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Dubai fact file

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Bite-sized economic and socio-political data on Dubai and the United Arab Emirates

What is the UAE?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an independent sovereign state founded in 1971. Located in the Persian Gulf, the federation comprises seven emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Ras
Al-Khaimah and Fujairah – each with its own ruling family of sheikhs. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is also the de facto president of the UAE

Population of the UAE: 4.5 million, of which just 20 percent are Emirati nationals

About Dubai
Situated northeast of Abu Dhabi, along the coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the second largest emirate by GDP and area, after Abu Dhabi. It is also expected to be the most densely populated of the emirates by 2009. The capital of Dubai is Dubai City

Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Area 3,885km2, with 72km of coastline
Population of Dubai 1.5 million
GDP 198 billion in 2007
GDP growth 11 per cent

Dubai City
The small settlement of Dubai, situated along Dubai Creek, a narrow 15km sea inlet, was taken over by the Bani Yas tribe in 1833, who left the nearby town of Abu Dhabi under the leadership of the still-ruling Maktoum family. Dubai’s central location in the gulf allowed it to develop as a thriving port and centre for pearls, fishing and trade. A limited supply of oil was discovered in 1966, which Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, father of the current ruler, invested in dredging the creek to enable greater ship traffic, increasing Dubai’s trade by 20 per cent. Later, Sheikh Rashid built the world’s largest man-made harbour at Jebel Ali, an economic free zone. Current ruler Sheikh Mohammed has further developed Dubai as a tourism and business destination for the Middle East

With knowledge of Dubai’s dwindling oil reserves, a strategic decision was made to diversify Dubai’s economy, focusing on tourism dollars, property development, financial services and the re-export market. The total value of property development projects planned and underway in Dubai currently totals £8.44 billion
Dubai annual hotel revenues, 1998-2007

Dubai’s location, roughly a seven-hour flight from London and from Hong Kong, has made it an ideal business, tourist and re-export hub. It is currently served by over 120 shipping lines, and linked by 120 airlines to 205 destinations. The city plans to further increase import/export and tourism traffic by adding a £3 billion third terminal to Dubai International Airport and constructing the new £6.5 billion Al Maktoum International Airport. The two airports will have a joint annual capacity of 230 million passengers. Dubai’s tourism drive has paid off so far. In 2007, seven million people stayed in its hotels. Tourism now comprises 30 per cent of Dubai’s GDP and visitors to the emirate outnumber residents by 5 to 1

Cost of living

Based on £1 = 5.45 AED

Coffee £2

Hotel room £100-150 per night

One month’s rent for two-bed flat on Sheikh Zayed Road £3,300

10-minute taxi ride £0.75

Dinner for two
£33 without alcohol

Cinema ticket £4

Tank of petrol £6 for 1.3 litre car;
£10 for 3.7 litre car; £15 for 5.7 litre car

Pint of beer £4

Doctor’s visit £18-73. Medical insurance costs are about £310 per person annually

School rates (per year)
Nursery £500-2,000
Primary £1,600-3,500 Secondary £2,500-8,000


There is no income tax, but there are taxes on accommodation, cars and driving. A haraam (forbidden tax) of 30 per cent is added to alcohol and pork products.

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