Interesting Facts and History of Dubai – Facts about Dubai that will surprise you

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Dubai beckons with its combination of luxury and history. This keeps it at the top of the most visited cities in the world. If you’re interested in learning more of its history, here are some interesting facts about Dubai.

History of Dubai

Dubai was founded in 18th century as a small fishing village that was fortified by the Al Fahidi fortress. The Al Fahidi Fortress still stands today and even houses the Danube Museum, which provides information about the history and tradition of the city (closed as of 2023). It’s a great place to visit that immerses you in the traditional life of the locals in an interactive way.

al fahidi dubai
Al Fahidi Old City in Dubai

In 1892, Dubai became a British dependency along with several other states in the region. The whole area was called the “Trucial Coast”.

In the 1950s and 1960s, infrastructure, including electricity, began to develop significantly, leading to the construction of the first hotel and airport. Dubai has become a gold trading centre and the city has acquired the tempting label of “City of Gold”.

Discovery of an oil well

An important milestone was reached in 1966 when an oil reserve was discovered offshore. It was not as large as in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, but it still contributed to the influx of population and further infrastructure development.

Dubai was still under English dependency, but only until 1971, when England could no longer afford to administer the Trucial Coast. The Emirate of Dubai merged with other states on the Trucial Coast to form the United Arab Emirates in the same year (a seventh state joined a year later).

The commercial industry continued to develop and dependence on oil gradually declined. Although many think Dubai is dependent on oil production, this is not the case – oil contributes only one percent to the city’s income. The Dubai government has used oil profits wisely. In fact, it has transformed them into tourism and real estate, which are now its primary profits.

Dubai Fountain
Dubai fountain at the foot of Burj Khalifa

Facts and trivia about Dubai

Dubai is constantly under construction. If your friends were showing you 2-year-old photos from their vacation, they probably wouldn’t match reality now. Even Google maps hasn’t kept up with Dubai’s huge building boom over the past few decades. This is why a quarter of the world’s cranes are located here.

Dubai is built of imported sand. Now you may be wondering why, with the desert all around. The reason is simple: the local sand is too fine to build on.

The only 7* hotel in the world

Dubai is home to one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab, which has an iconic sail shape and measures 321 metres in height. The name of the hotel translates to “Tower of the Arabs”. It is a five-star hotel, but the media often gives it an extra two stars. This makes it the only seven-star hotel in the world.

Burj al-Arab Hotel is located on an artificial island in Jumeirah and can only be reached by private bridge or helicopter. You will be rewarded for the high price with impeccable service, a private beach and Rolls-Royce transport.

dubai without a travel agency
The world’s only seven-star hotel Burj al Arab

World records in Dubai

Dubai boasts the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa is an impressive 829.8 metres. It has surpassed the One World Trade Center in New York and other, mainly Asian giants.

At least for now, because in 2013 construction began on the Jeddah Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Due to the pandemic, work has been suspended, but once completed, the structure should be over 1,000 meters tall. Interestingly, the architect Adrian Smith is the same for the current and future tallest building in the world.

☞ Read the separate guide to the Burj Khalifa.

The largest Ferris wheel and garden in the world

We had the tallest building in the world. How about the world’s tallest Ferris wheel? Of course, it’s also located in Dubai and is even twice as tall as the world famous London Eye in London and 82 metres taller than the previous record holder, the High Roller in Las Vegas.

Ain Dubai is located on the man-made Bluewaters Island, which is just 500 metres from Jumeirah Beach. It has 48 luxurious and air-conditioned cabins that can accommodate up to 1,750 people.

The views from here are 360 degrees and last 38 minutes. Especially in the evening it’s worth it, because not only is the bike lit up, but you also have beautiful views of the illuminated Dubai Marina. Ain Dubai and Bluewaters Island are flanked by a beautifully landscaped promenade with restaurants and shops.

ain dubai dubai

Another interesting fact is that Dubai is home to the largest garden in the world. Yes, in Dubai. Yes, in the desert. As incredible as it sounds, the Dubai Miracle Garden will make you feel like you’ve arrived at the most colourful and green place.

Dubai Miracle Garden

More interesting facts about Dubai

In addition to the largest garden, it also has the largest indoor ski area in the world, which sounds even crazier. Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates. You can ski on 5 slopes (including the black slope). There is also a toboggan run and other winter activities.

Dubai has over 2000 mosques. There’s a mosque literally on every corner. And some of them are open to non-Muslims to learn more about the local culture. The most famous mosque is the magnificent Jumeirah Mosque.

mosque jumeirah / things to do in dubai

Previously, the weekend in Dubai fell on Friday and Saturday. With the city’s connection to international financial markets, Dubai has decided to make a change. The weekend is now from Friday 12pm until Sunday. It takes about 2.5 days.

Dubai desert

The Dubai Desert stretches around Dubai. It may not have the biggest sand dunes, but it’s still a beautiful desert and a place for us Europeans that we don’t otherwise get a chance to experience in Europe.

The Dubai Desert is just another name for the official Arabian Desert, which is 5. the largest desert in the world and occupies almost the entire Arabian Peninsula.

Go on a safari in the Dubai desert where you’ll experience a jeep ride on the sand dunes, henna painting, photography, camel feeding or an evening barbecue. They’ll pick you up at the hotel and bring you back. It is a perfect activity for families with children.

dubai safari / dubai desert

Only 15% of Dubai’s population is Arab. The majority of the population are construction workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. There’s about 100,000 British expats living here too.

The official language is Arabic. However, English is commonly spoken here. The inscriptions are in Arabic and English.

Dubai attractions: police drive luxury cars

Where else in the world can you say the police drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and even an Aston Martin for more than $1.7 million?

Dubai has the highest water consumption in the world. Even 80% more than the global average. The reason? High temperatures and the associated need for cooling. However, 99% of the water comes from desalination plants that remove salt from seawater.

Popular camel races are held here. In the past, camels were ridden by children because of their light weight, today by small robots.

museum of future dubai
The Museum of the Future is one of the most interesting buildings in Dubai.

Interesting facts about Dubai: ATMs for gold

Dubai has gold ATMs, which work just like other ATMs except that they dispense gold bars and coins of different sizes. You can find a golden vending machine in Dubai Mall, for example.

Dubai is a shopping capital. There are more than 70 shopping malls here, with The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates among the largest shopping malls in the world. Every year there are even two shopping festivals to boost sales even more.

These were the interesting facts and history of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about Dubai

DUBAI: Get inspired with tips on things to do in Dubai (including information on entrance fees, opening times and maps). Find practical information and tips in our Dubai travel guide. In the next article we share some interesting facts about Dubai.

We have created a separate guide for visiting Burj Khalifa (entrance fees, opening hours, how to get there, attractions).

Here you will find a detailed description of how to fly to Dubai and how to get from the airport to the center. We’ve compiled practical tips for getting around the city in our Dubai Transport Guide.

HOW TO SAVE IN DUBAI: Dubai Pass is one of the ways to save money on sights and attractions in Dubai.

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