The Skyscrapers In The Desert

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
January 1st 2009
Published: January 7th 2009
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Burj Al ArabBurj Al ArabBurj Al Arab

The iconic landmark of Dubai.
It was weird being in the cold of London in the run-up to Christmas, as everyone was all about winter wonderland, mince pies and mulled wine. Then one (not-so) foggy Christmas Eve I boarded a flight to deliver presents to the most un-Christmas of places, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Christmas Day isn't even a public holiday here. And as opposed to the freezing Christmas temperatures in Europe, it was a rather balmy 25 degrees.

When I arrived however, the desert sun was nowhere to be seen, as the whole city was, believe it or not, shrouded in fog! Maybe it really is Christmas.
The first thing that struck me about Dubai was the incredible sight of the main highway, Sheik Zayed Road, slicing through a huge concentration of wall-to-wall skyscrapers. It looked like I was on another planet, one of those ones with huge futuristic cities in the desert as seen in Star Wars or Blade Runner.
Having been unknowingly ripped off by my taxi driver, I had arrived in the middle of one of Dubai's newly-built suburbias, The Lakes, where my cousin Rachel and her husband Bart lived. Them, as well as their baby Max, my other
Sheikh Zayed RoadSheikh Zayed RoadSheikh Zayed Road

Clusters of skyscrapers make you feel like you are on another planet somewhere in the future.
two cousins Rob and Nicola
(who readers may remember from my London blog entries), and Nicola's fianceé Simon, were the reason I was spending Christmas in the desert.
My cousins and I had always traditionally spent Christmas together while growing up down at their house by the beach in Gisborne, New Zealand and it was cool to be spending Christmas with them all once again in a place that none of us would ever have envisaged spending Christmas.
I had slept for about half-an-hour of my overnight flight, so after a much-welcome cooked breakfast and nap, Christmas presents were opened and old times caught up before we all went off to Bart's friend Mike's house for Christmas dinner.
Bart has realised the dream of most men and all gangster rappers by getting himself a Hummer soon after he arrived in Dubai - so the boys eagerly piled in for the short ride to Mike's house.
Just as we got onto what Bart described as "the most dangerous road in the world" we ran out of petrol. Yep. Lucky to have a shoulder to pull over into, Mike eventually came out to tow us to the nearest petrol station - with
Desert SafariDesert SafariDesert Safari

Convoy in the desert.
an ordinary rope. We then all collectively held our breath waiting for Bart to either mistime the brakes and smash into the back of Mike's car, or for the rope to snap. Thankfully, we made it. But our little adventure wasn't quite over yet. Since exits are few and far between on the motorway, we took an "off-motorway diversion" across some sand dunes, through some construction sites, the wrong way on a one-way street and then back onto the motorway before we finally arrived at Mike's house one hour late.
Mike's pad is seriously pimped. Dinner was set in the backyard with a heated pool and luxury cabana with built-in bar overlooking the golf course behind the house. There was even a booming outdoor sound system. You could throw a seriously awesome party here - all that was missing was some blinged-up rapper types, hip-hop on the stereo, Dom Perignon and/or Courvoisier, and some bikini-clad honeys.
So not your traditional Christmas dinner by any means.
I thought that I had used my togs for the last time in 2008 in Malta earlier this year, but Mike's 35-degree pool provided the perfect opportunity to get them out again.
Dinner and dessert
Mike's Party PadMike's Party PadMike's Party Pad

Not exactly what you think of when you think Christmas dinner.
was delicious and was followed by the cracking of Christmas crackers, the sharing of the forever-lame jokes inside them, the stealing of Secret Santa gifts and the consumption of alcohol in Mike's backyard cabana. Even Mike's English neighbours came over to join in the fun.
Unfortunately, I was still jet-lagged and having managed to catch a cold on Christmas Eve Eve, I was feeling pretty rotten and not up for fully participating in the festivities and a group of us headed home early - it was also rather chilly in the evening too, though nothing compared to the cold I had left behind obviously.

