Dubai is the fastest growing city in the world and is a dazzling, cosmopolitan destination complete with gleaming skyscrapers, amazing weather, thousands of foreigners and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. In the late 1960s, it was simply a pile of sand with only one large building built upon it and a dozen cars circulating the land. Over the last 50 years, the rate at which Dubai has developed has astounded people around the world and created some of the most fascinating cultural norms on the planet.
Camel-riding robots? Check. Indoor skiing? Double check. And that’s barely scratching the surface of the crazy things you’ll find in Dubai. What did you expect from a bustling metropolis surrounded by a desert wasteland?
Because it is so high profile and expensive, few people actually get to experience the wonders that Dubai has to offer. However, its shrouded nature only increases the mystique surrounding the city and makes people want to know more about the secrets that it holds. That’s where we come in. Follow along as we outline 10 of the most unbelievable facts about Dubai.
10. Dubai Has A Crime Rate of 0%
Due to the city being ruled under strict Muslim law by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai boasts virtually a 0% crime rate. In a city inhabited primarily by foreigners, people know that they can easily be imprisoned or deported for the slightest of criminal acts, making Dubai one of the safest cities on the planet. The Sheikh takes great pride in Dubai’s police force and makes a conscious effort to show off how classy it is to tourists coming to visit. As a result, each police car in Dubai costs as much as sending one person to college in the United States. The various models of police cars include Ferraris (valued at $500,000), Lamborghinis (valued at $400,000) and one Ashton Martin, priced at $1.79 million.
9. Dubai’s Population is 83% Immigrants
Most of the workers building Dubai’s hundreds of skyscrapers immigrated to the United Arab Emirates from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As a result, they comprise over 50% of the city’s population, followed by 17% Emiratis and the remainder being foreigners. The class divide is huge, with many of the immigrant workers living and working in the most squalid of conditions while Emiratis have their rent, education and medical bills paid for and upper class foreigners earn extremely attractive salaries. There has been lots of outrage from various human rights organizations who are trying to change the way immigrant blue collar workers in Dubai are treated. Many have their passports taken away upon arrival to their city, until they can prove themselves to their employer and pay back the cost of their ticket to the UAE.
8. Dubai Has Zero Debt Tolerance
Dubai is avidly against the concept of its residents incurring debt and not being able to pay it back. If you fall into default on your credit cards and miss payments, you can be sent to jail or deported. The prospect of a well-paying job, tax-free salary and up-scale living conditions can be attractive to many expats, but several of them live beyond their means and are sent back home shortly after. The debt repayment and prosecution issues are such a serious problem here that many luxury cars can be found abandoned in airport parking lots, left behind by indebted foreigners fleeing back to their home country.
7. Everything in Dubai Needs to be Cooled
Logically, Dubai’s structure makes no sense from an environmental standpoint. Its land is smack dab in the middle of a desert, with sand storms constantly being a concern and temperatures soaring far above 120 degrees. If it weren’t for the city’s excessive air conditioning, buildings would quite literally begin to melt and the sun constantly beaming down on the residents’ glass windows would cook them alive. As a result, construction engineers install vertical cooling systems – which use crazily strong pumps to push water upwards through buildings to cool them down. These pumps often have to be installed on several levels of the buildings, as many of them exceed 100 stories. Because Dubai is a desert, the engineers then have to drill extremely deep and far out into the ground in search for the pumps’ water – which they use millions of litres of annually.
6. Dubai is the Fastest Growing City on Earth
20% of all cranes operating on the planet can be found in Dubai. The city is growing at such a rapid pace that economists are concerned that a financial and housing collapse is impending. Dubai’s metro system was completed in 2009, features 42 stations and was built in a shocking 18 months – a small fraction of what it would take other cities to accomplish such a task. Dubailand is also under construction, an amusement park that will be twice the size of Disney World and will be the largest tourist magnet on the planet, with 200,000 visitors expected daily. The city features several man made islands, the largest of which is the Palm Jumeirah. The island features a resort and countless mansions, requiring 94 million cubic meters of sand to be imported in order to build it: twice what the entire Empire State Building could hold.
5. Dubai Has No Standard Address System
Due to the rate at which Dubai is growing, it doesn’t have a standard address system in place. Instead of an address line on a mailing label, there is a space where residents can draw a map or write out specific instructions such as: “After the white mosque, first street to the left, gold door.” Foreigners arriving to the city from the airport are advised to have maps on hand to show their drivers where they’re going, if they won’t be visiting one of the city’s many luxury hotels.
7. Dubai Hosts Robot Camel Racing
Camel racing is an extremely popular sport in Dubai, similar to what football is to the US and what hockey is to Canada. Given the camel’s size, only children can participate in racing them. Instead of allowing Emirati or Dubai residents’ children to participate, there has been a problem in the past with having children illegally trafficked into the country for the sole purpose of racing camels. The rest of the world eventually caught on to the issue and has since put a stop to it for the most part. Leave it to Dubai to come up with a solution. Now, child-sized robots are being built and are racing the camels. They cost anywhere from $300 to $10,000.
3. Dubai is Building a City Within the City
Constantly on the quest to impress the rest of the world with its extravagance, Dubai is in the process of building a climate-controlled city within itself that’s 2.25 times the size of Monaco. The as of yet unnamed city will be within Dubai’s limits and will feature air-conditioned walkways that get you from street to street and building to building for visitors’ maximal comfort. In other words, you’ll be able to shop, eat, walk around and explore without having to be bothered by the sweltering desert heat.
2. Dubai Wants to be the Biggest And Best at Everything
Dubai’s apparent main goal is to constantly have the biggest and best of everything. Its hotels are the most luxurious of any other place on the planet and it boasts being home to the best hotel in the world: The Burj Al-Arab. The hotel bills itself as seven stars, doesn’t let anybody without a reservation walk through its doors and is comprised of 39% empty space, which is purely for height and show. It also features 1,790 square meters of gold leaf adorning its interior. In addition, Dubai built the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, which can be seen from 95 km away and is 163 stories high. Beyond that, the city has the largest indoor mall on the planet, the biggest aquarium, the tallest hotel and the grandest indoor ski park – yes, you read that right.
1. Dubai Forbids Premarital Sex
Premarital sex is illegal in Dubai and can get you imprisoned or deported. Public displays of affection are very much frowned upon in the Muslim country and it is advised not even to hold hands with your significant other in public – let alone kiss. Of course, the government can’t control what happens behind closed doors, and in that regard many foreigners and Emiratis do whatever they’d like. There have however been instances of expats being jailed after it was discovered that they had engaged in intimate acts with anybody other than their spouse. Sadly, more often than not, it’s the man’s word against the woman’s. Several foreign women in recent years have been imprisoned after bringing it to authorities’ attention that they were raped.