A low-duty shopper's paradise in the Persian Gulf, Dubai has pushed itself forward in the last 12 years to become a unique fixture of the United Arab Emirates and even of the world. Read on to find out more about the "Pearl of the Arabian Gulf."
A closer look 說古論今
The first traces of inhabitants in Dubai date back to 8000BC. In the seventh century the Umayyads arrived to spread Islam. To this day, Islam is the official religion. In the late sixteenth century European colonialism led to an influx of ships. With India on the other side of the Arabian Sea, Dubai became a small but important trading post for British ships. Dubai had many pearl beds and the pearls were highly prized.
With heavily laden ships sailing along the gulf, pirates became a problem. The British sent its navy in 1820, and then formed a pact with several of the Emirates to bring the situation under control.
In 1833, the incumbent shiek was overthrown by a faction of the ruling family of the bigger and wealthier Abu Dhabi. The Maktoum family still rules to this day. Under the new leadership Dubai began to prosper. When Britain withdrew its military support form the Arabian Gulf, seven Emirates joined together to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai was sidelined in favor of Abu Dhabi, much to Dubai's chagrin.
Oil was discovered in the UAE. Dubai's Shiek Rashid was forward thinking enough to take the new-found wealth and use it to diversify the city. His actions were prudent — oil was a mere 6 percent of the GDP last year, and reserves are predicted to run out by 2010. Upon Sheik Rashid's death in 1990, power passed to his eldest son. In 1995, he appointed his younger brother, Shiek Mohammed, to power. Shiek Mohammed, affectionately referred to as the CEO of Dubai, put a vast program of development into motion. Under his guidance the Emirate has continued to prosper, and is pushing to become one of the world's top tourist destinations.
(Catherine Thomas, staff writer)
Who Knew? 你知道嗎?
Dubai boasts 46 shopping malls, the highest concentration per capita in the world. There are over 300 hotels, and the numbers are rising. These include the world's only 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, built on an artificial island. Dubai is currently undertaking the building of artificial islands that will double the Emirate's coastline. This plan includes the ambitious "The World," a scaled down version of the countries of the world. Dubailand is a theme park which will be the size of Singapore. Dubai has also opened the Middle East's first indoor sand ski slope. Shiek Mohammed has stated that he aims to make Dubai an essential business and tourist hub. The presence of regional headquarters of Citibank and Microsoft, the large presence of high profile Internet-based companies attracted by tax-free offers and the six million-plus foreign tourists a year seems to indicate his success. Unsurprisingly, Dubai is in the process of building the tallest building in the world.
What Time Is It There? 現在那裡幾點?
Dubai is four hours behind Taiwan. If it is 6:30pm in Taiwan it is 2:30pm in Dubai.
About Dubai 境內概況
Size: 3,885 km2, about a tenth of the size of Taiwan
Location: United Arab Emirates, The Persian Gulf.
Population: 1.2 million (87% foreign nationals)
Languages: Arabic (English, Hindi and Urdu all widely spoken)
Government: Member of a Federation. Certain powers delegated to the UAE federal government. Non-democratic.
Currency: 1 AED (United Arab Emirates Dirhams) is worth NT$9
Dubai adopted the UAE flag in 1971. The colors red, green, white and black symbolize Arab unity. Green also represents fertility, white neutrality and black the oil wealth within the borders of the United Arab Emirates.
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