Interesting Facts

An Oasis in the Desert

The second largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is located on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf. One of the city’s greatest visitor attractions is its superb shopping.


Dubai has an area of some 3,900 square kilometres. Outside the city itself, the emirate is sparsely inhabited and characterized by desert vegetation.


Oil contributes just 20 per cent of economic production. Trading, manufacturing and services – including tourism – now dominate the economy.

Local Time

The UAE is four hours ahead of GMT.

Getting Here

Dubai’s location at the cross-roads of Europe, Asia and Africa makes for easy accessibility. London is seven hours away, Frankfurt six, Hong Kong eight and Nairobi four. Most European capitals and other major cities have direct flights to Dubai, with many choices of operator. More than 80 airlines take advantage of Dubai’s open skies policy, and operate to and from Dubai International Airport to more than 130 destinations, making it one of the world’s busiest. Dubai is the home base of Emirates, the award-winning international airline of the UAE, which operates scheduled services to more than 45 destinations.

Shopping in Dubai

One of Dubai’s greatest visitor attractions is its superb shopping. The city draws large numbers of ‘shopping tourists’ from countries within the region and from as far afield as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

As an open port with low import duties, Dubai’s retail prices are reasonable and the variety of products available is virtually unrivaled. Free of tax, many top brand-name products are cheaper in Dubai than in the countries of their origin. Whatever the visitor’s tastes – be it couture from Paris or Milan, hi-tech electronics from Japan, or a piece of silver Bedouin jewelry – he or she will find it at the right price in Dubai. In addition to the souk districts and shopping malls, there are many top-class department stores and boutiques throughout the city.

The Market

As the leading regional trading hub, Dubai offers access to a market of outstanding potential for overseas companies in a wide range of sectors. Among its key characteristics are:

  • A large market – more than $17 billion in domestic imports annually; gateway to a $150 billion p.a., 1.4 billion population regional import market
  • A growing market – Dubai’s imports have more than doubled since 1989; regional economic growth and liberalization is set to boost demand
  • A prosperous market – strategic location at the heart of one of the world’s richest regions
  • A diversified market – wide import requirements; opportunities for suppliers of most products
  • An accessible market – served by more than 170 shipping lines and 86 airlines
  • An open market – no exchange controls, quotas or trade barriers

The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to some 13 centimetres a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degrees Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July.


The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce.

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