Dubai is a city located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), West Asia. It is included in the seven emirates of UAE with Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain.
It is the least conservative place in the Middle East for tolerating other practices as compared to its strict neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia and Oman. Thus, Dubai is better known as the heart of the Middle East.
Dubai has also gained the title of being the most populated city in UAE with more than two million residents in 2014. However, only 10 to 15 percent of the said population are locals or Emiratis. The remaining percentage belong to other nationalities, such as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Filipino.
When Dubai is mentioned, people usually visualize the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. Though it is true that these are their famous treasures, Dubai has a lot to offer apart from its overwhelming number of tourist destinations, hospitable people, and varying cultures. The residents and tourists are living proofs that this is so.
There are more famous misconceptions about this place, its people, and their culture. Nonetheless, there is more to this seemingly modern utopia than you think. Your myths about Dubai shall be debunked!
15. Dress Code
Contrary to what other people believe, not all countries in the Middle East require their residents to wear their national clothing like abaya, hijab, thobe, and turban. One of these places that don’t require such is Dubai.
In Dubai, you can wear casual clothing, but there are a few restrictions, especially to women, that should be abided by. Depending on where you are, modesty is expected. Also, this serves as a sign of respect to all religions and cultures. For instance, wearing of spaghetti tops may not be respected by the public. It is recommended to cover one’s shoulder and knees. When visiting religious areas and government offices, women also need to dress up more conservatively.
14. Banned Meat Products
Pork is known to be banned in most Muslim countries since Muslims believe that it is taboo and impure based on Islamic laws. Muslims can only eat pork when they are starving and there is no other food available but pork. However, in United Arab Emirates (UAE), particularly in Dubai, it is an exception. Your cravings do not have to suffer while you are residing in a Muslim country.
There are selected restaurants where they serve pork dishes and shopping malls where you can buy and cook them at home. Still, it is strictly implemented that only non-Muslims can do so because it is “haram” or forbidden for Muslims.
13. Everybody’s Rich
Hidden inside those outwardly wealthy pockets are the wallets of many Dubai residents asking for help. No, not everyone in Dubai is rich. In fact, everything that they own is the fruits of their sleepless nights, overtime hours, and hard work. Their achievements were not simply given to them by the government. A single person needs to earn at least 1,000 dollars to survive in Dubai because of its high cost of living. If these workers are with their families, they need to earn twice or thrice as much. The salary that you can acquire in Dubai may seem high to sustain your family, but your salary is directly proportional with the expenses, creating a balance between the two.
12. Only Buildings
Dubai is not only blessed with its amazing sky-high buildings. It also possesses a natural beauty that can be witnessed for an affordable price, and includes the Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Beach, and Dubai Miracle Garden. You can have your lunch or dinner on a Dhow cruise while seeing the beautiful sights in Dubai. You can splash in the water to cool yourself from the scorching weather at the Jumeirah Beach. You can take pictures with lovely flowers at the Dubai Miracle Garden during the winter season. Dubai also keeps its precious history at the Dubai Museum – one of the cheapest tourist destinations in the city. Dubai does not only offer buildings to catch a glimpse of.
11. Sports Cars Everywhere
Everyone does not hop on luxurious sports cars and take a trip around the city with it. The well-off do, but a majority of the population use public transportation like the Dubai Metro, taxis, and point-to-point buses.
In fact, public transportation is widely used, especially during rush hours, to dodge moderate to heavy traffic. Because of Dubai Metro’s easy accessibility and hassle-free system, you would prefer to travel on Dubai’s five-star subway system than taxis and point-to-point buses. It will drop you off at the airport terminals, Palm Deira, Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina, Emirates Towers, etc. without too much stress.
10. Many Job Opportunities
Perhaps, it is because of films and news stories that make you believe that there are many job opportunities in Dubai. Though it is true for some, it may not be the same for others. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Emiratisation order is implemented, which prioritizes residents (Emiratis) in the job market. Thus, instead of hiring expatriates, the government selects employees who are Emiratis.
Before accepting other nationalities as workers, employers strictly require expatriates to submit many documents and undergo tests, such as diplomas verified by previous schools, criminal records, and medical tests. They are also filtered and considered probationary workers before attaining the benefits of being a wage earner in Dubai.
9. Geographical Mistakes
Unlike what other people believe, Dubai is not a separate country in West Asia. Located along the Persian Gulf, it is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), together with Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain. Though, it is not the capital of the said country. Dubai is just the center of attention because this is a well-known tourist spot all year round, an eventful business center, and an occupied financial center. It is also the second largest emirate based on land area. Yet, it is not a separate country and not the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
8. Only Islam
Islam is the official religion in Dubai, which is evident in their conservative culture and scattered mosques in the area. Nevertheless, Islam is not the only practiced religion there. Other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism are also tolerated and accepted when it does not contradict their cultural norms and dishonor their beliefs and moral values.
In fact, the emirate allowed the construction of churches and temples where you can worship your gods. Private Bible studies or spiritual meetings are also permitted. Though, one restriction is that you must not persuade or influence Muslims to change their religion and have the same religious views as you do. As the saying goes, respect begets respect.
7. Only Super Hot Weather
It is common for Dubai residents to experience the hot temperature that ranges from 36 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. During the summer, it can even reach up to 50 degrees Celsius with August as the hottest month of the year. It is not just “warm”. It is also humid. However, it is not like this the whole year. October marks the beginning of the winter season. Staring October until February, the weather becomes surprisingly pleasant and cool. In December, the weather can reach below 15 degrees Celsius. This is the best time to travel to Dubai because it would not be a bother to wander around and enjoy the magnificent view.
6. Alcohol/Liquor Ban
Consumption of any intoxicating drink (liquid) is haram or forbidden in the Qur’an, the Holy Book of the Muslims. Because Allah has prohibited it and stated that it is a sin, Muslims do not drink alcohol or liquor. Though, alcohol or liquor is not banned in Dubai. Because expatriates take up most of the city’s population, other nationalities can have fun and drink with certain restrictions.
Drinking is only allowed in licensed restaurants, hotels, and bars. Drinking in public places is monitored by policemen. You can also buy alcohol at the airport, but if you were to buy alcohol in the city, you need to apply for a license.
5. Arabic Language
Arabic is the official language in Dubai, but English is widely used by the residents and tourists to communicate and understand each other. It is not required to learn Arabic, yet it is recommended to learn simple Arabic words or phrases to effectively talk with the Arabs. The road signs, signboards, and instructions are both in Arabic and English to teach the residents and tourists the two languages. A person does not need to have the perfect grammar when speaking in English. In fact, it would be easier to talk with Emiratis when you use simple words or broken English instead of making it complicated.
4. Crime Rate
Despite the common notion that the Middle East is bursting with a lot of jihad (holy war), Dubai begs to differ with its crime index of 19.22 and safety index of 80.78. The level of crime and worries of having a possession stolen and being attacked are relatively very low in the city.
You do not have to worry about losing your personal belongings while walking, especially when you bring out your cellphone. It is indirectly proportional to the safety level which is very high whether you are wandering around in broad daylight or in the nighttime. As stated by the residents, “The news does not tell everything that happens in the Middle East. You just have to see it to believe it.”
3. Oil-Based Economy
Though it remains true that it was through oil that Dubai established infrastructures, factories, trading markets, and tourism, Dubai did not rely solely on oil to uphold its economy as the years went by. In fact, oil only contributed less than one percent to Dubai’s Gross Domestic Product whereas tourism contributed around twenty percent. The rest is due to its financial and business centers in the city that formed great projects in Dubai. It was also because of the technological development. In 2014, it became one of the quickest rising economies in the world with numerous trading partners, such as India, United States of America (USA), and China.
The camels walking around in the city of Dubai are a common sight that you would not be down when you could not take a picture with one because you would surely bump into another camel. However, there is still a variety of land and sea creatures found there yet to be appreciated. Camels are not the only desert animals in Dubai because oryx, foxes, and gazelles can also be seen in the city.
In the zoo and parks, land animals include goats, monkeys, bears, lions, giraffes, ponies, hamsters, rabbits, snakes, jaguars, etc. can be visited. On the other hand, penguins, dolphins, sharks, and fishes are in the Ski Dubai or Dubai Aquarium.
1. Heartless Emiratis
It is often believed that Emiratis are heartless, arrogant, and terrifying, but people tend to forget that they are humans, too. This means that we need to see the bigger picture and not generalize all of them to one trait just because we had an unpleasant encounter with some Emiratis. Emiratis are also hospitable, generous, and caring. They invite co-workers to their homes to have tea, coffee, or dates. They help other nationalities in the most surprising way by lending them money. They also overlook cultural differences and respect the beliefs of expatriates that may differ from theirs. Like what William Blake said, “To generalize is to be an idiot.”
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