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Dubai is the most populous and second largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi. Dubai is distinct from other members of the UAE in that revenues from oil account for only 6% of its gross domestic product. A majority of the emirate's revenues are from the Jebel Ali Free Zone and increasingly from tourism.

With enormous construction and development in various industries, Dubai has attracted world attention through innovative real estate projects, sports events, conferences and Guinness records. However, this increased attention, coinciding with its emergence as a world business hub have also highlighted potential human rights quagmires concerning its largely immigrant workforce.


Oil reserves in Dubai are less than one-twentieth those of Abu Dhabi, and oil income represents a small proportion of the emirate's income.

Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent at that time), became important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centres were headquartered in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. The city of Dubai has a free trade in gold and until the 1990s was the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade" of gold ingots to India, where gold import was restricted.

Today, Dubai is an important tourist destination and port (Jebel Ali, constructed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made harbour in the world), but also increasingly developing as a hub for service industries such as IT and finance, with the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Transport links are bolstered by its rapidly-expanding Emirates Airline, founded by the government in 1985 and still state-owned; based at Dubai International Airport, it carried over 12 million passengers in fiscal year 2005.

The government has set up industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, now combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such as EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, Reuters, ARY and AP. Dubai Knowledge Village (KV),an education and training hub, is also set up to complement the Free Zone’s other two clusters, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City, by providing the facilities to train the clusters' future knowledge workers. Internet access is restricted in most areas of Dubai with a proxy server filtering out sites deemed to be against cultural and religious values of the UAE - this includes any .il (Israeli) domains. However, areas served by TECOM (an internet service provider) are currently not filtered.


The Jumeirah Palm island.The government's decision to diversify from a trade-based but oil-reliant economy to one that is service- and tourism-oriented has made real estate more valuable, resulting in the property boom from 2004-2006. Construction on a large scale has turned Dubai into one of the fastest growing cities in the world, equalled only by the large Chinese cities.

The property boom is largely driven by Mega-Projects - Off-shore such as Palm Islands , The World (archipelago) Inland such as Dubai Marina , The Burj Dubai Complex , Dubai Waterfront , Business Bay and Dubailand.


Since 2000, Dubai's municipality has initiated a plethora of construction phases and plans across the entire city of Dubai, predominantly in the Mina Seyahi area, located further from Jumeirah, towards Jebel Ali. In many areas, it is not easy to see Dubai's sky without at least one crane in your view; Industry experts cautiously estimate that 15% to 25% of the world's cranes are in Dubai.[6] Construction in Dubai and the UAE in general is a much faster process than in any Western country. This is partly because labourers from the Indian subcontinent accept lower wages than those from other countries.

One of the main reasons for the boom in construction in Dubai is its drive to diversify the economy. The Dubai government does not want to depend on its oil reserves which are largely believed to become exhausted by 2010 and, as such, has diversified its economy to attract revenues in the form of expanding commercial and corporate activity. Tourism is also being promoted at a staggering rate with the construction of Dubailand and other projects that include the making of mammoth shopping malls, theme parks, resorts, stadiums and various other tourist attractions.

Another reason for the construction boom is the recent reversal of a law in 2002 that allows non-nationals of the UAE to own property (not land) in Dubai (albeit freehold and 99 year leases are actually sold to people with ownership still remaining with private companies). The larger of the property tycoons are Al Nakheel and Emaar Properties. In Dubai, demand is currently outstripping supply by a significant margin and is showing no signs of slowing in the near future. Rents have skyrocketed with the recent inflow of professionals and companies from around the world who are attracted by Dubai's no-tax benefits although rises have been capped to 15% per annum up to 2006 under a directive from Sheikh Mohammad. Legislation in this area is still developing as the property market for foreigners is relatively new.


