Information about Dubai
With year-round sunshine, intriguing
deserts, beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels and shopping malls,
fascinating heritage attractions and a thriving business
community, Dubai receives millions of leisure and business
visitors each year from around the world. These visitors can
benefit from a range of services and a local infrastructure that
help make any trip to Dubai smooth and hassle-free.
Dubai has a warm, sunny climate that is
ideal for tourism, with mild temperatures for most of the year
and a low rainfall. Summer temperatures in July and August can
reach highs of around 45ºC (113ºF) with high humidity, making
this the least comfortable time of year to visit in terms of
climate. However, Dubai is well geared up for high temperatures,
and public transport, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and
visitor attractions are all air conditioned.
English is widely spoken in Dubai, and as
all restaurant menus, road signs and other information is
usually presented in both English and Arabic, visitors who speak
English will have no trouble making their way around. Many tour
operators and travel professionals will also be able to offer
services to French, Russian and German speaking visitors.
The local currency is the dirham, which is
pegged to the dollar at Dhs 3.67. Dubai offers a sophisticated
network of banks, currency exchanges and ATMs, making it easy to
access money across the city.
Dubai is tolerant and cosmopolitan and all
visitors are welcome. However, Islam is a way of life in the
city, and therefore tourists should adopt a certain level of
cultural and religious sensitivity for the duration of their
stay. While dress codes are fairly liberal, swim wear should
only be worn on beaches or at swimming pools, and when visiting
shopping malls and other attractions, tourists should wear
clothing that is not too tight or revealing. Certain
attractions, such as mosques or religious sites, usually have
stricter dress codes, requiring both men and women to cover up
bare shoulders, arms and legs, and women to wear headscarves.
Despite being governed by Islamic laws,
alcohol is available to tourists in licensed bars and
restaurants (these are almost always located inside four and
five star hotels), and in airport duty free shops. Drinking in
public places (such as beaches) is not permitted, and being
drunk and disorderly in public can result in stiff penalties.
Fascinating Facts about Dubai
Arabic is the official language of the UAE
while English is the language of business, though it competes
with Urdu as the lingua franca. You will have little trouble
making yourself understood, though when you venture out to the
rural areas you will find that English is not as widespread.
Knowing the Iranian language, Farsi, will help you get by. Urdu
and Malayalam (the language of Kerala in India) can both be
reasonably useful because of the large number of Pakistani and
The UAE Dirham (Dhs) is divided into 100
Fils. Notes come in denominations of Dhs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100,
200, 500, 1000. There are 1 Dhs, 50 Fils, 25 Fils, 10 Fils and 5
Fils coins (although the latter two are rarely used today)
U.A.E Local Time is + 4 hours GMT.
Shops in Dubai Opens daily from 10:00 a.m.
till 10:00 p.m., Lunch break from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Ramadan is the month during which Muslims
fast from dawn until dusk. Bars and Pubs are closed for serving
the alcohol in a day time throughout the month. Those with a
liquor license can still buy alcohol for consumption at home.
Everyone, regardless of their religion, is required to observe
the fast in public. That only means not eating and drinking but
no smoking as well. Although it is unlikely you will be arrested
for breaking these rules, as you would be in Saudi Arabia, you
may stopped by the police and told to get rid of your sandwich
or put your cigarette out.
In taking photographs of places or people,
ask for permission from the concerned people in a very polite
manner before taking the shot. Military facilities must not be
photographed at all.
Dubai has a land area of 4,114 square
kilometers. This makes the emirate larger than Singapore (687 sq
km), Hong Kong (1,104 sq km), and Maldives (300 sq km) combined.
The word Dubai may have evolved from the
word Daba, which means to creep, referring to the process by
which the Dubai Creek slowly flows inland. Another interesting
version is, the poet Ahmad Mohammad Obaid claims that Dubai got
its name from the same word, Daba, which also refers to a swarm
Dubai had a flourishing pearl business,
which collapsed with the advent of the First World War and the
Dubai is a part of the Arabian Desert, but
is topographically different from it. It is dotted with sandy
deserts, where wild grasses and palm trees grow. To the east of
the city lie the sabkha, coastal plains covered with salt, which
see an abundant growth of desert hyacinths.
Every year, in winter, over 300 bird
species migrate through Dubai.
Dubai experiences extremely arid and hot
climates, with the mercury shooting as high as 45 Celcius.
Average precipitation is not more than 140 mm annually. Summers
are prone to severe sandstorms, locally known as shamal, which
can last for days on end, and reduce visibility.
