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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Official flag of Dubai
City flag
Classification Emirate, City
Emirate Dubai
Emir Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Area 3,885 km [1] (
–City proper
UAE rank
1,141,959 (total)[2] (
1,137,376[3] (
2nd (Emirate), 1st (City)
Timezone (UTC) +4
Official website:

Dubai or Dubayy (in Arabic: دبيّ, IPA , generally in English) refers to either

The ruler of Dubai is H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister of the federation of the United Arab Emirates. The crown prince is H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the emir's younger brothers.

Dubai is the second largest emirate in the federation after Abu Dhabi. The emirate is located on the Persian Gulf, southwest of Sharjah and northeast of Abu Dhabi, and reaches into the interior. The town of Hatta is a segregated portion of the emirate of Dubai and borders Al Wajajah, Oman.

Dubai is distinct from other members of the UAE in that revenues from oil account for only 5% of its gross domestic product. A majority of the emirate's revenues are from the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) and now, increasingly, from tourism.


History of Dubai

There are records of the town of Dubai ("Dubayy") from 1799, which was a dependent of the settlement of Abu Dhabi until 1833. The then sheikh of Dubai was a signatory to the British sponsored "General Treaty of Peace" of 1820. In 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty of the Bani Yas tribe left the settlement of Abu Dhabi and took over the town of Dubai, "without resistance". From that point on, Dubai, a newly independent emirate, was constantly at odds with the emirate of Abu Dhabi. An attempt by the Qawasim pirates to take over Dubai was thwarted. In 1835, Dubai and the rest of the Trucial States signed a maritime truce with Britain and a "Perpetual Maritime Truce" about two decades later. Dubai came under the protection of the United Kingdom by the Exclusive Agreement of 1892.

The rulers of Dubai fostered trade and commerce, unlike the town's neighbors. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen (chiefly Indians), who settled in the town. Until the 1930s, the town was known for its pearl exports.

After the devaluation of the Gulf rupee in 1966, Dubai joined the newly independent state of Qatar to set up a new monetary unit, the Qatar/Dubai riyal. Oil was discovered 120 kilometers off the coast of Dubai, after which the town granted oil concessions.

Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates after Britain left the Persian Gulf in 1971. In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a single, uniform currency: the UAE dirham.

Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent at that time), became important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centers were headquartered in this area.

The city of Dubai has a free trade in gold and is the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade" of gold ingots to India, where gold trade is restricted. Oil reserves in Dubai are less than one-twentieth that of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, but oil income and trade are major contributing factors to the city's prosperity.

Today, Dubai is also an important tourist destination, bolstered by its rapidly-expanding airline Emirates, which is headed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, an uncle of the emir. Dubai is also diversifying as a hub for service-based industries such as IT and finance, with the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The government has set up industry-specific freezones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, now combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such as EMC Corporation, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, Reuters, and AP.

Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum is an important personality in the city. He has ruled Dubai for over 30 years, during which time large projects like the Jebel Ali free zone, World Trade Centre, and Dubai International Airport were sanctioned.


Missing image
Silhouette of a dhow in the Bur Dubai creek

Dubai is unusual in that its population comprises mainly expatriates, with UAE nationals (Emiratis) constituting the minority. The vast majority of these expatriates come from South Asia and the Philippines. The UAE government does not allow any form of naturalization or permanent residence to expatriates. Children born in the country to foreign workers are not granted citizenship.

Nearly all of the commercial establishments are run by expatriates with a silent local partner who merely "rents" the business license for a negotiated annual fee without taking part in any capital investment. The numerous free trade zones allow for full expatriate ownership.

There is an increasing number of "freehold" villas and flats on artificial islands such as the Palm Islands. Ownership of these villas comes with a guaranteed residence visa, renewable every three years for around US$1350 per person. The "lease" on these freehold properties is for 99 years. It is, however, illegal to seek employment on this visa.

Language and religion

The Al-Jumeirah Mosque
The Al-Jumeirah Mosque

The official language is Arabic, but Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, and Tagalog are widely spoken.