People born in the United Arab Emirates are not considered citizens except if their parents are citizens. Thus those born in the UAE to expatriates are also considered expatriates. The massive construction projects currently in Dubai have required more construction workers than there are citizens of the city (note: over 80% of Dubai's population consists of expatriates/non-citizens). This has led to massive importation of low-wage workers, mostly from India and Pakistan. Most of these workers are forced to give up their passports upon entering Dubai, making it very difficult to return home. NPR reports that workers "typically live eight to a room, sending home a portion of their salary to their families, whom they don't see for years at a time." Others report that their salary has been withheld to pay back loans, making them little more than indentured servants.[8] The BBC has reported that "local newspapers often carry stories of construction workers allegedly not being paid for months on end. They are not allowed to move jobs and if they leave the country to go home they will almost certainly lose the money they say they are owed. The names of the construction companies concerned are not published in the newspapers for fear of offending the often powerful individuals who own them.".

In December 2005, the Indian consulate in Dubai submitted a report to the Government of India detailing labour problems faced by Indian expatriates in the emirate. The report highlighted delayed payment of wages, substitution of employment contracts, premature termination of services and excessive working hours as being some of the challenges faced by Indian workers in the city.

On 21 March 2006, tensions boiled over at the construction site of the Burj Dubai as workers upset over low wages and poor working conditions rioted, damaging cars, offices, computers, and construction tools. A Dubai Interior Ministry official said the rioters caused approximately one million U.S. dollars in damage. On March 22 most workers returned to work but refused to work. The work stoppage also caused workers building a new terminal at Dubai International Airport to strike.

The alleged labour injustices in Dubai have attracted the attention of various Human Rights groups. Mafi Wasta, for example, is a website created specifically for the purpose of persuading the government of the UAE to sign up to 2 of the ILO's (International Labour Organization) 7 core conventions - namely 87 and 98 - which allows for labour unions. The site lists examples of human rights violations in the country. Human Rights Watch said that the men were treated "less than human".

However, the UAE government has denied any kind of labour injustices and has stated that the watchdog's (Human Rights Watch) accusations were misguided. Towards the end of March 2006, the government announced steps to allow construction unions. UAE labour minister Ali al-Kaabi said: "Labourers will be allowed to form unions."

Prostitution, though illegal by law, is conspicuously present in the emirate because of an economy that is largely based on tourism and trade. There is a high demand for women from Eastern Europe. According to the World Sex Guide, a website catering to sex tourists, Russian and Ethiopian women are the most common prostitutes, while Indian prostitutes are part of a well organized trans-Oceanic prostitution network.

Sources suggest that Israeli citizens have their visas routinely denied but rejection of visa applications for Jews of non-Israeli citizenship is "expat urban legend."

Residents are now required to take permission from their employers to obtain a driving licence. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), reinstating a rule abolished about four years ago, issued a circular to all driving schools in Dubai asking them to make it mandatory for applicants to obtain a no-objection-certificate (NOC) from their employers to take driving lessons. No one is allowed to learn driving with effect from October 1 without getting a NOC from his or her employer.


Dubai has a fairly large bus system run by the Dubai Municipality. The bus system has 59 unique routes on weekdays and transports over 200,000 people each week. Although the Public Transport bus system is large it is not large enough to accommodate the volume of people who would like to use it. The system has come under increasing criticism because of lack of capacity. The government has issued plastic, swipable "e-go" cards. There are also several discounts and period pass options available. Unfortunately though, the bus network is used extensively by lower income groups and does not do enough to attract higher income earners who would do well to use the bus transport system and ease traffic congestion that has recently become a major problem in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. Traffic congestion has come about mainly due to lack of foresight on the recent rapid population increase, the relative ease of credit facilities for obtaining a car and the convoluted road networks that are constantly being changed, improved or reconstructed. Furthermore, Dubai has developed a reputation for having the most deaths and road accidents in the developed world clocking in with a statistic of having a minor road accident at least every 3 minutes. Due to the frequency of such incidents, road networks are blocked and held up quite frequently.

Dubai also has an extensive taxi system, by far the most frequently used means of public transport within the emirate. There are both government-operated and private cab companies. The Dubai Transport Corporation operates cream-coloured taxis. Some of the private cab companies are Cars Taxi, National Taxi, Cititaxi and Metro Taxi. Prices are reasonable (the meter begins as Dhs. 3, which is approximately 50pence, or 1 USD), and are charged by distance, although if the cab stops for more than 1 minute, 1/2 a Dirham will be added to the meter. Taxi drivers will usually try to avert this happening in traffic queues by moving slightly forward every 30 seconds or so. Cabs can be found anywhere, any time although difficulties may be experienced during large events.

