Dubai As One Of The Emirates Cultural Studies Essay

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Dubai is one of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates and the more recognized than the capital Abu Dhabi. But looking back at the history, one finds that a few decades earlier Dubai was inhabited by Bedouins and Nomads. The people earned their living by fishing, pearl diving and grazing their animals. Settlements began to develop on the coast and trade began through the waters. Then, under the rule of the British, trade flourished and Dubai began to be known as a major port. As a result foreign investments started pouring. In 1966, oil was discovered and when British left, Federation of the United Emirates was formed with the seven emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujeirah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman. It was under the rule of visionaries like Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Maktoum Dubai catapulted into the economic powerhouse as we see today. (




It is located on the south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula at 25.2697°N 55.3095°E. Dubai has the largest population of the seven emirates and second to Abu Dhabi in terms of land area. The land area is 4,114 m2.


The population of Dubai is 1.42 million of which 17% are United Arab Nationals, 71% are expatriates from different countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and other Asian and Middle Eastern Countries. 3% of the population is from the Western countries. The population density is 408.18 km2. (


The climate of Dubai is hot and humid. It is located in the northern desert belt. Dubai experiences harsh summers during the months of June to September with an average temperature of 40°C. There are also frequent sandstorms that brings Dubai to a standstill. It experiences pleasant climate during the months of December to March with occasional rainfall. Since construction is the major source of income, during the peak summers the workers are prevented from working outdoors in the afternoons.



Dubai is composed mainly of sandy desert unlike the other emirates which are more of gravel deserts. It is a low lying area, just 16m above the sea level. It borders Oman with Hajar Mountains on the southeast, Abu Dhabi in the southern side and Sharjah to the northeast. There are no natural water bodies in Dubai, but it does have a natural inlet, which is known as the Dubai Creek which divides Dubai with Karama on one side and Deira to the other which borders Sharjah. The Dubai International Airport is located to the south of Deira. The majority of the development as we know of Dubai is towards the coast. The areas towards the interior like the Business Bay, etc is developing until financial crisis hit in. Also, it is considered to be a very stable zone as the closest seismic fault line - the Zagros Fault passes at about 200km from the United Arab Emirtaes.



Dubai has grown into an economic powerhouse within a few decades and this would'nt had been possible if not for a dedicated transportation system in place. It boasts of world class facilities in transportation with Dubai International Airport, Dubai Port Authority, Metro Rail, Bus and Ferry services across Dubai Creek.

Dubai International Airport:

Dubai Airport was ranked the 15th busiest airport in the world in 2009. It has its own airline in Emirates Airline which has its routes marked in almost all the major cities in the world. Also, the construction on the worlds biggest airport - the Al Maktoum International Airport has begun with the first phase completed in 2010. It will also boast of having the worlds largest cargo handling facility and five runways to handle A380 passesnger planes at the same time.

Dubai Port Authority:

Dubai Port (Port Rashid and Port Jebel Ali) has become one of the busiest ports in the world due to its strategic location between the west and the east. Experts also comment that natural phenomenas like Tsunami cannot occur in Dubai because of the shallowness of the waters. It also has an efficient ferry transport system across the creek known as "Abras" to transport people from Deira to Bur Dubai.

Metro Rail:

With the inauguration of the Metro Rail Service in September 2009, Dubai added a feather to it efficient transport system. Even though it caters to one section of the society, the metro has made a considerable contribution in reducing the traffic of Dubai.

Buses and Taxis:

Buses and taxis are the best forms of transport within Dubai. Taxis are preferred over buses because of the ease with which one can commute to different places.


Dubai has become an international tourist destination with the world's largest malls, tallest fountain, tallest building, manmade islands and state of the art hospitality industries. The Dubai Shopping Festival during the month of January and February has become very famous with the western world; as it gives a getaway from the cold harsh climates. Also, Dubai being an Islamic country the rules are not as strict as one would imagine it to be, as a result people have actually made Dubai their second home.

Employment Industries:

Construction and real estate is the main source of employment in Dubai, with Finance and Tourism being second and third. Media and Entertainment has also become one of the major sources of employment with Dubai getting global recognition.


The architecture of Dubai is a mix of the tradition and modernism. There is a very clear and stark difference between the two. One can easily differentiate with the glimpses of the tradition, the early settlement houses seen in the parts of old Dubai in places like Karama, Bur Dubai and Deira. Houses made of Mud and straw with thatch roof. While the modern part is all steel and glass with different styles depicting an architect's fantasies for more complex geometries. The consumption of steel and glass used in projects forces one to think about the most common word used "Sustainability". Are these buildings sustainable? Or Is anyone building these projects are bothered about Sustainable designs? The most common trend found shows that the only thing that matters is how glamorous does a building look, so that it can be easily sold to the client.

