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City Guide



Population: 757,000 (estimated)
Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Main language: Arabic; English is also widely spoken.
Type of government : federation of emirates
Political subdivisions: 7 emirates

Dubai is the second largest of the emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates. It was established in the late 1950’s to serve a tiny coastal settlement. Today, Dubai is a modern metropolis with a population of over 700,000. It offers its citizens the finest in modern comforts. It is known internationally as a premier tourist destination.

Dubai is really two towns separated by Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai), an inlet of the Gulf. Deira lies to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. Both districts are packed with traditional architecture and bustling souqs, but the city center is in Deira. Glittering new office buildings along Shaikh Zayed Rd in Bur Dubai form the core of another burgeoning city center.

Currency: The monetary unit is the dirham (Dh) which is divided into 100 fils. The dirham is linked to the Special Drawing Right of the International Monetary Fund. It has been held constant against the US dollar since the end of 1980.

Banks: Both the local banks and the many international banks represented by branches in Dubai provide the usual commercial banking services. Transfers can be made without difficulty as there is no exchange control and the dirham is freely convertible.
Bank opening hours are 8:00am to 1:00pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, although some also open from 4:30–6:30pm. On Thursdays, banks operate only from 8:00am to noon.

Business Hours
The weekend has traditionally been Thursday afternoon and Friday, but some organizations now close on Friday and Saturday, working through Thursday afternoon instead.
Stores are similar in their opening times, but most shops remain open until 9–10pm. Department stores, boutiques, souqs and many food shops remain open on Friday, apart from prayer times (between 11:30am and 1:30pm), while larger shops re-open on a Friday afternoon at around 4–5pm.

Time zone GMT + 4 hours (When it is noon in NY City by Eastern Standard Time; it is 8pm in Dubai) Daylight saving time is not observed.
The climate is hot and dry. The mean January temperature is 65°F. and the mean temperature in July is 92°F. The average annual rainfall is 6in.

Location: The 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 kilometres.
Outside the city itself, the emirate is sparsely inhabited and characterized by desert vegetation.

When to Visit:
The best time of the year to visit Dubai is between November and April, when the weather is coolest. Ramadan, which takes place at a different time each year on the western calendar, is the Muslim month of fasting and is strictly adhered to throughout the UAE. That means that it's illegal, not to mention rude, to eat, drink or smoke in public from sunrise to sunset during your stay

Packing
Dubai 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.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but sweaters or jackets may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings
Compared with certain parts of the Middle East, Dubai has a very relaxed dress code. However, care should be taken not to give offence by wearing clothing which may be considered revealing

Water:
Tap water is safe to drink, but visitors usually prefer locally-bottled mineral water and this is served in hotels and restaurants.

Religion: Islam is the official religion of the UAE and there are a large number of mosques throughout the city. Other religions are respected and Dubai has two Christian churches, St Mary’s (Roman Catholic) and Holy Trinity (Inter-denominational).

Alcohol
Alcohol is available in hotel and club restaurants and bars. However, restaurants outside the hotels are not permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is prohibited for Muslims, yet the UAE is lenient to foreigners in this regard. Alcoholic drinks are available in private clubs, hotels, and restaurants in hotels. In addition, non-Muslim expatriates can get liquor permits for purchase and consumption of alcohol in their homes; however, as permit holders, they may not sell, serve or give liquor to Muslims

Photography
Normal tourist photography is acceptable but it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. In general, photographs of government buildings or military installations should not be taken.

Telephone: To call the UAE from abroad, the country code is 971 followed by the city code and the local number.

Business District: The main business district is barely 1 sq km (0.4 sq mi), bounded by Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed and Istiglal Sts to the north, Zayed the Second St to the south, Khalid bin al-Walid St to the west and As Salam St to the east.

Hijra Calendar and Method of Determining Holidays:
The Hijra (Islamic) calendar is lunar; each month begins and ends with the sighting of the new moon. There are twelve months in the Hijra calendar: Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ al-Awwal, Rabi’ al-Akhir, Jumada’ al-Ula, Jumada’ al-Akhirah, Rajab, Sha’baan, Ramadhan, Shawwal, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah. Each month is 29-30 days long, making the Hijra year shorter than the Gregorian year. Unlike the Gregorian day, which is from midnight to midnight, the Muslim day starts and ends at sunset. The Hijra calendar began with Prophet Mohammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina. The first year corresponds to 622 AD in the Gregorian calendar.

Holidays

Hijra New Year
Prophet’s Birthday
A significant day for many Muslims
Israa’ Wal Miraaj
The Prophet’s miraculous night journey to Heaven
UAE National Day
The official establishment of the United Arab Emirates
Eid Al Fitr
Feast of Fast Breaking at the end of the month of fasting
Eid Al Adha
Feast of Sacrifice; occurs during the pilgrimage to Mecca, commemorating the example set by Prophet Abraham
Accession Day
The day Shaikh Zayed Al Nahayan become ruler of the UAE

Holidays are subject to change according to the sighting of the moon

Getting There

The airport is on the mainland, about 18.6 miles northeast of the city centre. Dubai International Airport (DXB) underwent a US$540 million expansion in recent years. New facilities include a spa, business and conference rooms, a five-star hotel and, of course, an expanded duty-free store, enlarging what was already one of the biggest in the world. The airport has a long-standing reputation as the Gulf's travel hub. It accommodates over 100 airlines.

Dubai’s location at the cross-roads of Europe, Asia and Africa makes for easy accessibility. London is seven hours away, Frankfurt six, Hong Kong eight and Nairobi four.

Buses run throughout the region to other parts of the UAE and surrounding countries. Within the UAE, the only intercity bus route you're likely to use runs to Hatta from the Deira bus station. To get to most other cities in the Emirates, take a Dubai Transport minibus.

Long-distance taxis can take you to any other emirate on a shared or 'engaged' basis (which means you'll either have to fill all five seats or pay for them). Settle the price before you leave. There is a tax as you cross the UAE border by land.

Passenger ferries make the 12-hour trip between Sharjah (a twenty-minute drive from Dubai) and the port of Bandaré Abbas in Iran daily. A passenger and car ferry runs from Jebel Ali (30 minutes south of the city center) and Umm Qasr Port in Iraq every Saturday. If you leave the UAE by boat, there's a port tax.

Getting Around

Buses run between Dubai International Airport and Deira bus station every half hour, and metered, beige-colored Dubai Transport taxis take new arrivals to any point in the Deira or Bur Dubai city centers .Although they can't serve the airport, there are scores of private taxis in all shapes and colors. As these aren't metered, you may need to bargain a bit to arrive at the fare.

Local buses run from the Deira bus station, near the gold souq, and the Bur Dubai Station on Al-Ghubaiba Rd. Monthly bus passes, known as taufeer, provide unlimited travel on either side of Dubai Creek or throughout the city

Roads and highways: Over the past two decades, Dubai has built an impressive network of first-class roads connecting all parts of the city and surrounding areas.

There are two bridges and a tunnel linking the two main districts of Dubai and Deira on either side of the Creek.

Roads to all major towns and villages are excellent and a multi-lane highway heads southwards from the city to Abu Dhabi.

Water taxis: An interesting way to travel between Dubai and Deira is by water taxi across the Creek.

National Dress

The men of the Arabian peninsula wear the gleaming white (sometimes brown or gray) ankle length dishdasha. Local men wear a small skull cap (gafia), covered by the white or sometimes red-checkered head cloth (gutra) and held in place by the twisted black coil (agal). Only rarely will a national appear in western dress within the Emirates. For important occasions and men of standing, the white dishdasha is covered by a flowing black cloak (bisht) edged with gold braid.

Emirati women usually wear trousers (sirwal) fitted tightly at the ankles. Over the sirwal is worn the jillabeeya, a floor length dress which is often decorated in embroidery and covered by a black cloak (abaya). Some women cover their face with a black cloth (nikab) that only reveals the eyes and others, mostly older women, wear a canvas mask called a burga which covers eyebrows, nose and mouth. Almost all women cover their hair with a shaila or hejjab as, according to Islam, hair is private.


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