by Kaelyn Mostafa, Midlife Road Trip Correspondent
After enduring a 12.5 hour flight, I arrived at Dubai International Airport early Friday morning (or late Thursday night in America). When I first told people that I was spending the summer in Dubai, it quickly became evident that people have several misconceptions about the area; for this reason, I decided to dedicate this article to telling you guys a little bit about Dubai:
1. Dubai is not a country.
Dubai is actually an emirate within the United Arab Emirates, which encompasses Abu Dhabi (the capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Rais Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. An emirate, for all intents and purposes, is a state ruled by Islamic monarchy.
2. There is no strict dress code.
A common misconception about Dubai is that visitors and residents are forced to dress conservatively. Keeping in mind that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, many people do dress conservatively here, but it is by their own choice. Especially in the summer time, Dubai is extremely hot and humid; you can still wear your bikini on the beach and at the pool, and going out in shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, flip flops, and skirts is acceptable when visiting casual settings. However, Sharjah (another emirate) has more strict decency laws in place.
3. Alcohol is not banned.
The UAE is a Muslim country, and alcohol consumption is prohibited by the Muslim religion. However, alcohol is sold in hotels and bars in addition to liquor stores that residents can utilize if they are at least 21 years old and have an alcohol permit.
4. Gender equality is important.
A common misconception that I was confronted with is that women do not have rights in Dubai. Women in Dubai can drive cars, attend college, hold high positions in the workplace, live and travel independently, and dress how they’d like. There are people who discriminate against others in every country, but gender equality is emphasized and enforced by the government of the UAE.
5. People speak English!
Although the official language of Dubai is technically Arabic, English is the most widely spoken language in the emirate. In addition, all signs on the roads and in other places are written in both Arabic and English.
6. The currency used is the United Arab Emirates Dirham.
A United Arab Emirates Dirham, or AED as you’d see it on clothing tags and restaurant menus, is currently equivalent to 27 cents in America.
7. Social status is reflected by residents’ license plate numbers.
The lower the number on a resident’s license plate, the higher his/her social status. In addition, members of the royal family and government can be instantly recognized on the streets because they tend to have very low license plate numbers while commoners’ license plate numbers tend to have more digits unless they purchase a license plate with a lower number. Common people pay millions at auctions to obtain license plates with low numbers in order to increase their social statuses in the eyes of observers.
8. A very small percentage of residents are native to Dubai.
The population of Dubai is largely comprised of people from different countries that live in Dubai on renewable work visas.
9. There is no income tax.
Dubai is referred to as a “free zone,” meaning its workers’ paychecks are spared from being taxed. Residents of Dubai only have to pay taxes on alcohol purchased from liquor stores, municipality taxes on rented properties, restaurant and hotel bills, and sometimes taxes on imported goods.
10. Employees can choose the currency in which they are paid.
As an extension of the previous fact, the population of Dubai is so diverse that workers can opt to be paid in their native currency instead of the United Arab Emirates Dirham if they choose to.
Check out these 10 Astounding Dubai Facts That’ll Probably Amaze You