Currency: UAE dirham.  US$ 1 = AED 3.67.

Time: GMT + 4.

Electricity: 220/240 v; sockets are three pin.

Weather: Temperatures range from a nightime low of around 10°C in winter (Dec-Mar), to a daytime high of 49°C at the height of summer (Jun-Aug). The best time to visit is from October to April, with perfect temperatures for long, comfortable days at the beach and balmy evenings outside.

Vaccinations: No special injections are needed.

Visas: Citizens from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and most Western European and Far Eastern countries are entitled to a free, 30-day extendable visit visa on arrival. Others must obtain a visa


The words ‘first, tallest, deepest, most expensive, lavish, outlandish’ could have been created for this city. Where else would you find a seven-star hotel, visit a series of 200 man-made islands in the shape of the countries of the world, or climb the world’s tallest building?

Amidst all this modernity, as you head from a swim in the sea or a business meeting to designer boutiques, a round of golf or a top teppanyaki restaurant, the age-old souks still attract those who like to haggle. And yet only a few kilometres into the magnificent desert there are still camels roaming free.

There is a vibrant and cosmopolitan air about Dubai, for instance the way the traditional abra boats carry a kaleidoscope of tourists side by side with sari-wrapped Indians and locals sporting spotless dishdashas.

Outside of Dubai life is more traditional and moves at a slightly slower pace.  As you explore the barren beauty of the mountains, or go about the UAE’s East coast beaches you will find  people friendly and willing to chat, even when lacking a common language.


3000 BC: When Dubai history could be said to have begun. Archaeological evidence points to the area having been settled from at least the Bronze Age.

5th – 7th centuries AD: Jumeirah was a trade route caravan station linking Oman with what is now Iraq. Livelihoods were based on fishing, boat-building and pearling.

16th century: European influence began with Portuguese interest in the area’s trade routes.

1793: The Bani Yas tribe assumed political power and settled in Abu Dhabi. Dubai later became a dependency. This period of Dubai history was beset with many tribal wars.

1820: Britain negotiated the first of many maritime truces with local rulers. This led to the area being dubbed the Trucial Coast.

1833: Maktoum Bin Butti of the Bani Yas tribe settled on the Shindagha Peninsula at the mouth of the Creek, declaring the town’s independence from Abu Dhabi. His dynasty still rules Dubai today.

1870s: Dubai became the principal port on the Gulf coast, with pearling the mainstay of the city’s prosperity.

1902: The welcome migration of Iranian traders and Arab settlers to Dubai following the introduction of heavy taxes on Iran’s Lingeh port. Dubai’s trade has never looked back.

1950s: Oil discovered in the Trucial States.

1960s: The Indian and Pakistani population of Dubai grows, breathing new life into the textile market and increasing trade from the Indian subcontinent.

1966: A milestone in Dubai history. Oil is discovered in Dubai’s Fateh Oil field.

1971: The United Arab Emirates was formed for mutual security and prosperity and joined the Arab League. Dubai International Airport opened.

1979: Jebel Ali port opened.  Dubai World Trade Centre opened – the city’s first high-rise, paving the way for a string of other ambitious architectural projects.

1985: Emirates airline launched.  Jebel Ali Free Zone inaugurated, attracting considerable overseas investment.

1996: Dubai World Cup held for the first time.  Dubai Shopping Festival launched.

1999: Burj Al-Arab opened and hailed as the world’s only seven-star hotel.

2002: Sheikh Mohammed launches Internet and Media cities and private ownership for foreigners laying the foundations for “New Dubai”.

2003:  Ambitious projects began, including the world’s tallest tower, and 200 man-made islands.

2006: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum becomes Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE.

2009: Emirates Terminal 3 and the Metro is launched to accommodate increasing air and road traffic.

2010: Burj Khalifa became the tallest man-made structure on earth.