A wonderful city of the future that is surrounded on one side by the waters of the Persian Gulf, and on the other by the hot sands of the Rub’ al Khali desert. It is a place where great wealth intertwines with modern technical solutions, allowing everyone to realize their beautiful and bold dreams.
In the 1960s, this metropolis of over 3 million inhabitants was still a small settlement known for pearls and trade in the United Arab Emirates. The discovery of oil reserves caused a dramatic transformation, which resulted in the rapid development of the city, the emergence of modern infrastructure, and a rapid influx of people. Today, Dubai is a symbol of unlimited wealth, ambitious architectural projects and technological solutions. It is visited by businessmen and tourists alike, while the Emiratis have long eschewed the use of the word “impossible”.
Most famous for:
the world's highest skyscraper called the Burj Khalifa, which is 829 meters high.
Most famous historical monuments:
the oldest part of the city of Deira, the clock tower.
Most interesting architectural styles:
postmodernism, hi-tech architecture.
A breakthrough moment in history:
the discovery of oil in the 1960s, which started the economic revolution.
One definitely needs to:
see the dancing, illuminated fountains that are 275 meters high; go to one of the world's largest shopping centres - Dubai Mall; go shopping on Gold Souk market.
Something for gourmets:
achar handi – mutton with aromatic spices and green chili, eluqaimat – sweet dumplings with date syrup.
A place for a walk:
Jumeirah beach overlooking the Burj Al Arab.
Off the beaten track:
Satwa – a quiet district that is famous for textile stores, Al Fahidi – a former merchant district.
royal family of the United Arab Emirates.
A city with traditions
In 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty, which rules until today, seized power over the city and declared it a free emirate. And so Dubai became a British protectorate with its own government. At the end of the 19th century, pearl trade started to develop in the city, thanks to the policy that exempted foreign citizens from tax. This resulted in a massive inflow of traders from India and Pakistan. Today, you can feel the spirit of these times by visiting the two oldest districts of Dubai – Deira and Al Bastakiya. The former will delight you with narrow alleys bustling with life and numerous traditional markets – the most famous of them being Gold Souk.
It is beast to reach Al Bastakiya best by small, wooden boats passing through Dubai Creek. Built by Iranian merchants and craftsmen, it is the oldest district of Dubai, brimming with atmospheric cafes and restaurants, museums, art galleries, and boutiques offering handicrafts. Other big attractions are the traditional windtowers, which served as air conditioning, as well as fragments of defensive walls surrounding the Old Town or the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest Dubai building.
Not just oil
Although the discovery of oil was the driving force behind the rapid development of Dubai, nowadays the metropolis’ economy is based mainly on tourism and international business. Dubai’s authorities put a strong emphasis on education, science and the development of modern technologies, by investing, among others, in the raw materials processing industry, transport or renewable energy sources.
Jebel Ali, the world’s largest port entirely built by man (even the wharfs were artificially created), is extremely important for the economy of the United Arab Emirates. It is a key point for the transport of oil. Over 5,000 companies from 120 countries have their offices here. Moreover, it serves as a harbour for ships transporting goods through the Persian Gulf.
More than shopping malls
Some of the most important places on the map of Dubai are… the shopping centres. Built on a grand scale, they offer much more than just the stores of the most famous and expensive brands in the world. Their size and numerous attractions make them places where you can spend long hours.
The most famous is Dubai Mall where in-between shopping you can visit an aquarium and underwater zoo with 30 thousand species of sea animals, or ski on an Olympic size ice rink.
The boldest ideas of sheikhs include the creation of artificial island complexes in the waters of the Persian Gulf. The most spectacular is the palm-shaped island called the Palm Jumeirah. It occupies several dozen kilometres of shoreline, and from its stately trunk there sprout 17 leaves surrounded by a breakwater. The island includes, among others, exclusive holiday cottages with access to the sea, and Atlantis The Palm hotel, one of the grandest and most expensive hotel resorts in Dubai.
It is located at the very top of the palm tree, connected with the base of the trunk by a single-track monorail. One of the highest and most exclusive hotels in the world, the Burj al Arab, has been built on another artificial island. It has gained popularity thanks to its characteristic shape resembling a sail that rises 321 meters above sea level as the first seven-star hotel in the world.
Equally spectacular is the 828-meter Burj Khalifa, which is as high as four Palaces of Culture and two Empire State Buildings put together. Moreover, it is the world’s highest construction created by man. This skyscraper has over 160 floors, which are occupied by a hotel designed by Giorgio Armani,
the world’s highest-placed restaurant, a pool, a mosque, offices, private housing and apartments. From this magnificent building, you can watch the same sunset twice – first at its base, and then from its terrace located on the 124th floor, that can be reached by the fastest elevator in the world.
Another location that should be added to the list of Dubai miracles are the dancing fountains. They are located in the most exclusive part of the city, i.e., between Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. The fountains are 275 meters long, and their water is illuminated with special lamps.
The shows take place every day at fixed times and attract crowds of tourists who want to see the sequence of harmonious bursts of water, combined with popular or classic songs, accompanied by an impressive play of lights.
One of the longest unmanned underground systems in the world consists of two lines that run almost entirely above the ground, thus making it a great means of exploring the city. Each train consists of five air-con-ditioned carriages divided into classes such as gold (elevated standard), family (compartment for women with children) and silver.
12-lane highway and pink taxis
Dubai is a city of cars, as evidenced by Sheikh Zayed Road, a 12-strip highway that runs through its centre, and the driving style of local drivers that is defi nitely milder than in other Arab countries. In addition, road infrastructure in the city is extremely developed. Furthermore, the cost of renting a car and gasoline is low. Dubai taxis with a pink roof are called “ladies’ taxis”, because their drivers and passengers could only be women.
Tastes of the world
Due to the multicultural character of the city, Dubai is rich in many excellent restaurants serving European, Asian and South American dishes. Of particular note are the places serving traditional dishes from the Arab Emirates, such as elqaimat – sweet dumplings served with date syrup and sesame, or shish tawook – grilled chicken skewers.
The popular public Jumeirah beach, from which you can see the majestic Burj Al-Arab sail, is also a popular spot where you can take a rest.
The three biggest artificial islands in the world.
An indoor ski resort that is located under a special dome.
A seven star hotel
The Burj Al Arab is the only seven-star hotel in the world, which is a showcase of modern, exclusive Dubai.
The symbol of prestige in Dubai is the falcon. In the United Arab Emirates, this predatory bird is used not only for hunting, but it also accompanies humans in their daily lives.
The camel plays an important role in the culture of Dubai. A museum dedicated to these animals was built in 1940 at the bank of Dubai Creek.
Dhow boat races have been organized in the capital of the Emirate for over 30 years – their route runs along the most representative parts of the coast. The sight of the snow-white sails can be enjoyed from the mainland or ferries, which are prepared just for this occasion.
The city of design
Dubai has been awarded the title of the City of Design and belongs to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The city features Dubai Design Week, and d3- Dubai Design Disctrict, a creative ecosystem dedicated to the designer community.
Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of border crossing and visa.
A taxi ride from the airport to the center of Dubai is around 40 dirhams. Metro stops that run during the day are located at terminals 1 and 3 of the Dubai airport - a ride with a special card with a chip (cost 1.80 - 5.80 dirham). Travel by day bus only with a card with a chip purchased in a special ticket machine.