Stefan Koslowski

D

    ubai exerts a great
    fascination on
    many people. A
mixture of the Arabian Nights and avant-garde architecture as well as an unusual location between the sea and the desert make it particularly attractive. In addition, the emirate on the Persian Gulf with 1.7 million inhabitants has a lot to offer its visitors. This is also due to the fact that the country’s oil reserves are slowly running out and the sheikhs are focusing more and more on tourism. The plan seems to be working, because in the pre-Corona year 2019, the number of visitors increased by 5.1 per cent in relation to the previous year to 16.7 million visitors – an absolute record. Among numerous attractions, the highlight for many visitors has always been the Burj al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel. And for the visitor who wants to go even higher, the world’s tallest building at 828 metres, the Burj Kalifa, awaits. Here you will find hotels, offices and, in addition to ATMs, even gold machines where you can withdraw bars of up to one ounce of gold. The Sheikh of Dubai had run out of money during the long construction phase, so the friendly Sheikh from Abu Dhabi helped him and lent him money. And what a coincidence, the building was named after him. On the one hand, a great shame for Dubai, on the other hand, it shows the solidarity of the emirates with each other.

The climate is promising for tourists: especially in winter, Dubai is attractive because the temperatures are pleasant and warm like in summer. The desert state advertises 360 sunny days a year, although it should not be forgotten that in the summer months it is often 40 – 50 degrees – an unimaginable heat for many holidaymakers from Central Europe, which can diminish holiday enjoyment and the relaxation effect.

Since Dubai reopened to tourism last summer after Corona restrictions, it has marketed itself as an attractive holiday destination in pandemic times. There are no quarantine requirements for incoming visitors from abroad (a negative test is enough), and they can now party to their hearts’ content in Dubai’s vibrant bars and beaches and send home envy-inducing selfies. Shops, restaurants and museums are also open, there are no curfews. Dubai lures tourists with maximum freedom and minimum restrictions.

That this is possible is due to an ambitious vaccination programme that Dubai launched in December 2020. In the meantime, 64 doses have been received per 100 inhabitants, which is the second best value worldwide behind Israel. The philosophy is to vaccinate everyone and have everything open.

But Dubai is not only an interesting destination for tourists, but also for business people who want to set up their company in the emirate or people who want to settle in the desert state as residents.

Foreign buyers have flooded Dubai’s posh property market in recent months. They are buying luxury villas and penthouses in record numbers, which is catapulting prices. In the first quarter of this year alone, sales of high-end properties increased by 230 per cent compared to the same period in 2020, with prices in some particularly posh areas rising by up to 40 per cent. According to property consultancy Property Monitor, 90 houses and condominiums with an average value of the equivalent of 2.2 million euros changed hands in April, setting a new record. By comparison, there were 54 in the whole 2020.

However, the desert state is not only convincing with attractive real estate, but overall as a global financial centre that is considered an oasis in the volatile Middle East, and has therefore long benefited from capital flight.

Dubai also offers German companies a very attractive market to grow and expand. The advantages – both legal and tax – are immense. For example, there is no income or corporate tax on the usual forms of company. And in the free zones, 100% of the business shares can be in the hands of foreigners, which is not allowed in the national territory. There, an Emirati majority shareholder must be appointed.

Economic relations between Germany and the UAE are also good: the Emirates are Germany’s second most important trading partner in the MENA states (Middle East & North Africa). Anyone considering setting up a business in Dubai should always consult with experts beforehand; there are specialised companies and law firms for this purpose.

Dubai has an excellent infrastructure, be it for tourists, residents or business people. Three billion people reach Dubai in just one hour by plane, and another four billion people live just eight hours away from the emirate by plane. Dubai International Airport (DXB) has been ranked the busiest international airport for six consecutive years and is expected to welcome up to 240 million passengers and offer flights to 240 destinations by 2023. The state-owned airline Emirates, one of the largest and best airlines in the world, receives great support from the government, which on the one hand opens up new markets, but also creates great market advantages over other airlines through high subsidies.

In general, the signs are pointing to growth: Dubai’s visions of the future in terms of transport and mobility are very ambitious, with some things reminiscent of science fiction films. In order to reduce road traffic, the city is planning to use so-called Volocopters – also known as air taxis – in the next few years. These are emission-free and electrically powered aircraft that can fly autonomously.

When it comes to sports and leisure, the city of superlatives also achieves top performance. The most impressive record is certainly Ski Dubai: the largest indoor snow park in the world – built in a desert state. The huge indoor ski slope in the Mall of The Emirates is a symbol of how important sport is to the Emiratis. From skiing to golf and tennis to camel riding: In Dubai, everything is possible that is fun.

Dubai’s hotel landscape is characterised by a relatively high number of exclusive hotels – after London, the city has the most 5-star hotels worldwide with 61. It is therefore not surprising that the United Arab Emirates and the Emirate of Dubai have meanwhile established themselves as a luxury destination. Every year, new top resorts sprout from Dubai Creek to Downtown Dubai, the artificial island The Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai Marina.

The international cuisine in Dubai is also of a very high standard and extremely varied. Some of the best star chefs in the world, such as Santi Santamaria, Gary Rhodes or Jamie Oliver, have opened restaurants in Dubai in recent years and more are being added all the time. First-class European restaurants in the city’s hotels serve specialities from Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, among others. Asia is also well represented with many good Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Korean, Indian and Pakistani restaurants.

But with so much light and sunshine, there are of course downsides. For Western behaviour that is considered normal here or is classified as a “minor offence” at best, there are already unexpectedly drastic penalties in Dubai.
For example, it is a crime to criticise the country, its citizens or companies on Facebook or Twitter. Other offences that few foreigners realise can lead to imprisonment include even accidentally writing a cheque that bounces, delaying payment of a credit card bill, photographing a person without their permission and touching others in public.

However, a unique stay awaits the visitor who respects and abides by the rules in Dubai, because regardless of whether you want to go on holiday in Dubai, have your residence there, or set up your company there to do business, the emirate is worth a visit in many respects and surprises its visitors and new residents with an exciting mixture of the Arabian Nights and science fiction.

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