Dubai is 90% desert
Much of Dubai's 3900 square kilometers (1600 square miles) consist of sand dunes (see photo) and parched terrain dotted with rocks and shrubs. Other natural features in Dubai include verdant oases, sandy coastlines, and the arid Hajar mountains.
Scant natural water sources
The Dubai emirate solves the severe shortage by desalinating seawater.
World's biggest man-made harbor
Dubai, one of the globe's most important maritime traders, has no natural harbor to accommodate today's super-tankers. It remedied the need by constructing the world's largest artificial harbor in Jebel Ali, a coastal industrial city about a half hour's drive from Dubai.
Dubai history in brief
Earliest known habitation
Archaeologists found evidence of a primitive settlement in the Dubai area dating back nearly 3,000 years.
Several centuries ago
Dubai was a small fishing, pearl-diving and trading port.
It became a thriving town.
After oil was discovered in the UAE in 1958, Dubai grew rapidly, especially in the last 25 years. This happened despite not being oil rich like its sister emirate, Abu Dhabi. Dubai gained wealth by becoming a major world trading and financial center.
Dubai has over a million inhabitants. It is one of seven emirate states comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Citizens are well off
Dubai citizens enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living. It is investing a significant portion of its income in building the city into a major Mid-Eastern business center and tourist destination.
Massive construction projects
The "World" is a massive engineering project. It consists of man-made off-shore islands in the shape of the world's 200 nations. These islands - built for luxury residential use - are arranged into their respective continents (from the air, the collective islands appear as a giant map of the world).
Dubai is also constructing a pair of giant artificial island complexes in the shape of palm tree fronds surrounded by a circle measuring over a mile in diameter. One - the Palm - is half finished (extravagant homes occupy most lots and the large Atlantis Hotel Resort is open).
The current Global Recession has slowed down or put on hold many of Dubai projects.
Land of many tongues
Arabic is Dubai's official language, but English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Tagalog are also widely spoken.
Men significantly outnumber women
There are more than twice as many men than women in Dubai.
Persian Gulf cruise