When you think of Dubai what comes to mind? Perhaps its the vast sand dunes, flashy malls, Ferrari police cars, artificial shorelines and shimmering skyscrapers.
But did you ever wonder how Dubai became so rich? What was once a small backwater trading village a few decades ago, is now a sprawling futuristic metropolis, a ‘billionaires’ playground’.
Interestingly there aren’t many historical facts about Dubai because up until the 1960s it was an insignificant port on the edge of the desert, and the discovery of oil changed all that.
However, there’s plenty of cool facts that will leave you in awe, and here I’ve put together the most unique, fun, and surprising facts of them all.
Scroll on to read: 37 interesting facts about Dubai you probably never knew:
Table of Contents
This post may contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you use these links.
37 Interesting Facts about Dubai you Probably Never Knew
#1. Currently home to the world’s tallest building
Everything has to be the biggest, the best and the most glitziest in Dubai, and so they currently have the world’s tallest building: the Burj Khalifa, standing 828 meters high with 163 floors and seven world records.
Meanwhile, the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia threatens to surpass the Burj Khalifa by being the first 1km tall tower in human history, so Dubai has responded with the Dubai Creek Tower, with construction currently on hold until the Saudis finish building their tower first. Until then, Burj Khalifa it is.
#2. It is one of the hottest places on earth
Dubai is hot and may be too hot for people from cooler climatic regions. The hottest temperature recorded so far is 49 °C in July 2019. During summer, the nights are also not so pleasant, with temperature up to 30°C.
#3. Dubai is a young city
Dubai remained a desert for centuries. It came to life only a few decades ago. When gold, oil, and jewels were found in Dubai, the previous sheik was concerned about what would happen if they ran out of oil. However, the current sheik came up with the idea of converting Dubai into a global village. Interestingly enough, the city now earns more from tourism than from selling oil.
#4. There was no Income Tax in Dubai until 2018
The government did not impose any private or income tax on city residents, to encourage wealthy expats to reside and set up businesses in the city. This explains the influx of a huge number of expats over the last two decades. The tax-free system led to the rapid growth of the area.
#5. Palm Jumeirah is visible from Space
Palm Jumeirah is one of the most daring developments that added 520 km to Dubai’s shoreline and required an astonishing 10.5 million truckloads of sand to create. The man-made island can be seen from Space.
Real estate in Dubai is eye-wateringly lucrative and the Palm Jumeriah is no different – featuring some of the most extravagant hotels, restaurants, and residential buildings. You can buy a villa on the Palm from AED 20 million (USD5.4 million).
#6. The world’s largest suspended Aquarium
The Dubai Aquarium tank is the largest suspended aquarium in the world, with a capacity of 10 million liters of water. Fitted on the ground level of Dubai Mall, it’s home to more than 33,000 aquatic animals of 200 species. It is also home to an enormous number of sand tiger sharks.
#7. The longest gold chain on the planet
Dubai is synonymous with gold, so they have gold-related world records. The Dubai celebration chain is about 5km long and weighs about 240 kgs. It was made to commemorate 20 years of the Dubai shopping festival. This 22-karat gold chain was made in 45 days by 100 crafters.
#8. The largest airport terminal in the world
Dubai International Airport is enormous, and given its strategic location, it’s one of the world’s busiest airports. So naturally it has the world’s largest terminal. Terminal 3 of the airport features a swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, and Zen gardens. The airport is the second busiest in Asia and offers the fastest Wi-Fi than any other airport.
#9. Among the world’s lowest levels of rain
Dubai is a dry city with very little rainfall, in fact it only rains 25 -30 days of the year. The city sits on a desert with dry and hot weather during the day and only slightly cooler at night. The scorching heat is one of the reasons why some expats avoid coming to Dubai.
#10. The world’s largest flower garden
The Miracle Garden of Dubai is a haven for botanists and bird watchers. The sprawling garden is spread over an area of 72,000 square meters. It has more than 250 million plants and over 50 million flowers at any given time.
#11. The 2nd longest automated metro
Dubai strives to be number 1 at everything with countless world records, and one of them was having the longest driverless metro until 2009. Now Singapore holds that record, for an extensive driverless rapid transit system.
#12. The world’s highest water consumption
One of the most mind blowing facts of Dubai: people here consume more than TWICE as much water as Americans do – it translates to around 550 litres per person per day and is 80% higher than the global average! One of the major reasons for this is the sheer amount of cooling required to sustain a huge city in the middle of a desert, where sandstorms are frequent and temperatures hit 50C (120F).
