Discovering as much as possible about Dubai before your visit is a great way to make sure the trip will go positive, and it will also give you some context to better appreciate local attractions. Let us go through some interesting facts about Dubai, learning about culture, regulations, recreational activities, and many other aspects of the emirate.

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Image is Everything

Dubai is well-known for its luxury all around the world, and locals are constantly trying to uphold that image. Aside from enormous architectural achievements and rich decorations, you can feel it in almost everything you see in the city. Even the police get to drive luxury sports cars costing from half a million dollars to two millions.

The emirate has also won hundreds of world records, the most impressive of which being for Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, and the one for the largest mall. The city is also home to the largest aquarium, the tallest picture frame, and even the biggest gold chain. Even though the records are great, the authorities do not stop after getting them, as they continue planning huge construction projects, building enormous man-made islands, and creating new architectural marvels to impress the visitors and attract more tourists.

You can feel the luxury and the impressive scale of everything in Dubai the second you step from the plane, as the emirate is also home to the world’s biggest airport terminal. It has the almost unbelievable capacity of up to 43 million passengers and stretches for a whopping 1,700,000 square meters.


Strict Regulations

Dubai being the most relaxed of the United Arab Emirates does not mean visitors can do everything they want. There are still some fairly strict regulations in place, and even though they are not always enforced to the letter, it is better to be informed to avoid potentially getting in trouble with the authorities. As you already know, they have the cars to chase you down if necessary.

The tourists should be aware that it is generally prohibited to kiss and hug your partners in public. It is also forbidden to consume alcohol in public places, as the regulations are strict. Of course, you can still get a drink in a licensed establishment, but the authorities carefully monitor that the consumers are at least 21 years old.

Some things are not forbidden but are still considered offensive and provocative. The list includes dancing in public, behaving loudly, dressing inappropriately, and even taking pictures without permission. Even some smaller things like eating on public transport, making rude hand gestures, and cussing is better to be avoided.

Some of these actions are casually ignored in other countries, so it is important to keep it in mind when visiting Dubai. Even though the tourists are not obliged to celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan, it is better to treat the beliefs of locals respectfully, as all the actions mentioned above are considered doubly offensive throughout its duration.


Expats and Foreigners

With the booming popularity of Dubai among tourists and expats, it is not a big surprise that locals make up for the smaller portion of people in the emirate. By different estimations, the percentage of foreigners ranges from 60 to 90 in the city, which is quite impressive, considering the strength of local culture and traditions.

There are two main reasons for such a dramatic increase in international visitors. First of all, there is the trend for Dubai, as the emirate is incredibly popular among travelers. Tourism is one of the most developed industries in the United Arab Emirates, and it is especially true for the city in question. The number of visitors is growing consistently, while the assortment of architectural attractions and shopping venues is being correspondingly expanded.

The city is also trending among expats thanks to mild policies and regulations associated with moving here. Even though you have to acquire visas and applying for citizenship is only available after residing in Dubai for 20 years, the process is fairly simple and straightforward, while the approach to taxation makes it a very appealing destination. The first corporate tax has just been introduced in 2023, while the only fee the individuals have to pay is VAT and it is only 5%. There are no taxes on income or on property and real estate, making it much easier to work and own a home in Dubai than in many other locations around the world.


Burj Khalifa Logistics

The tallest skyscraper in the world deserves a separate spot on the list despite the fact we have briefly mentioned it earlier. There is a lot we could tell about Burj Khalifa, but it would require a full-length article of its own, so let us just present you with the juiciest details. More than 12 thousand workers were involved in constructing this 830-meters tall building. There are 163 stories in it, and the skyscraper can be seen from almost 100 kilometers away.

These facts are common knowledge, but not many visitors think about the logistics involved in maintaining this giant and up to 10,000 people it can host at a time. There is no public information on man-hours required to keep the windows clean, but considering there are 26,000 glass panels, it surely takes more than one Tom Cruise hanging on the outer side of the building.

Perhaps the most unbelievable fact you can hear a lot is that the skyscraper is not connected to the city’s sewage system. According to multiple articles, it was built way before this enormous structure was planned, and its capacity could not match the amounts of waste produced by Burj Khalifa. As a result, everything that would normally go down the drain is stored inside the building, gathered, and driven away by notorious orange trucks. Unfortunately, the story was only partially true, and the issue has been mostly sorted out already.

Despite popular belief, Burj Khalifa is connected to a sewage system. Prior to 2015, there were outages and other issues forcing the trucks to visit the famous skyscraper regularly, but in 2024, they are only used to serve a very limited number of buildings, and you can rarely encounter them in the city environment.


A Unique Combination of Environments

One of the reasons behind such a booming popularity of Dubai among tourists is its almost universal appeal in terms of the variety of environments available here. The city itself is a thriving metropolis with developed infrastructure and an almost unprecedented number of shopping venues, leisure activities, and other products and services available to its visitors. Modern urban environment is combined with a plethora of beautiful beaches, where the guests of the emirate can enjoy sunbathing, water sports, fishing, and other relaxing activities.

These two things alone are a fairly rare combination, but Dubai goes two steps further. First of all, it is located on the edge of the desert, meaning it takes you less than an hour to venture into the sands, exploring oases, lost cities, and riding on camels. There are even some resorts with pools, parties, and all the amenities surrounded by the desert.

At the same time, you can also visit Jebel Jais and other mountain ranges, or enjoy camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities at Hatta Dam, which is a stunningly beautiful lake surrounded by elevated peaks.

