Living in Dubai

The modern city of Dubai has expanded along both banks of the Dubai Creek (al-Khor), a sea-water inlet which effectively cuts Dubai into two semi-cities, Deira to the north-east, and Bur Dubai to the south-west. Beyond this centre, the city extends south and west through the districts of Satwa, Jumeirah (a residential area popular with expatriates), and Umm Suqeim, as well as northwards towards the emirate of Sharjah.

The city offers outstanding conference and exhibition facilities, including the 39-storey Dubai World Trade Centre, home of the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Numerous modern buildings are found near the Dubai Creek and beside Maktoum Bridge, among which are the blue glass-faced Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the eye-catching Etisalat Tower.

Below are some further details regarding Dubai, however you can download an entire country profile for the United Arab Emirates.

Download Country Profile 


Arts and Entertainment

Dubai has a lively nightlife. Hotel bars range from sophisticated cocktail lounges to typically informal British and Irish pubs and Western-style lounges.

Most of them serve food and many feature nightly musical entertainment in the form of pianists, guitarists, and bands.

After-dinner revellers can enjoy the latest sounds in a number of hotel nightclubs.

The Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre (DUCTAC) puts on performances, from dance to music and theatre productions, in its 543-seat theatre, as well as hosting a number of 'creative courses' in pottery, creative writing, drawing and painting, film-making, photography, and many more.

The other major performance space in the city is the Madinat Theatre. The Laughter Factory organises monthly comedy events, featuring comedians from around the world.

There are several publications providing comprehensive information on every aspect of recreation, including What's On, the monthly Time out Dubai, and The Dubai Explorer.


For many, the word 'Dubai' is synonymous with 'shopping' and in a fast-moving city of superlatives, focused on having the latest, biggest, best, most extravagant version of everything, this one-time fishing village has become a world-famous shopping destination.

In this region, going to the mall is considered a family activity, so malls tend to be popular gathering-places (especially on Friday and Saturday evenings) with restaurants and entertainment venues as well as retailers.

The opulent Mall of the Emirates contains 560 international brands, including a large Carrefour and the somewhat unexpected but exceedingly popular Ski Dubai snowpark.

The Dubai Mall, next to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), is the largest shopping mall in the world, claiming to be 'home to just about every major fashion brand in the world - as well as upmarket British supermarket Waitrose.

The mall is a tourist destination in its own right with a reported 75 million visitors in 2013.

Visually imposing and impossible to navigate without a map, it also has a range of attractions inside, including the Dubai Fountain, a waterfall, an ice rink and the Dubai Aquarium, with the world's largest viewing panel.

If this weren't enough, the 'Mall of the World' project has been announced, an ambitious, climate-controlled leisure district with hotels, shops, entertainment and healthcare, which will beat Dubai's own record for the world's largest mall, although there's no opening date given yet.

Dubai has many malls but some others of note include the consistently popular Deira City Centre, the world's largest themed shopping mall Ibn Battuta Mall, with shopping 'courts' celebrating the travels of the famous Arabic Explorer Ibn Battuta, Al Bustan CentreAl Ghurair CityBurJuman CentreDubai Marina MallFestival City MallMercato MallMirdif City Centre, and Wafi City Mall.Jumeirah Plaza, built in 1994, and Lamcy Plaza, dating back to 1997, are smaller shopping centres, targeting mainly a 'budget' customer base, although they were the first of their kind in Dubai.

Today many locals prefer to shop at these smaller malls as they are often less crowded and more easily traversed.

For those looking for a more traditional experience, there are a number of traditional souks in the city, including the Gold Souk in Deira and the Souk Madinat in Jumeirah.

Both Spinney's and Waitrose stock a wide range of imported groceries, including a dedicated area for pork products.

Other popular supermarkets in Dubai include Choithrams - which also sells pork - and Géant Hypermarket.

Alcoholic drinks can be bought from African & Eastern (A&E) and MMI Dubai.The Dubai Shopping Festival is an annual shopping event in Dubai, running from mid-January to mid-February, with over 2 300 participating retail outlets. 

Laws and customs

UAE laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. You are strongly advised to familiarise yourself with, and respect local laws and customs (, September 2017).

To find out more about UAE laws and customs please visit the website.

Stonewall Global Workplace Briefing, United Arab Emirates also provides some guidance on LGBT matters in the United Arab Emirates.