1. It’s Hotter than the Guidebooks will have you believe
Don’t believe all that travel brochure guff about it having a “warm climate, ideal for sunbathing.” Even the most seasoned sunbather will be unable to spend more than 5 minutes on the beach during the height of summer without being barbecued. Oh, and the humidity often reaches 100%, which in layman’s terms means the maximum amount of water the air can possibly carry while still being air.
2. Less than 20% of the population are actually locals
Exponential immigration has led to the local, Emirati population almost being drowned out. It’s easy for them to feel like strangers in their own land when nearly everyone else hails from a completely different culture. However, everyone gets along as well as they should, with an extremely low crime rate (violent crime is almost unheard of) and little social strife.
3. The population has doubled since 1995
In 1995, the population of the city stood at a bit under 700,000. Now the figure is at around 1.4 million even despite some decline because of the recession. It’s no surprise then that touring around Dubai can sometimes feel like you are inspecting a giant building site, as developers rush to get apartment blocks completed on time to house all the newcomers.
4. It has the world’s best malls
America perhaps invented the mall, but it was Dubai that set the standard. Malls in Dubai are extremely luxurious affairs, with unsullied leather sofas, marble floors, beautiful fountains, and restrooms rivalling those of 5 star hotels. Some even house fake streets in a pastiche of some colourful Renaissance era town, complete with dummy Parisian lampposts. It’s a fact learnt after traversing the world that humans only ever really want something when it isn’t real.
5. It has the world’s most ambitious, well, everything
Tallest Man-Made Structure? Yep. Tallest Hotel? Yep. Biggest Mall? Yep. World’s biggest Aquarium? Yep. Second largest man-made Marina? Yep. It has even broken the record for being the city with the largest number of people named Mohammed.
6. In 1968, there were reportedly only 13 cars in the whole city.
…A reported (if perhaps unverifiable) fact that many residents wish today was still true, as many spend up to 3 hours a day in pile-ups. The problem is so bad, that even double decker roads have been introduced.
7. In 1991, there was 1 skyscraper in the city. Now there are around 400.
Dubai’s Prestigious World Trade Centre cuts a lonely figure, sitting at one end of Sheikh Zayed Road, now the main artery of the city. This road has now been transformed into a majestic Skyscraper Avenue with structures both sides, including the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world and as lofty as two Empire State Buildings on top of each other – no joke. The finale of King Kong might have been a bit more impressive if it was filmed in Dubai, wouldn’t it?
Photo of camel in Dubai, UAE, by •●pfaff