The next day, we participated in a slightly more traditional Boxing Day activity and went snowboarding. Yep, you read that right, we went snowboarding. In the desert.
Built into Dubai's Mall Of The Emirates is Ski Dubai, one of the largest indoor snow parks in the world with 3 football fields of snow stretching up to a height of 25 stories.
It was the first time that I had been snowboarding in years and after taking a couple runs to get my ability back again, it was loads of fun. With Christmas songs being played
Ski DubaiSki DubaiSki Dubai

Snowboarding desert-stylee.
over the speakers while carving up the snow, it felt like Christmas all over again.
Although we were only on the slopes for a couple of hours, the same run over and over again does begin to get a bit boring, especially since it only takes a seasoned pro (!) like myself about 30 seconds to get down. The place also has a terrain park complete with jumps and rails but unfortunately helmets were compulsory for this part of the park and although I tried to sneak into it in my last few minutes, it was closely guarded by staff. Although it was short, the whole experience has definitely rekindled my enthusiasm for snowboarding and I am thinking that a European snowboarding holiday is definitely on the cards soon.
After heading back to Rachel and Bart's for a bit of rest, we then all went to the Rooftop Bar on top of the "The One & Only" (this is actually officially part of the hotel's name) Royal Mirage Hotel.
In compliance with Islamic law, public consumption of alcohol is only permitted in hotels, who are the only businesses allowed to have a liquor licence. As such, all bars and nightclubs
Rooftop BarRooftop BarRooftop Bar

Impressive looking bar atop the "One & Only".
are attached to hotels in Dubai - one of the many weird things about this city.
The bar itself was quite swanky - Arabian-themed cabanas complete with luxuriously large cushions overlooking "New" Dubai - and we all once again shared fun conversation like we used to when we were kids. It was awesome to be spending Christmas with family again. We all then settled in for a quiet night before waking up very early the next morning for our desert safari.

For some reason, I just could not get to sleep at all - probably a combination of switching time-zones and man-flu - and two hours of sleep later it was time to go to the tour pick-up point at the Westin hotel, right next to "The One & Only".
From the Westin, our rather educational driver Masud drove us about an hour out of Dubai to the sand-dunes that we would be rarking up with our dune-buggies.
Having had so little sleep, I was not as excited as I perhaps would've been about the dune-buggying but this was fixed as soon as I laid eyes upon the vehicles we would be driving. The unfortunate thing though, was that
Dune BuggyDune BuggyDune Buggy

Good fun.
although we would be driving the things ourselves, we would be travelling in convoy rather than left to our own devices. Having said that, it was still fun driving the buggies and I enjoyed taking the buggy to it's limits where I could. The tour guide told us that it was quite easy to lose control of the things and it certainly felt like that as I hopped over the dunes and shrubs in the sand.
It was nice out in the desert, seeing the sand stretch out forever - it was also frighteningly apparent how easy it would be to get lost and die out here.
The safari lasted little more than an hour, and by lunchtime, we were back in Dubai.
In the afternoon, Bart had given us permission to take the Hummer for a spin, so we duly obliged. Unfortunately we didn't have any hip-hop music so we didn't roll like we usually would, but it was fun nonetheless.
Our tour firstly took in the gated community of The Lakes aka "Pleasantville". The Lakes is basically rows and rows of the same house all built, like much of Dubai, in the last 5-10 years. It is the
Der HummerDer HummerDer Hummer

Looking staunch in every macho-man's dream vehicle before taking it for a cruise. Arnie would've been proud.
epitomy of suburbia. It has a 24-hour manned gate that lets vehicles in and out and it's residents are mostly young families. There is a swimming pool for residential use about every two blocks (we had the choice of two) and the whole thing is very safe - so it's no wonder why so many parents choose to bring up their children in such a haven. The uniformity is a bit scary though (Stepford Wives anyone?).
We then crossed over one of the many construction sites in The Lakes (where we once again tested the Hummer's offroad and jumping credentials) and found ourselves in the poshest part of Dubai - Emirates Hills. It was funny when Rachel asked us how we managed to get past the gates at Emirates Hills. "Errr...we didn't..."
Anyway, all the houses here are like palaces. Huge, opulent mansions of grandeur, the wealth on display was startling. And we thought Mike's place was pimped out? This was like cruising through Orange County. Rather alarmingly, the Kenyan Consulate General has a house here - aren't there better things to be spending Kenyan Government money on? One thing that struck me though, was all the workers working on
Mall Of The EmiratesMall Of The EmiratesMall Of The Emirates