Islam is the official religion of all of the emirates. A vast majority of the people are Sunnis. There are foreign minority Hindus and Christians as well. Dubai is the only emirate that has Hindu temples.

The Meena Bazaar area of the city has both a Shiva and Krishna temple. Both are believed to be sanctioned by the late ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

There is an electric crematorium run by a group of Indian expatriates.

Non-Muslims in the country are free to practice their religion but may not proselytize publicly or distribute religious literature. The government follows a policy of tolerance towards non-Muslim religions and, in practice, interferes very little in the religious activities of non-Muslims.

In early 2001, ground was broken for the construction of several churches on a parcel of land in Jebel Ali donated by the government of Dubai for four Protestant congregations and a Catholic congregation. In May 2001, the Crown Prince of Dubai authorised the construction of a Greek Orthodox church on donated land.

Apart from donated land for the construction of churches and other religious facilities, including cemeteries, non-Muslim groups are not supported financially or subsidized by the government. However, they are permitted to raise money from among their congregants and to receive financial support from abroad. Christian churches are permitted to openly advertise certain church functions, such as memorial services, in the press.


English is the medium of instruction in most schools in Dubai. Annual fees for nursery and pre-school vary greatly.

Some primary schools conduct entrance tests. Most schools cater to one or more expatriate communities. Our Own English High School, Modern High School, and Indian High School offer either a CBSE or an ICSE Indian syllabus. The Horizon School, Dubai English Speaking School, Jumeirah Primary School, and the Cambridge International School offer the British GCSE A-Levels.

There are also some primary and high schools that offer American, Canadian, and Japanese syllabi.

Many expatriates tend to send their children back to their home country for university education. However, a sizable number of foreign accredited universities have been set up in the city over the last ten years. Some of these universities include the American University in Dubai (AUD), Al Ghurair University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Middlesex University, Dubai, Dubai Women's College, and University of Wollongong in Dubai.


The annual Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) draws shoppers from the Indian subcontinent and around the region. Other, smaller shopping festivals such as "Dubai Summer Surprises" and "Dubai, The City That Cares" are held throughout the year.

The city has many malls such as City Centre, Lamcy Plaza, Al Ghurair Centre, and Wafi Centre that have international stores, theaters, gaming arcades, and foodcourts.

Dubai also has a Wild Wadi Water Park.

The Dubai World Cup, an annual horse race, is the world's richest horse race with over US$15,000,000 worth of prize money given to the winner.

Dubailand, a proposed entertainment complex, is to include the Mall of Arabia, the largest shopping mall in the world. Dubailand is slated to open in 2006.

Dubai is also home to many exiled Iranian celebrities and Iranian sports players such as EBI and Ali Daei, who find it an easy way to be away from Iran and yet close enough to their own nation to make money in the process.

Real estate and property

The  Hotel
The Burj al-Arab Hotel
Missing image
Dubai's skyline at night
Missing image
A satellite image of Dubai, the Jumeira Palm

The government's decision to diversify from a trade-based but oil-reliant economy to one that is service- and tourism-oriented has made real estate more valuable, and corporations such as Emaar Properties, and Nakheel have benefited. Corporate office enclaves on Sheikh Zayed road were developed to shift Dubai's traditional business area from the Dubai creek to the western parts of the city.

Dubai's land-reclamation projects — the Palm Islands of Jumeira, Jebel Ali, and Deira and The World archipelago — will be the world's largest artificial island complexes, developed with villas, golf courses, and holiday resorts.

The first villa freehold properties that were occupied by non-UAE nationals were The Meadows, The Springs, and The Lakes (upper-class neighborhoods designed by Emaar Properties, collectively called Emirates Hills). Somewhere from 2005 to 2006, most of the freehold skyscrapers and other villa projects will be ready for occupancy.

The city has modern skyscrapers such as Emirates Towers, which are the 12th and 24th tallest buildings in the world[4] (, and the Burj al-Arab, a five-star deluxe hotel. Located on the Persian Gulf, the Burj al-Arab is the tallest hotel in the world.

Emaar Properties is currently constructing what will become the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai. It is expected to be completed in 2008.

