Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. It borders Abu Dhabi to the south and southwest, Sharjah to the east and north, and the Persian Gulf to the northwest.
Dubai is the name of both a city and one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. This article refers to the emirate. At the risk of stating the obvious, the largest city in the emirate is the city of Dubai.
Climate and Geography
Dubai is small compared to most countries, but, at 4,114 km², it is the second largest of the emirates. Located on the Arabian Peninsula it borders Abu Dhabi to the south and southwest, Sharjah to the east and north, and the Persian Gulf to the northwest. It also has one eastern exclave that borders on Oman. East of the city of Dubai are coastal plains called sabka, which end at the desert. The southern end of the country is a “sea of sand” that leads to The Empty Quarter (one of the largest deserts in the world). There are no natural rivers or oases in Dubai, but there is Dubai Creek—an enlarged saltwater creek that runs northeast-southwest through the city of Dubai and ends at the Ras Al Kohr Wildlife Sanctuary where 320 species of migratory birds stop annually.
The climate in Dubai, as one would imagine, is hot and arid. In the summer the average high is 40 °C and the average low is 30 °C. In the winter it’s about 15 °C degrees cooler. Dubai is sunny most of the time, receiving only about 150 mm of rain per year.
Dubai is incredibly popular with tourists. It’s the eighth most-visited city in the world, and the government has ambitious plans to be able to accommodate over 15 million visitors by 2015. Dubai has been called “shopping capital of the Middle East” and “The City of Gold”. It is a place of incredible affluence and excess.
Although the desert doesn’t make for a lot of outdoors activities—aside from camel riding and sandboarding—there are a surprising number of adventure sports in Dubai. There is surfing and scuba diving as well as indoor skiing and snowboarding. I won’t lie, there isn’t any world-class action here but, at the end of the day, there are always the white sand beaches and an ocean that is 22 °C in the winter and 35 °C in the summer.
- Stand-up paddle boarding
- Scuba diving (wreck, reef)
- Sky diving
- Hot air ballooning
- Kayaking (sea)
- Hiking/trekking (all levels)
- Rock climbing (wall)
- Horseback riding
- Camel riding
- Skiing and snowboarding
On a Budget?
- The cheapest rooms are for two or more, and can work out to about $20 USD per person.
- Shwarma, a local favorite that is similar to a donair, can be bought from street vendors $.130 Budget meals can be found in local restaurants for $5.50 or more.
Images (in order) courtesy of daarkfire, s_zeimke, maja_x1, Tom Olliver, Sarah_Ackerman, fortes, daarkfire, Joi, Daniel, Daniel Kwok, Stephan Geyer, naeem.ebrahimjee, and OnMyWayAroundTheWorld on Flickr.