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Population: 1.24 million (native population approximately 240,000, expat population approximately 1 million)

Government: One of seven political territories, each ruled by a dynastic monarch or emir, in the United Arab Emirates

Ruler: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Local currency/exchange rate: U.A.E. dirham (AED). Approximately AED3.6=$1

Tips for visitors:

  • Dubai has more hotels, restaurants and bars then you can shake a stick at. The hotels range from the seven-star Burj Al Arab to luxurious five-star establishments like the Madinat Al-Jumeirah, Emirates Towers and Royal Mirage as well as more budget-conscious three- and four-star establishments.

  • Shopping is also huge, with megamalls such as the Mall of the Emirates catering to every taste. If the shops don’t suit your fancy, then have a go at the mall’s giant indoor ski slope. Every mall has a multiplex, so you’ll always find something to do.

  • The cultural atmosphere is relaxed and liberal, with no unusual restrictions on dress, but make sure to respect local cultures and traditions: Overexuberant displays of public affection tend to be frowned upon.