The Al Maktoum dynasty has ruled Dubai
since 1833. Dubai does not follow the federal judicial system of
the United Arab Emirates.
The culture and dress code in Dubai is much
more diverse and liberal than the other emirates of the UAE.
Though music, arts, and food have a distinct Arabic and Bedouin
influence, the large influx of foreigners visiting and working
in Dubai have left their indelible mark on the place, which is
evident in the cosmopolitan culture of the society.
Traditionally, men wear a kandura, a long white robe, that
reached up to the ankles, and is either woolen or made from
cotton. Women can be seen wearing the abaya, a black garment
worn over the clothes.
Dubai has stringent behavioral laws in
place, and kissing and dancing in public is considered illegal.
It is imperative that Muslim religious restrictions be obeyed by
non-Muslims as well.
Dubai has world-famous shopping malls, and
tourists flock here regularly to enjoy the Dubai Shopping
Festival. The Dubai Mall is the seventh largest mall in the
world, and the city is called the Shopping Capital of the Middle
On either side of Dubai Creek, lie
commercial districts known as souk. These districts are
traditionally famous for the exchange of commodities, which were
brought in by Arabian cargo vessels known as dhows from east
Asia. Visit a souk to get a feel of true Dubai shopping, where
customers bargain heavily.
Dubai is famous for its gold market, and the Gold Souk itself
has over 250 gold shops! It is said that one in every five
persons in Dubai buys at least five pieces of jewelry annually.
Dubai is home to some of the tallest
skyscrapers in the world. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest
man-made structure on the earth, at a height of 2,717 feet. This
towering edifice also currently boasts of the highest
restaurant, highest mosque, highest nightclub, and the highest
outdoor observation deck in the world! Quite a feat, isn't it?
Wait, there's more. If you happen to visit Dubai on new year's
eve, this hotel will put up a brilliant display of fireworks,
the highest of its kind currently in the world!
The tallest residential building in the
world, the 23 Marina is also located in Dubai. The world's
tallest hotel, the Rose Tower or Rose Rayhaan, is also found in
Dubai, standing tall at 1,092 feet.
Crime rate is virtually zero across the
city. Dubai is one of the safest places on earth, where racial
tensions among different nationals are unheard of.
The Burj Al Arab, built in the shape of a
dhow sail, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and
the fourth tallest, is built on an artificial island, nearly 280
feet from Jumeirah beach. One of its restaurants, Al Mahara,
features a massive seawater aquarium, made of acrylic glass. The
entry to this restaurant is through a simulated submarine
voyage. Another noteworthy fact, the lobby of this hotel is
taller than the Statue of Liberty!
The Dubai Mall, part of the Burj Khalifa,
is the biggest shopping mall in the world by total area. It
houses the Aquarium and Discovery Center, which has the unique
distinction of holding the world record for the largest acrylic
The Mall of the Emirates features Ski
Dubai, an indoor ski resort, with an area of 22,500 square
meters. There's also the Snow Park, the largest indoor snow park
in the world, with an area of 3,000 square meters.
Palm Islands, an artificial group of
islands, are being constructed using land reclamation
techniques, in Dubai. Once completed, these islands will be the
biggest archipelago ever made and will house residential
beachfront properties, luxury hotels, theme parks, entertainment
centers, malls, sporting facilities, and much more.
The Dubai International Airport is the 5th
busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic,
and the 8th busiest cargo airport in the world. Terminal 3 of
the airport is the single largest building, by floor space.
You do not need to pay personal and income
tax in Dubai!
There are no shops selling alcohol or beer
in Dubai. Buying in duty free is your only option if you don't
want to pay hotel prices
Global cities require street addresses for
couriers to find their destinations. Dubai has none. Posts are
instead delivered to PO boxes.
Over 80% of Dubai's population consists of
History of U.A.E.
Soon after assuming power on 6th August
1966 as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed underscored the
importance of union and remarked: “In harmony, in some sort of
federation, we could follow the example of other developing
countries”. The significance of unity and the need to work in
co-operation with the other emirates was thus ingrained in
Sheikh Zayed’s thinking very early in his career. Although he
was fully aware that federation was a novel concept in the
region, yet he had a firm conviction that it could be
implemented on the basis of common ties that bound the different
emirates, and the history and heritage that they shared together
for centuries. To translate his ideals of union, co-operation
and mutual support into practice, Sheikh Zayed began to devote a
large part of his emirate’s income from oil to the Trucial
States Development Fund long before the inception of the UAE as
a federal state.
