Dubai Shopping FestivalDubai is currently the hot place to shop, and the best time of year for shopaholics to visit is during the huge, sprawling Dubai Shopping Festival. For a whole month, reductions are offered across a vast range of must-haves, from jewellery to fashionwear, electrical goods and carpets, to a lively backdrop of cultural events.
Over two million visitors attend the Dubai Shopping Festival each year, with retail spending totalling in excess of US$1 billion. Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, the event is enlivened with international theatre and street performances, fashion shows, nightly fireworks and laser shows, prize draws (with booty such as Rolls Royces and gold), film festivals, children's events and handicraft shows.
The most atmospheric shopping is to be found in the souks, located on either side of Dubai Creek, where bargaining is part of the buzz. The Gold Souk at Sikkat al-Khali St is Dubai's most famous bazaar - here the narrow streets are lined with shop windows sparkling with bracelets, necklaces and earrings in 18, 21 and 22-carat gold, sold according to weight.
Although you're less likely to take fish home with you, the Fish Souk in Deira, where fishermen pile their gleaming catches high, is well worth a visit just for the spectacle.
The Spice Souk (also known as Old Souk), on Al-Sabkha Rd, smells sweeter - this is where bags bursting with exotic spices and colours are on display.
Dubai is a fantastic place to buy carpets, as traders from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan converge in this shopping Mecca, selling their wares for anything from a few hundred to thousands of dirhams.
Other traditional goods include: Arabic coffee pots, swords and khanjars (Arabic curved daggers), prayer beads, marble goblets, silver Bedouin jewellery, cotton dhurries (oblong floor coverings) and inlaid rosewood and walnut furniture.
Meanwhile, some shoppers visit to find top brand-name items in fashion and electronic products that they could find at home - sold cheaper in Dubai's sleek, modern shopping malls, around Beniyas Al-Rigga and Al-Hiyafa Rd. Electronic goods cluster along Al Fahidi St in Bur Dubai. Nearby, Cosmos Lane is lined with stores selling textiles, from cool cottons to exotic brocades.
Perhaps less exotic, but equally tantalising, is Dubai International Airport, offering a 24-hour paradise of duty-free goods. It's hardly surprising that this leading institution - probably the best duty-free outlet in the world - heads the annual Dubai Shopping Festival.
Ramadan in Dubai
The busy trading metropolis that is Dubai still takes time out to observe the fasting month of Ramadan, an important religious observance in Muslim countries.
For one entire lunar month (30 days) all consumption for pleasure, whether of food, drink, sex or cigarettes, is prohibited between the hours of dawn and dusk. Faithful followers of Islam are obliged to adhere to these strictures, eating only during the hours of darkness: the breakfast at dusk can be quite a feast! At the end of the month, when the new moon is sighted in the sky, the city sheds its sombre cape and celebrates madly for three days.
Gifts are exchanged between friends and relatives, and there is dancing and merriment. Women decorate their hands with beautiful henna patterns. Being in some ways the Muslim equivalent of Christmas, the festival of Eid-al-fitr brings together the entire community, often with the excuse of luscious banquets and late-night celebrations.
Visitors are advised to observe the restrictions obeyed by locals, as it is considered highly disrespectful and offensive to break them in public. Also, the end of Ramadan is dependent not on the astronomical beginning of the new month but on the sighting of the moon, so the dates may vary slightly from our estimates. Islamic holidays may be announced with less than 24 hours' notice.
Holidays in the U.A.E.: The public holidays in the U.A.E are
New Year's day, Haj to begin*, Eid Al Adha*, Islamic New Year*, Prophet Mohammed's Birthday*, Accession of H. H. Sheikh Zayed, Lailat Al Mi'raj*, U.A.E National Day and Eid Al Fitr*
* The days on which the Islamic holidays fall are dependent on the sighting of the moon's phase.
Camel racing is taken very seriously in this neck of the woods, and Dubai's race track fills to the brim every Thursday and Friday during their winter months. Camels tend to be owned by sheikhs and jockeys can be very young - sometimes only six years old
Dubai Tennis Open
The US$1 million Dubai Tennis Open attracts many of the world's top male and female players to the city's impressive Tennis Stadium. The tournament incorporates both men's ATP Tour and Women's WTA Tour events, and features both singles and doubles competitions
Dubai Rugby Sevens
To those of you who have never lived the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7s experience, it is the opening round of the IRB Sevens World Series featuring 16 of the best 7s nations. But for those lucky enough to have attended the event, it is one of the biggest party weekends of the year!
From December 1-3 the event is set to break all previous attendance records with over 150 teams and 1,750 players expected to take part in what has become one of the most unique carnival atmospheres to be found at any sporting event on the planet.
The history of the Dubai Desert Classic goes back to 1986 when His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence, gave his approval for the innovative concept of developing a grass golf course in the desert. Just two years later, the Emirates Golf Club was opened and shortly afterwards the idea of stepping even further ahead by establishing a world class golf tournament was conceived. The Dubai Desert Classic is held annually and belongs to the people of Dubai. It is recognised as one of the finest sporting events in the Middle East and Dubai has become a unique destination on the PGA European Tour.
Dubai World Cub
The worlds richest horse race. Held each March.