We associate the UAE and its cities with extreme wealth, shiny buildings of magnificent architecture, and Lamborghinis everywhere you look. It isn’t an incorrect impression, but it’s not the whole picture. The UAE is a land of striking contrasts - sparkling cities surrounded by barren seas of sand. Citizens are rich enough to buy the moon but strict laws prohibit certain goods. One such example is women having to dress in a way that their body is almost fully covered. These photos will show you the darker side of the UAE.
Photos That Show - Sometimes the Light Side - How It Is to Live In the UAEPublished 3 months ago
Dubai is located within the Arabian desert and the city is floating amongst the sand. It’s surrounded by dunes, salt plains, and the hard, arid landscape that leads to the Western Hajar Mountains. The sand is fine and white.
Being a coastal city, Dubai is subjected to the winds sweeping inland from the ocean. These powerful gusts pick up all the powdery sand and the air becomes thick and violent. They can be dangerous, making it difficult to breathe and see, and it's necessary to take refuge indoors. These sandstorms can last for hours and leave a huge mess in the aftermath to be cleaned up.
The United Arab Emirates is renowned for being the place where you can see all the latest sports and supercars on the market, in every color, all parked along the side of the same road. There is no greater, more flashy, and garish display of wealth in excess than buying a car with a price tag that goes on for days, and it can’t even hold your shopping.
As we can see by this photo and caption, there is simply no market for anything practical which doesn’t exude opulence in the UAE. There is nothing wrong with these vehicles, except that they are too cheap. Soccer moms pick up their children from school in Lamborghini SUVs.
No place in the world is perfect. Where there is civilization, you will find garbage. Usually, the places where they allow trash to accumulate are associated with poverty and bad governance. All the photos of the affluent cities of the UAE sparkle.
Some concessions must be made in exchange for living a certain lifestyle. When you live your whole life with people picking up after you, you might think that throwing your trash down wherever you are is an acceptable practice. It must be somebody else’s job to pick it up.
Almost all of the tourist attractions in the UAE are man-made. Gargantuan, spectacular structures of steel and glass reach into the air. These spikes and blips extend the length of the horizon, as we can see in this photo, taken from sea level.
We are used to seeing the cities from an aerial view, but this offers a different perspective. The stark white sands the dividing line between water such a vibrant blue it almost hurts to look at it, and a city creeping into the sky. A visual representation of civilization.
When they aren’t covered in rubbish, the white sand beaches and blue waters of the UAE beaches look sublime. The perfect place to relax, enjoy the views and get a little sun. But as we’ve mentioned, the sun is in no short supply over there, and too much is not conducive to a good time.
Sunburn is a sure way to ruin your day and the rest of your holiday. Sunscreen is crucial for those who wish to enjoy themselves on the beach. But when you’re traveling, you can’t take bottles of lotions on the plane. In Dubai, they have the solution to this problem. Convenient sunscreen dispensers can be found along walkways next to swimming beaches. This allows tourists to make the most of their time and soak in their leisure.
In a city that rises from the sand and is populated by people who drive ludicrously expensive vehicles, the importance is placed upon building roads, so sidewalks for pedestrians have fallen by the wayside.
The blazing temperatures and sandstorms are also a consideration - taking a stroll may not be such a viable or desirable option in these parts. On the sides of the road, there is only sand. To be fair, you could still walk there but doing so without any distance or barrier between you and the vehicles whizzing past can be rather daunting.
It’s so hot that even the birds don’t want to be outside. With the heat rising from the concrete and sand and the sun baking down overhead, it must be exhausting to fly around as a bird living in the UAE. But this little guy in the photo has it all figured out.
Crossing the road is fine if you’re a chicken, but not for this dude. He’s catching the subway. He’s following the rules, being quiet, and patiently waiting his turn in a calm and orderly fashion. He's observing etiquette and following the boarding procedure. See humans, it’s not so hard.
This Starbucks does successfully what many others fail to do - it takes on an air of authenticity by making itself part of the scenery. Located in an area of Dubai where it’s close to a historical district, all the surrounding buildings are in the traditional Arabic style of architecture.
There are many other restaurants and shops modeled in the same rustic, sandstone way. It offers a delightful juxtaposition of modern tastes and old-world style. The furniture and interior decor complement the look, and outdoor seating is below a thatch roof.
Extreme sports like parachuting and bungee jumping aren't for the faint of heart and are appealing only to people who consider themselves adrenaline junkies. Tennis is not such a sport, usually. But when the tennis court is 211m in the air, it changes things.
The Burj al Arab is a 7-star hotel in Dubai and one of the tallest buildings in the world. They have a helipad that doubles up as a tennis court. If we take into consideration the wind forces that must be present so high over the ocean and the restraint required not to run too fast lest you should tumble over the edge, it doesn’t sound like a good time.
Keeping chickens is a common practice all around the world. In places like Brazil and Mexico, you wouldn’t bat an eye at seeing chickens milling about on the streets. But in the flashy city of Dubai, anything that isn’t manmade looks almost out of place.
It turns out that people here also like to keep chickens. Many consider it part of their culture, as when the roosters go off in the morning, it’s like a call to prayer for those of the Muslim faith.
There are many ways to see a city. You can experience life at ground level - which is usually where the most action is at. Or you can ascend into the heavens, and splash around in a rooftop pool 30-something stories high.
Dubai is a place that offers the utmost luxury, to those who can afford to pay. Staying in an ultra-fancy hotel here allows you to get a closer look at the goliath structures that make up the city and look down at the world below. It’s a great way to experience life in the UAE.
The Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, is the tallest building and structure in the world since 2009, standing 828.8m high. They started building it in 2004. The previous records were held by the Taipei 101 for the tallest building, which is 508m high, and the Petronius Platform which is partially underwater has a height of 640m and was the world’s tallest structure.
The Burj Khalifa has 163 floors, but the highest the public can go is the premium SKY lounge located on the 148th floor. It’s a great way to get a view of the entire city. You’ll have to buy a ticket though. The tickets also include a tour to levels 125 and 124, which feature observation decks.
Everywhere in the world, we are seeing evidence of global warming. This is especially true for those living in places that are already subject to extreme climate. In 2020, hail and snow engulfed the highest peak of the UAE, Jebel Jais.
They even experienced hail falling in Jumeirah, a place in Dubai, renowned for its sandy beaches. Although it's still fairly uncommon for the residents of the UAE to experience hail and snow, the temperatures in winter are dropping and there have been more and more occurrences of them hitting subzero levels.
Because most of the skyscrapers and tallest buildings of the city are located along the coastline and so is the airport, it shows a stark contrast when approached by aircraft from inland. An aerial view gives a tangible depiction of just how much taller those buildings are than the rest of civilization, and it’s mindboggling.
This is not only an awesome sight to behold, to see the achievements of mankind, but it also shows us that not all of the citizens of Dubai and the UAE live the same lives in the same accommodations - while it may be an affluent nation, one can distinctly see there is a tourist district separate from business and living areas.
It’s an unspoken rule every tourist knows that you need to keep a camera with you at all times. Photos are memories, and they are also a way to share your life and adventures with family and friends who couldn’t join you on the journey.
A great way to capture some excellent shots is to wander about, with or without a plan, and see where your feet take you. It’s highly recommended to take a high-definition camera while you roam, because taking a blurry photo of a cool car or magnificent skyscraper may leave you with regrets.
When someone drives a supercar, one assumes they know the basics of operating such an expensive piece of machinery, such as how to start and stop. But this is not necessarily the case. In this photo, we see a classic example of this. At least this person had the decency to leave a note to apologize.
But this begs the question - how often does this happen? It’s clear that the citizens have integrity enough to admit when they are in the wrong, but that is only the first step. Will they do something about their terrible parking, or simply keep writing notes and paying damages?
Like people everywhere in the world, the citizens of the UAE like to keep animals. Having pets when you live in a building that is several dozen stories high doesn’t come without challenges. They are inherently indoor pets.
This cat has clearly decided that it wants to explore the outside world, but climbing all those stairs is too much even when you have four legs. So the only alternative is to wait for the elevator. Imagine the surprise of the people waiting at the bottom.
In every civilization in the world and throughout history, there are some in possession of wealth in abundance, and others who struggle to make ends meet. Even though the government would like the world to believe that poverty doesn’t exist here, this isn’t the case.
The cost of living in the UAE is very high, and there is no official data on poverty levels. Still, exploring the city means seeing not everyone lives in structures made of the same stuff. When you explore a city beyond the tourist zones, you get a feel for how people really live, at the heart of a city.
A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth casts a shadow onto the moon, and this kind of eclipse can be seen by half the planet. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and blocks the light, and can only be seen by a small portion of the planet.
In this photo, we marvel at a rare occurrence - an annular eclipse. Annular means “ring-shaped,” therefore an annular eclipse is a type of solar eclipse when the outer ring of the sun is visible around the dark disc of the moon. When this happened just after sunrise in Dubai, it was a particularly impressive sight over the desert landscape.
For most people, when McLaren is mentioned, we think of Formula One cars flying around at speeds no person should attempt unless your name is Lewis Hamilton. It is most certainly not standard to have your Uber driver arrive in one of these ultra-expensive supercars.
But all things are possible in Dubai - if you have the money, of course. Considering the abundance of luxury cars that are on the roads, you probably wouldn’t stand out, but it would be an exciting experience to get from point A to point B. Just as long as there isn’t any luggage or shopping involved to transport.
When you live in a place where the climate is such a scorcher, you learn to adapt. Staying hydrated and eating foods that refresh are crucial to getting through the day. Eating heavy or doughy foods such as meat or pastries will make you tired. In the UAE, they understand this.
This photo is part of a story a man tells about his lunch experience. After accepting the invitation of the waitron to dine at the cafe, he placed his order. As he was waiting for his food to be prepared, they brought out a plate of salad to snack on, instead of a bread roll as is the custom in the west.
It puts things into perspective when you look at what gets thrown out by the wealthy. For most people in the world, these are items of luxury they cannot even afford to buy.
But for many households in the UAE, where they have tremendous incomes, the cleaning staff pick up high-value items out of the trash. In this photo, we can see expensive lotions, Dubai wood, and incense being thrown out. It makes one wonder what the value of the average household trash in the UAE equates to.
Generally speaking, it is a prerequisite for a street sign to have a street. But in the UAE, much of the terrain is untarred, and people travel through the desert. In order to give that semblance of order and civilization, the government is kind enough to put signs, so you know where you are and where you’re going at all times.
Take this photo, for example. It may be surrounded by sand on all signs, but if you come across it in a sandstorm, at least you’ll know you are approaching civilization. The actual path you take from there is open to your own interpretation.
Yes, wild animals are scary, not to mention incredibly dangerous, oh, and illegal, but do buyers care? Not really. Buyers in Dubai have always shown a growing interest in owning exotic pets such as tigers and cheetahs, all of which are, incidentally, illegal.
Owing to the increased interest among people, however, these animals are easily available over the internet, after being smuggled in from their natural habitats. Dubai police have done a tremendous job in lowering the number of exotic animals in their country. Let's hope they will clean it up.
There are places in the UAE where you wake up feeling like Zeus at the mythical Olympus, looking down on a blanket of clouds. But in reality, all it takes is a mighty bank account and checking into a seven-star hotel. On the top levels, the buildings peak up through the cloud canopy.
If you are fortunate enough to experience what it is like at the very top in a penthouse suite of such a hotel, you may wake up feeling as though you are still in a dream, flying around like Peter Pan.
Mercedes makes some expensive luxury vehicles. Generally, these are the kind of cars that are driven by people that come from old money. Not to insinuate that their vehicles aren’t high-performance - they are in an on-again-off-again relationship with McLaren making machines for Formula One, after all. But these vehicles whisper comfort rather than holler flash.
Except in the case of this Saudi prince. Among the wealthiest on the planet, he thought it would be the height of style to blast the outside of his vehicle with pressurized carbon. There are more than 300,000 diamonds on the surface of his car, which set him back $4.8 million. Let’s hope his parking skills are a little better than others in the UAE.
We live in a world of contrast. Wherever we see wealth, we know that the inverse also exists. Unlike many places in the world, poverty in the UAE isn’t seen by people being homeless or unemployed. Those numbers are low. But there is a huge demand for labor in the UAE, and the population is primarily made up of migrant workers.
The living conditions of the working class aren’t great. Here we can see a grocery store with a section from which people who can’t afford to buy themselves food can take something. The caliber of items available is higher than what the less fortunate are accustomed to.
You can see everything from it, and it can be seen from everywhere. The Ain Dubai is the biggest Ferris wheel on Earth, and you can find it on Dubai’s Bluewaters Island. One revolution will take you 38 minutes and takes you 250m into the air.
It offers unhampered views of the Dubai skyline and all of the city below. Due to its colossal size, it is visible from everywhere near the coast of Dubai. In this photo, we can see the sun setting over a beach as a local takes a stroll with his camel, the huge wheel in the distance.
Entering these premises, the first thought would be that whoever lives here must have an eye for interior design and a fat wallet to boot. With chandeliers and floors made of marble, you’d expect to hear classical music echoing off the high ceilings.
But actually, you’re more likely to hear some snorting and neighing, and the residents are much less concerned about their surroundings than the visitors. With everything else we’ve seen on the list thus far, it would fit right in with the other ludicrously lavish things you’d find in the UAE. But this is actually the Heilan Horse Club in China.
Most often, when you want to experience skiing, you have to travel to places where snowfall occurs, at high altitudes, and where the climate is cold. But in Dubai, you can ski in a place where you are surrounded by desert sand.
Ski Dubai is located at the Mall of the Emirates and it features an 85m high mountain at an indoor center. It sounds like an experience one would never expect to have when visiting the UAE.
Nice restrooms are nice. They can be found all over the world, as wealthy people are fond of spending money on making these rooms in their mansions a place of relaxation. The ideal restroom has space and choices. What we are looking at in this picture is more like a work of art than a washroom.
It looks like a spa. The huge shower is big enough to accommodate a small horde. A jacuzzi bath in which you can soak away the stresses of life. A chandelier of plenty of natural light. Who wouldn’t want to live in this restroom?