In 1968 the British Government, under the
pressure of adverse economic conditions, announced the
termination of all its treaties protecting the Trucial States
and its intention to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971.
This sudden decision while threatening to create a military and
political vacuum in the area, also helped to reduce the
obstacles and difficulties that had hindered the earlier
attempts at union of the emirates. The very prospect of ending
the special relationship that had existed between Britain and
the Trucial States for one hundred and fifty years, clearly
sounded the signal for some form of association more formal and
more binding than was represented by the Trucial States Council.
As a result of these new forces set in motion, Sheikh Zayed bin
Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, along with Sheikh Rashid
bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, promptly initiated the
move towards establishing a federation. This federation was
meant to be the nucleus of Arab unity and to protect the
potentially oil-rich coast from the ambitions of the more
powerful neighboring countries.
The initiative taken by the Rulers of the
two leading emirates resulted in a meeting on 18th February
1968, at al Semha on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
This was a historic meeting where Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid
agreed to merge their respective emirates in a union and jointly
conduct foreign affairs, defense, security and social services
and adopt a common immigration policy. Other administrative
matters were left to the jurisdiction of the local government of
each emirate. This momentous agreement came to be known as the
Union Accord and may be considered as the first step towards
uniting the Trucial Coast as a whole. In order to further
strengthen the federation, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid also
invited the Rulers of the five other Trucial States and Bahrain
and Qatar to join in the negotiations for the formation of the
From 25th to 27th February 1968, the Rulers
of these nine states convened a constitutional conference in
Dubai. For over three years the eleven-point agreement,
conceived in Dubai, served as the basis for intensive efforts to
shape the constitutional and legal framework for this ‘Union of
Arab Emirates’, comprising these nine member states.
There were countless meetings on many
levels of authority. The key issues were agreed in the meetings
of the Supreme Council of Rulers, formed by the nine Heads of
State. There were formal discussions by the Deputy Rulers and by
various committees, involving civil servants from these emirates
as well as external advisers. In the summer of 1971, it became
clear that Iran no longer lay claim to Bahrain and the Ruler of
Bahrain, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifah, declared the island
states’ independence on 14th August 1971. Qatar followed suit on
1st September 1971.
The authorities in the seven Trucial States
next worked on an alternative to the ‘Union of Arab Emirates’.
Already the Rulers of the six Trucial States viz., Abu Dhabi,
Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah, (with Ras al
Khaimah still hesitating) had decided to form the United Arab
Emirates in a meeting held in Dubai on 18th July 1971. The
foundation of an independent, sovereign state was formally
proclaimed on 2nd December 1971, and after Ras al Khaimah joined
on 10th February 1972, the federation was complete with the
inclusion of all the seven former Trucial States. This newly
founded federal state became officially known as Dawlat al
Imarat al Arabiyya al Muttahida or the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A Provisional Constitution, based on an amended version of the
earlier draft constitution of the nine Gulf States, was agreed
upon as its formal basis. It defined as its highest objective,
the common good of the UAE as a whole. The Provisional
Constitution consisting of 152 articles, divided into a Preamble
and 10 parts, specified the powers which were to be allocated to
the new federal institutions, while all others were to remain
the prerogative of the local governments of the individual
emirates. The five central authorities outlined in the
The Supreme Council constituted by the
seven Rulers; it is the highest policy-making body of the state
and is vested with the ultimate legislative and executive
The President and Vice President of the federal state.
The Council of Ministers or Cabinet.
The Federal National Council (FNC); it is a consultative council
comprising forty members drawn from the emirates on the basis of
their population with eight deputies each from Abu Dhabi and
Dubai, six each from Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah, and four each
from Fujairah, Ajman and Umm al Qaiwain.
The Judiciary; it is structured into a
hierarchy of courts at the apex of which is the Federal Supreme
The Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin
Sultan Al Nahyan, was elected by his fellow Rulers as the first
President of the UAE, a post to which he has been successively
re-elected at five-year intervals. The then Ruler of Dubai,
Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was elected as
Vice-President, a post which he held until his death in 1990,
when his eldest son Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid was elected to
succeed him. In a historic meeting on 20th May 1996, the Federal
Supreme Council approved a draft amendment that made the
country’s Provisional Constitution the permanent Constitution of
the UAE, and named Abu Dhabi as the capital of the state.