Where the ski field is.
these houses. Apparently, they all live in shitty dormitories, eight to a room - how shitty would it be slaving your guts out so some ponce gets a nice water feature for his budgie to bathe in while you get to go home to your bunk bed, unable to sleep because of seven of your smelly, snoring colleagues in a non-air-conditioned room?
Lured by the absence of tax and the ruler's vision of Dubai being one of the most important economic cities in the world, people have migrated to Dubai from all over the world to try and earn their own slice of the fortune here. British, Indians, Australians, Pakistanis, Kiwis, Filipinos, Scandinavians, you name it - they're all here. The working class here earn on average only 10% of what the ex-pats earn, yet it is still enough to support their entire families back home in their own countries. That's why they do it. There is a job for everyone - from security guards that sit on their arse to people who come and clean your car every week. Driving around The Lakes and Emirates Hills, you got the feeling that much of Dubai seemed fake and make-believe -
Atlantis Hotel AquariumAtlantis Hotel AquariumAtlantis Hotel Aquarium

Complete with ruins from the Lost City.
everything is perfect and taken care of.
After the Hummer ride we had a typical Arabian dinner at the Mall Of The Emirates which bascially consists of tagines (stews, usually tomato-based), grilled shish kebabs and couscous. Very nice. The stewed hamour (fish) was particularly good.

The next day we all went to the newest craze in Dubai, the Aquaventure Waterpark, out in The Palms.
If you don't know already, The Palms is a huge, artificially created land mass created in the shape of a palm tree that can be seen from space! On it, are masses of super-expensive villas. Apparently David Beckham owns one.
At the very northern end of The Palms is the super-flash Atlantis Hotel Resort, where the Aquaventure Waterpark (and it's aquarium) lives.
This park is awesome. As well as the water being 28 degrees warm, the waterpark boasts six massive hydroslides that start from the huge Mayan temple in the middle of the park. The whole park is connected by a river and all slides finish at this river. You float on a li-lo as the current carries you down river, branching off into canals running off it depending on which slide you want to
The LakesThe LakesThe Lakes

Picturesque view of Dubai's skyline in The Lakes.
ride. You are then elevated via a travelator up to the Mayan temple - the idea being that you never have to leave your li-lo, even on most of the slides. The first, and probably the best slide that we went on was the "Leap of Faith", which is basically a vertical slide from the top of the tower that is about five stories high. Hearing every single person ahead of me in the queue screaming as soon as they got onto it was making me nervous. Once you get onto the slide you basically just fall straight down - you don't even feel the slide against your back - free-falling terrifyingly for about 3-4 seconds before hitting mist and water. You then feel yourself against the slide again with water splashing into your face before it all goes dark...and then before you know it you are in the end pool.
We went on all the slides except the one that jet propelled you upwards into the Mayan temple - that would've been wicked but the queue was way too long. The longest slide, "The Splurge" was a lot of fun, and the one passing through the shark tank was
Ibn Battuta MallIbn Battuta MallIbn Battuta Mall

Andalusian Court on the Ibn Battuta Mall.
a novelty too. Also fun, were several sets of river rapids that you bounced your way through along the main river. The fun didn't come without minor injury though as I managed to cut my foot on the Leap of Faith and got turned around on one of the other slides resulting my feet smashing against outside of the slide. Being turned around and doing a hydroslide backwards definitely more thrilling!
The waterpark was awesome and was definitely the most fun thing I did in Dubai.
After our fun in the sun, it was time to take Rob to the airport for his flight back to New Zealand. It won't be long until I see him again in just over a month back in New Zealand for Nicola and Simon's wedding.
It was another quiet evening that night - but given the multitude of activities we were doing during the day, I was appreciating the time to rest.

The next day we checked out the Ibn Battuta Mall, named and themed after the Islamic scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta from Morocco. The mall had several courts, each themed after one of the countries that Ibn Battuta travelled to. Each
Madinat Jumeirah MallMadinat Jumeirah MallMadinat Jumeirah Mall

Hotel resort and mall built as an old Arabian town complete with artificial waterways that resembles an awesome movie set.
court would then have a centrepiece of which the Indian and Persian ones were quite spectacular. There was also an exhibit in the Egyptian court detailing the travels of Ibn Battuta in the 14th century. He certainly got around - Spain, Mali, Tunisia, Turkey, Persia, India, Bangladesh and China to name a few - the exhibit was a very interesting read as was the interactive game you could play at the exhibit too.
The afternoon was spent poolside back at Rachel and Bart's house, before we went to the Souq Madinat Jumeirah Mall & Hotel Resort, right next to the iconic, sail-shaped, "seven-star" hotel, the Burj Al-Arab (Roger Federer and Andre Agassi once played a tennis match on the heli-pad up there). The Madinat was quite spectacular in it's own right and is basically built as a traditional Arabian town with Arabian architecture, except with an artificial lake and river network that lapped against the waterside restaurants and cafés. It was very impressive indeed and looked like a movie set.
After eating some nice Chinese at the Madinat it was then time to see off Nicola and Simon before they flew back to London that night.

The extent of
Bastakia QuarterBastakia QuarterBastakia Quarter

Area of old restored houses originally built by Persian merchants in the 19th century.
my experience in Dubai so far has really only centred on shopping malls and gimmicky tourist activities. I was keen to get away from the fakeness of "New Dubai" in search of some "real" Emirati culture.
So the next day around lunchtime, Rachel dropped me out at the UK Embassy for my walking tour through "Old Dubai".
After walking along the waterfront along the old river known as Dubai Creek, I came to the Bastakia Quarter which is a maze of old, narrow alleyways and Arabian style buildings built in the 19th centrury by Persian merchants. This area formed the centre of the old walled city of Dubai. Several of the houses were open to the public and it was very interesting seeing what a traditional houses were actually like back then. At last I felt like I was experiencing a bit of history and these old buildings were fascinating.
I then walked past the Grand Mosque (which admittedly is not that grand) to the Dubai Museum, which details the history of Dubai as a traditional trading post, the people who lived here and how they lived.
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab
Al Fahidi FortAl Fahidi FortAl Fahidi Fort

Old fort built in 1787 that now houses the Dubai Museum.
Emirates that was created in 1971. Each emirate is ruled almost autocratically by the ruling sheikh. The origin of each emirate follows old tribal lines. The museum also documents the history of the Bedouin, the nomads from which the Emirati people originate. The museum also details the geographical environment around Dubai, the local animals, the historical impact of the British, and Emirati/Bedouin traditions. The museum was interesting enough to keep me occupied for a full hour-and-a-half before I walked through the Bur Dubai souq which is basically a market. The Bur Dubai souq was really nothing more than a wooden roof running over a pedestrianised mall with loads of shops selling tacky merchandise on either side.
I continued my walk further north following the Dubai Creek past the old Shindagha Watchtower, to the Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum House which I was kindly ushered into and shown around. The house is a traditional Arabian style house that documented Arabian architecture and buildings. Just like the houses that it exhibited, the Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum House has a massive courtyard in the middle of it and is made up of two levels. On the top level there is a very cool outdoor

Sorry about the pun, but had to use it. Abras ferrying passengers across Dubai Creek.
Arabian-style cabana with couches and cushions. There are also several "wind towers" that basically act as old-fashioned air conditioning systems.
After the Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum House is the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House which exhibits old photos, maps, documents, and other memorabilia from Dubai's past. It was interesting to see that as little as 20 years ago, Dubai was nothing more than a trading port with a few white buildings and several huts thatched from palm frongs. I then proceeded to the desperately disappointing Heritage Village which was nothing more than a few thatched huts with what can only be described as actors dressed in traditional Bedouin attire. I think it is meant to exhibit old Emirati culture and traditions but there was absolutely nothing happening here, as if it was only half opened.
I then crossed the Dubai Creek aboard an abra which was a pretty cool experience. Drivers urge you onto these small ferries and whisk you away to the other side of the creek while collecting 1Dhs (Emirati Dirham - £1 = 5.4Dhs) from each passenger on the way over.
On the other side of Dubai Creek is the Deira district.
Right on the waterfront is

Traditional merchant boat used to transport goods.
the dhow wharfage where merchants stockpile all their goods either onto their boats, or out of them. Under Islamic law, stealing is severely punished as is crime in general. As a result, merchants can leave their goods on the wharf footpath for weeks without them getting stolen. It also means that it while walking the streets and dodgy alleyways in Deira, you feel completely safe as everyone is too scared to commit any crimes.
Deira is where all the different souqs live, and the first one I came across was the spice souq and it's lovely aromas. But perhaps the most famous souq is the gold souq, where door-to-door gold jewellery shops stretch for ages beneath the wooden mall roof. Some of the shops had display windows completely blinged up by gold necklaces and medallions that really caught (and blinded) the eye. I then continued on to the perfume souq where I managed find a perfume I was after and knocked the price down to approximately £23 with my awesome bargaining skills ;-) The same perfume was selling for £33 in Heathrow's duty-free shops - score. I then managed to score two kebabs, two samosas and two deep-fried bananas for
Spice SouqSpice SouqSpice Souq

Traditional Arab market.
less than £3 for dinner at a stall by the abra station. This I thought really illustrated the difference in prices between Old Dubai and New Dubai.
Firstly you don't find stalls like this in New Dubai and if you go out for a meal in one of the hotels, it will cost you a minimum of 75Dhs or £15. The dune buggying cost £70, the snowboarding £36 and the waterpark a whopping £57 (luckily we got in half-price for most of these attractions with vouchers). Drinks are about £8 for a bottled beer and £5 for a non-alcoholic beverage. It's more expensive than Norway! Admittedly, the fact that the pound is so weak at the moment probably has a lot to do it as well as the fact that everyone here is on a tax-free high salary.
After dinner, I then had to make my way to my mate Steven Chong's house.
Dubai currently has no public transportation of note, although a metro system is being built. However, Dubai is incredibly spread out, especially in the suburbs, so I'm not sure exactly how much of a difference the metro system is actually going to make to the continually congested
Bling BlingBling BlingBling Bling

Shop display window in the gold souq.
roads. So if you are a car-less tourist, your only real option is to taxi, which really starts to mount up in costs after a while.
After being fortunate enough to flag down a taxi, I arrived at Steven's apartment near the Dubai Marina. I haven't actually seen Steven since intermediate school, so it was good to catch up on the last 15 or so years. I knew through Facebook that he was now working as an engineer in Dubai, so I thought I might as welll catch up with him while I was over here. He hasn't changed that much at all to be honest! Steven's apartment was less then 10 minutes away from The Lakes, and so he was kind enough to give me a ride back home where I once again settled in for an early night.

And so arrived the final day of my stay in Dubai, and the final day of 2008.
Today I was to meet up with my friends Nick and Will from my Collingwood St days back in New Zealand, who are now living here.
We were planning to go to a £60 dance party tonight (and that was cheap -
Dubai Mall AquariumDubai Mall AquariumDubai Mall Aquarium

The world's largest single fish tank inside the world's largest mall.
anything else would've cost in excess of £200!), but then I read an article in the morning paper that almost made me choke on my cornflakes. Apparently, out of respect to the Palestinians that have recently died in the Gaza Strip, all planned New Year's Eve parties have been cancelled. That's right, the ruling sheikh of Dubai has forbidden all large scale New Year's Eve celebrations, private and public. The Sheikh has cancelled New Year's Eve.
What about people who have bought tickets and hotels that have invested loads of money into holding events? They must be livid! Is anyone getting financial compensation? What about the tourists who are here on holiday? You can't just cancel New Year's Eve on the day itself! This was outrageous - this would never happen in a democratic country. I appreciate the sign of respect, but surely there are other ways of showing it? This was not well thought out at all and damages Dubai's reputation as a tourist destination. It also adds yet another chapter to my long list of personal New Year's Eve misfortunes.
Fortunately, we hadn't actually bought any tickets - but it still left us in limbo as to
Burj DubaiBurj DubaiBurj Dubai

It was so big I couldn't fit the whole thing in.
what we were going to do for New Year's Eve, along with a bitter taste in the mouth.
Anyway, I met Nick and Will at a cool Kiwi-run café where I had a damn good cake and enjoyed some good conversation and catch-ups. Nick and Will then took me to Dubai Mall, officially the biggest mall in the world, with the biggest single fish tank in the world inside it - along with an ice-skating rink (not inside the fish tank, obviously). We then went outside, where what will be the world's tallest building stood. The official final height of the Burj Dubai has not been officially disclosed but rumours put it at 850m upon completion. Imagine more than two-and-a-half Eiffel Towers or Auckland Sky Towers put on top of each other. This thing is huge. I was still about 100-200 metres away from the structure yet my neck was at full craning capacity looking up at the top.
The Burj Dubai, the Dubai Mall, Ski Dubai, The Palms and the Aquaventure Waterpark all epitomise the ambition that exists here in Dubai - everything here must be the biggest, the tallest, the best.
That afternoon at Nick and Will's apartment,

