11 Things You Didn't Know About Dubai and the UAE

December 2nd, 2015, 4pm

It was 28°C with clouds and visibility OK. There was moderate breeze.

When I first went to Dubai it was amazing how things were so different culturally. Yet, it was amazing to see how they strived for greatness in the midst of a desert.

1. The Dubai Metro is the longest driverless metro. Another interesting aspect is that there are sections within the trains designed for women only. The penalty a men can get for riding the metro in the female section is minimum 200 dirhams.

2. Dubai is the city with the highest number of 5-star hotel rooms. It is more than 50,000 now, but the government wants to make them at least 100,000.

  1. You may know already, that Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, but did you know that even if another country wanted to build a taller building, it will be quite hard to top Burj Khalifa. Why? Because architects have designed it in such a way that it allows for more storeys to be added on the already existing top. In addition to go to the highest floor available to tourists, you will ride the fastest elevator in the world which takes 124 floors for 60 seconds. My ears popped a few times, but I broke a few records, so it was well worth it!

4. Abu Dhabi is the home of the biggest carpet in the world. It is located in one of the most richly-decorated and beautiful mosques, recognized in the Muslim world - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.The carpet itself is 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight of this carpet is 35 tons. According to professional carpet and rug cleaners it takes about 11 days to be cleaned and requires more than 10 people.

5. Since we are on flirting and number exchanging, there was another thing that shocked me quite a bit. There is a spot in Dubai, called Jumeirah Beach Walk, where you can go and grab a bite, or a drink (non-alcoholic, of course, see #). When I visited Dubai my friend took me there and I spotted something unusual. It is absolutely normal to drive back and forth Jumeirah Beach Walk with the music turned up, and your windows down, attracting the attention of everyone who is sitting peacefully and eating outside. All this just so you can show off your fancy new car. And in Dubai almost everyone has a fancy car. Young men occasionally whistle and throw their numbers at girls in #4 fashion.

6. Unmarried women who get pregnant in the UAE and get caught are pursued by the authorities for the crime of having sex outside of marriage. You are likely to end up in jail, or deported and the baby might be taken away from you. And that rule does not exclude non-UAE citizens. Yes, harsh, but true! The hospital might refuse to issue a birth certificate if you fail to provide a legitimate marriage certificate and the baby’s father must be present to acknowledge the child, otherwise you will have a lot of explaining to do to the local authorities.

  1. Another gruesome finding of mine was that if a woman is raped which is highly unlikely (but still could happen),** an unmarried woman is likely to get penalized and go to jail if she is not married and wasn’t a virgin by the time the raping incident took place**. Similarly to #6, she is guilty of having sex outside of marriage. It might also be argued that because she was promiscuous before, she has actually tempted and provoked the perpetrator. On the other side the man responsible for the offence (if caught) will be prosecuted, but the victim will share part of the guilt.

8. Alcohol is served in restaurants, bars and pubs, but only those located in hotels. So, if you are out and about in Dubai Mall, or Marina Walk, chances you will find alcohol in the restaurants there is exactly 0.

9. Prayer time starts at around 4 am. There are 5 prayer times a day and when you walk in public places like malls and airports, there are designated rooms for prayer (separate ones for men and women). In addition, the entire mall hears the worship song that calls all Muslims for the prayer in question.

10. There is a road in Dubai where it is normal for single guys (and occasionally girls) to drive around and exchange numbers as they are driving. It’s frowned upon, but it’s something young people sometimes do. This is apparently how you flirt in Dubai. My friend Megan told me that one evening she and her flatmate drove with an open window when a mobile device flew in. It was thrown by the guys from the car next to theirs. They wanted the girls to type their numbers and throw it back to them. My friend and her flatmate were shocked, same as me, when I heard this story for the first time. And even though, mobile devices are not the type of thing that fly from car to car on a daily basis, it is normal for young people to exchange numbers by throwing cards, napkins and papers with contacts on them.

11. Swimming suites for local girls cover their bodies completely. They usually look something like this. Even though it is quite unusual for what we are used to here in Australia and I am sure in many parts of the world, these suites might have an advantage after all. During summer months temperature can rise to 50ºC + and I am sure you wouldn’t want your skin to be exposed that much either.

David Wade said thanks.

Share this moment

Matthew Lewis

A father, photographer and a keen traveler.

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook