12 Surprising Facts About Dubai

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Just a small desert town only half a century ago, Dubai is now a vibrant city that is a business and cultural focal point in the Middle East. With almost 20 million people visiting the city annually, it is one of the most visited destinations in the world. While you might have heard many things about the cosmopolitan oasis of ultramodern architecture and the luxurious lifestyle lived by many in Dubai, there are certainly many things you were never aware of. So, sit tight and listen to some of the surprising facts about the cultural hub of the Persian Gulf.

1. The Burj Al Arab uses enough gold inside to cover 46,265 Mona Lisa paintings.

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Image: Turag

The surface area of the Mona Lisa is approximately 0.39 square meters, whereas the interior of the Burj Al Arab is decorated with approximately 1,790 square meters of 24-carat gold leaf.

2. The world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa is so tall…. you can ride an elevator and watch the sunset twice.

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Image: ZQ Lee

In fact, it is so tall that if the Burj Khalifa was in Freiburg, Germany, you would still see it from Strasbourg, France. The Burj Khalifa is visible from 59 miles (95 kms) away. The distance between Freiburg, Germany and Strasbourg, France is 53.4 miles (86.4 kms).

3. Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands imported enough sand to fill 2.5 Empire State Buildings.

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Image: Eslam Tawakol

The construction of Dubai’s Palm Islands required 94 million cubic meters of sand. The Empire State Building is 37 million cubic meters.

4. Palms Jumeirah is also the world’s largest man-made island.

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Image: Wikimedia

The Palms Jumeirah Island is so large that you can even see it from space, and it is the largest man-made island in the entire world.

5. 25% of all cranes in the world were once located in Dubai. In fact, one out of every 4 cranes on Earth is located in Dubai.

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Image: EJ Yao

Since the city keeps growing at a rapid pace, you can see cranes everywhere; all the time.

6. Dubai is known as the city of gold. It’s also home to the Gold Souk, which is a traditional market that has over 300 retail stores solely dedicated to gold.

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Image: David Rodrigo

40% of physical gold traded in 2013 also occurred in Dubai. All together, it weighed more than 354 elephants.

7. The Burj Al Arab, one of the tallest buildings in the world, is considered to be a “7-Star Hotel”. It was designed to look like a sail and to provide a luxurious experience to its visitors.

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Image: Andreas M

However, 39% of the hotel is uninhabitable and completely “wasted” space. What’s more, the Royal Suite of Burj Al Arab costs approximately $20,000 per night.

8. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area. It has over 1,200 retailers, 4 floors, and a total retail area of 502,000 square meters (5,400,000 sq ft).

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There is a waterfall inside the mall, which is an illusion waterfall. There are statues that are diving from the waterfall and if you stare at one, the others disappear!

9. Although Dubai is in the middle of the desert, you can actually go skiing there. The Olympic sized ice skating rink at the Dubai Mall is located on the ground floor, but extends to the second floor.

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10. Dubai has the world’s third-largest automated, driverless metro system.

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The futuristic and highly reliable system opened in 2009 and continues to be expanded. All of Dubai’s 49-station, 46-mile metro is completely automated and driverless, making it the third-largest such system in the world, after systems in Singapore and Vancouver.

11. In Dubai, you can find ATMs that dispense gold bars.

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While there are lots of regular ATMs that dispense real money in the form of Dirhams, there are also ATMs that dispense gold bars, and yes, they are real gold. You can also find vending machines where you can buy a laptop, tablet, camera or phone.

12. The sun shines almost all year round.

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Dubai has become one of the most visited destinations during the winter months. The shining sun is definitely one of the reasons, and the climate is quite pleasing year round with only a few days of rain. During the summer months however, it can become extremely hot.

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