Dubai is known for its exuberance and grandeur, its 7* hotels and artificial islands. This ‘bigger and better’ attitude, can overshadow its peculiar attractions and endearing qualities. We take a look at vending machines that dispense gold, Aston Martin police cars and epic indoor theme parks.
1. Its History is Rooted in Pearl Diving
Long before oil and tourism fuelled Dubai’s incredible wealth, Dubai relied heavily on the art of pearl diving. A difficult and dangerous occupation, pearl diving accounted for roughly 90% of the region’s income during the 19th century. Divers would spend weeks at sea, doing up to 300 dives, 14 hours a day. When artificial pearls were created in Japan in the 1950s, the trade was all but destroyed, taking away the region’s most important trading resource.
2. Police drive an Aston Martin?
Dubai’s roads are home to some of the most incredible supercars in the world. Naturally, the local constabulary must keep up so their fleet is anything but ordinary.
The Dubai police force has an enviable armada of highly coveted brands including Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Bentley, plus BMW and Audi. In 2014, they added the Bugatti Veyron, the fastest police car in the world with a top speed of 253mph, reaching 0 to 60 in just 2.5 seconds. Who needs Batman in a place like Dubai?
3. World Records
In Dubai, everything is bigger and better, it’s practically their slogan. The city is continually pushing limits and setting records, only to break them again further down the line.
The most recent record-breaker is the unusual, yet no less impressive feat,of building the world’s tallest, supported topiary sculpture. A huge Mickey Mouse made of flowers. Others include the world’s longest handmade gold chain and tallest chocolate sculpture. There are also records for the largest permanent projection mapping and largest water screen projection. We have a feeling there will be many more to come!
4. Vending Machines for (practically) Everything
Japan may be the undisputed kings of vending machines per capita (one per 23 people), but Dubai is making up ground quickly. Forget fizzy drinks and chocolate, the machines in Dubai deliver an altogether different experience.
You’ll find slots selling gold - 2.5 grams, to 24-karat coins and even a one-ounce gold bar. They update rates every 10 minutes to correspond with changes in the market. Beauty products, gourmet food and even laptops can be bought from vending machines, but our personal favourite is the 24-hour gift vendor, where you can buy up to 35 last-minute goodies including perfume and designer teddy-bears.
5. Dubai Traded 40% of the World's Gold
Yes, you read that right, in 2013 alone, Dubai traded an enormous amount of gold worth an estimated $75bn. In weight, that’s 2,250 tons of gold. Or, to paint a picture, the equivalent of 68 humpback whales, 177 London buses or 450 African bush elephants worth of gold.
6. World's Largest Indoor Theme Park
The world’s largest indoor theme park is in Dubai. Opened in August 2016 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, this wonderland cost roughly £750 million to build and can hold up to 30,000 visitors. This air-conditioned park is split into Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley and IMG Boulevard, with 22 rides and attractions, the highlight of which is the Haunted Hotel.
Along with the obvious there are little, understated gems everywhere - even in Dubai.