It’s no secret that the cost of living in Dubai is high. Here we see an example of just how high. In the Emirates, there are laws prohibiting alcohol, except in specific regions and establishments which are frequented by tourists. As much, you should expect to pay a steep price if you want an alcoholic drink.
Obviously, the price of the drinks didn’t deter these people from having a great time. Considering the items that make up the bill are mostly bottles of extremely expensive champagne, it seems that they had something to celebrate. The currency used in Dubai is the Emirati Dirham, which means that this bill came to around $105,000 US.
On the roads of Dubai, there are vehicles that cost a lot of money and those that take up a lot of space. Delivery trucks zoom around all day and night to bring goods to the many stores.
Those who drive supercars are inclined to get a feel for what their machine is capable of. Combined, these things make the road a dangerous place if you’re delivering food on a scooter in a busy neighborhood. Although with a message like that, we can’t be sure if it’s a plea or a threat.
Misleading information runs rampant when it comes to the world’s knowledge about the Middle East. And that is true regarding one of the region's largest cities, Dubai. Located in the United Arab Emirates, the city has a population of around 6 million people, and it is now one of the busiest business hubs in the Persian Gulf region. It is populated predominately by foreigners and contains a mix of the region's cultures, and so far, it shows no sign of slowing down its growth.
The highly sought-after tourist destination offers a host of unexpected experiences, and the following pictures may prompt you to book a ticket to see life in Dubai with your own eyes.
Dubai may not be the first place you think of when you picture high-end fashion, but it’s gaining prominence around the fashion world. It’s one of the capitals of the fashion world in the Middle East, and it’s quickly catching up to well-known cities like Milan, Paris, and New York City.
The city hosts its own fashion shows and even boasts a part of the city that is dedicated solely to fashion. The creations from local designers have graced the runways of fashion shows in Paris and New York City. The looks may be more conservative than those typically seen on Western runways, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have popular appeal. Even conservative people have to wear clothes.
Due to the city being ruled under strict Muslim law, Dubai boasts virtually a 0% crime rate. In a city inhabited primarily by foreigners, people know that they can easily be imprisoned or deported for the slightest of criminal acts, making Dubai one of the safest cities on the planet.
Dubai takes pride in its police force and makes a conscious effort to show off how classy it is to tourists coming to visit. As a result, each police car in Dubai costs as much as sending one person to college in the United States. The various models of police cars include Ferraris, Lamborghinis and one Ashton Martin, priced at $1.79 million.
Most of the workers building Dubai’s hundreds of skyscrapers immigrated to the United Arab Emirates from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. As a result, they comprise over 50% of the city’s population, followed by 17% Emiratis and the remainder being foreigners.
The class divide is huge, with many of the immigrant workers living and working in the most squalid of conditions while Emiratis have their rent, education and medical bills paid for and upper-class foreigners earn extremely attractive salaries.
Dubai is very strict in not allowing its residents to incur debt and not being able to pay it back. If you fall into default on your credit cards and miss payments, you can be sent to jail or deported.
The prospect of a well-paying job, tax-free salary and up-scale living conditions can be attractive to many foreigners, but many of them live beyond their means and once they enter debt they are immediately deported or alternatively, flee the country.
Dubai is smack dab in the middle of a desert, with sandstorms constantly being a concern and temperatures soaring far above 120 degrees. If it weren’t for the city’s excessive air conditioning, buildings would quite literally begin to melt and the sun constantly beaming down on the residents’ glass windows would cook them alive.
As a result, construction engineers install vertical cooling systems – which use crazily strong pumps to push water upwards through buildings to cool them down.
The city is growing at such a rapid pace that economists are concerned that a financial and housing collapse is impending.
Dubai’s metro system was completed in 2009, features 42 stations and was built in a shocking 18 months - a small fraction of what it would take other cities to accomplish such a task. Dubai is the fifth-highest-performing metropolitan economy in the world, thanks to an uptick in trade and tourism.
Due to the rate at which Dubai is growing, it doesn’t have a standard address system in place. Instead, the line on a mailing label, there is a space where residents can draw a map or write out specific instructions such as: “After the white mosque, first street to the left, gold door.”
Foreigners arriving in the city from the airport are advised to have maps on hand to show their drivers where they’re going if they won’t be visiting one of the city’s many luxury hotels.
Camel racing the national sport in Dubai, similar to baseball in the US and hockey in Canada. Given the camel’s size, only children can participate in racing them.
Instead of allowing Emirati or Dubai residents’ children to participate, there has been a problem in the past with having children illegally trafficked into the country for the sole purpose of racing camels. The rest of the world eventually caught on to the issue and has since put a stop to it for the most part. Leave it to Dubai to come up with a solution. Now, child-sized robots are being built and are racing the camels. They cost anywhere from $300 to $10,000.