United Arab Emirates Travel Guide
Shepherd Entertainment takes you on a tour of Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates.
The United Arab Emirates are also called the pearls of the Persian Gulf. The confederation stretching
across 83000 square kilometers spreads on the Arabian Peninsula in the midst of Qatar, Oman and Suadi
Arabia. The seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ash Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Al Fujaira, Umm Al
Qaiwain, and Adjman established a political and economic federation on the 2nd of December 1971. The
capitals bear the names of the Emirates. The largest city is Abu Dhabi, the most well known is Dubai.
Visitors have the possibility to see the sights by helicopter from where the contrast can readily be seen.
While magnificent sights shiny concrete and metal and glass skyscrapers dominate, in the distance
underneath them, the old buildings with wind towers still stand, the covered bazaars, the souks, the
busy markets and colorful ports. And at the edge of the city, the huge sand dunes of the desert begin.
Approximately 4 million people live in the United Arab Emirates, 85% of them are urbanites, since only
1% of the country’s territory is habitable. Only the Bedouins living their tribal life are able to tolerate
their nomad circumstances in the desert.
Part of the plains covered with sand dunes belongs to the great Arabian desert, Al Rub Alkali, there are
only a few oases and these are sometimes endangered by the rambling sand dunes. Dunes are known
to ramble several hundreds of kilometers. They try to defend the settlements against these by planting
forest belts. Lately, eucalyptus trees have been imported from Australia and these are watered by
underground pipe lines. More than 50 years have passed since geologists searched for water under the
sand of the desert. They made trial borings and hit oil instead of water.
Oil is cheaper than water around here. The black gold changed the life of the Arabian country. Goat and
camel herders, fisherman and agricultural workers until then living in poverty suddenly became
unbelievably rich. A large scale infrastructural development program started from the income deriving
from the oil sales. Nowadays, a highway of 3300 km is available for a country that didn’t know any other
transportation facilities other than horses and camel caravans until 1970.
Dirham is the official currency of the Emirates, the stable exchange rate of which compared to the US
dollar is 3.65. Tourists are recommended to take dollars with them because the dollar is exchanged at
the best rate. It’s worth it to exchange in shops and exchange offices less so at hotel receptions.
Travelers’ checks are accepted by banks only but it’s possible to pay with bank cards almost everywhere
and there are also a lot of ATMs. These can also be used after 1:00 in the afternoon when most of the
banks close. Keep in mind that Friday is a day off here. Dubai is increasingly prided as the mecca of
shopping tourism. Visitors primarily come here for the sake of gold, genuine pearls, textiles and
electronic products but traditional Arabian goods, antiquities and spices also change hands.
Many travelers take advantage of Dubai’s international airport being the transit station of traffic
heading from Europe to the Far East so they spend a few hours in one of the shopping centers until the
departure of their flight. Those short of time can purchase the most important things at the airport.
Since it’s an Islamic country, drinks containing alcohol are expensive. But other products especially gold
and jewelry are much cheaper than in Europe, thanks to the exemption from duties.
The visitors of Dubai wherever they go are not allowed near the tempting shopping centers. There are
more than 20 such facilities with new ones opening continuously. Mainly the districts of Burj Dubai,
Deira, Satwa and Jumeirah can be considered shopping paradises. By finding and exploiting the oil
treasure, unemployment ceased in the United Arab Emirates. What’s more most of the population
consists of immigrants 61% of the 4 million citizens is Arab, 22% is South Asian, 8% is Iranian. The
spoken languages and practiced religions also vary according to this. Almost everybody speaks English
except for the Arabs. This is due to the history of the country. Indian immigrants speak Hindi and Farsi.
96% of the population is Islamic, the followers of Hindi and Christian religions amount to only 4%.
During your stay, be sure to show respect for the local citizens’ sensitivity in regard to their religion,
culture and traditions. Ladies should definitely avoid provocative clothing, miniskirts and anything low
cut. Topless bathing is strictly prohibited on the beaches.
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