The city of Dubai is also the capital of the emirate of Dubai, one of the wealthiest of the seven emirates that constitute the federation of the United Arab Emirates, which was created in 1971 following independence from Great Britain. There are several theories about the origin of the name Dubai. One associates it with the daba—a type of locust that infests the area—while another holds that it refers to a market that existed near the city. In recent years Dubai has been compared to Singapore and Hong Kong and is often regarded as the Middle East’s premier entrepôt. Dubai is surrounded by Abu Dhabi emirate on the south and west and by Al-Shāriqah emirate on the east and northeast.
For thousands of years, Dubai was the land of pearls, and divers would risk death by diving as deep as 40 meters in search of the tiny, lucrative orbs. UAE pearls have been documented to have traveled all the way to Rome, Venice, India, Sri Lanka, and some have even pointed to evidence of pearls from the UAE showing up in Viking possessions in Scandinavia. The pearls of the UAE were one of the most sought-after accessories of the time. Before UAE pearls were replaced by artificial Japanese pearls in the 1900’s, many international brands like Cartier used UAE pearls exclusively for prestige.
The culture in Dubai is quite different from that of the western world. There are nationalities represented from all around the world, people wear traditional clothes, the Arabic language is spoken, and Islam is the national religion. While Islam is the majority religion, churches and Hindu temples coexist with Dubai’s mosques. Of all the UAE, Dubai is by far the most Western place. Because of its large expatriate population, it feels like a Middle Eastern melting pot, and the atmosphere is generally tolerant. Religious affiliations are not a prominent aspect of city life. Dubai has relatively low crime rates.
The Arab cuisine is known for the use of dried fruit, legumes and especially a lot of different spices! And that’s why you should visit the spice market in Deira. You will find all the spices you can imagine over there! Typical dishes are: Taboulleh (cereal with tomato, onion, parsley and mint) and Humus of course. For dessert you will find especially many sweet things, such as cakes which are made with loads of nuts.
Shawarma: This popular dish has traveled far beyond the UAE. This popular dish has traveled far beyond the UAE. Made from slow-roasted and spiced meat — usually chicken or lamb — a shawarma is a kind of Middle Eastern sandwich. Paired with an Arabic roti, it can be served with vegetables, fries, tomatoes, pickles, garlic sauce — the sides seem almost endless.
Ghuzi, also called khuzi or ouzi, is another must-try dish. It is made from whole-roasted lamb or mutton and is often served on kebab skewers with vegetables and hazelnuts over rice. Ghuzi is one of the most popular dishes in Dubai and is also the national dish of the United Arab Emirates.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Dubai is the first city in the Middle Eastern, African and South Asian region to host a world Expo in 168 years. The Dubai World Expo was supposed to take place this year but was unfortunately postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information about the Expo, or how you can participate as a Youth Ambassador or Cultural Performer, click here.
For more information about Dubai’s culture and cuisine, visit: