Hard to Believe Photos and Facts About Dubai
To many, the Middle East has always been a bit of a mystery. Even one of its largest cities, Dubai, is largely unknown to outsiders. However, this sprawling metropolis is set to become a global contender, with soaring growth rates and impressive tourist attractions.
So, what is the appeal of this booming city in the United Arab Emirates? Take a look at our list of impressive Dubai photos and facts, and you might decide you know just where to go on your next vacation.
A Tennis Court Like No Other
This tennis court has the interesting distinction of being the highest tennis court in the world. It was built on top of the Burj Al Arab hotel before the Dubai Duty-Free Men's Open as a way of garnering attention for the competition. And, yes, players actually played a game on top — Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, to be exact.
Million Dollar License Plates
We all know that you can customize your license plate, but would you pay $14 million to customize it? Some people in Dubai have done just that. It's essentially a way of showing off wealth. The most coveted — and most expensive — plates are single digits. The more digits, the cheaper the plate.
The Mall of the World
A daunting project is underway in Dubai. "The Mall of the World" will be the Earth's largest indoor shopping mall, made up of 50 million square feet and inspired by places like NYC's Broadway and London's Oxford Street. It sure sounds like an impressive tourist attraction.
Serious Debt Management
Dubai is notoriously strict when it comes to incurring debt you can't pay. If you start missing credit card payments, they might just throw you in jail or kick you out of the country. You should pay your debts, of course, but that seems a little extreme, doesn't it?
Desert City Heat Waves
Dubai is a city that is situated in the center of a desert. Outside, temperatures easily soar up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and sandstorms are also a concern. As a result, air conditioning is very necessary in just about every building.
Growing Faster Than Any Other City on Earth
Dubai has been growing at an alarming speed — and it might not be a good thing. Their metro system was built in only 18 months, much faster than any other city has managed to complete the job, and new buildings have been going up continuously.
We already know that luxury is the name of the game in Dubai, but this goes above and beyond the norm. The wealthiest residents don’t seem to think simple dogs and cats are suitable. They want exotic pets like tigers and cheetahs. And somehow, they get them, even though it's technically illegal to own one.
Robot Camel Racing
The U.S. has baseball, and Dubai has camel racing. It’s the official sport of the city, but it has also been the subject of great scandal in the past. Camels require small people to be jockeys — specifically children — and it was discovered that child trafficking was occurring to fulfill this need.
Majority Are Immigrants
Interestingly, Dubai is a city made up of foreigners — a surprising 83% of the population are immigrants. They mostly come from nearby countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. However, some come from Western countries as well. Only 17% fall into the official "Emirates" category.
Abandoned Expensive Cars
In Dubai, it's not rare to see expensive sports cars abandoned in parking lots. Why would that happen? Well, Dubai isn't exactly lenient when it comes to debt, so if you start to fall behind on car payments, you could find yourself in prison.
Unique Indoor Ski Park
Who said you can't ski in the desert? Dubai is proud of its indoor ski resort, with five slopes spanning 22,500 square meters, including one at the black diamond level. Another run measures 400 meters, with the artificial mountain clocking in at 85 meters tall.
No Skimping in Fancy Hotels
Arguably the most famous hotel in Dubai is the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. It has been called a "seven-star hotel" by reviewers, and it’s also the fourth-tallest hotel in the world. The interior includes 1,790 square meters of space adorned with 24-carat gold leaf. It’s the place to stay if you're looking for high-end accommodations.
Bus Stops You Dream About
Not only do these bus stops look cool, but they have a really useful purpose as well. Dubai gets very hot in the summer months, and it can be dangerous to be outside for long periods of time. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are very real threats in the UAE.
Thanks to all the growth happening in Dubai and the Middle East in general, it’s common to see a lot of cranes — no, we're not talking about the bird. Currently, 24% of all the construction cranes in the world are being used in Dubai. That's about 30,000 cranes.
