Despite its small size (5 per cent of the UAE’s total landmass) and relative paucity of hydrocarbon resources, the Emirate of Dubai has made a significant impact on the world stage in terms of high-level investment at home and abroad and sport sponsorship, both nationally and internationally. Its success as a major tourist destination has also helped to familiarise the world with all that Dubai has to offer.
Dubai City is built along the edge of a narrow winding creek that divides the southern section of Bur Dubai, the city’s traditional heart, from the northern area, Deira, a bustling commercial centre containing a range of retail outlets, souqs, hotels and golf courses, as well as the emirate’s international airport. The southern (towards Jumeirah, ‘New Dubai’ and Abu Dhabi) and northern sections of the city (towards Sharjah, Ra’s al-Khaimah etc) are linked by Al Shindagha tunnel, which passes under Dubai Creek at its entrance to the north, and an ever-increasing series of bridges. Major developments, such as Dubai Festival City and the Business Bay project are taking place along the extended Creek.
Lined by distinctive skyscrapers, Sheikh Zayed Road leads south from the city centre, past the Dubai International Financial Centre and ‘Downtown Dubai’ towards Jumeirah about 30 minutes from Dubai City (depending on traffic conditions), This is a major tourism district with a number of award winning hotels, including the iconic Bur al-Arab, and a delightful sandy beach. Jumeirah and adjoining areas have witnessed extensive development in recent years. Offshore, The Palm Jumeirah has added hugely to the coastline. So too have the reclaimed group of islands known as The World. Further south Jebel Ali, home of a huge man-made port and the largest free-trade zone in Arabia, is the location of another Palm project, whilst nearby Dubai World Central airport is taking shape.