Even though most of the capital cities of the world are full of people who speak a variety of languages, and come from a variety of places, I’ve never found a more international city than Dubai. There seems to be no dominant culture. I know there is one, it’s Arabic, and the true citizens of the country are called “Emirati” and are a close-knit group, who practice the Islamic faith and speak Arabic, but they do not feel like the majority here. The Emiriati are easily outnumbered by their many guests. They are, I estimate, exceeded by a factor of eight to ten times by Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Lebanese, Iranians, English, Americans, Europeans of various types, Arabs from countries other than the UAE, and a few Africans.
There seems to be little crime. Ostentatious displays of wealth abound, which makes Dubai seem more like Beverly Hills than your typical large city. Everything here is organized around the shopping mall. So in that way, it feels like a big city in the Midwest. There is absolutely no pedestrian traffic, for nothing is close enough to walk to. And for four or five months of the year, you wouldn’t want to be foolish enough to try. So despite it’s size and power and impressive display of architecture, Dubai isn’t even the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is, an hour to the southwest.
If you’re like me, you never really get a handle on geography unless you spend some serious time someplace.