palm fibres. Women also wove cotton and silver threads into trimmings for their garments, and fashioned coloured yarns into camel blankets. Bedouin jewelers is now widely available in the markets of Dubai and elsewhere.
Since the 1960s the ruling family has set its sights on attracting business to Dubai. It decided then that only by providing world class facilities would it be able to boost its trade and manufacturing base and lessen its dependence on oil. Nearly 40 years and billions of invested dollars later, Dubai’s pro-business policies and state-of-the-art facilities are proving very attractive to foreign companies.
Dubai, the leading industrial, commercial and trading centre in the Middle East, offers unrivalled attractions as a base for doing business in the prosperous and growing markets of one of the most rapidly developing regions in the international arena. In a part of the world where economic activity is largely dominated by oil, Dubai’s commercial life stands out for its diversity. While the discovery of oil in 1966 marked a significant turning point in the city’s development, Dubai was already established as a thriving business centre. For generations, its trade links had extended throughout the gulf, eastwards to India and south to the ports of the East African coast. In addition to earning Dubai a reputation within the Middle East as ‘the City of Merchants’, this longstanding tradition remains an important consideration for foreign companies looking at opportunities in the region today.
As a regional business base, Dubai is strategically located at the hub of one billion people. This includes the member states of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) and other countries in the Arab world, plus India, Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and former Soviet Union. Dubai’s airport, one of the world’s busiest in terms of transit passengers, is linked to 100 destinations via 60 airlines. For shipping, the Dubai Ports Authority is unrivalled throughout the region in both facilities and efficiency.
Dubai is politically stable and open to business with all nations, excluding Israel. No taxes are levied on profits or incomes – Dubai offers complete freedom of capital movement, boasting a highly sophisticated financial and services sector. Inexpensive energy, excellent communications facilities and a high standard of human resources, both local and expatriate, render Dubai the ultimate place to do business.
Apart from its appeal as a distribution centre and regional office location, Dubai also offers incoming industry excellent facilities for establishing manufacturing operations. In the Jebel Ali Free Zone specifically, overseas companies are permitted to set up wholly owned factories and can enjoy an array of incentives, including exemption from import duties, in addition to the favourable investment conditions which prevail elsewhere in Dubai.
A particularly important area of opportunity that Dubai offers overseas business is in trade. As a market for other countries’ exports, Dubai’s potential is much greater than its size would otherwise indicate. Despite a population of just over 500,000, Dubai has virtually no productive land or resource base from which to supply its own needs. Almost all the essential products required to sustain the emirate and its people must therefore be imported. A booming re-export trade adds substantially to this demand.
Aside from the purely economic advantages of doing business in and with Dubai, the emirate offers the foreign business person and their family a superb quality of life. Cosmopolitan, friendly and crime-free, Dubai is amongst the best in the world in terms of leisure, educational, residential, health and sporting facilities. With all these benefits making Dubai such a comfortable city, it is little wonder this emirate’s economy has progressed in leaps and bounds.