The UAE embarked on its political career as
a federation of seven regional states of very different sizes,
natural resources, population and wealth, but with a common
history and heritage. Abu Dhabi, is the largest in terms of
area, and is also blessed with the richest oil reserves. The
federal institutions are very largely financed by Abu Dhabi.
Dubai was even in 1971, the best connected of the city-states
and continues to grow as the hub of the region’s trade and
business. Some of the other emirates have always been endowed
with relative wealth of water and arable land. But despite these
disparities, the UAE’s impressive record of progress has been
possible because of the success of the federation and its
leaders working in a spirit of harmony and co-operation for the
achievement of common goals.
The central authorities undertook as their
primary duty, the utilization of the wealth of the country’s
natural resources for the benefit of the UAE as a whole. This
contributed in a large measure to the success and permanence of
the federation. The Rulers of the UAE, which today ranks among
the top oil and gas producers worldwide, used its oil wealth
with remarkable vision and foresight to improve the lives of its
people, and create an infrastructure that supports a growing
list of non-oil industries and activities. From the very outset,
it has been the firm conviction of Sheikh Zayed that “Money is
of no value unless it is used for the benefit of the people”.
The social services provided by the federal ministries,
especially free education, housing, healthcare and social aid
for the Emiratis, paved the way for a rapid and phenomenal
growth and development throughout the country. And finally with
the advent of modern technology, the UAE has been transformed
from one of the least developed countries to a modern nation
state within less than three decades.
Another important factor contributing to
the political stability enjoyed by the UAE since its formal
inception, is the carefully planned and successfully implemented
foreign policy of its leaders which is primarily aimed at
“promoting conciliation and defusing confrontation and
conflict”. The cornerstone of the UAE’s foreign policy is to
protect the sovereignty of the country and the independence of
its citizens within the broader framework of Gulf security.
Another key component of this policy has been to gradually
expand the country’s political horizons and develop relations
with international powers and work in co-operation with
Thus soon after its emergence as a
full-fledged state, the UAE joined the Arab League and the
United Nations. It was one of the driving forces behind the
foundation of the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO) in the
1970s. The establishment of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC),
comprising the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia, at a summit held in Abu Dhabi in 1981, and the promotion
of relations with other Arab countries, are reflections of the
UAE’s determination to bolster solidarity with the rest of the
The role of the President of the UAE,
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, needs to be particularly emphasized in
this connection as his stature has grown internationally in
tandem with the status of the country on the world stage.Over
the years, he has emerged as the mentor and mediator for the
younger statesmen not only in the GCC, but also within the Arab
World and for many a developing country. It is also largely due
to his humanitarian approach derived from his firm faith in
Islam, that a host of poor countries and communities worldwide
have benefited from the financial and material assistance given
in the name of the UAE by the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Furthermore,
the UAE’s military organization is the only non-Nato force
helping with peacekeeping in Kosovo. It is not surprising
therefore, that the spectacular generosity of this small country
has drawn the attention of the world by helping to alleviate the
misery of the victims of natural or man-made calamities at home
Even individually, all the emirates and
notably Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, are drawing international
attention by offering wide-ranging economic opportunities,
sports and leisure facilities, cultural activities and also by
creating awareness for the protection of the environment and
wildlife, and by promoting tourism. The remarkable advancement
of the Emirati women in every sphere of life constitutes another
important yardstick for measuring the progress of the country as
a whole. Accorded equal status and opportunities by the
Constitution, women of the UAE today are making their presence
felt in society in a pronounced way. The UAE Women’s Federation
established in Abu Dhabi in 1975 by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak,
wife of the President, along with its branches in all the other
emirates, deserves credit for playing a major role in the
emancipation of women. However, what is even more noteworthy is
that despite overall modernization, the architects of UAE’s
development consider the preservation and continuation of their
traditional culture and time-honored heritage to be of utmost
The success of the UAE’s political system
lies in the fact that it represents a unique combination of the
traditional and modern with an inherent commitment “to
consensus, discussion and direct democracy”. The sacrifices and
achievements of its founding fathers, contributed to the
emergence of this modern nation in place of the erstwhile
independent and backward emirates. The UAE is the only federal
state in the Arab world that has not only survived, but has
succeeded in evolving a distinct national identity through the
passage of time. On the occasion of the celebration of
twenty-five years of success of the federation, Sheikh Zayed had
remarked with satisfaction, “that which has been accomplished
has exceeded all our expectations, and that, with the help of
God and a sincere will, confirms that there is nothing that
cannot be achieved in the service of the people if determination
is firm and intentions are sincere”. The Federation of the UAE
is, and will continue to be, a source of pride for the present
and future generations of Emiratis.
The United Arab Emirates is comprised of
seven emirates, which occupy the southeastern corner of the
Arabian Peninsula. Each emirate, unique and rich in tradition,
is an essential component necessary for making up the whole.
Abu Dhabi, by far the largest emirate, is ruled by the Al
Nahyan family. It occupies 67,340 square kilometres or 86.7% of
the total area of the country. The emirate is primarily a vast
desert area with about two dozen islands in the coastal waters,
including the island where the city of Abu Dhabi is located,
plus six sizeable islands further out in the Arabian Gulf. The
population of the emirate is concentrated in three areas: the
capital city, Abu Dhabi; Al Ain, an oasis city located near the
Hajar Mountains; and the villages of the Liwa oases.
Traditionally, the population along the coast relied on fishing
and pearling for their livelihood, whilst those in the
hinterland relied on date plantations and camel herding. Through
remarkable leadership and personal commitment, His Highness
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan developed Abu Dhabi into an
influential, fully modernised state. Upon Sheikh Zayed's death
in November 2004, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became UAE
President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Dubai, the second largest of the seven emirates, is ruled by
the Al Maktoum family. It occupies an area of approximately
3,900 kilometres, which includes a small enclave called Hatta,
situated close to Oman, amongst the Hajar Mountains. Dubai, the
capital city, is located along the creek, a natural harbour,
which traditionally provided the basis of the trading industry.
Pearling and fishing were the main sources of income for the
people of Dubai. Under the wise leadership of its rulers,
Dubai's focus on trade and industry transformed it into the
leading trading port along the southern Gulf. His Highness
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the current ruler of
Sharjah, which shares its southern border with Dubai, is ruled
by the Al Qasimi family. It is approximately 2,600 square
kilometres and is the only emirate to have coastlines on both
the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. In the nineteenth century
the town of Sharjah was the leading port in the lower Gulf.
Produce from the interior of Oman, India and Persia arrived
there. Sharjah's salt mines meant that salt constituted an
important part of its export business, along with pearls. In the
1930s when the pearling industry declined and trade decreased
due to the creek silting up, Imperial Airways' flying boats set
up a staging post for flights en route to India, which benefited
the residents of Sharjah. Today, under the leadership of Sheikh
Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is the cultural and
educational centre of the UAE and takes pride in preserving the
country's cultural heritage as well as promoting Arab culture
Ajman is the smallest emirate, comprising only 260 square
kilometres. It is ruled by the Al Nuami family. Surrounded
mostly by the emirate of Sharjah, Ajman also possesses the small
enclaves of Manama and Musfut in the Hajar Mountains. Along the
creek dhow building was the specialised trade. Fishing and
date-trees provided the local population with their primary
means of sustenance. Ajman benefited greatly from the union of
the emirates, a fact that is reflected today in their stately
buildings and infrastructure. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuami
has been the ruler since 1981.
Umm Al Qaiwain
Umm Al Qaiwain is ruled by the Al Mualla family. It is the
second smallest emirate, with a total area of around 770 square
kilometres. Positioned between the emirates of Sharjah and Ajman
to the south and Ras Al Khaimah to the north, Umm Al Qaiwain has
the smallest population. Fishing is the local population's
primary means of income. Date farming also plays a significant
role in the economy. After the union of the emirates in 1971 Umm
Al Qaiwain developed into a modern state, and continues to
progress under its present ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al
Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah, the most northerly emirate, is ruled by
another branch of the Al Qasimi family. It covers an area of
1,700 square kilometres. Thanks to the run-off water from the
Hajar Mountains, Ras Al Khaimah has a unique abundance of flora,
so it is no surprise that agriculture is important to the local
economy. The emirate also benefits from its stone quarries, and
fishing, which is plentiful in the rich waters of the Gulf. The
city of Ras Al Khaimah, situated on an inlet, has a rich
history. It was renowned for its prosperous port and for its
exquisite pearls, which were famous as being the whitest and
roundest available anywhere. Ras Al Khaimah's current ruler is
Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasim
The only emirate without a coastline on the Arabian Gulf is
Fujairah, which is ruled by the Al Sharqi family. Situated along
the coast of the Gulf of Oman, Fujairah covers about 1,300
square kilometres. Unlike other emirates, where the desert forms
a large part of the terrain, mountains and plains are its
predominant features. Fujairah's economy is based on fishing and
agriculture. Like Ras Al Khaimah, the land in Fujairah is
irrigated by rainwater from the Hajar Mountains, making it ideal
for farming. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi is the present
Shopping in Dubai
Shopping in Dubai revolves around its malls - large and
small - and a definite mall culture exists here. Malls are
places to meet, eat and mingle. Many of these air-conditioned
malls provide entertainment and people of all ages can spend
hours in them. From the smaller community malls dotted around
the city, to the ultra-modern mega malls that have changed the
skyline, shopping opportunities abound and with most shops open
until 22:00 every night, there’s enough time to browse. The
popularity of the malls is evident by the crowds that they pull,
particularly at the weekends.
