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Dubai is one of the cities of the future and has grown in just 30 years from the inception of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 when it was a small trading centre, to the leading commercial city in the Middle East. Over the last 10 years, Dubai has expanded amazingly into trading, manufacturing and tourism, which now dominate the country's economy. It has propelled forward with enterprising free trade zones and regional business parks like Dubai Media city, Dubai Internet City and Dubai International Finance Centre, making it the regional hub of the Middle East, one of the richest regions in the World.
Today Dubai boasts 272 hotels with 30,000 rooms, 47 shopping malls and over 6 million foreign visitors a year (2003) rising to 15 million by 2010. In 2004 for the first time, the tourism industry accounted for 18 per cent of GDP, which was greater than oil and gas revenues. Dubai offers a world-class airline (Emirates Airline, winner of more than 200 industry awards since its formation in 1985), over 35 five star hotels, the worlds first seven star hotel (The Burj Al Arab) and an international airport recognized as "The Best Worldwide and Overall Passenger Satisfaction" by IATA's Global Airport Monitor.
Its airport capacity is being tripled to 60 million passengers a year. This includes bringing forward a new airport planned at Jebel Ali by almost ten years, and building a specific terminal at Dubai's main airport, to cater for the 45 Airbus A380 "super jumbos" that Emirates Airlines has purchased.
The UAE population has grown 7.7 fold since 1975 to 4.3 million. This growth rate of 5.6 per cent is one of the highest in the world with 79 per cent of the population being expatriates.
Within the UAE there are a number of different Emirates like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Dubai is one of the most rapidly expanding Emirates and whilst its population in 2001 was almost one million, it is now about to reach two million today. At current population growth rates it is expected to exceed four million by 2010.
Dubai has grown phenomenally over the past ten years but the pace of growth is actually increasing. Since 1993, Dubai's urbanized land mass has grown 63 per cent and the Municipality estimates that Dubai will be nearly two and half times the size it is today by 2015.
The UAE has 10 per cent of the global oil reserves and the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world with a 20 year track record of economic growth and no signs of slowing. Although the UAE GDP growth was 6.6 per cent in 2004, Dubai posted a stunning 17.6 per cent, higher even than China's GDP!
With 365 days sunshine a year, Dubai is also the ultimate beach resort and was voted the UK's most popular holiday destination of 2003. There is no need to ask why. With the beautiful pale turquoise waters of the Gulf that extend along beaches of pure soft white sand, you will see why Dubai is a fantastic place to live.
From sunbathing and swimming to cruising, yachting, paragliding, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, speedboat racing and scuba diving, Dubai offers a superb way of life for everyone, with annual tourism growth of 17 per cent compared to the global average of 3 per cent! In the desert, Dubailand is being built - a $19 billion theme park, twice the size of Disneyworld in Florida.
For sports enthusiasts, Dubai is a hive of activity. From the many top class golf courses to the sand boarding and dune bashing of the desert, you will never be short of things to do. Many top events are now held in Dubai including:-
Dubai is also a shoppers' paradise. With over 47 shopping malls and construction under way for the world's largest shopping mall, Dubai known as the "City of Gold" oozes wealth and superiority. From tax-free designer labels and all well known high street brands to the fascinating gold, textile and spice souqs, Dubai caters for everything imaginable. The world-renowned, month-long Dubai Shopping Festival is held once a year, offering shoppers amazing discounts on most goods.
Over 80 per cent of Dubai's population is expatriates, with over 150 nationalities working and living harmoniously together in a safe, almost entirely crime-free environment. Dubai attracts highly skilled knowledge workers for the country's growing number of international companies, professional services firms and financial institutions. Education standards are high, with almost 20 per cent of the population having a university degree of higher qualification. The literacy rate is above 90 per cent.
Expatriates enjoy tax-free salaries, schools accredited to international standards, first class health care and excellent recreational facilities including 4 championship golf courses. In a recent report by Jones Lang Lasalle comparing 400 cities worldwide, Dubai was selected as one of the top three on the basis of office construction, office absorption, office rents, employment and population growth, and with an extremely low crime rate, is a wonderful place to raise a family.
Dubai is only 6.5 hours direct flight from the UK. In addition to this, it is a central hub for worldwide travel and opens you up to numerous destinations which previously may only have been a dream. Emirates Airlines serve more than 70 destinations in 50 countries in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Asia and Australia. Dubai is only 10 hours from Australia, 7 hours from Hong Kong, 4 hours from the Maldives and 6 hours from Africa. Emirates Airlines now flies non-stop services to the USA and New Zealand.
Finally, most of the capital for this fantastic expansion has come from within the Middle East and Dubai intends to establish itself as the leading capital market for the region. The Dubai International Finance Centre is now taking shape, with a city of skyscrapers twice the size of London's Canary Wharf. Over the next five years it will employ 30,000 investment professionals and 60,000 staff in leisure and support services. It already has the world's investment banks knocking on its door.