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The United Arab Emirate of Dubai is located 50 feet above sea level on the picturesque Persian Gulf. The Gulf borders the western edge of Dubai, and its nearest neighbors are Abu Dhabi in the South, Sharjah in the North, and the Emirate of Oman in the Southeast. The entire area is a mecca of tourism and commerce and boasts the highest hotel occupancy rate in the world.
Interesting Historical Facts
Dubai history dates back thousands of years, but the earliest documented history begins in approximately 1095 CE. It was not until 1587, however, that evidence of this early recorded history was found, when a writer mentioned Dubai as a favoured location among pearl divers.
Recorded facts about the Royal Family indicate that they came to power in the early 1800s when Dubai was claimed from the Al Maktoum Dynasty, the latter of which essentially took ownership of the region and was too powerful to defy. It was after this change that Dubai became intricately involved in trading opportunities with Great Britain and other countries. In 1966, an oil discovery was made in what is now called Fateh Field.
A Region of Progress
The celebrated entrepreneurial environment of Dubai has resulted in some of the strongest brands in the Middle East, such as Dubai Duty Free, The Jumeirah Group, and the thriving Emirates Airline Group. However, over the past 10 years Dubai has also achieved recognition as a popular travel destination. This popularity is likely due to its diversity. For example, leisure travellers are often drawn to the area to view its impressive landscapes and architecture. These include the world's largest tower, Burj Khalifa, and numerous man-made islands available for exploration. Business travellers frequently choose areas such as the Business Bay District and Port Rashid, where many corporate functions are held.
Helpful Tips for Travellers During Ramadan
When travelling to Dubai during Ramadan, it is essential for families and couples to realise that the Holy Month of Ramadan is an important holiday in Dubai and visitors should always be respectful of those of the Muslim faith when visiting the region during this time.
Although the dates differ somewhat according to each calendar year, the holiday is typically observed for a full month sometime in the summer. In 2017, it will likely begin at the end of May and commence at the end of June. During this time, dining options in resorts are restricted to specific areas and after the sunset each day, alcoholic beverages are prohibited in any shared or public areas, and this includes resort restaurants and lounges.
Because fasting is part of Ramadan, most Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset during the holiday, and many stores and restaurants are closed during this time. The fast is broken each night after the sun sets, and many followers of the Islamic faith break their fast with what is referred to as the Iftar Buffet. Iftar buffets are held every night during Ramadan to mark the end of that day's fast. Westerners can enjoy any number of Iftar buffets, as numerous hotels and resorts offer them on their private beaches or inside in a special dining area. Iftar Buffets usually start with a course that is high in sugar or starch to give immediate energy, and then many other courses follow.
Malls are open in Dubai during Ramadan; however, food courts offer take away items only. Certain hotels carry on as normal, but it is important for visitors to check on this in advance.
Because Ramadan was designed as a meditative holiday, establishments do not play music and no live performances are held, as these are considered a distraction from one's meditation.
The proper dress code for Ramandan includes covering all skin from the shoulders to the knee, for both genders. Women must wear capped sleeves as a minimum, and shorts, halters, short skirts and spaghetti straps are not appropriate during the holiday. In malls and other public buildings, one may be stopped by security if not appropriately dressed.
The staff at most hotels and resorts are more than happy to offer further information to guests concerning Ramadan
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Things To Do
Skiing in Dubai is a great past time for anyone who is a winter sports enthusiast. The temperature for those engaging in the sport is conveniently maintained at a ski--friendly -1º to -2º Celsius and genuine snow is manufactured for the slopes.
Ski slopes in Dubai are covered with genuine snow. The resorts in the area use a method similar to the natural process of precipitation that creates real snow.
The Dubai ski area offers five different runs which vary in length and difficulty, the longest of which is 400 meters. Up to 1500 guests can ski simultaneously and freestyle zones, as well as dedicated trails are offered. Quad chairlifts, flying carpets, and tow lifts are provided in this mountain-themed ski area and a permanent, ¼ pipe snowboarding area is also available.
Located adjacent to the Dubai Mall in the centre of the Dubai business district is the largest choreographed fountain system in the world. The Dubai Fountain sits on Burj Khalifa Lake, a large man-made lake, designed by WET a California-based company that also created famous man-made water structures, such as the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 25 colored projectors and 6600 lights, it is 275 metres long and the water from its fountains reach heights of 152.4 metres. This mesmerising water performance is accompanied by a broad range of music, from contemporary Arabic to classical scores.
Visitors can view fountain "performances" at hourly intervals throughout the day. However, show times may change without notice, so it is advisable to ask one's hotel concierge or phone the Mall to inquire about specific details.
A favourite Dubai attraction amongst both locals and tourists, The Gold Souk showcases the precious metal that has earned Dubai the title "City of Gold." Located in Dubai's Deira district, this attraction is worth seeing whether one is interested in purchasing gold or merely wants to experience a shopping atmosphere where the impressive riches of this part of the world are showcased.
Gold is aggressively promoted in the shops of this district, with sales, special offers, and raffles and drawings in abundance. The variety and scale of gold offered in this area includes pendants, bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and even gold bars and extraordinarily valuable sculptures. Different shades of gold are also available in these markets, such as yellow, rose, white, pink and even purple gold. Because Dubai gold prices are amongst the lowest in the world, it is a fun and interesting place to shop for items made from this valuable metal. Conveniently located in Baniyas Square, the shops are within walking distance from many Dubai resorts and hotels.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
IMG Worlds of Adventure is a renowned indoor amusement park that opened in August of 2016 in Dubai. Its slogan is "live the epic adventure," and various themes in the park include IMG Boulevard, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure, and Marvel comic characters. The park is open year-round and features 140,000 m2 of entertainment area.
IMG Worlds of Adventure is Dubai's first mega themed amusement park and since its inception has enjoyed an extensive amount of popularity among guests from around the world. Its capacity ensures that it can welcome over 20,000 guests on a daily basis, and there is something for essentially anyone within the park. It is the largest indoor temperature controlled theme park in the world and boasts a 12 screen, state-of-the-art cinema, exclusive dining venues, and a broad range of themed retail stores.
Located on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road in the city of Arabia, IMG Worlds of Adventure is open throughout the year.
Motiongate is another of Dubai's famous theme parks, and this attraction centres on epic Hollywood movies. Amongst the most popular film-inspired rides are Step Up, The Hunger Games, Ghostbusters, Shrek, and Underworld. These spine tingling rides have been created from the blockbuster films from which they take their names. The films themselves were created by renowned moviemakers such as Lionsgate films, Sony Pictures Studios, and DreamWorks Animation.
Motiongate Dubai Park also features a special area called Studio Central. Here, visitors may experience the intricate details of filmmaking with an up close and personal, behind-the-scenes tour. The area's biggest Hollywood inspired theme park, Motiongate Dubai is a great choice for families with children, and a variety of passes are available, depending on the preferences of each customer. Shows, restaurants and gift shops are also located on the premises so that families can enjoy a full day of fun without having to leave the property. The park is open year-round, from 9 AM to sunset, although times of shows and availability of rides are subject to change without notice.
The world's first theme park exclusively dedicated to Bollywood, this attraction is highly favoured amongst families with children, young couples and anyone who enjoys Bollywood style adventure, music and action.
Celebrating Mumbai's legendary film-making industry, the park features five separate zones, all of which were inspired by Bollywood blockbuster movies. Visitors will find flamboyant, cinematic rides, multimedia stage performances, delicious food and live entertainment on a daily basis.
Covering 650321.28 square metres, the Park offers both indoor and outdoor activities for adults and children, and provides a diversity of rides and games to please virtually any traveler. The Park is located on Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road and is open Monday through Friday 10 AM to 6 PM and 10 AM to 7 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
Legoland Dubai is a family attraction particularly geared to children 12 years of age and under. However, the park does have several roller coasters and interactive experiences in which both children and parents participate.
Legoland is divided into numerous areas, such as water attractions, Lego villages, and larger attractions made from millions of genuine Lego bricks. Essential aspects of Legoland include learning and epistemology. For example, children can engage in instructing dams from Lego blocks to channel water flow, and ultimately learn about how such structures are made in real life.
The park also offers interactive musical instruments, such as an underwater pipe organ that children can take a condensed lesson on and learn a few measures of music. The Lego Mindstorms Centre is another great interactive attraction for fun-based learning.
All the rides in the Park are Lego themed, and children can even drive small cars made from Lego bricks around a miniature network of roads, after which they are given the novelty driving license as a souvenir from the Park. Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, the Park also features shops and restaurants.
The Outlet Village
Located in Jebel Ali, The Outlet Village took its inspiration from Italy's hilltop village of San Gimignano. This Dubai shopping destination offers a luxury setting in which top global brands can be purchased for discounted prices.
The Outlet Village houses a broad range of department stores featuring an essentially limitless number of brand-name items. These include Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker, Diesel, Giuseppe Zanotti, Dunhill, DKNY and BCBGMAXAZRIA. These specialty stores are situated alongside multi-brand shops such as Etoile and Priceless, which sell additional designer items such as Kenzo, Dolce & Gabbana, Tory Birch, Givenchy, Valentino, Jimmy Chew, Tom Ford and Fendi.
The world's most luxurious man-made Marina, the Dubai Marina is a popular landmark among holidaymakers and local residents alike. Families can enjoy thrilling speedboat ride, and experience a different perspective of the city from the water. Some individuals prefer sunset cruises, as the surrounding buildings offer a perfect backdrop for the reflection of the sun.
Glass houseboats rides are also offered at the Marina during the day as well as at night. In addition, the Dubai Marina Yacht Club offers dinner cruises during which five star food is offered by an exclusive collaboration between The Dubai Marina and the nearby Address Hotel.
The Dubai Desert
Many visitors are drawn to the isolated, majestic landscape of the Dubai Desert's sandy dunes and planes. For families who like adventure, safaris, camel rides and similar excursions are perfect activities. These can be organised as group tours or families can enjoy their own desert trek, and a variety of options are available, depending on the preferences of the travellers.
Outdoor sport lovers and thrill-seeking holidaymakers may wish to consider a sky diving excursion over Dubai's enchanting landscapes. A one-stop destination for skydivers, Skydive Dubai provides myriad options for skydiving enthusiasts. Situated between the Jumeirah Beach Residences and the Dubai Marina, the drop-off for Skydive Dubai is on Al Sufouh Road, just before the entrance to the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa.
Skydive Dubai has developed two of the world's foremost skydiving locations, and amongst some of the establishment's most popular packages are the Palm DZ and the Desert Campus DZ. The latter caters to those who prefer skydiving solo, while the former is more suited to group excursions. Holiday makers who are serious about the sport can even enroll in formation skydiving classes, wing suit coaching and free fly canopy classes.
Burj Khalifa "At the Top" Skyscraper
The Burj Khalifa, also referred to as "At the Top," is a megatall skyscraper in Dubai and is currently the world's tallest structure. It reaches a dizzying 829.8 metres and houses shops, restaurants, hotels, and other establishments, including business offices. Located in an area of the city called Downtown Dubai, this 330-floor skyscraper was unveiled in 2009. It was named after Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's ruler and is Dubai's premier landmark.
The Yellow Boats
The Yellow Boats are a popular sightseeing venue in Dubai. Whether one is interested in an exclusive charter, a group sightseeing tour or even a business get together on the water, this option is both practical and affordable.
The Yellow Boats operate year-round and typically work with families and organisations to create customized sightseeing packages. Tours are informative and unique, and customers can anticipate being safe and comfortable in these rigid inflatable boats, whilst enjoying the scenery of the UAE from the water.
Held annually at the Meydan Racecourse, the Dubai World Cup is a celebrated Thoroughbred horse race. The program consists of nine "heats," including one purebred Arabian race and eight Thoroughbred contests.
The final race on the card is for the Dubai World Cup, which was created in 1996 by the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Al Maktoum is also the owner of one of the world's leading thoroughbred racing and breeding operations, Darley Stud and Goldolphin Racing.
This exciting and interesting race is held on a yearly basis on the last Saturday in March. It is the world's richest horse race, carrying a purse of USD 10 million since 2010. It is formally a part of the Dubai World Cup Night of Races, and its first winner was the infamous thoroughbred, Cigar, who is now in the United States Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Visitors should arrive early in the morning to get good seats for this race, as it is one of Dubai's most attended events.
Events & Festivals
Dubai Rugby Sevens
The Sevens Stadium is just a short drive from the centre of Dubai. It is located on Dubai Al-Ain Road--E66. An easy drive from most emirates, the Stadium is Dubai's premier entertainment and sports facility, as well as the Dubai Rugby Sevens Team's official home. The Rugby Sevens team has won a number of games in the Stadium that bears their name, and the Stadium also hosts a broad range of additional events, such as concerts, cricket matches, international football games and other rugby events. One Direction, Justin Bieber, Rod Stewart and Spandau Ballet have all performed within the Stadium.
In addition, the facility also has two grass cricket ovals that feature floodlights, and four floodlit multi-purpose outside courts. The stadium capacity is 50,000 guests. Therefore, visitors will typically have no trouble obtaining seats for various events.
The Dubai Marathon is a celebrated race that takes place each year in the city of Dubai on Umm Suqeim Road. Anyone can register for the marathon, and spectators have several areas from which to watch the race. This renowned sporting event begins in the shadow of the iconic Burj Al Arab opposite the Madinat Jumeirah. Held on the same day are two other races, a 10km race and a 4km race, both of which begin at the Al Jalila Foundation on Al Wasl Road and finish back on Umm Suqeim Road at the Dubai Police Academy.
Start times for the races are as follows:
Dubai Marathon -- 6:30 am
10km Road Race -- 9:00 am
4km Fun Run -- 11:00 am
Visitors should avoid parking in the immediate areas around the starting and finishing lines. However, there are numerous accessible parking areas along the Al Wasl Road junctions away from the actual race route. Parking is available in the Mall of the Emirates parking lot and the Al Barsha shopping area. The race is held in mid-January each year.
UAE Desert Challenge
The United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is an international five day rally race created in 1991 . Originally for automobiles only, trucks, quads and motorcycles are now allowed in the race. Once called the UAE Desert Challenge because it spanned multiple emirates, the race entered a new era in March of 2010 when its official name was changed to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. This spectacular motor sport is sponsored by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, which has a major organisational role in the event.
Throughout the Challenge, participants face two days of scrutineering and documentation by judges, which is typically scheduled on Thursday and Friday, and then a qualification event referred to as the "Super Special Stage" is held on Saturday to determine the starting order of the racers. On Sunday morning, the competition begins in earnest when the drivers depart from Yas Marina Circuit, where the initial Rally Headquarters are located and begin five days of driving through the Empty Quarter Liwa Desert. The 2017 race is scheduled to start April 1st and commence on April 6th.
Dubai Jazz Festival
Travellers who enjoy music should consider attending the 2017 Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival when on holiday in the area. First launched in 2003, the Festival is now a well-known event that attracts thousands of music lovers each year. The upcoming 15th edition of this event, which is also simply called the "Jazz Fest," will be held February 22nd through February 24th. The goal of its organisers is to create a unique experience for both the artists and the members of the audience.
The theme for the 2017 Jazz Fest is "Much More Than Jazz," and will include urban music, pop tunes, Indie rock, classic rock and of course, Jazz. The Festival is held in the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre and begins each night at 7 PM.
The Dubai Shopping Festival
The Dubai Shopping Festival--DSF--began as a simple and small festival on February 16th, 1996. This event was initially developed to benefit Dubai's retail trade, but grew to become a well loved tourist attraction. It draws visitors from throughout the United Arab Emirates and attracts approximately three million shoppers annually from the UAE as well as other areas of the world. It is a month-long event that usually takes place in January. Throughout the scheduled dates of the festival, Dubai shops offer various products and merchandise at a substantial discount and car raffles take place once a day. Additionally, nightly fireworks displays are offered free of charge and food vendors often set up in specific areas to offer snacks and beverages at discounted prices.
