Tuesday, March 21, 2017 / Dubai - United Arab Emirates

8 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Dubai

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen that I recently visited Dubai on a press trip with Dubai Tourism. But before I do a recap of my trip in its entirety, I thought that I would share with you 8 lesser known facts I learned about Dubai that I found interesting.

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Camel Racing & Robot Jockeys

Did you know camel racing is a thing? Me neither. Camel racing is a traditional sport in the UAE, and one of the most talked about days of the year for the city. I mean, the winning camel being able to take home $3 million - what?!

And as technology advances, Dubai has started to replace human jockeys with robot jockeys (as shown in the photo below). The robots even have small hinged arms that can move to control the reins!

Racing camels on break at the Dubai Camel Racing Club • Source: Karen Ng
Income Tax, What is That?

You may or may not know that anyone living in Dubai doesn't have to pay income taxes to the government. The catch? If you own a business, the government owns at least 51% of it.

Tea & Dates

As a part of their culture here in Dubai, it is customary to offer guests with tea and dates. One thing I found interesting is that if someone gives you a full cup of tea, that is a subtle way of saying "gtfo of my house" - no lie. The traditional way to greet your guests is to pour half a cup of tea and offer them a date.

The reason for pouring half a cup is because (1) the cups do not have handles, and (2) the tea is pipin' hot! They don't want you to burn your fingers as you hold the cup of tea - hence, if they give you a full cup, they don't care for your well-being LOL So. Savage.

Having traditional tea @ Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding • Source: Karen Ng
Bigger the Better
(That's what she said, haha)

You may know that the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 828 metres. To put this into perspective for you fellow Torontonians, the CN Tower is 457 metres, which makes the Burj Khalifa 1.5x taller than the CN Tower.

Dubai is also home to the largest mall in the world, largest water fountain, & grandest indoor snow facility (you can ski / snowboard / snow tube / bobsled / PET PENGUINS / etc indoors). And speaking of construction, Dubai is also known for The Palm Islands, the world's largest man-made island built on The Persian Gulf. It actually took around 94 billion litres of sand!

View of the Burj Khalifa from a suite in the Taj Dubai • Source: Karen Ng
Crazy for Construction

Speaking of which, did you know that Dubai has the most active cranes in the world? Good luck trying to take a picture of Dubai's skyline without getting a crane in your photo. With all the construction going on, Dubai is also planning to build another tower that will be even taller than the Burj Khalifa by 2020!

License Plates

When you're on the roads, take notice of the license plates of the cars around you. The lower the license plate number, the wealthier the owner of the car is. A good example of this would be last year when someone spent $9 million USD during a government auction for the "5" license plate.

Also, if you ever see a car with the license plate number 1... That's the Sheikh's car (the ruler of Dubai & VP of the UAE).

Sheikh driving in his favourite car in Dubai • Source: TheNational.ae
No Security, No Problem

As someone who would go to a coffee shop, and then pack up to go home instead of leave my personal belongings unattended for a mere 3 minutes to go to the washroom... Believe me when I say I was appalled to hear this.

Security is not an issue in Dubai. In fact, the level of crime is 17.38 in Dubai - half of the level of crime in Toronto (35.98). Dubai is so safe that even the Sheikh goes out and about in Dubai without security guards!

An example I witnessed was when I was at a Dubai Food Festival event on a bumpin' Friday night. One of the organizers that was walking around with us left her purse and laptop on a table right next to the door IN A BAR. Yup, no one touched it lol.

Quality of the Food Industry

Did you know that in order to enter the food industry, business owners are required by the government to obtain a number of licenses that cost over $200,000? So trust me when I say everyone in the food industry knows what they are doing, has a well-thought out business plan! They know what they're doing, and they're pretty good at it.

A display of the chocolate from Mirzam Chocolate Maker • Source: Karen Ng
Something else to know is that since Dubai is that because they strive to be the best at what they do, many restaurants fly in ingredients to ensure that they are serving people the best - especially when it comes to seafood and meat! If you see ceviche on a menu, be sure to order it ;)

Ceviche Platter at Scape Restaurant & Bar in the Burj Al Arab • Source: Karen Ng

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Dubai was all the different ethnicities and accents. Did you know that only 8% of the people living in Dubai are Emirati? 92% of the population are expats from all around the world.

Because of this, the first question people typically ask is "Where are you from?" - and it isn't because they're being rude. Trust me, I've got my fair share of "You're from Canada? No, but where are you really from?" *rolls eyes* But not seriously, everyone is honestly just genuinely curious because they are also not from the area. It's also an easy way to make new friends!

We're not expats per se, but we could be ;) Here is the Dubai press crew! • @ Coya for Friday Champagne Brunch
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And that's that! Did anything surprise you, or did you already know these facts? If you have any other facts that you think are interesting, please let me know! I honestly find Dubai such an cool city and cannot wait to share more about my experience with you!

Check out my stash of Dubai photos from Instagram here.
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