ATMs Like You've Never Seen
Head to the Dubai Mall, and you can find this special ATM. Instead of spitting out cash, it dispenses gold bars. If you're not feeling the bars that day — they are heavy! — you can also select coins or jewelry, all made with 24-carat gold.
You probably think of Paris or New York City when you think of fashion, but Dubai is quickly catching up to these cities. The city has its own fashion shows throughout the year and even has a region of the city dedicated solely to high-end clothing.
Back in 1991, Dubai only had one building that qualified as a skyscraper: the World Trade Center. Now, it has more than 400 skyscrapers dotting the city, including the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The road where you can find the highest concentration of skyscrapers is Sheikh Zayed Road.
Dubai doesn't play around when it comes to crime. They operate under Muslim law, and punishments are strict for those caught breaking the law. Because of this, Dubai is actually one of the safest cities you can visit. It’s a high point of pride for the city.
More Sand Than You Can Imagine
If you haven't heard of Dubai's Palm Islands, you're in for a treat. Palm Jumeirah, Jebel Ali and Deira are all man-made islands created off Dubai's sparkling shores. Not surprisingly, Palm Jumeirah is arranged in the shape of a palm tree.
A Crucial Airport
Tourism is booming in Dubai, and that means their airport is crucial to their growth. It generates a humble $22 million of the GDP of Dubai — that's 33% of the total. Other things that contribute are commerce, trading, transportation, retail and, of course, oil.
They Want to Win
Rapid growth and plans for the biggest mall on Earth — it's all part of Dubai's drive to be the best. The best buildings, the best hotels and the best place for a vacation. The city even boasts the tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa, standing at an unbelievable 163 stories high.
Address? What's That?
It seems crazy that such a quickly developing city wouldn't have a proper address system, but it's true. Thanks to exponential growth, clear directions have fallen to the wayside. That means visitors need to be doubly prepared. Without a map on hand, even taxis won't always know where to take you.
Oil has always been one of Dubai's main resources. In 1991, the city produced roughly 400,000 barrels of oil a day. Over the years, that number has gone down significantly, as the city has improved in other areas like tourism and real estate and no longer depends solely on oil.
Never Enough Gold
You will see gold everywhere in Dubai — after all, it's one of the residents' favorite things. Gold markets offer all kinds of glittering jewelry and sculptures, and you can easily find someone to put gold-plating on the most unlikely of objects.
Biggest Aquarium Ever
Aquariums are some of the coolest places to visit. You can immerse yourself in a different world, if only for a few hours. In Dubai, you could probably spend days at the aquarium. It has the largest acrylic panel viewing area and plenty of once-in-a-lifetime activities.
No Booze for Muslims
Muslims aren’t allowed to drink alcohol. In order to purchase beer or wine from a liquor store in Dubai, you must have a specific license — and that goes for tourists too. You are allowed to drink at licensed establishments, but don't think about taking the booze outside. Drinking in public areas is strictly prohibited.
The explosion of growth in Dubai means that traffic went from non-existent to all-consuming in a matter of decades. Honestly, if you're visiting the city, you should probably avoid renting a car. It's simply not worth the headache. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm, even on double-decker highways.
No to Premarital Sex
This Muslim country has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to sex — specifically the premarital (or extra-marital) kind. If someone is discovered engaging in these activities, they could end up in prison. As you can guess, this happens mostly to expatriates who aren't up to snuff on — or think they can ignore — the rules.
Interestingly, Dubai used to be famous for its pearls. Long before oil and tourism took over, the region owed much of its economy to pearl farming. Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, crews of men dove in the Arabian Gulf and collected promising mollusks every day.
The Largest Theme Park
Dubai has plans to create the largest theme park in the world. Surprise! Dubailand would be double the size of Disney World and is expected to attract 200,000 visitors each day. The plans were announced in 2003 with a staggering price tag of $64.3 billion.