Dubai Summer Surprises
The Dubai Summer Surprises Festival--DSS--is a popular event created to make summertime more enjoyable for both local residents and tourists and 2017 will mark the event's 19th year. The Festival lasts 42 days and offers a vast array of activities for young and old alike. The longest summer extravaganza in the area, it will run from July 9th to August 20 and its theme is "Own the Summer."
Visitors and locals can participate in all the DSS retail promotions, which are run by Dubai's malls, shopping centers and car lots. The chance to win virtually any type of mega prize is available to anyone who wishes to participate. Discounts of up to 75 percent are offered by many of Dubai's retail outlets so finding bargains is quite easy.
In addition to significant shopping discounts, the event is also packed with stage shows, interactive workshops, dining promotions, performances from international stars, and in-mall events that offer unexpected surprises. Because most retailers in the area offer compelling discounts and deals during the DSS, many holidaymakers who enjoy shopping plan their getaway around this event.
Dubai Desert Classic
The Dubai Desert Classic is a stroke play golf tournament that is part of the European Tour schedule. It is played in January or February of each year and the prize fund has now reached $2,650,000.
Also called the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, this pro golf event is renowned for attracting some of the biggest names in the golfing world. For example, Ernie Els has won the tournament three out of the 25 years the event has been held.
It is played on the Emirates Golf Club on the Majlis course, and was the first live professional golf tournament to be broadcast on the Golf Channel. In 2017, it will run from January 30 to February 5th.
Dubai Tennis Championship
The Dubai Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament owned and organised by an established nonprofit foundation called Dubai Duty Free. It is held annually on outdoor hardcourts near the centre of the city. The tournament is typically held the last week of February when both men's and women's events are organised. The tournament is held under the patronage of the Vice-President and ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
In 2001, the tournament was upgraded to the prestigious 500 level from its former ranking of 250. Now a well-known event that draws tennis fans from throughout the UAE and other areas, those who are interested in the sport will find the Dubai Tennis Championship fun and interesting.
Dubai Film Festival
The Dubai International Film Festival is an influential platform for UAE filmmakers and was a driving force for the cinema movement in Dubai and surrounding regions. As the area's leading film Festival, it attracts thousands of writers, producers, directors, actors and documentary makers.
Each year, industry experts descend on Dubai to experience some of the best films of the world from what is considered by those in the industry a premier location. Held each year during the second week of December, the Dubai International Film Festival showcases approximately 130 documentaries, films, features and world premieres. Each year the Festival presents new productions from throughout the Arab world.
Best Time to Visit
Although Dubai is always a beautiful and interesting holiday destination, those who are not accustomed to excessive heat and humidity must take weather into consideration when planning a trip. Because of the summer months' intensity, winter is the best time to visit Dubai. November through April is perfect for sightseeing and other outdoor activities.
Throughout the month of November, temperatures typically fall somewhere in the mid-20s Celsius and rise approximately 10 degrees by March. Evenings are somewhat cool and windy, but most winter days offer abundant sunshine.
These near-perfect temperatures allow tourists to indulge in many popular Dubai activities, such as beach combing, sightseeing, desert safaris and outdoor shopping. The winter months are considered peak tourist season in Dubai and for this reason, those who are planning to visit the area in winter should make reservations for flights and accommodations well in advance. January and February are Dubai's rainy season, but showers are typically short-lived and do not have a substantial impact on one's holiday.
Summertime is considered May through October, and this is also the area's off-season. This is because temperatures often soar as high as 40 degrees Celsius, with exceptionally high humidity. This makes the outdoors quite uncomfortable throughout the entire region. Therefore, although prices are significantly lower during the summer season, it is difficult to enjoy everything the area has to offer when heat is excessive.
Another important consideration for travellers who are planning a visit to Dubai is the religious holiday of Ramadan. This holiday involves a month of fasting, and activities such as drinking, eating and smoking are prohibited in many shared or public areas. Holidaymakers who are visiting the area at this time are required to observe the rules of Ramadan. Whilst specific Ramadan dates vary from one year to the next based on the Islamic calendar, the holiday is expected to take place between the months of July and September until 2020.