Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature. The city of Dubai is located on the emirate's northern coastline and heads up the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. Dubai is to host World Expo 2020.
Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. By the 1960s, Dubai's economy was based on revenues from trade and, to a smaller extent, oil exploration concessions, but oil was not discovered until 1966. Oil revenue first started to flow in 1969. Dubai's oil revenue helped accelerate the early development of the city, but its reserves are limited and production levels are low: today, less than 5% of the emirate's revenue comes from oil. The emirate's Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The city has become iconic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Dubai has been criticised for human rights violations concerning the city's largely South Asian workforce. Dubai's property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008–09 following the financial crisis of 2007–08, but the emirate's economy has made a return to growth, with a projected 2015 budget surplus.
As of 2012, Dubai is the 22nd most expensive city in the world and the most expensive city in the Middle East. In 2014, Dubai's hotel rooms were rated as the second most expensive in the world, after Geneva. Dubai was rated as one of the best places to live in the Middle East by American global consulting firm Mercer.
During the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of immigrants fleeing the Lebanese civil war. Border disputes between the emirates continued even after the formation of the UAE; it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was reached that ended disagreements. The Jebel Ali port was established in 1979. JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone) was built around the port in 1985 to provide foreign companies unrestricted import of labor and export capital.
The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently, the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived. Later in the 1990s, many foreign trading communities—first from Kuwait, during the Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, during the Shia unrest—moved their businesses to Dubai. Dubai provided refueling bases to allied forces at the Jebel Ali Free Zone during the Gulf War, and again during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Large increases in oil prices after the Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.
A relatively new tourist destination, Dubai was gaining popularity in recent years until the global economic crash of 2008. Dubai is essentially a desert city with superb infrastructure, liberal policies (by regional standards), that became popular for its excellent tourist amenities. Just 5 h from Europe and 3 h from most parts of the Middle East, the Near East, and the subcontinent of India, Dubai makes a great short break for shopping, partying, sunbathing, fine dining, sporting events, and even a few sinful pleasures. It is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world. The weekly day off is on Friday. Note that, since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday has been adopted for the public sector and schools. Government departments, multinational companies, and most schools and universities are now off on Friday and Saturday (after years of a mixed bag of Friday/Saturday and Thursday/Friday weekends). Some local companies still work half a day on Thursday with a full day on Saturday, but larger companies tend to permit relaxation and time off work for their employees on Friday and Saturday.
Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai's lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. As of 2013, Dubai was the 7th most visited city of the world based on air traffic and the fastest growing, increasing by a 10.7% rate. Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015. The emirate is also the most populous of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East". Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping centres, including the world's largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall. Dubai is also known for the traditional souk districts located on either side of its creek. Traditionally, dhows from East Asia, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Dubai Creek played a vital role in the sustaining the life of the community in the city and was the resource which originally drove the economic boom in Dubai. As of September 2013, Dubai creek has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is also referred to as "the City of Gold" as the Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops.
Dubai Creek Park in Dubai Creek also plays a vital role in Dubai tourism as it showcase some of the most famous tourist attractions in Dubai such as Dolphinarium, Cable Car, Camel Ride, Horse Carriage and Exotic Birds Shows.
Dubai is divided into multiple districts or municipalities:
Jumeirah — A diverse district whose residents are the Europeans to the Filipinos to the Pakistanis; a mixed Little Europe, Karachi and Manila. Jumeirah is much favoured by Europeans due to the ease of access of the beach, Beautiful villas are seen here. Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence's the Walk and Jumeirah Mosque are the top attractions.
Downtown Dubai — While Bur Dubai and Deira are traditionally considered "Downtown", the Downtown Dubai development is smack in the center of the "New Dubai," between Dubai Marina on the south end and the border with the city of Sharjah to the north. It includes the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (world's biggest), Dubai Fountain, and lots of other skyscrapers and hotels.
Dubai Marina — is a mega-development that borders Jebel Ali (the world's largest man-made port). It is full of skyscrapers and hosts the "Jumeirah Beach Walk" with a number of restaurants, hotels an open-air market when the weather permits, and frequent shows. Dubai Marina houses one of the highest concentrations of Westerns in Dubai.
Satwa — One of Dubai's Little India and Little Manila, due to the presence of Filipinos and Indians, a rise in Filipino and Indian restaurants, shops, supermarkets are seen here. Gold and textiles is what people come here for, Gold Souk might be your top destination but Satwa too has gold shops and is hassle free, not so crowded.
Karama — More of like a mixed commercial residential district, one of Dubai's Little Indias and Little Manilas, cheap eats and cheap buys are the top things here.
Bur Dubai — A historical district and Bur Dubai is usual term for the area from Jumeirah to the creek, the creek separates Bur Dubai from Deira. Tourist attractions from abras to souks to floating restaurants to the famous creek are found here.
Deira — Dubai's old Financial centre, today Deira is a bustling commercial-residential district with some old souks, including one specializing in spices.
Arabian Ranches and Emirates Hills — These are two separate places, residential rents here are expensive due to the land value, just like the whole of Dubai, these two are Man-made.
Mirdiff/Mirdif — A commercial-residential district which is somewhat newly built and lies directly under the flight path to Dubai International Airport. Mirdif City Center is one of the attractions. This is another residence for the well-to-do.
International City — Just a simple residential area in the middle of the desert, what's special about it is its architectural design, the residential rents here are cheap and is somewhat the next Chinatown as many Chinese businessmen and women reside here.
Jebel Ali — Once isolated from the main bulk of Dubai back in the 70's, Jebel Ali is now a major residential and industrial hub encompassing the southern portions of the city. The main attraction popular with locals and tourists alike is the easily recognizable Ibn Battuta Mall, styled on the countries visited by the famous explorer. The mall is built adjacent to the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel that's large archway can be seen from afar. Surrounding the mall is the Gardens apartments, an ethnically diverse district with a strong Indian community. Jebel Ali village, a 35 year old community built on the side of Jebel Ali (Ali Mountain) for the European builders of Jebel Ali Port is still popular with western expats. The coastal side of the Sheihk Zayed Road in Jebel Ali consists of many unattractive power and desalination plants that somewhat ruin the view. The port was the 9th busiest in the world in 2011.