Special events are held during Dubai
Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises and Ramadan, with
entertainment for children and some special offers in the shops.
These are peak shopping times and an evening in the larger malls
at this time is not for the faint-hearted! Most of the malls
have plenty of parking – often stretched to the limits at the
weekends; all have taxi ranks and many are handy for bus routes.
With so much choice out there, malls make
sure they can offer something unique to shoppers to draw the
crowds. In terms of architecture, Ibn Battuta is remarkable –
six distinct architectural styles reflecting the sights of
Egypt, China, India, Persia, Tunisia and Andalusia. Mall of the
Emirates has got their unique selling point covered – a
community theatre and a huge ski slope has made this one of the
busier malls. Deira City Centre is the old kid on the block and
yet is still consistently popular because of its excellent range
of outlets, huge cinema multiplex and wide range of food
outlets. Wafi City and BurJuman have cornered the market for
exclusive boutiques and designer labels. Despite the choice of
shopping centres on offer, more are opening every few months!
The Dubai Mall being the worlds largest and most recent.
‘Souq’ in Arabic represents a market or place where any
kinds of goods are bought or exchanged. For centuries,
traditional wooden dhows from India, Sri Lanka and the Far East
would anchor in Dubai’s creek and sell their exotic wares. In
those days gone by shopping was more than an exchange of money
or goods, it was an important ritual, not only to stock up on
essential items for the home, but also to meet up with friends
and catch up on news.
Over the years, the range of items on sale
in the souqs have altered to include the latest in electronic
goods, consumer items as well the traditional spices, silks and
perfumes. The souks provide a bustling market atmosphere and are
alive with the cacophony of sounds from animated shopkeepers, to
excited customers haggling for the best price!
Full of colour and character, a trip to any
one of Dubai’s souqs will take you into a journey into the
city’s history, provide you with excellent photo opportunities,
and most of all it is a fun place to shop! And whilst you shop,
you will get the delicious aroma of the freshly baked unleavened
bread baked in the traditional ‘tandoor’ from the many bakeries
in the souq.
So go ahead, discover and enjoy the souqs
The souks, or traditional markets, are one of Dubai's
greatest attractions. They are located on both sides of the
creek, with the most impressive on the Deira side. The highlight
is the colourful Spice Market, which abounds with exotic aromas
and bustles with local residents seeking bargains. Wandering
around the atmospheric souks is a good way for visitors to get
in touch with how life was in Dubai, before oil was discovered.
They are worth a visit for their bustling atmosphere, the
eclectic variety of goods and the traditional way of doing
business. It is wise to visit when the weather is a little
cooler in the late afternoon, but for early birds the souks open
07:00-12:00.They then re- pen between 17:00-19:0, every day
except Friday, when they only open in the afternoon. Thursday
and Friday evenings are the busiest times as this is the
Dubai is called ‘The city of Gold’ and the best way to
experience this ultimate gold bazaar is with a visit to the
traditional gold souk. Streets of shops are aligned with
sparking jewellery - gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, opals and
amethysts - the choice is impressive, as are the prices. The
difficulty is in deciding where to start for the mere window
shopper. For those looking for some precious addition to their
collection, just enjoy the walk before closing in on your
A wonderfully different experience, the spice souk has
narrow streets and an aroma so unique, it's like walking into
another era. The rows of stalls displaying spice laden sacks are
worth a look. The sellers are only too happy to advise you on
the various spices and herbs.
The shops that line the textile souk in Bur Dubai are a
treasure trove of textiles, colours, textures and weaves from
around the world. Shimmering threads adorn thin voile,
embroidered satin and silk tempt and velvets jostle with peach
skins as well as Swiss cotton in every shade and hue imaginable.
The choice is virtually unlimited and prices are negotiable.