7 Strange facts about Dubai
#13. Gold in Burj Al Arab
The Burj al Arab styles itself the “first 7-star hotel” in the world, it’s the 5th tallest free-standing structure, reaching up to 321 meters. The interiors of the hotel are gilded with an incredible 1,790 square meters of 24-carat gold. The room price can reach up to 20,000 dollars per night.
#14. There are more men than women
Since the vast majority of the Dubai population are foreign laborers, they don’t relocate their families so they migrate to work here by themselves. As such, Dubai has a 7:3 male-to-female ratio, meaning 69% of Dubai’s population is men.
Did you know: Dubai has come under scrutiny for it’s harsh treatment of migrant workers forced to work 14 hour shifts in scorching 50C heat, while forced to live in the most inhumane conditions with no way of leaving the country?
I wrote an article highlighting Dubai’s 21st Century modern slavery here:
#15. Robot jockeys for camel races
Another unknown Dubai fact is that the camel jockeys are actually remote-controlled robots. Camel racing is the most popular sport among the Arabs, but initially, children were trafficked to be the jockeys, and then Qatar came up with a solution to stop child trafficking and introduced robots. You will also find these remote-controlled robot jockeys in Dubai.
#16. 85% of Dubai’s population is foreign
Dubai as we know it could not function without foreign migrants, since the local Emiratis do not do physical labor work.
So you’ll find people from all different nationalities here, although split into two main groups: the cheap labor force coming from Asian countries (primarily India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines), and the corporates/business people from Western Europe and North America. This means there are 7 times more foreigners than locals, with just 15% being Arabs/UAE nationals.
#17. Lose weight and get paid
Dubai came up with a radical ideal for people who want to shed some extra pounds. The government announced they would offer 2 grams of gold for every 2kg of weight loss. They really took ‘every calorie counts’ seriously.
#18. A quarter of the world’s cranes are located in Dubai
With rapid urbanization, Dubai was once the crane capital of the world, with about 25% of the world’s cranes operating here. A staggering 30,000 were installed in Dubai alone. Now the percentage has come down to 20%, but still quite considerable.
#19. Exotic and unusual police cars
Dubai police have the coolest and classiest cars, and each of them may cost enough money to send a student to college in the USA for a year. You will find Ferraris, Lamborghini Aventadors, Bentleys, Bugattis, and even the Aston Martin 77, which costs more than USD1.79 million each!
8 Interesting facts about Dubai culture
#20. You can buy gold at ATMs
Astonishingly, Dubai has some glittering ATMs that spits gold in the form of coins, bars, jewelry and other items. You will just have to pay through cash or credit to receive gold. This system has been around since 2010.
#21. Alcohol in licensed public areas only
In the past, only foreigners were permitted to have intoxicating drinks. However, with recent changes in laws, anyone above the age of 21 can drink alcohol, but only at private properties or licensed public areas. Be careful, as they have a zero-tolerance policy.
#22. No address system until recently
Believe it or not but less than a decade ago, Dubai had no address system, so there were no streets or building numbers. Any package or envelope came with carefully detailed instructions on where to go.
#23. Normal weekends since January 2022
Dubai used to have different working hours for a while, and their weekend used to be Friday and Saturday. However, to match pace with the rest of the world, the government introduced a 2.5 days week with Saturdays and Sundays off, and Friday being a half day, where everyone leaves the office by 12 pm.
However, this does not apply to the construction and hospitality sector – where manual laborers work 6 or even 7 day weeks.
#24. Public display of affection is forbidden
It may be annoying for some but showing affection in public places is a big no-no in Dubai. You could end up in jail for this. Married couples can hold hands but not kiss in public. Foreigners caught doing so could face immediate deportation.
#25. Cosmopolitan Cuisine
The Emiratis have a huge affection for their past and consider food to be a central part of their culture. Even though Dubai is a multinational, cosmopolitan city bursting with international cuisines established by foreigners of countless nationalities, the Emiratis are closely connected to their traditional food. Some must try dishes are Manakish, Balaleet, and Barata.
#26. Food is not allowed on the Metro
In Dubai you can get a fine of 100 AED (27 USD) on the spot if caught eating or drinking on the metro.
#27. A very low crime rate
Even though Dubai is home to people from all around the world, and we see criminal activities increasing daily, the city still maintains a 0% crime rate. This may be factored down to the high surveillance and police presence, combined with a lack of human rights laws in the country.
10 Fun facts about Dubai for kids
#28. Dubai’s population is 9.89 million
It represents at least 11 different nationalities from Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
#29. It has the world’s largest shopping mall
The Dubai Mall is spread over an area of 12 million square meters and boasts over 1,200 stores, 26 cinema screens and over 120 cafes and restaurants.
#30. Dubai is the 4th most visited city in the world
That’s after London, Paris and Bangkok, with 15.9million visitors.
#31. At least 10 skyscrapers are built every year in Dubai
2007 was a top year for the Emirate which saw a whopping 41 buildings over 100m high completed that year.
Check out the video below for more facts about Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth:
#32. Dubai is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates
#33. Dubai is developing a new skyscraper named ‘The Tower’
Inspired by the mythical hanging gardens of Babylon, it is planned to be taller than the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Read more here.
#34. Dubai is the capital city of the Emirate of Dubai
Yes, Dubai is actually the name of the city AND one of the seven emirates (states ruled by an Arab Emir), that make up the UAE.
#35. The Emirate of Dubai is the 2nd largest in the country
It’s 4,114km squared (1,588m squared), second to Abu Dhabi, which is 16 times bigger at 67,340km squared (26,000m squared).
#36. Dubai has the 2nd highest number of 5-star hotels in the world
There are more than 60 of them, surpassed only by London, which has around 75.
#37. There were 544 hotels operating in the city in 2019
That amounts to around 64,000 hotel rooms. Currently, there are ow over 100,700 hotel rooms to accommodate the ever-expanding tourism in Dubai.
So there you have it – 37 of the most curious, amazing, and interesting facts about Dubai.
I hope you find this post an interesting and informative read! Are you considering a Dubai vacation after reading these facts?
Further Reading: More Facts Posts
Dubai Wiki Facts:
More information, statistics and general information about Dubai, updated as of 2022:
- Land area: 35km2 (11,720 sq miles) (rank: 137th)
- Founded: 9th June 1833 by House of Maktoum
- Sovereign State: United Arab Emirates
- Population: 3,515,813 people.
- Currency: Dirham (AED)
- Languages: Arabic (official), English (most spoken)
- Ethnicity: 71% South Asian, 25% Iranian, 8% ‘Western’ (European & North American)
- Districts: 7 Districts: Jebel Ali, Al Aweer, Al Lusayli, Marqab, Al-Faqa, Ud al-Bayda, Urqub Juwayza
- Monarch: Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
- Director General: Dawoud Al Hajri
- GDP: USD 501 billion
- GDP per capita: £25,143
- Official Website: uae
- Time zone: UTC +4 (UAE Standard Time)
- Country code: UAE
- Driving side: left
- Airport: Dubai International Airport (DXB)
- Dialling Code: +971
- Weather: lowest: 14C (winter) peak: 41C (summer)
- Famous residents: David and Victoria Beckham, Shah Rukh Khan, Lindsay Lohan, Giorgio Armani, Abishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, Madonna
Commonly Asked Questions
Here’s 5 lesser-known facts about Dubai:
- There are more men than women – in fact 69% of Dubai’s population are men.
- Dubai is a young city – although established in 1833 as a trading village, the city as we know it today has only been around since the 1960s.
- Dubai has the world’s longest gold chain
- The world’s largest flower garden is in Dubai.
- A quarter of the world’s cranes operate in Dubai.
Here’s 10 fun facts about Dubai you probably never knew:
- You can get paid in gold for shedding body weight in Dubai.
- Dubai’s police force has the most extravagant cars – including Ferraris, Bugattis, and Aston Martins.
- Dubai Mall contains the world’s largest suspended aquarium.
- You can buy gold from ATMs in Dubai.
- 85% of Dubai’s population are foreign expats.
- The interior of Dubai’s Burj Al-Arab hotel is made of 1,790 square meters of gold.
- Dubai has the second-highest number of 5-star hotels in the world, after London
- In camel racing, robot jockeys ride the camels.
- The Palm Jumeirah is visible from Space.
- There are more men than women in Dubai.
Although there are no fixed rules regarding wearing shorts in Dubai, it is polite to cover up when in public. That being said, you can wear any type of shorts on the beaches or on private land (such as in hotels), these include hot pants, mini skirts, bikinis etc.
Arabic is the official language of the United Arab Emirates, and Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools, however, English is the de-facto spoken language in Dubai.
According to Fedel Handhal, a scholar on UAE’s history and culture, Dubai may have originated from the Arabic word ‘daba’ (Arabic: دبا), a past tense derivative of yadub (Arabic: يدب) meaning ‘to creep’, which refers to the slow flow of Dubai Creek inland.
Dubai spoken in Arabic sounds like ’Dubeyy’. Established in 1833, Dubai is the capital city of Dubai emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which was formerly known as the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman.
Book Your Trip to the UAE: Budget Tips & Tricks
Accommodation: I use Booking to find fantastic cheap stays with free cancellation options.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.
Thank you for reading 37 Interesting Facts about Dubai you Probably Never Knew.
Do you know any other fun facts about Dubai? What’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments!