Dubai holidays are the ultimate crowd pleaser. Thanks to its rapid expansion, Dubai has perhaps the most interesting recent history of any city on Earth, and offers something for everyone - from dining to dune buggying, shopping to skiing (yes, really!).
As one of the world's most popular destinations and always a firm bucket list favourite, Dubai's reputation is renowned, and its status as an adventure capital and place of wonder precedes it. Some of the things you hear about this place can be hard to believe, but we assure you that the following 20 fun facts about Dubai are all true:
One theory about the meaning of the word ‘Dubai’ is that it means “money,” coming from an old Arabic proverb “Daba Dubai” which means “they came with a lot of money”. However, another theory is that it means “baby locust”, as locusts were a very common species in the area before the first settlement. We know which name origin we prefer!
Is Dubai expensive? Well, it’s certainly a city obsessed with gold - over a quarter of the world’s gold has passed through Dubai, and this is certainly a hotspot for purchasing the precious metal. Visit the iconic Gold Souk, or stop at one of the vending machines here that dispense gold bars!
Image: Dmitry Demidko, Unsplash
Arabic is the official language of Dubai, though English is widely used throughout the city and the wider United Arab Emirates.
Dubai has one of the lowest crime rates on the planet at less than 1%. Some people claim that the figure is “virtually 0%."
Dubai seems to be happy with this 0% theme as that is also the rate of income tax.
The lack of income tax may explain why on average one in every one hundred citizens of Dubai is a millionaire in US Dollars, one of the highest rates in the world. It’s not surprising, then, that Dubai has such a reputation for being one of the best luxury shopping destinations in the world!
Always a highlight of any Dubai holiday, the Dubai Fountain is the tallest ‘performing’ fountain anywhere in the world. It’s longer than two football pitches put together, and puts on a really incredible show. The Dubai Fountain show features over 6,000 lights, dozens of projectors and during the performance can shoot more than 22,000 gallons of water into the air!
Image: Raimond Klavins, Unsplash
In 1991 there was only one skyscraper in the whole city, the Dubai World Trade Centre. Two decades later, the city now has hundreds of skyscrapers and is under such constant construction and development that it’s said Dubai is home to a quarter of all the world’s cranes!
This is a place of superlatives, and Dubai is famous for going all out. The city has earned countless world records over the years, including having the largest flower arrangement, the biggest synchronised car dance, a number of tallest buildings and even the longest line of pies!
Perhaps most famously, Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, which has 164 floors, seven world records and one incredible view.
It is so tall in fact, that people on the 80th floor and above actually get more hours of sunlight per day than the people at street level. When it comes to Ramadan, those on the top storeys of the tower have to wait two minutes longer to break their fast when the sun sets!
Got a head for heights? Book your flight to Dubai, where the famous skyline is home to 7 of the 10 tallest hotels in the world. This includes the iconic Burj Al Arab, which is designed to look like the sail of a ship.
The police force in Dubai includes multiple supercars including a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Bentley which helps them to catch speeding drivers. This is especially impressive when you consider that in 1968 there were only 13 cars in the entire Emirate.
Though Dubai might be famous for its luxurious modern amenities, you may be surprised to hear it’s one of the best bird-watching locations, too. Over 300 species of bird pass through the city on their way to and from Europe, Asia and Africa. If you’re a serious birder, we recommend visiting the Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, and heading to the desert for a traditional falconry experience.
Less than 20% of the population in Dubai are natives, with most of the people there being immigrants and tourists.
“The Mall of the World” is a 50 million sq ft indoor city that is being built in Dubai. The mall will be climate-controlled and will take inspiration from London’s Oxford Street and New York’s Broadway. It has not been confirmed whether or not the name is a dig at The Mall of America.
To construct The Palm Islands, 5.5 million cubic metres of rock was brought over from 16 quarries and 94 million cubic metres of sand was brought from deep sea beds. In fact, that’s enough sand to fill the Empire State Building twice and still have some left over. It’s said that you could use the rock and sand from The Palm Islands to build a wall that would go around the planet three times!
Despite the assumption that the UAE make all their money from oil, it only actually makes up 6% of Dubai’s GDP. The true money makers here are real estate and tourism.
And finally, Dubai is home to one of the world’s most unusual sports… camel racing! These days human jockeys have been replaced by small robots - another example of how Dubai has combined tradition with modernity.