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Published: March 20th 2011
Walt and I are grateful to be in Dubai! Just getting here was quite an adventure - starting in Atlanta on the runway with plane problems. We flew both Thursday and Friday and didn't arrive until 6:30 AM on Saturday. It took almost another day before we received our luggage.
Dubai has been on my Bucket List for a long time. It is a country with few cultural or natural wonder attractions. In fact, it was just a sleepy little desert town until 1966 when oil was discovered. Since then, its population has grown by 300 percent. The Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum knew that if he wanted tourism to be the cornerstone of Dubai's economy, he would have to create it. Today, Dubai is an ultra modern city full of impressive feats of construction and engineering. Each skyscraper is unique in design and seems to be saying: "Money was no object in my budget!" We were awe struck by Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. It dominates the skyline and resembles a glass needle. I especially liked Burj al-Arab, the building next to it, which was shaped like a massive sail. I took photos of them in
View of Burj Dubai at night
This is the world's tallest building and is 2,700 feet tall.
the morning and again last night. Dubai has planted 120 million trees that all have to be irrigated. This is one of the reasons that Dubai has the world's highest per capita water usage.
Dubai is very clean. We have not seen a single piece of trash on the streets or sidewalks. The citizens of Dubai do not have to work because of the income from oil. The workers are friendly but are not natives of the UAE. The wealthy native men wear long white robes and headscarves. They are in the minority. The middle class are generally Americans and Europeans. Many of them are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers. The working class are from nearby countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal. These people drive taxis, work in hotels, in construction, etc. I met a friendly girl from Turkey (when I was on the Metro) who has recently been transferred to Dubai by her financial employer. While we were on the Metro, Walt and I saw a man in native dress with a white scarf over his lower right arm. Walt told me that it appeared the man had lost his hand. We don't know if that was
Spices in a Souk
These open bags of spices were in an Arabic shop at the Mall of Emirates.
a punishment to him or if he was in an accident. Of the women that I have seen, about 25 - 30% wear the abaya - long black robe. About 5% have all but their eyes covered. Several of the native women have had interesting henna tatooes on their hands. I have seen a few people wearing shorts. A girl that I met from Lebanon told me that she only knows of one church in Dubai and that it does not display a cross on the outside of the building. She didn't explain if people met at the church in secret or not. This girl was friendly but made me uncomfortable with her questions. She was relentless wanting to know what I thought of Muslims, if Americans hated Muslims, how many Muslims did I know, etc. Almost everyone speaks English and many signs are in English. Traveling here is easy. Just make sure that you bring plenty of money.
Our hotel is in the World Trade Center complex. Yesterday, I visited the Dubai International Horse Fair. They had red carpets rolled out for the dignitaries. Bentleys, Mercedes, Rolls Royces lined the driveway in front. It was quite impressive! I saw
a few young people on horseback but did not stay for the entire horse show.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Dubai would be its malls. We visited the Mall of the Emirates to see the indoor ski slope modeled after St. Moritz, Switzerland. It wasn't quite as impressive as St. Moritz but looked like a lot of fun! From there, we went over to the Dubai Mall. Both of these malls are packed with both European and American shops. The Arabic shops (also known as souks) were full of exotic items, spices, perfumes, rugs, etc. The main attraction at the Dubai Mall was the30 acre lake full of fountains. Every 15 minutes, they have a choreographed light and water show accompanied by beautiful music. If you want to see a video of the fountains, go to
http://www.wimp.com/dubaifountain/ I hope this link works for you. I would like to share the beauty of these fountains with you.
The weather is exceptionally pleasant - 70's and 80's. It rarely rains here - only about 12 inches a year. I have been told that the heat is unbearable in the summer months.
We saw Palm Island, one of the artificially made
islands, from the air. In the last 10 years, 300 islands have been built from land reclaimed from the Arabian Sea. One of the reasons for building islands is to create more beaches. We have heard that some of these islands are beginning to sink.
I hope all is well with you.
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