In February 2005 Dubai Waterfront ( was announced, it will be 2 times size of Washington D.C. or the size of the island of Manhattan. Dubai Waterfront will be a mix of canals and islands full of hotels and residential areas that will add 500 miles of man-made waterfront.

Dubai has also launched Dubiotech. This is a new park to be targeted at Biotech companies working in pharma, medical fields, genetic research and even biodefense. The aim of this park is to foster the growth of this sector in Dubai and to utilize the region's talent in addressing this rapidly growing sector.

The International Media Production Zone is a project targeted at creating a hub for printers, publishers, media production companies, and related industry segments. This project was launched in 2003 and is estimated to be completed by 2006.

See the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing's list of developments [5] ( in Dubai for more information.

Human rights and labor issues

It is common practice for employers to retain employees' passports for the duration of the employment contract to prevent expatriate employees from changing jobs. This is an illegal practice and is not enforced by the government. On termination of an employment contract, certain categories of expatriates are banned from obtaining a work permit in the country for six months.

The United States Department of State has cited widespread instances of blue collar labor abuse within the city and in the general context of the United Arab Emirates [6] (

The government has been criticized by human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch for its inaction in addressing the discrimination against Asian workers in the emirate. Salary structures based on nationality, sex, age, and race rather than on qualification are common [7] (

Stamps and postal history of Dubai

A post office of British India was opened August 19, 1909. It used the stamps of India on mail, with postmark "Dubai Persian Gulf", until India's independence in 1947, then stamps of Pakistan until March 31, 1948. When Pakistan also became independent, the British government set up a postal administration for Eastern Arabia and used overprinted British stamps until January 7, 1961, when Dubai issued its own stamps inscribed "Trucial States". Despite the name, these were only on sale in Dubai's post office.

The Dubai Post Department took over the postal service on June 14, 1963 and the following day issued a series of stamps depicting sea life, views of Dubai, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. This was the opening salvo of a barrage of stamp issues over the next few years. The emirate discovered that stamp collectors were willing to give it money for colored labels with "Dubai" printed on them, and by the time the postal system was merged with those of other emirates in mid-1972, it had issued over 400 stamps, few of which ever saw usage on mail.


Dubai International Airport is a fortress hub for Emirates airlines and has a large Duty Free shopping centre. Dubai airport has won many awards for its excellence in design and services. A third terminal is currently under construction and due to open in 2006. The new terminal will be dedicated to Emirates airlines and will fully support the Airbus A380. When completed this will double the capacity of the airport.


Dubai has a fairly large bus system run by the Dubai Municipality. The bus system has 59 unique routes on weekdays and transports over 200,000 people each week. The government has issued plastic, swipable "e-go" cards. There are also several discounts and period pass options available.

Dubai also has an extensive taxi system, by far the most frequently used means of public transport within the emirate. There are both government-operated and private cab companies. The Dubai Transport Corporation operates cream-colored taxis. Some of the private cab companies are Cars Taxi, National Taxi, and Metro Taxi.

One of the more traditional methods of getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is through abras, small boats that ferry passengers across the Dubai creek for a nominal charge of 50 fils.

There is currently a $3.89 billion Dubai Metro project under construction for the emirate. The Metro system is expected to be partially operational by 2009 and fully operational by 2012. The construction contract for the project was given to Dubai Rapid Link (DURL)[8] (, a consortium lead by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Also involved are two other Japanese corporations, Obayashi and Kajima, and a Turkish company, Yapi Merkezi. The metro will comprise two lines: the Green Line from Rashidiya to the main city center and the Red Line from the airport to Jebel Ali. The Dubai Metro will have 70 kilometers of track and 43 stations, 33 above ground and ten underground. Trains are expected to run every 90 seconds when the project is completed. Dubai is building this train system to ease congestion on its road network and to meet the transportation demands of its growing population.

See also

External links



bg:Дубай da:Dubai de:Dubai et:Dubai emiraat es:Dubai eo:Dubajo fr:Duba hi:दुबई nl:Dubai ja:ドバイ no:Dubai pt:Dubai sv:Dubai


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