Such a variety of environments and available activities makes the emirate suitable for visitors with any preferences. And we haven’t even mentioned dozens of architectural wonders, historical sites, museums, and other cultural attractions it is possible to visit.


A Driving Haven

Despite being located right between the Arabian Gulf and the desert, Dubai has one of the best infrastructures for driving in the world. The roads are perfectly smooth, and far destinations are connected by top-notch highways, accompanied with gas or charging stations, roadside cafes, and other amenities required for comfortable driving.

Cars are almost a must-have here, as it is the best way to get around the emirate. Thankfully, all the required infrastructure is in place. There are dozens of rental companies that will allow you to book a vehicle for a day or a week, and you can even have it delivered to a selected location. The assortment of available brands and models is almost unprecedented, as you will find almost every type of car you might be looking for, starting with affordable sedans and ending with high-end sports cars or luxury SUVs.

The culture of driving is everywhere in the city and its surroundings, and there is even a car museum in Dubai, where you can find some exceptionally rare models and submerge yourself into the atmosphere of vintage driving eras.

Regulations and related rules might seem a bit tricky, but as long as you drive carefully and respectfully, you won’t get in trouble. We recommend learning more about parking zones and areas in advance, as it is perhaps the most difficult aspect of getting around Dubai by car.


Emirate Proximity

While Dubai has a lot to offer, there is also an opportunity to comfortably visit its neighboring emirates. Two most popular destinations are Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, and thanks in part to the driving infrastructure that we’ve just discussed, you can reach both of them within one and a half hours. Don’t overlook the multitude of attractions awaiting in the City; dive into our article highlighting the top places to visit in Dubai for an unforgettable experience.

These emirates have their unique qualities and some interesting attractions that make them worth checking out, in case you decide to diversify your traveling experience. Sharjah is known as the most religious emirate, making it a great choice to further explore the culture and history of locals, while Abu Dhabi is mostly famous for its amusement parks, beautiful beaches, and the man-made Yas Island that occupies a territory of a whopping 25 square kilometers.

You won’t need any licenses or special permissions to get to any neighboring emirate, making them a great choice for both a one-day trip and for a longer stay. Some travelers also enjoy visiting neighboring countries of the UAE such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, and even Qatar, although the rules of entering them might include obtaining visas or other traveling documents.


A Peculiar Climate

Dubai is notorious for its scorching hot summers, and the tourists are recommended to visit the emirate anywhere between autumn and spring. Since the vast majority of travelers come here during winter or its neighboring months, many of them don’t know the severe weather conditions the residents have to deal with during summer.

For example, in 2023, the temperature in July reached a whopping 50°C, while the average temperature throughout the summer was 38 °C. Needless to say, these are very harsh conditions for humans to operate in, and many activities beloved by tourists are not available this time of the year. The famous zoo closes its doors to save the animals and the visitors, desert safaris go on a summer break, many seaside activities become dangerous, and a number of industries go on halt.

Of course some cultural, historical, and recreational attractions and activities are still available in summer. In fact, some travelers prefer visiting Dubai this time of the year specifically because there are not so many tourists around. But unless you come from a similarly warm climate, it is recommended not to visit the emirate between June and August, as it might become dangerous for unprepared people.


Almost No Rains

Continuing the weather topic, we can add that rains are a very rare occasion in Dubai. On average, there are around 25 rain days throughout the year, where most of them are very brief and mild. The average annual rainfall here is only 130mm, which, for comparison, is six times lower than in the US and five times lower than in Spain.

The city was built according to these conditions, so every time there is heavy rain, it becomes a major challenge for the municipal services. Dubai basically has no drainage system, which means the streets would get flooded very quickly, and the waterproofness of most buildings is also fairly weak.

Right during the New Year celebration in 2021, the city was hit by a rain that lasted for three days, which was viewed almost as a major natural disaster by the residents. Various aspects of Dubai’s infrastructure are very vulnerable to massive rainfalls, and the authorities even had to issue yellow and orange alerts to warn people about the dangers outside.


The Fastest Growth

Everyone knows about the popularity of Dubai today, but not so many people appreciate how quickly the UAE got there. Only a couple of decades ago, the vast majority of territory that is today a thriving urban environment was covered by the desert. The city’s population grew from 366,000 in 1986 to more than 3 million people today, according to data by Macrotrends.

Some of the most impressive construction projects including the famous Palm Jumeirah were finished in 00’s, which aligns with the rapid growth of the tourism industry in the United Arab Emirates. According to Global Media Insight, the number of annual visitors has reached 16.73 million in 2019, which was right before the pandemic. Dubai has also become one of the fastest to recover from the damages caused by the virus, as after a decline all the way down to 5.51 million annual visitors in 2020, it managed to accommodate 14.36 million tourists in 2022.


Short Fun Facts About Dubai

We’ve already presented some long interesting details about Dubai, but we would also like to share some quick fun facts regarding the emirate and its environment too. Let us rapid fire them in the list below:

  • Fridays are officially a short day with working hours only lasting until noon
  • There are ATM machines giving out gold instead of cash in Dubai
  • The official currency is United Arab dirham (AED)
  • The exchange rate between AED and USD is 0.27 at the time of writing
  • Burj Al Arab has become the first seven-star hotel in the world
  • Despite a popular misconception, oil industry makes up for only around 5% of Dubai’s economy
  • Around 20% of world’s construction cranes are located in Dubai

We hope that these fun facts were interesting to discover and will be useful in your trip to the emirate. We would also like to suggest learning more about local regulations and driving rules before venturing out to the trip to ensure a perfect journey with no troubles.