Dubai 11-14 July 2012


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July 14th 2012
Published: July 14th 2012
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<span>Dubai – 11-14 July 2012

<span>Having left Brisbane close to 3.00am we had a comfortable flight of 7 hours to Singapore.<span> The stopover was only 30 minutes before reboarding for a 6 ½ hour flight to Dubai.<span> I grabbed about a total of 6 hours sleep, with Tom, a little less.<span> <span> We arrives at 2.30pm Dubai-time (7 hours behind Brisbane time).

<span>We met a very advanced airport system at the Dubai International Airport although once we got to customs, the system started to slow, taking 45 minutes to get through Customs.<span> The Dubai International Airport is massive, obviously built for future expansion.<span> We learned quickly that that was the case with all Dubai.<span> After getting through Customs, we went outside the terminus and was hit by the heat – beautiful!<span> With an abundance of cream-based/mushroom-orange topped taxis, we caught one.

<span>On asking the taxi driver what the temperature was – 43 degrees.<span> Its cooler in the winter (Dec-Jan) as maximum temperatures are around 30-35 degrees..a lot cooler!

<span>There was a very new looking road system, with overpasses in abundance. All the building towers looked new.<span> We learned later that the majority of the building towers were built from the 90s and really got going in the 2000s. Two-way roads became 6-lane highways in mid 2000.<span> The 76kms of metro line was opened on 9/9/09.<span> It runs on an elevated platform almost all the way.<span> It has the latest technology re ticketing and very easy to follow.

<span>Dubai<span> is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. It is rather like an independent city-state and is the most modern and progressive emirate in the UAE, developing at an unbelievable pace in the tourist and trade sectors especially.

A city within the emirate is also named Dubai. The emirate is located south east 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 which is 1 ½ hours away from Dubai.<span> We did not have time to visit 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. Dubai City is located on the emirate's northern coastline.

The earliest mention of Dubai is in 1095, and the earliest settlement known as Dubai town dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in 1833 by Sheikh Maktoum bin Buti al Maktoum when he persuaded 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, living in what is now part of Saudi Arabia, to follow him to the Dubai Creek by the Al Abu Falasa clan of Bani Yas. It remained under clan control when the United Kingdom assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892.<span> Its geographical location made it an important trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port.

In 1966, 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%!a(MISSING)nd 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 Rasal 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 Dirhum introduced throughout the UAE. A free trade zone was built around the Jebel Ali port in 1979, allowing foreign companies unrestricted import of labor 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 City has emerged as a global city and a business hub. <span> Although Dubai's economy was built on the oil industry, the emirate's model of business drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate, and financial services, similar to that of Western countries.<span> <span> 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. <span> 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.

<span>Once we started to look around Dubai, we didn’t think we were in an Arab country.<span> We thought that we were in India or the Philippines.<span> Indians are known as the fathers of development of Dubai. When Dubai was in poor state before the exploration of oil, Indians supplied technology to develop Dubai. Dubai, since the founding of the oil industry, has attracted thousands of migrants from all over the world notably from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines in search of jobs. In this modern day, Indians and Filipinos have left their influence in the emirate: Indian restaurants and Pakistani bakeshops are everywhere while Filipino supermarkets are on the rise. Next to them the Europeans (mostly British and French) and Sri Lankans, form the next largest communities. Chinese and Indonesian migrants are on the rise. Many Arab countries have passed policies like the UAE's Emiratisation, which is a policy that prevents migrants from taking all the job opportunities and provides more jobs to local Emiratis.

<span>Dubai is a city of superlatives: for the fastest, biggest, tallest, largest and highest, Dubai is the destination. It has the largest immigrant population in the world.

<span>The weekly day off is on Friday. Since September 2006, a harmonised weekend of Friday and Saturday has been adopted for the public sector and schools. Government departments, multinational companies, and most schools and universities are now off on Friday and Saturday (after years of a mixed bag of Friday/Saturday and Thursday/Friday weekends). Some local companies still work half a day on Thursday with a full day on Saturday, but larger companies tend to permit relaxation and time off work for their employees on Friday and Saturday.

<span>After 30 minutes in the cab, we arrived at the Bonnington Hotel at Jumeira Lakes Towers.<span> The welcome was very friendly and we checked in, looking forward to a much needed showed.

