The Emirate of Dubai is an established trading and commercial hub of the Middle East that combines the excitement of a bustling commercial centre with the wide open spaces of a luxurious resort.
Located at the cross-roads of Asia, Europe and Africa, Dubai is well positioned to attract tourists looking for somewhere new and different, a destination combining the traditions of the east with the comforts of the west.
Both business travelers and tourists find that Dubai offers the highest standards of comfort and luxury. An intriguing land that combines old-world souks and modern shopping malls, rolling sand dunes and championship grass golf courses, remote Bedouin villages and an array of five-star hotels, Dubai defies easy definition.
Originally a small fishing and trading settlement, Dubai was taken over in about 1830 by a branch of the Bani Yas tribe from the Liwa oasis led by the Maktoum family who still rule the emirate today. Traditional activities included herding sheep and goats, cultivating dates, fishing and pearling, but the inhabitants built up trade too. By the turn of the century, Dubai was reputed to have the largest souks on the Gulf coast, with 350 shops in the Deira district alone.
Commercial success allied to the liberal attitudes of Dubai's rulers, made the emirate attractive to traders from India and Iran, who began to settle in the growing town. But, while trade developed, Dubai remained politically a protectorate of Britain as part of the Trucial States extending along the northern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
On the British withdrawal in 1971, Dubai came together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and (in 1972) Ras Al Khaimah to create the federation of the United Arab Emirates. This was shortly after the discovery of oil in 1966, which was soon to transform the emirate and its way of life. Dubai's first oil exports in 1969 were followed by a period of rapid development that laid the foundations for today's modern society. Much of the credit for this development can be traced to the vision of the late Ruler, HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who ensured that Dubai's oil revenues, despite being relatively modest by the standards of the region, were deployed to maximum effect.
His work has been continued by the present Ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his brother, Their Highnesses Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry. The result is that Dubai is constantly building up its infrastructure of transport facilities, schools, hospitals, tourism developments and other amenities of an advanced society.
The UAE has a sub-tropical and arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to some 13 centimetres a year.Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degrees Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July.
The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven members: Abu Dhabi (the capital city), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Dubai, with an area of 3,885 square kilometres, is the second largest emirate. Situated on the banks of the Dubai Creek, a natural inlet from the Gulf, which divides the city into the Deira district to its north, and Bur Dubai on its south, the city ranks as the UAE's most important port and commercial centre.
The UAE has 700 kilometres of coastline. Stretches of gravel plain and sandy desert characterise the inland region. To the east, a range of mountains lies close to the Gulf of Oman and forms a backbone through the Mussandam Peninsula. The western interior of the country consists mainly of desert interspersed with oases.
According to the Ministry of Planning, the population of the U.A.E. expanded from 2,411,041 (census results) in 1995 to 4,488,000 (estimated) in 2007. Dubai's population is approximately 1,478,000 in 2007.
The Supreme Council of the UAE, comprising the hereditary rulers of the seven emirates, is the highest federal authority. It is responsible for general policy matters involving communications, education, defence, foreign affairs and development, and for ratifying federal laws. The President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the Vice-President, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Ruler of Dubai, are elected by the Supreme Council from among its members.
The Federal Council of Ministers, responsible to the Supreme Council, has executive authority to initiate and implement laws. The Federal National Council is a consultative assembly of 40 representatives who are appointed for two years by the individual emirates. The council monitors and debates government policy but has no power of veto.
While Abu Dhabi is the centre of federal government activities, most ministerial departments also maintain offices in Dubai.
In matters unrelated to diplomacy and defence, each emirate enjoys considerable autonomy in managing its own affairs.
In business, the government of Dubai is committed to liberal, free market policies and to the creation of a business environment conducive to commercial activity. This approach is well illustrated by the incentives available to investors in the Jebel Ali and Airport Free Zones and by the continuing high level of public sector investment in the infrastructure.
Source: Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing