Burj Al Arab

Where is Dubai?
(The Geography of Dubai)

Where is Dubai? It’s in the Middle East. Looking at a map you’ll see the boot-like shape which is mainly made up of Saudi Arabia, with Oman where the toes would be and Yemen at the heel. The United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, is where you’d find the boot laces! The UAE is mainly situated along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf across the water from Iran. It also splits Oman into two parts and reaches the coast to the East which is on the Gulf of Oman.

Where is Dubai? It’s situated along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. It is roughly just 16 metres or 52 feet above sea level and covers an area of around 4,110 square kilometres, which represents a significant expansion beyond its initial 3900 square kilometres due to land reclamation from the sea. Its exact position globally is shown as being 25.2697°N and 55.3095°E.

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A City and an Emirate - Dubai itself is both a city and one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The city of Dubai is the main city within, and the capital of, the Emirate of Dubai.

The Emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor, slightly mountainous, well-inland enclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north).

Your first Dubai holiday ? Look at Where To Stay in Dubai and Hotels in Dubai or visit our preferred hotels search site Hotels Combined.

An Ideal Location - The UAE is strategically located between Europe and Asia, and thanks to Abu Dhabi is blessed with one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Thanks to its tax free status, excellent business and living environments, state of the art communications and great entertainment facilities it has become a favoured choice for settlement by millions of people from around the world. It’s a regular stop-off point on both flights and cruises from Europe and the US to the Far East and Australasia.

The UAE is classed as a country and its overall capital is Abu Dhabi. It has a federal government run by the Supreme Council of the UAE. However the Emirs or rulers of each of the seven emirates are absolutely sovereign within their own emirates.

Abu Dhabi is the largest (87% of the UAE’s land area), richest (with massive oil reserves) and principal emirate and whilst the President of the UAE is theoretically elected from amongst the seven emirs every five years, in practice it is a foregone conclusion that the ruler of Abu Dhabi is the President of the UAE.

Dubai is considered the second most important and is the second largest emirate, but now has only minimal oil reserves left. Dubai city is the second most important city in the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, currently Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, is therefore traditionally the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature.

The other five Emirates making up the UAE are Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), Sharjah,  Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Ajman and their emirs also hold positions on the UAE’s Supreme Council.

Bold and brash Dubai is like the rich young kid who throws his energy into anything new, exciting, extravagant and forward thinking, whilst the infinitely wealthier parent, Abu Dhabi, which is also developing at a phenominal rate, is more sedate and refined, but doing its best, in a more conservative way, to keep up with its young offspring.

For your holiday in Dubai :

Find out more about Dubai’s past in A Brief History of Dubai.
Who runs Dubai? See Power and Politics.

Origins - Dubai has grown from a small fishing, coastal trading and pearl-diving coastal town to become, in little more than forty years, one of the two global cities and commercial hubs in the UAE, alongside Abu Dhabi. Although Dubai’s recent economic surge was built on the oil industry, there is very little oil now left, but thanks to the foresight of the most recent three sheiks they have diversified so that its main revenues now come from tourism, real estate, financial services and all sorts of businesses and not oil.

Originally the settlement of Dubai was around a natural inlet, the Dubai Creek, which has now been dredged to make it possible for larger vessels to enter and where, both historically and to the present day, sailing dhows, carrying every imaginable type of goods call in from all around the Persian Gulf area. It’s fascinating to see the goods left, quite safely, on the quayside and to see the dhows, sometimes five abreast, all lined up on the water’s edge. Note the ‘as nature intended’ toilet at the rear of the dhows which are still used whilst at sea.

On the northeast side of the Creek is the part of Dubai known as Deira and on the southwest side is the part of Dubai known as Bur Dubai, which are the oldest areas of the city.

It’s Grown! -Today the city of Dubai is vast, stretching from Deira as far as Jebel Ali to the southwest. Travelling on the main city highway, Sheikh Zayed Road, in the direction of Abu Dhabi, it takes around 30 to 40 minutes at around 60 mph to drive from one end to the other, assuming no traffic jams.

Population - A truly multi-racial place, the Emirate of Dubai had a population, in 2010, of 2.26 million. The split of nationalities, in 2005, showed that native Emeratis accounted for only 17% of the total population. Other nationalities were Other Arabs – 9.1%, Indian – 42.3%, Pakistani – 13.3%, Bangladeshi – 7.5%, Filipino – 2.5%, Sri Lankan – 1.5%, European – 0.9%, Americans – 0.3%, and all others – 5.7%.

Whenever you take your holiday in Dubai be ready for the Dubai Weather and the spectacular Sunsets.

Deserts and Mountains - Whilst in geographical terms, Dubai lies within the Arabian Desert, the topography of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern part of the UAE in that much of Dubai’s landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country. The sandy desert consists mainly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city of Dubai the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha, give way to a north-south running line of sand dunes. Going further east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged with red iron oxide. It’s at this point you feel you’re in a proper desert and this is where the best dune-bashing and desert driving is to be found.

Going still further east the by now flatter sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which run alongside Dubai’s border at Hatta. The Western Hajar chain has an arid, jagged and shattered landscape with small mountains rising to 1300 metres in some places. The area also has multiple, but relatively small scale, gorges and waterholes dotted around the base of the mountains.

A vast sea of sand dunes covers much of southern part of the emirate of Dubai, and eventually leads into the vast desert known as The Empty Quarter, which is not the place you want to get lost!

The sandy desert surrounding the city supports wild grasses and occasional date palms. Desert hyacinths grow on the sabkha plains east of the city, while acacia and ghaf trees grow in the flat plains close to the Western Hajar Mountains. Several indigenous trees such as the date palm and neem as well as imported trees like the eucalypts grow in Dubai’s natural parks.

Discover the best ways for Getting Around Dubai and where to go Shopping.

Birds and Animals - As for birds and animals, the houbara bustard, striped hyena, caracal, desert fox, falcon and Arabian oryx are common in Dubai’s desert. Dubai is on the migration route between Europe, Asia and Africa, and more than 320 migratory bird species pass through the emirate in spring and autumn. There are viewing and observation points at the inland end of the Creek in the Dubai Wildlife and Waterbird Sanctuary and Conservation Area, but remember to take your binoculars if this is your interest. To find this leave Dubai on the 301 Oud Metha Road and turn left at the BuKadra Interhange on to the E44, where you’ll need to park up on the left side of the road.

Marine Life - The waters of Dubai are home to more than 300 species of fish, including the hammour, which you’ll find on many a menu in Dubai. The typical marine life off the Dubai coast includes tropical fish, jellyfish, coral, dugong, dolphins, whales and sharks, but these do not present a problem for bathers. Various types of turtles can also be found in the area including the Hawksbill Turtle and Green Turtle which are listed as endangered species.

Seismically Dubai is in a very stable zone – the nearest seismic fault line, the Zagros Fault, is 200km from the UAE and is unlikely to have any seismic impact on Dubai. Experts also predict that the possibility of a tsunami in the region is minimal because the waters of the Persian Gulf are not deep enough to trigger a tsunami.

To discover the best ways of sight-seeing in Dubai go to Best Ways to See Dubai.
Click on Places to Visit and Things To Do for ideas of what to do in Dubai.

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