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Dubai

Dubai, also spelled Dubayy, city and capital of the emirate of Dubai, one of the wealthiest of the seven emirates that constitute the federation of the United Arab Emirates, which was created in 1971 following independence from Great Britain. There are several theories about the origin of the name Dubai. One associates it with the daba—a type of locust that infests the area—while another holds that it refers to a market that existed near the city. In recent years Dubai has been compared to Singapore and Hong Kong and is often regarded as the Middle East’s premier entrepôt. Area 13.5 square miles (35 square km). Pop. (2017 est.) 2,919,178. Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates The skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at night. © Emily/Fotolia Character of the city Dubai is a city of skyscrapers, ports, and beaches, where big business takes place alongside sun-seeking tourism. Because of its large expatriate population, it feels like a Middle Eastern melting pot, and the atmosphere is generally tolerant. Religious affiliations are not a prominent aspect of city life. Islam is the majority religion, but churches and Hindu temples coexist with Dubai’s mosques. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Sheikh Zayed Road Sheikh Zayed Road at night, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Geoff Tompkinson/GTImage.com (A Britannica Publishing Partner) Garden in front of Mao Zedong Memorial Hall where Mao's body rests in state at Tiananmen Square, one of the largest public squares in the world, Beijing, China. Near the Forbidden City. Mausoleum. Britannica Quiz Largest, Tallest, and Smallest Around the Globe Quiz What is the world’s smallest island nation? Which continent is the largest? Test your knowledge of extremes around the world. Explore luxurious Dubai, the fastest-growing city in the world Explore luxurious Dubai, the fastest-growing city in the world Overview of Dubai city, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article Dubai is a relatively crime-free place where administrative efficiency and openness to business have encouraged astounding growth. However, criticism of Dubai’s authoritarian government and ruling elite is not tolerated, and there persists an atmosphere of discreet corruption. Landscape The western area of Dubai benefits from small stretches of sandy beaches, which have helped to catalyze the city’s tourism industry. Dubai’s rulers have sought to increase the city’s limited seafronts, and, in the absence of natural offshore islands, developers were encouraged to construct giant man-made islands off the coast of the city. The most famous of these is Palm Jumeirah, which has the shape of a palm tree. Others include the “World” islands, a cluster of small islands positioned to resemble a world map when viewed from above. Palm Jumeirah Palm Jumeirah Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, photographed from the International Space Station, 2005. NASA Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now City site and layout Dubai straddles a natural inlet called Dubai Creek on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf. For more than a century, the area was Dubai’s centre, because of the early city’s reliance on fishing, pearl diving, and maritime trade. Lining the creek are the oldest buildings in Dubai, most of which date from the 1960s and are rarely more than two stories in height. In the Bastakiyyah quarter, on the western shore of the creek, some much older buildings have been restored, and many of these feature the distinctive wind tower design that was imported by Persian merchants early in the 20th century. Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as seen from the top of Burj Khalifa. Maher Najm (A Britannica Publishing Partner) The new city centre is a string of skyscrapers lining Sheikh Zayed Road. Notable among these are the Emirates Towers, which were built in the late 1990s and early 2000s and which house a hotel and government offices. Close to Sheikh Zayed Road is the Dubai International Financial Centre, housed in a futuristic arch-shaped building, and the Burj Khalifa, which at the time of its official opening in 2010 was the world’s tallest building; it was named after the president of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyan. To the west of the skyscrapers lie several affluent suburbs, most of which house substantial villas. On their periphery lies the Burj al-ʿArab, a giant sail-shaped tower which is home to a luxury hotel. Farther west are new clusters of skyscrapers surrounding a man-made marina and several man-made lakes. Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa, a mixed-use skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. © The Photos/Fotolia Dubai: Burj al-ʿArab hotel Dubai: Burj al-ʿArab hotel Aerial view of Dubai with Burj al-ʿArab hotel in the foreground, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. © Boarding1now/Dreamstime.com Climate Like much of the Persian Gulf coastline, Dubai has a year-round hot climate. Humidity is high in the summer months and moderate the rest of the year. The coldest winter month is usually January, with lows of about 15 °C (49 °F), while the hottest summer month is July, with highs of more than 40 °C (104 °F). People Dubai’s population has grown steadily over the past two centuries, from just a few thousand local inhabitants to well over two million. Most of the early population increases were due to merchants from neighbouring countries choosing to relocate to Dubai’s business-friendly environment. In the later 20th century the city’s construction boom led to a huge increase in the number of South Asian labourers and an influx of skilled expatriates from all over the world who play an important role in Dubai’s multi-sector economy. Expatriates in the city vastly outnumber native Emiratis. With the exception of the labourers, who are housed in work camps beyond the city limits, expatriates of various nationalities are spread across Dubai. Although Arabic is the official language, English is, in practice, the lingua franca. small thistle New from Britannica ONE GOOD FACT Blood makes up about 10 percent of your body weight. See All Good Facts The local population is predominately Muslim, and most of the expatriate population is also Muslim, although there are significant Christian, Hindu, and Sikh communities. Given the tolerance of the ruling family toward non-Muslims and the city’s focus on business, the various communities coexist harmoniously, although there have been occasions when foreign residents have broken decency codes or drug-use prohibitions. Economy of Dubai Contrary to popular belief, Dubai does not have an oil-based economy. The little oil wealth it did enjoy between the 1960s and the 1990s was used to enhance other sectors of its economy by building physical infrastructure. Trade remains at the core of Dubai’s economy, with the city operating two of the world’s largest ports and a busy international air cargo hub. The Jebel Ali free-trade zone was established in the 1980s to attract industrial investment; activities based there include aluminum smelting, car manufacturing, and cement production. Finance and other services In the 21st century, activities meant to attract foreign investment have increased. Several free zones, like Jebel Ali, have been established that allow foreign companies to operate from Dubai without needing a local partner. These have been phenomenally successful, with the largest being home to more than 6,400 companies, many of which are European or North American. In the 1990s the city began positioning itself as a luxury tourist destination, spending a significant percentage of its GDP on grandiose resorts and attractions. By 1998 Dubai had begun to permit foreign investors to purchase 99-year leases on properties, allowing the real estate sector to flourish. The Dubai International Financial Centre, which opened in 2006, is set aside in the UAE constitution as an independent legal jurisdiction; it operates under a separate commercial and civil framework based on English common law. This arrangement caters to international financial companies seeking to establish a presence in the Middle East. These companies can use Dubai’s geographic location as a means to bridge the time zones between major financial hubs in Europe and East Asia. In 2009 the real estate and financial sectors crashed in the wake of the international credit crisis. A loan of $10 billion from Abu Dhabi helped Dubai avoid defaulting on its obligations, and the real estate market soon recovered. Transportation Take a ride on an ʿabra, a water taxi in Dubai Take a ride on an ʿabra, a water taxi in Dubai A discussion of water taxis in Dubai city, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article With wide highways, a hot climate, and a year-round reliance on air-conditioning, Dubai is not a welcoming city for pedestrians, so vehicle traffic can be extremely intense. However, in the early 21st century, new bridges, roads, and a fully automated, driverless metro rail system have eased the frustrations of moving around the city. Tourism has been greatly enhanced by the Dubai-owned airline, Emirates, which operates a large and modern fleet of aircraft. Dubai Metro Dubai Metro Dubai Metro train passing buildings under construction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2009. © Siegfried Layda—The Image Bank/Getty Images Dubai International Airport Dubai International Airport Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. © Dr Ajay Kumar Singh/Dreamstime.com Administration and society Government Dubai Municipality is one of the largest government institutions in the country. It is managed by a director general who in turn is accountable to the chairman of Dubai Municipality, a member of the ruling family. The director general oversees six sectors and 34 departments, which employ about 11,000 people. The municipality not only manages services in the city but is a key driver of economic growth in the emirate. Municipal services Dubai’s electricity and water provisions have largely kept up with the city’s population growth, though a number of other services such as waste collection have been criticized for falling behind. Parks and public spaces have been extensively developed and maintained; the city increased its number of green areas substantially in the 2010s. Health For those residents with private medical insurance, health care in Dubai is generally of a high standard, with several private hospitals, including the American Hospital Dubai. For those without insurance, the government operates a number of additional hospitals. Education Education is divided between the private and public sectors. Public school is generally taught in Arabic, while most private schools and all universities teach in English. Two universities, the American University in Dubai (1995) and Zayed University (1998), enjoy good reputations locally. Most of the staff are expatriates, with a significant proportion being from North America. Cultural life In the early 21st century, Dubai’s art and film industries blossomed, with the annual Art Dubai fair showcasing contemporary art and the Dubai International Film Festival promoting both local and international movies. The Dubai Museum, housed in an 18th-century fortress, displays artifacts and exhibits related to the area’s early history and traditional culture. Dubai’s public library system has several branches throughout the city, and there are a number of bookshops in the city’s shopping malls. Dubai is home to a large number of international sporting events. These have greatly boosted its status as a tourist destination. The Dubai World Cup is the world’s most lucrative horse race, and the city’s Dubai Desert Classic is a popular fixture on the European Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour. The city’s media industry remains firmly divided between government-backed television and newspapers, most of which are heavily censored, and the foreign media companies that operate branch offices from the Dubai Media City, a purpose-built complex that serves as an international media hub for the region. The latter include the BBC and the Associated Press, and their output does not have to conform to local restrictions. History From humble beginnings as a small fishing village first documented in the 18th century, the city grew rapidly as it became a major centre of the pearl-diving industry. With its business-savvy ruling family reducing taxes and welcoming foreign merchants, the city expanded further in the early 20th century and soon became a re-exporting hub for Persia and India. Benefiting from modest oil wealth in the latter half of the 20th century, Dubai continued to focus on trade and attracting investment, channelling oil surpluses into major infrastructure projects such as an international airport, dry docks, and a trade centre. In the 1990s the city began to diversify, building up its luxury tourism, real estate, and financial sectors. These all required skilled, educated foreign workers, and many moved to Dubai for its tax-free salaries and relatively stable politics. With expatriates coming from elsewhere in the Arab world as well as from Asia, Europe, and North America, the city took on a rather cosmopolitan air and was considered to have one of the most liberal societies in the region. Christopher Davidson Burj Khalifa Introduction & Top Questions Fast Facts Related Content Quizzes Media Videos Images More More Articles On This Topic Researcher's Note Contributors Article History Home Visual Arts Architecture Burj Khalifa skyscraper, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Alternate titles: Burj Dubai, Burj Khalīfah By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica • Edit History Top Questions What is the Burj Khalifa? How long did it take for the Burj Khalifa to be built? What was the Burj Khalifa built for? What other famous buildings have the architects of the Burj Khalifa designed? How many world records does the Burj Khalifa hold? Burj Khalifa, Khalifa also spelled Khalīfah, mixed-use skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that is the world’s tallest building, according to all three of the main criteria by which such buildings are judged (see Researcher’s Note: Heights of Buildings). Burj Khalifa (“Khalifa Tower”), known during construction as Burj Dubai, was officially named to honour the leader of the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyan. Although the tower was formally opened on January 4, 2010, the entirety of the interior was not complete at that time. Built to house a variety of commercial, residential, and hospitality ventures, the tower—whose intended height remained a closely guarded secret throughout its construction—reached completion at 162 floors and a height of 2,717 feet (828 metres). It was designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Adrian Smith served as architect, and William F. Baker served as structural engineer. Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. © Abrar Sharif/Dreamstime.com Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa Burj Dubai (later Burj Khalifa) under construction, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2006. Chris Price (cropped) Know about engineering and how it solves practical problems like building airplanes, skyscrapers, and bridges Know about engineering and how it solves practical problems like building airplanes, skyscrapers, and bridges Learn how engineers solve practical problems in the world, such as how to build airplanes, skyscrapers, and suspension bridges. © The University of Newcastle, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment with thanks to Jeremy Ley and Nick Parker from Light Creative (A Britannica Publishing Partner) See all videos for this article The building, modular in plan, is laid out on a three-lobed footprint that is an abstract rendering of the local Hymenocallis flower. The Y-shaped plan plays a central role in the reduction of wind forces on the tower. A hexagonal central core is buttressed by a series of wings, each with its own concrete core and perimeter columns. As the tower increases in height, the wings step back in a spiral configuration, changing the building’s shape at each tier and so reducing the effect of the wind on the building. The central core emerges at the tower’s top and is finished with a spire, which reaches more than 700 feet (200 metres). The spire was constructed inside the tower and hoisted to its final position using a hydraulic pump. At the foundational level, the tower is supported by a reinforced concrete mat nearly 13 feet (4 metres) thick, itself supported by concrete piles 5 feet (1.5 metres) in diameter. A three-story podium anchors the tower in place; the podium and two-story basement alone measure some 2,000,000 square feet (186,000 square metres) in their own right. The tower’s exterior cladding is made up of aluminum and stainless-steel panels, vertical stainless-steel tubular fins, and more than 28,000 hand-cut glass panels. A public observation deck, called “At the Top,” is located on the 124th floor. Garden in front of Mao Zedong Memorial Hall where Mao's body rests in state at Tiananmen Square, one of the largest public squares in the world, Beijing, China. Near the Forbidden City. Mausoleum. Britannica Quiz Largest, Tallest, and Smallest Around the Globe Quiz What is the world’s smallest island nation? Which continent is the largest? Test your knowledge of extremes around the world. small thistle New from Britannica ONE GOOD FACT Blood makes up about 10 percent of your body weight. See All Good Facts Upon its inauguration in January 2010, Burj Khalifa easily surpassed the Taipei 101 (Taipei Financial Center) building in Taipei, Taiwan, which measured 1,667 feet (508 metres), as the world’s tallest building. At the same time, Burj Khalifa broke numerous other records, including the world’s tallest freestanding structure, the world’s highest occupied floor, and the world’s highest outdoor observation deck. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Zeidan. Dubai Introduction Fast Facts 2-Min Summary Related Content Media Videos Images More More Articles On This Topic Contributors Article History Home Geography & Travel States & Other Subdivisions Dubai emirate, United Arab Emirates Alternate titles: Dubayy By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica • Edit History Summary Read a brief summary of this topic Dubai, also spelled Dubayy, constituent emirate of the United Arab Emirates (formerly Trucial States or Trucial Oman). The second most populous and second largest state of the federation (area 1,510 square miles [3,900 square km]), it is roughly rectangular, with a frontage of about 45 miles (72 km) on the Persian Gulf. The emirate’s capital, also named Dubai, is the largest city of the federation. The city is located on a small creek in the northeast part of the state. More than nine-tenths of the emirate’s population lives in the capital and nearby built-up sections. Dubai is surrounded by Abu Dhabi emirate on the south and west and by Sharjah emirate on the east and northeast. In addition, the small exclave (detached section) of Al-Ḥajarayn in the Wadi Ḥattā, more than 25 miles (40 km) from the nearest territory of Dubai proper, belongs to the state. Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as seen from the top of Burj Khalifa. Maher Najm (A Britannica Publishing Partner) Explore luxurious Dubai, the fastest-growing city in the world Explore luxurious Dubai, the fastest-growing city in the world Overview of Dubai city, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article The settlement of Dubai town is known from 1799. The sheikh (Arabic: shaykh) of the emirate, then a minor, signed the British-sponsored General Treaty of Peace (1820), but the area was seemingly dependent on Abu Dhabi until 1833. In that year a group of Āl Bū Falāsah clansmen of the Banū Yās confederation, chiefly pearl fishers, left Abu Dhabi in a rivalry dispute and took over Dubai town without resistance. From then on, Dubai became, by local standards, a powerful state. It was frequently at odds with Abu Dhabi’s rulers and the Qawāsim (Āl Qāsimī), who controlled the area just north of Dubai, both of whom tried to take control of it, but Dubai’s new rulers retained their independence by playing the neighbouring sheikhdoms against each other. Together with the rest of the original Trucial States, the emirate signed with Britain a maritime truce in 1835 and the Perpetual Maritime Truce in 1853. Its foreign relations were placed under British control by the Exclusive Agreement of 1892. When Britain finally left the Persian Gulf in 1971, Dubai was a prominent founding member of the United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates Read More on This Topic United Arab Emirates …the emirate of Dubai (Dubayy) and is one of the region’s most vital commercial and financial centres, housing hundreds... Discover the role of Dubai's aviation industry in the growth of the city Discover the role of Dubai's aviation industry in the growth of the city The role of airlines in the growth of Dubai city, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article The Maktoum sheikhs of Dubai, unlike most of their neighbours, long fostered trade and commerce; Dubai was an important port by the beginning of the 20th century. Many foreign merchants (chiefly Indians) settled there; until the 1930s it was known for pearl exports. More recently, Dubai has become the region’s chief port for the import of Western manufactures. Most of the United Arab Emirates’ banks and insurance companies are headquartered there. After the devaluation of the gulf rupee (1966), Dubai joined the country of Qatar in setting up a new monetary unit, the riyal. In 1973 Dubai joined the other emirates in the adoption of a national currency, the dirham. The emirate has free trade in gold, and there is a brisk smuggling trade in gold ingots to India, where gold imports are restricted. Learn about Dubai's women-only taxis Learn about Dubai's women-only taxis A discussion of special taxicabs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that have women drivers and carry only female passengers. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article In 1966 the offshore oil field of Fatḥ (Fateh) was discovered in the Persian Gulf about 75 miles (120 km) due east of Dubai, in waters where the state had granted an oil concession. By the 1970s three 20-story submarine tanks, each holding 500,000 barrels, were installed on the seabed at the site. Shaped like inverted champagne glasses, they are popularly called the “Three Pyramids of Dubai.” Dubai’s estimated oil reserves are less than one-twentieth those of neighbouring Abu Dhabi, but oil income combined with trading wealth has made Dubai a very prosperous state. A number of industrial plants, including an aluminum smelter and an associated natural gas fractionator, were built in the late 1970s. Since the late 1980s aluminum production has greatly increased through a number of staged expansions of the smelter’s facilities. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now Explore the booming skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates Explore the booming skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates Overview of the building boom in Dubai city, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article Dubai has concentrated on a wide range of development and construction plans designed to promote tourism, transport, and industry. Port Rashid (a deepwater harbour named for the former emir) was opened there in 1972, and a supertanker dry dock was completed in 1979. In an effort to boost industrial investment, the Jebel Ali port and industrial centre was declared a free-trade zone in the early 1980s; the move was largely successful, and numerous international companies responded favourably by opening facilities there. The project of overseeing Port Rashid and Jebel Ali was taken over in the early 1990s by the Dubai Ports Authority, which was created for the task. The emirate is served by Dubai International airport; Emirate Airlines, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, was established by the Dubai government in the mid-1980s. In September 2009 the first portion of a driverless rapid-transit metro line, the first in the gulf region, went into operation in Dubai. Dubai International Airport Dubai International Airport Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. © Dr Ajay Kumar Singh/Dreamstime.com Dubai Marina Dubai Marina Fish-eye night view of the Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Geoff Tompkinson/GTImage.com (A Britannica Publishing Partner) small thistle New from Britannica ONE GOOD FACT Blood makes up about 10 percent of your body weight. See All Good Facts Take a ride on an ʿabra, a water taxi in Dubai Take a ride on an ʿabra, a water taxi in Dubai A discussion of water taxis in Dubai city, United Arab Emirates. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article In the early 21st century a range of transportation and construction projects were under way, including light- and urban-rail systems, a sports complex, luxury hotels, and island developments. Though interrupted by strikes held by the city’s large population of expatriate labourers, construction on the Burj Dubai tower (“Dubai Tower”), as it was then known, was ongoing. Although the building’s interior was not entirely complete, upon its official opening in January 2010—as Burj Khalifa—it was easily the world’s tallest building and its tallest freestanding structure. Investment in the tower and numerous other extravagant projects entailed heavy borrowing, however, and with the escalation of the global financial crisis of the previous years, the emirate’s economy was troubled by massive debt and substantial quantities of real estate that lacked prospective buyers. New reliance upon neighbouring Abu Dhabi—which had recently provided its financially troubled neighbour with a bailout of some $10 billion—explains to some extent the surprise decision to rename the Burj Dubai in honour of Abu Dhabi’s emir, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyan, upon its opening. Pop. (2020 est.) emirate, 3,411,200. Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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