By Chloe Macri

Do you like big things? Then go to Dubai. Everything in Dubai is bigger and better than everywhere else. They made it that way. It’s like nowhere else. Big buildings, big malls, lots of money, lots of gold, lots of fancy things and nice cars. Dubai is showing off and the world is listening.

A lot of people think of Dubai as a deserted stop-over location; an isolated landing zone in the middle of the desert. And for many years, this was the extent of the Western World’s interaction with this part of the world. But now Dubai is making a name for itself as a major tourist destination player. It’s no longer seen as a deserted airport, but as a big city with plenty to offer and plenty to see and do.

WHAT EVEN IS DUBAI?

This may surprise you but Dubai is not a country; it is a city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is made up of seven Emirates, all different and fairly new. The country as it is now with seven Emirates was established in December 1971, so it’s fairly new. The history of this country is really interesting. You should look it up.

THINGS YOU’LL WANT TO SEE

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest man- made building in the world, at 828m high. It was inspired by a flower found in only in the Dubai desert, Hymenocallis. The building is a national icon and an icon for buildings all over the world.

Dubai is hugely touristy, therefore the culture has evolved to incorporate a higher, luxury and entertainment standard of living into the events and attractions available in the city. Popular sporting events and extravagant shopping centres are examples of the city’s ability to attract visitors to the country in its own right. The Dubai Mall is a mall like no other. The largest mall in the world, based on its total area of 1,124,000m2, it boasts 1,200 shops, including the world’s largest sweet shop “Candylicious”. The mall even has a real life, fossilised dinosaur, and a big one at that. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, its indoor aquarium, gold souks and dinosaur is kinda enough reason to go.

If you have the time and are able then get out of Dubai! And I don’t just mean go into the desert for a few hours while you do your obligatory ‘Sex and the City’ camel ride (though you should still do that, it’s pretty awesome). Try and get to some of the other Emirates. Fujairah is along the coast and to get there from Dubai entails a drive through both the desert and the mountains, making for some really cool views.

THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE

The Emirati people are beautiful people. Many of the older generation are still adapting to the rapid development that the country and more specifically Dubai underwent in the recent past. It is a major change to what many of these people have grown up to and so there is a major difference in the older generation and younger people growing up in the opulent and energetic city and country today. The culture is heavily based on Arabian culture, with influences from Persia, India and East Africa.

HOT TIPS BEFORE YOU GO

The dress code in the UAE and Dubai is not like that of Perth. They have standards and in some emirates, very strict standards which, if broken, could at worst result in jail time and at the very least could make you feel awkward and uncomfortable. In Dubai

there is a huge Western presence and lifestyle influence so the dress standards for both men and moreso women, are not as strict. But in some of the stricter or traditional Emirates, wearing revealing or tight clothing, low neck tops or tops that don’t cover your shoulders or arms and shorts or short skirts may not be socially acceptable. Females may even be required to cover their hair, although this is most likely to only occur if you are walking past or entering a sacred place or mosque. It may be a good idea to keep a head scarf in your bag, in case you need to use it; it is much better to be respectful. Know where you’re going and what you’re visiting and remember, the weather is often very hot, so take this into consideration before you pack.

The main religion in the UAE is Islam. Five times a day, whether in the city or out in other emirates, you may hear the call to prayer. This rings out through the city through speakers on the mosques and is the call for Muslims to take time for prayer.

The weekend in the UAE is Friday and Saturday. This is because Friday is a holy day for Muslims and the Western world starts the weekend on Saturday.

And one final note. There is a massive class division in the UAE and it won’t take you long to realise this. The extreme division between opulence vs slums is a hugely obvious part of the society.

So on that note, have fun, be safe and enjoy the extravagant show of wealth that is Dubai.

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