Not that trance song from the early 00's.
there looked to be what seemed like a sandstorm approaching. This was way cooler than Darude's and provided some cool photos.
Being my last chance to grab some rays before heading back to London, Nick and I headed to the beach by the Dubai Marina. Except that what we thought was a sandstorm was actually fog. It covered the entire beach, blocking out the sun and you couldn't even see any of the tall, flash hotel buildings that lined the waterfront. Fantastic, so much for catching some last rays. Nick said that this was extraordinary and had never seen anything like it before. This New Year's Eve was really not working out at all, although I appreciated the irony. My last meal in Dubai was Lebanese and it was really good. I love Middle-Eastern style bread and there was one yoghurt and cream dish in particular that was delicious.
Nick and Will had been invited to a New Year's Eve house party hosted by one their friends working for Emirates Airlines, so that was our replacement party for the night. Apparently, all the Emirates flight crew live in the same building and are reputedly are biggest party animals ever, so
Dubai Marina BeachDubai Marina BeachDubai Marina Beach

Apparently this is just like the Gold Coast. Not that we could reallly judge through the fog. The water still looked beautifully clear though.
there was promise of a good night.
There was a minor worry trying to catch a cab from The Lakes to the party, as taxis were still short despite the official cancellation of festivities and I couldn't get through on the phone. Stuck alone in the middle of deathly quiet suburbia, I was fearing that the ultimate worst New Years Eve fate was about to befall me. I walked to the nearby gym and thankfully the girl at the reception managed to get a taxi for me after being on hold for what seemed like to forever. Phew.
The party never really got going unfortunately, but we managed to all get completely tanked on the punch which proved to be a lot stronger than it tasted. Nick and Will thought it was unfortunate I was denied the chance to check out Dubai's booming club scene by the sheikh, so we followed some of the flight crew to a club called Zinc, inside the Crowne Plaza (apparently not all places were adhering to the sheikh's party ban). It was described by Nick and Will as "the Provedor of Dubai" (read: meat market). Nick later said that Zinc is definitely not representative
New Year's EveNew Year's EveNew Year's Eve

Will, Nick and me.
of Dubai's booming club scene and that I would have to come back again one day. However, Provedor on Auckland's Viaduct doesn't charge you £80 each to get in! I didn't have that much cash on me so luckily Will negotiated £100 for three of us to get in (I still owe him when I come to think about it...). The flight crew who were with us got in for free - basically Emirates flight crew have the freedom of the city as their ID card gets them into all clubs for free with half-price drinks once they get in! So we made sure we stuck close to the crew all night.
The place was like Provedor alright, except the majority of the meat on display here was of the sausage variety.
The club closed up around 3am, and I drunkenly bid farewell to Nick and Will (outside a London telephone box - where will the irony end?) thanking them for showing me around that day. I arrived back at Rachel and Bart's at 3.30am, getting up three hours later to catch my cab to the airport after thanking them for once more for their generous hospitality.

I suppose
Deira WaterfrontDeira WaterfrontDeira Waterfront

Flash buildings by the Dubai Creek waterfront in "Old" Dubai.
I should now give some final thoughts on Dubai.
Chiefly, it is a weird place. The strictly conservative Islamic culture and the more relaxed and some might say total opposite culture of the West exist together in bazaar - sorry I mean, bizarre - fashion because they both need each other's money to fulfil their objectives here. You could argue that the whole fakeness and ambition of the place smacks of greed, and at the end of the day, I suppose it does.
The rapidity of the growth here is staggering, when you think that 10-15 years ago, practically nothing existed here. It will be really interesting to come back here in five years when the bulk of the construction is completed. Will it still be a work-in-progress by then? If all goes according to plan, it will be one of the most futuristic cities in the world and will look exactly like sketches architects and landscape designers draw up in their dreams. Think Aeon Flux. The newness of everything is extraordinary.
Dubai has grown spectacularly - almost the whole of "New Dubai" in the west has been built in the last 5-10 years, and although many (often spectacular) works
Viva SuburbiaViva SuburbiaViva Suburbia

