"DUBAI - 1001 skyscrapers" Dubai by Airpunk

Dubai Travel Guide: 2,812 reviews and 8,425 photos

The boomtown of the early 21st century has become a popular spot for holidays. But there are still many people who approach Dubai with many prejudices – prejudices of different types. For me, it was the impression of a Disneyland at the Persian Gulf. In my mind, everything was expensive and artificial. Many other westerners fear the contact with arab/muslim cultures. Time to throw away with your prejudices and see what people are talking about.

The Al-Maktoum family has done a lot to make Dubai one of the most prospering places in the world. Turning an oil-focused economy into a diversificated one (with tourism, finance and real estate being the main pillars) was the key for success. This uprise can be seen throughout the city with new buildings being constantly constructed, changing the city’s appearance within months. Such an economy needs a lot of workforce which led to the creation of a multi-ethnic society. While emirati people form only a minority of around 15% (2007), most immigrants come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. Also, a considerable number of westerners are living in Dubai, most of them working for a larger company trying to participate in Dubai’s economy. Although this immigration has created an interesting mix of people, it shows one of the few negative aspects in Dubai. People are classified by their origin.While Emiratis are privilged and western high-educated workforce gets an excellent payment, Asians are paid lower. Yes, the payment is far higher than in their countries of origin and an indian expatriate can maintain a large family back home with his/her Dubai income. But I still don’t think that the justifies a lower income compared to western/arab employees doing the same job. And while admiring all the beautiful skyscrapers, please keep in mind that its construction mostly relied on the cheap workforce form the indian subcontinent. A look on Human Rights Report reveal that Dubai is not the worst, but also not the best country regarding this important issue.

Back to the good parts of Dubai. The city’s image is that of a very artificial one and outside of the city center, it is hard to find a building from the 20th century. However, this does not mean that there’s not enough life in this place to fill all this new palaces of glass and steel. Dubai is a very lifely place where you’ll see people filling the streets and malls at almost every time of the day. Perhaps, here the only bad thing to mention is that cultural activities like theaters and concerts do not play a big role. A large part of social life takes place in the new shopping malls where the “mall culture” has partly substituted the traditional tea house culture. But this does not mean that you’ll be bored as a tourist in Dubai (You’ll probably do anyway, if you hat modern architecture…). The city has many things to see. It is easy to spend a whole day in the old town walking through the old souks. Your contrast program may be to walk along Sheikh Zayed Road and discover the marvels of modern architecture. And for the luxury traveller, there are many more things to do like siling or golfing. My Dubai page, however, is made for people who can barely afford getting to Dubai so that we stop talking about golf now…

…and continue with some general information. Dubai is NOT as expensive as you would think. You’ll need some time to find a decent, affordable accomodation and if you have some expatriate friends in Dubai, try to stay at theirs. Transport and living costs are relatively (or sometimes even ridicolously!) low. Emirates has always good offers for Dubai and you can easily plan a stopover of two or three days, if you’re travelling via Dubai to any other destination with them. Shopping in a supermarket is far cheaper than in the Eurozone and even South African prices seem to be high compared to a Dubai supermarket. In the souk, expect alittle lower quality but also a lower price. Only haggling can become here very annoying… Oh, you don’t believe me that shopping in the city of skyscrapers and luxury life is really cheap? So, why do you think that a large part of Dubai tourists don’t even visit the old town and spend hours and hours in shopping malls, looking for Nike or Boss items for half of the price back at home. And although counterfeit items can be found in the souks (and their sellers can become more annoying than the mentioned hagglers…), you’ll find the real stuff in the malls.

Finally, my facts and figures section: Dubai means meeting point and here, the world meets indeed. Only 15% of Dubai's inhabitants are Emiratis, the rest are expatriate workers, mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. In total, there are around 1 1/2 million citizens in Dubai.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Where the world meets for big architectural projects
  • Cons:History is not very rich, has lost some of its authenticity
  • In a nutshell:The sky is the only limit
  • Last visit to Dubai: Oct 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

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Comments (4)

  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2008 at 11:38 AM

    Dubai is really the middle east disneyland! :) Fantastic info!!!

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2008 at 2:53 AM

    Halloechen Karl :-) Schoene Seite ueber unsere Wuestenstadt hier. Hoffentlich hat Dir Dein Aufenthalt hier gefallen. *Well-written tips with good info here!* Liebe Gruesse aus der Wueste / Jess :-)

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2007 at 2:03 PM

    Very nice perspective on Dubai. Will return to read more. Cheers!

  • Dec 11, 2007 at 12:42 PM

    A great start here Karl! So nice to read about places warm and sunny on these cold dark nights!


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