Dubai: The City of Gold

Dubai has the image of being the city of gold. But the pot of gold is about as elusive as the leprechaun that holds it.

Dubai is one of the seven emirates or independent states that combined together to form the U.A.E. Due to high oil reserves, U.A.E. is a rich country churning out sixty million barrels of oil a day. The U.A.E. is a monarch state; the rulers are the sheikhs. The capital of U.A.E. is Abu Dhabi though Dubai is commercially more prominent. The local currency is the dirham which is equal to Rupees 12.25. The national bird is the falcon. No prizes for guessing the national animal (obviously, the camel). The official language is Arabic. It is a declared Islamic state. The other five emirates are – Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm-al-Auainn, and Ras-al-Khaimah, six of the emirates joined together to form the U.A.E. in December 1972 (Ras-al-Khaimah joined in February 73).

Dubai is a bustling emirate and is considered the commercial hub of the gulf. Dubai was the first to open its doors to immigrants and foreign traders. This resulted in its prosperity. Two massive ports were developed – port Rashid with thirty five berths and port Jebel Ali with sixty five berths, which opened the gateway for trade and commerce. All maritime business started flowing to Dubai. It became the largest transit point for goods movement to whole of Middle East.

Dubai is one of the richest cities in the world. The streets are impeccably clean and the traffic is very well organized. Dubai is split into two by the Dubai Creek (inlet of sea water flowing inside by to twenty kilometers). The two halves are called Bur Dubai and Deira. Dubai’s greatest shopping mall – Continent- is located in the Deira side. Just window-shopping can be a lot of fun especially because the stores display the best merchandise of the world. The most famous beach is the Jumeirah beach.

The U.A.E. is mostly desert area and it is sweltering hot. It is so scorching that all houses have to be fully air-conditioned. In this climate farming is not possible. Since it is near the sea, fishing and pearl diving used to be the main occupations. Now of course the pearls are no more available but fishing is still a major activity. There are country boats, which come inside the creek and take merchandise to countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, etc.

The local people – the Arabs – form only a fraction of the population. They all are strictly Muslim. Men wear long white robes called dishdashas with a traditional headgear: a long white cloth tied to the head with a black band. Women on the other hand have to wear black robes called burkhas. Married women wear a mask and maintain purdah, ie, to stay behind the curtain. The government provides free housing and rations to all locals. Education is also free in the government schools.