<span>The hotel<span> was located in the heart of Jumeirah Lakes Towers along Sheikh Zayed Road, just opposite Dubai Marina and in walking distance of Jumeirah Lakes Towers metro station.. The Bonnington is <span> located close to Dubai’s main business areas such as Media and Internet City, JAFZA and DIP. Abu Dhabi is only 40 minutes away by car, and beaches, golf courses, and shopping malls are all available close by.

<span>After we had freshened up, we decided to visit downtown Dubai.<span> <span><span> While Bur Dubai and Deira are traditionally considered "Downtown", the Downtown Dubai development is smack in the center of the "New Dubai," between Dubai Marina on the south end and the border with the city of Sharjah to the north. It includes the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (world's biggest), Dubai Fountain, and lots of other skyscrapers and hotels.

<span>After walking through the massive Dubai Mall, we came to the <span>Dubai Fountain.<span> At 270m in length and sporting a jet that shoots water up to 150m, the Dubai Fountain is indeed the world's largest dancing fountain and one with a very enticing display - a definite must see. The show starts every evening at the Burj Dubai Lake.<span> Shows are every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 6pm to 11pm on weekends. It's the world’s largest dancing fountain with classical, Arabic and world music. About 1.5 million lumens of projected light and the spray heights of up to 150m/500 ft (22,000 gallons of airborne water). We lasted for the Indian and Arabic music sessions only.<span> We then had a light dinner in the Mall and caught a taxi back to the hotel.<span> The bed was beautiful and aftewr 9 hours sleep, we felt great!!!!

<span>The 12 July, Thursday, we did a city tour with a private company.<span> This was after a beautiful breakfast at the hotel.<span> The tour covered the following:

<span>We drove past Burj al-Arab hotel, which is the icon for the city<span>. It is self-proclaimed as the only 7 star hotel.<span> We found that we couldn’t get in unless we booked in advance, no time for this unfortunately, but next trip.

<span>We then visited the <span>Dubai Marina which is one of the newer and more popular areas of Modern Dubai, both with residents and tourists. This area didn’t exist 10 years ago.<span> It offers numerous features such as a phenomenal skyline, world class hotels, a fabulous beach, a mall, and 2 different walkways (The Walk and Marina Walk) with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. Marina Walk is right on the "Marina water", and there are many yachts there.

<span>We then drove onto the trunk of the famous reclaimed land <span>Palm Island. This largest artificial island in the world is located just off the coast of Dubai; a major urban development to add a significant amount of upscale beachfront property to the area. The island is shaped like a palm leaf, with a trunk connected to the mainland, fronds extending from the trunk, and a crescent (a breakwater encircling the trunk and fronds). There are 2 other islands planned, and the one we visited was the Palm Jumeirah, at 5km square and near Dubai Marina, connected to the mainland by a freeway bridge and a monorail and sporting marinas, luxury resorts, and upscale shopping areas.<span> We drove to the cresent of the palm to have a look at the 5-star Atlantis Hotel.

<span>Back on the mainland we visited the Dubai Museum<span>.<span> This gave us an insite into the social history of the Emirate (and indeed the country). Our visit started at the al-Fahidi fort, which has a few examples of the traditional reed houses and other artifacts, but isn't much to look at. The more interesting part is the modern extension built underneath the fort, showcasing Dubai's history using the latest technology and culminating in a reconstructed souq from the pearling days, complete with authentic sights and sounds. It is quite fascinating to see the speed at which the transition from poor pearling village to modern metropolis occurred.

<span>We then drove past the Jumeirah Mosque<span>. Is the largest in the city, and a wonderful example of Islamic architecture. Built in the medieval Fatimid tradition with the interior decorated with elaborate Arabic calligraphy. It is one of few mosques in the city open for visits by non-Muslims, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding conducts special tours for non-Muslims to help promote understanding of Islam.

<span>We then had a look at the Dubai Creek which was dredged so that larger boats/ships could navigate it.<span> On Friday, after we visited the Ols Gold & Textile Markets, we travelled across the Dubai Creek on a abra, essentially a small ferry. Abra stations are located along the Creek on both the Bur Dubai and Deira sides, and the system of filling the boats is remarkably efficient. The cross-river trip costs 1 Dirham (AED 1) per passenger (AUD $1.00 = 3.5 Dhs), payable to the driver after the boat left the station.<span> We got a great view of the <span>very picturesque city.

<span>Once we finished the city tour, we booked a ticket to see the tallest building in the world - <span>Burj Khalifa. Until recently called Burj Dubai, at 828 metres and 160 floors this is the world's tallest structure by a long shot, over 300m taller than the previous contender in <span> Taipei. The observation deck at the 124th floor is the 2nd highest in the world after the Shanghai World Financial centre. Already dominating the Dubai skyline, the newly opened tower houses nine hotels and a Las Vegas-inspired fountain system. The visitors' entrance is located at the lower ground floor of <span>Dubai Mall. Although the tour is called <span>At the Top it isn't! Although the observation deck is the highest open deck in the world, at 452m it's just over halfway up the tower itself.<span> Most of the rest of the tower consists of service areas and the view below looks suitably ant-like. Tickets cost Dhs 100.

<span>Thursday night we went on a dinner cruise, which floated up and down the Dubai Creek in one of the original dhow boats.<span> Meal was average, entertainment was average and the temperature got down to 39 degrees – enough said.<span> One interesting thing we saw though was traditional Egyptian dance.<span> This is where a man dressed in heavy clothing with a long skirt that becomes eliminated, twirled around and around, constantly the whole act – mostly very fast.<span> It was very unusual.

<span>Friday morning we decided to catch the Metro to see the Gold, Textile & Spice Souks (markets) but when we got to the station we learned the metro does not run until 1.00pm as Friday is part of their weekend.<span> We hopped into the taxi instead.

<span>Gold Souk<span>— Not a mall, but a <span>historic market that has been a part of Dubai since the origin of Dubai itself. Located at the mouth of the creek, it dazzles people by selling gold in large quantities and with little visible security.<span> Most of the gold is 22ct quality and quite expensive.<span> A lot of the outlets were closed because it was Friday.

<span>Spice Souk<span> is not far from the Gold Souk, but has sadly declined a bit in recent years as supermarkets take over the spice trade. Both the Spice Souk and the Gold Souq are a rather hot and sweaty experience with limited air-conditioning.<span> There were many keen merchants trying to entice us into their shops.<span> This was the time to be good mannered and patient with a smile all the time.

<span>At the end of the markets and because we had sweated out litres(!!!) we caught a cab to the <span>Mall of the Emirates,<span> It was largest shopping mall outside of North America, until the Dubai Mall opened in 2008. 200+ shops, cinemas, plus the Ski Centre. <span> Has many international high street chains as well as luxury brand stores, including Harvey Nichols. Many restaurants and cafes, though cafes tend to be much more crowded than at other malls.<span> We also visited the Ski Centre which offers both skiing and snowboarding. The slope is quite large for an indoor area. Although it is -4°C inside, you don't need to bring a jacket because they supply pretty much everything except gloves and a hat.<span> We didn’t go in.

<span>That night we went on a Desert Safari<span> or <span>Dune Bashing. We headed out to the desert in an SUV with a specialist Desert Driver. The driver took us on a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, showed us the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then he took us to a dinner with music and dance to complete the atmosphere. <span> There were 4x4s everywhere.<span> We learned that there are 800-1000 vehicles that ‘dune bash’ each evening.<span> A Nigerian couple came with us and they weren’t impressed with the dune bashing!!!!<span> He in particular was affected.<span> <span> The meal was excellent, particularly considering they were catering for a large crown in a Bedouin-like camp in the middle of the desert.<span> The entertainment was another traditional Egyptian Twirling Dancer as well as a belly dancer.<span> Tom particularly enjoyed the latter!!!<span> Home by 11PM and got ready to leave in the morning for Nairobi.

<span>We really enjoyed Dubai and was very impressed with its rate of progress, level of sophistication, safeness and friendliness.

<span>Having arrived in Nairobi at 5.00pm local time (7 hours behind Brisbane time) we want to let you all know we will not be contactable for the next 3 days as we are going on a Maasi Mara trip where there is no internet service.<span> Look out the big-5 and the Maasi Warriors, here we come!!!

(PHOTOS WILL COME LATER)

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