There is currently a $3.89 billion Dubai Metro project under construction for the emirate. The Metro system is expected to be partially operational by 2009 and fully operational by 2012. The construction contract for the project was given to Dubai Rapid Link (DURL),[15] a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Also involved are two other Japanese corporations, Obayashi and Kajima, and a Turkish company, Yapi Merkezi. The metro will comprise two lines: the Green Line from Rashidiya to the main city center and the Red Line from the airport to Jebel Ali. The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue Lines) will have 70 kilometres of track and 43 stations, 33 above ground and ten underground. Trains are expected to run every 90 seconds when the project is completed. Recently, the Blue Line connecting Dubai International Airport to the new Jebel Ali Port and Dubai World Central International Airport was announced. The route will run 47 km through Dubailand, but the exact number of stations is unknown. Dubai is building this train system to ease congestion on its road network and to meet the transportation demands of its growing population. Seven monorails are also slated to be constructed to help feed the Metro system, connecting various places such as Dubailand, Palm Jumeirah, et al, to the main track.


English is the medium of instruction in most schools in Dubai. Annual fees for nursery and pre-school vary greatly.

Some primary schools conduct entrance tests. Most schools cater to one or more expatriate communities. Our Own English High School, the Dubai Modern High School, and the Indian High School offer either a CBSE or an ICSE Indian syllabus. Dubai English Speaking School, Jumeirah Primary School, Jebel Ali Primary School, Jumeirah English Speaking School, King's School and the Horizon School all offer British primary education up to the age of eleven. Dubai College, English College, and Jumeirah College are all British eleven-to-eighteen secondary schools which offer GCSE and A-Levels. St. Mary's Catholic High School offers the British curriculum GSCE and A-Level programmes to the Dubai community. The Emirates International School, Wellington School and Cambridge International High School are also secondary schools that offer a combination of GCSE, IGCSE, and IB courses to the expatriate community. Cambridge International and St. Mary's are popular choices for the Indian expat community. The International School of Choueifat and Emirates International School offer both British and American curricula. Dubai English Speaking School and Jumeirah English Speaking School are the number one primary schools of choice for many expats, with Dubai College leading the list of secondary schools.

A growing number of K-12 schools offer the American syllabus. The American School of Dubai (ASD), which is located in Jumeirah, and Dubai American Academy (DAA) in Al Barsha have been around the longest. ASD offers an accredited American high school diploma; DAA offers both an American-accredited high school diploma and the International Baccalaureate [IB] diploma. There are also some primary and high schools that offer Canadian and Japanese syllabi.

Many expatriates tend to send their children back to their home country or to western countries for university education. However, a sizable number of foreign accredited universities have been set up in the city over the last ten years. Some of these universities include the American University in Dubai (AUD), The American College of Dubai, Al Ghurair University, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Middlesex University, Dubai, the Higher Colleges of Technology (Dubai Women's College and Dubai Men's College campuses,University of Wollongong in Dubai, Dublin's Dubai business school, European University College Brussels, Dubai, Mahatma Gandhi University, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, British University of Dubai, SP Jain Center Of Management(part of India's reputed Business School SP Jain Institute of Management & Research) and Zayed University.


Dubai is quickly aspiring to enrich its cultural scene with the $13.6 billion development of the Dubai Cultural Village. This development will include art museums and performing arts centers as well as libraries, schools for music and dance, rare book stores and open spaces for recreation.

Dubai has a growing number of stages including the Royal Hall at the Dubai Pearl, and the Dubai Community Theatre. The Madinat Theatre is also one of the most significant and luxurious theaters in the region, hosting many West-End productions.

The Dubai film festival is an annual film festival that attracts the stars from all over the world. Dubai is also developing the Dubai Studio City which aims to be a center for artistic production on the screen.

Dubai is currently building an island opera house which has been designed by Zaha Hadid.
An art museum and a general museum are currently being built.

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