Dubai (Arabic: دبيّ Dubayy English pronunciation: /duːˈbaɪ/ doo-BYE) is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature. The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, and the earliest settlement known as Dubai town dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in the early 19th century by the Al Abu Falasa clan of Bani Yas, and it remained under clan control when the United Kingdom assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892. Its geographical location made it an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port. In 1966, the year oil was discovered, Dubai and the emirate of Qatar set up a new monetary unit to replace the Gulf Rupee. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests. The modern emirate of Dubai was created after the UK left the area in 1971. At this time Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and four other emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates. The following year Ras al Khaimah joined the federation while Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations. In 1973, the monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham introduced throughout the UAE. A free trade zone was built around the Jebel Ali port in 1979, allowing foreign companies unrestricted import of labour and export capital. The Gulf War of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived. Today, Dubai has emerged as a global city and a business hub. Although Dubai's economy was built on the oil industry, currently the emirate's model of business, similar to that of Western countries, drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. This increased attention has highlighted labour rights and human rights issues concerning its largely South Asian workforce. Dubai's property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the worldwide economic downturn following the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.
In the 1820s, Dubai was referred to as Al Wasl by British historians. Few records pertaining to the cultural history of the UAE or its constituent emirates exist and because of the region's oral traditions, folklore and myth were not written down. The linguistic origins of the word Dubai are disputed; some believe it to have originated from the Persian language, while some believe that Arabic is its linguistic root. According to Fedel Handhal, a researcher in the history and culture of the UAE, the word Dubai may have come from the word Daba (a derivative of Yadub, which means to creep); referring to the slow flow of Dubai Creek inland. The poet and scholar Ahmad Mohammad Obaid traces it to the same word, but to its alternative meaning of locust.
Dubai's gross domestic product as of 2008 was US$ 82.11 billion. Although Dubai's economy was built on the back of the oil industry, revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 6% of the emirate's revenues. It is estimated that Dubai produces 50,000 to 70,000 barrels (11,000 m3) of oil a day and substantial quantities of gas from offshore fields. The emirate's share in UAE's gas revenues is about 2%. Dubai's oil reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted in 20 years. Real estate and construction (22.6%), trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai's economy. Dubai's top exporting destinations include India (US$ 5.8 billion), Switzerland (US$ 2.37 billion) and Saudi Arabia (US$ 0.57 billion). Dubai's top re-exporting destinations include India (US$ 6.53 billion), Iran (US$ 5.8 billion) and Iraq (US$ 2.8 billion). The emirate's top import sources are India (US$ 12.55 billion), China (US$ 11.52 billion) and the United States (US$ 7.57 billion). As of 2009 India was Dubai's largest trade partner. Historically, Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent of Dubai City at that time), were important ports of call for Western manufacturers. Most of the new city's banking and financial centres were headquartered in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai has a free trade in gold and, until the 1990s, was the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade" of gold ingots to India, where gold import was restricted. Dubai's Jebel Ali port, constructed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made harbour in the world and was ranked seventh globally for the volume of container traffic it supports. Dubai is also a hub for service industries such as information technology and finance, with industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, combined with Dubai Media City as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such as EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sky News and AP.
Tourism is an important part of the Dubai government's strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai's lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. As of 2007, Dubai was the 8th most visited city of the world. Dubai is expected to accommodate over 15 million tourists by 2015.Dubai is the most populous emirate of the seven emirates of United Arab Emirates. It is distinct from other members of the UAE in that a large part of the emirate's revenues are from tourism. Dubai has been called the "shopping capital of the Middle East". Dubai alone has more than 70 shopping malls, including the world's 7th largest shopping mall, Dubai Mall. The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region and from as far as Eastern Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. While boutiques, some electronics shops, department stores and supermarkets operate on a fixed-price basis, most other outlets consider friendly negotiation a way of life. Dubai is also known for its souk districts located on either side of the creek. Traditionally, dhows from the Far East, China, Sri Lanka, and India would discharge their cargo and the goods would be bargained over in the souks adjacent to the docks. Many boutiques and jewellery stores are also found in the city. Dubai is known as "the City of Gold" and Gold Souk in Deira houses nearly 250 gold retail shops. Dubai Duty Free at the Dubai International Airport offers merchandise catering to the multinational passengers using the airport.