Land use Pattern of Dubai:

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The map above shows the land use map of Dubai, which clearly shows the concentration of the development around the coast. The areas marked yellow are considerably newer developments. The areas coloured brown are the sandy desert which is uninhabited. landuse - satellite image.jpg


There are three major roads that run horizontally across Dubai that becomes the three spines.

Sheikh Zayed Road

Al Khail Road

Emirates Road

Initially, Sheikh Zayed Road was used as the main road to connect Dubai to Abu Dhabi and all the development started around it. Later on as the traffic grew and more projects started coming up on the south of Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road was built and as traffic grew, projects developed further south, Emirates Road was built. Further, another road was built Dubai Bypass Road, which works as a breather when there are issues on the above three roads.

As seen in the series of photographs, one can clearly distinguish and understand the development and the land use pattern that developed around the inlet known as the Dubai Creek. Within 25 years, the staggering pace at which the development took place makes one wonder about the harm that it might have caused to the environment.

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Dubai 1990.jpg

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dubai - future.jpgdubai 2007.jpg

Environmental Impacts:

The past few decades has seen Dubai grow from sandy deserts to lavish palaces, glittering buildings of glass and steel, white sandy beaches, artificial island and lakes, etc. But this growth has had an effect on the environment, which, some might be replaceable and some might not. The major causes of concern are:


According to a survey done by the Dubai Municipality, the factors that were affecting the traffic pollution in Dubai were rapid urbanization and with it increase in the number of vehicles on the road. The availability of cheap oil has lead to an increase in the number of vehicles.

"Dubai's statistical data showed that motor vehicles increased by an annual average of about 12 percent. Dubai has about 541 vehicles per thousand population, which is higher than New York (444), London (345) and Singapore (111),"

Air Pollution:

With the increase in traffic, pollution has increased at an alarming level in Dubai. Along with this, there are occasional sand storms during winters which worsen the situation. Noise pollution is another major concern due to the wide spread construction activity.

Water Pollution:

The major concern with the increase in construction activity in Dubai is on the marine life. Manmade islands have been created in the ocean with high profile projects like Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, the World and the Wave. In order to build this islands sand is dredged and redeposited which causes the crystalline waters to turn cloudy and silt formation has taken place which is a growing concern for the marine ecosystem. Also, due to the redepositing of the sand in water, marine habitat has been damaged. Coral reefs, oyster beds and subterranean fields of grass are submerged under it. Over 33 million cubic metres of sand and shell has been dredged to make these islands.

In a recent study done on the ecological resource use, the United Arab Emirates was pronounced the least environmentally friendly country. It also suggested that the country relied a lot on air conditioning and desalinizing the sea water. A fact states that each resident in Dubai uses twice the amount of resources as compared to an average Briton.

The architecture of the buildings in Dubai shows a strong influence of the western world where the use of glass and steel are more common due to different climatic conditions. But, the worst part is the styles get copied directly without even thinking about the environmental impact. The use of glass in a hot climate is bound to increase the air conditioning load within the buildings. Post oil era it is going to be really difficult to maintain these buildings. The more the usage of air conditioning the more is the heat emitted into the atmosphere which in turn aggravates global warming.

There are reports stating that Dubai developments are planning to build a beach with artificially cooled sand through underground tubes, a huge golf course surrounded by plush landscapes and projects and a refrigerated swimming pool of size 820 square meters.

"It's grotesque that while the world's poorest people face the loss of their homes and livelihoods, as well as disease and starvation, because of climate change, the world's richest people think it's acceptable to waste precious energy so pointlessly on things such as artificially cooled beaches," says Robin Oakley, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace UK. -from 'Chilling developments in Dubai' by Leo Hickman, The Guardian, Thursday 18 December 2008

Cheap Energy:

As oil is a cheaper source, it is used to desalinize water to irrigate the landscapes in the desert. It is also used to cool the massive interiors of hotels, malls and also the residences. Cheaper oil has also increased the number of vehicles, which are causing traffic problems around the city. Such dependence on fossil fuels will have adverse effect in future, which in turn is adding up to the global warming and with the fact that Dubai is just 16m above sea level, rising sea levels will have serious damage to life.


"We are doing slavery," said one worker. "We feel we are in jail, it's like a prison sentence. This is how I feel. I am helpless. What can I do?" -from's 'The Slaves of Dubai'

The story behind the glamour of Dubai is the poor state of the labours working day and night to meet the targets of the rich and the famous. The workers pay a hefty sum to get to the Middle East and when they finally reach here, their passports are taken away by the company, salaries are not offered as promised, the living conditions are poor and sometimes they have to share a small room with 8-10 people with all the baggage's, clothes and shoes in it.

Post Recession Period:

During the peak of the construction activity, a number of residential projects were build