Typical street in The Lakes.
have been completed, much of Dubai still resembles a construction site, as the rate of new buildings being built continues unabated at a relentless speed. Cones and diversions are everywhere, making traffic at times, chaotic. There never seems to be a direct route between two points either, and Dubai at times resembles a maze of on-ramps, off-ramps and one way streets that makes all journeys 20% longer than they should be. The infrastructure is not quite there - I have heard of stories of no cellphone reception in certain places, sewage problems and general ineffiency on the part of the local authorities. It seems Dubai is growing too fast for it's infrastructure to keep up.
It also takes forever to get anything done here by all accounts, such as the processing of work permits. Rents have to be paid a year in advance and banking systems here are archaic - it seems the processes and procedures here in the UAE are outdated for a city that is supposed to be the thriving, modern city of the future it's rulers envision it to be. Apparently UK red tape and bureaucracy has nothing on the UAE.
In saying that though, the ruler
Grand MosqueGrand MosqueGrand Mosque

Traditionally Dubai's main mosque.
of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is certainly doing his best to grow Dubai, as the sanctioning of several ambitious projects shows.
I don't think I could live here to be honest, unless I was being paid a staggering amount of money (which I suppose is possible). At this stage of my life, the means to do everything I want to do exists in London, so that is where I'll be for the foreseeable future. I feel everything here in Dubai is too sanitised, bereft of culture or anything that is real. Plus I think I would find the restrictions of Islamic law annoying to say the least. I don't think getting caught shagging someone on the beach should carry such harsh penalties.
It's probably the heat, the Islamic culture, the multiculture and the shopping malls, but I felt the same way here as I do whenever I visit my extended family in Malaysia. People here are rude as well and many of them have no manners whatsoever.

So that people, is Dubai.
I would like to personally thank and acknowledge everyone that helped me out in Dubai. I felt I had just about the complete experience,
My CuzziesMy CuzziesMy Cuzzies

From left: Bart, Rachel, Nicola, Me, Rob and Simon.
and it wouldn't have been so without you - Rachel and Bart especially for putting me up, Rob, Nicola, Simon, Steven, Nick and Will - thank you so much.
My next trip is back home to New Zealand next month for a couple of weeks, but there will probably be no blog entry on that. I will definitely do some more travelling this year, but I have no idea where or when - so watch this space.

For now I would like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year - I promise I'll be back soon.

Ma' Alsalam,

Additional photos below
Photos: 36, Displayed: 36


Ready To Hit The SlopesReady To Hit The Slopes
Ready To Hit The Slopes

Looking sexy in snow gear. From left: Me, Rob, Simon and Nicola.
Cafe Inside The Madinat MallCafe Inside The Madinat Mall
Cafe Inside The Madinat Mall

Old style courtyard creating great ambience.
Traditional Arab HouseTraditional Arab House
Traditional Arab House

Old Bedouin house made from palm frongs, complete with "wind tower" to cool the house down.
Dubai MuseumDubai Museum
Dubai Museum

Exhibit from inside the museum.
Shindagha WatchtowerShindagha Watchtower
Shindagha Watchtower

Old watchtower at the entrance to Dubai Creek.
Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum HouseSheikh Juma Al Maktoum House
Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum House

Nice rooftop above the Arabian architecture museum.
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum HouseSheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House

Restored traditional Arab house housing exhibits of old maps, photos and documents related to Dubai.
Our PoolOur Pool
Our Pool

Residential pool closest to Rachel and Bart's house.

22nd April 2011
Dubai Mall Aquarium

wery niccccccccccccccccc
its so biutiful
19th June 2011
Dubai Mall Aquarium

i love
i love dubai mall your pick is v nice biutifuls
5th July 2012

Winter for the first time I went to Dubai I went and got all the sights I really enjoyed and I enjoyed myself I go to Dubai again. ایران زیبایی های خاص خودش رو داره ولی دبی هم خوبه واسه مسافرت ارزش دیدن رو داره

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