I had great expectations for this destination; well known as a business hub, I imagined big go-downs (airplane hangar style) full of business people from all over the world haggling over goods, streets full of people, Arab music flowing from ‘dukas’, aroma from the delicious food wafting down the streets, veiled women, hairy men, large mosques with an Imam calling on the faithful for prayers.
I was not ready for the modern, highly organized city that I found during my recent visit. The city looked as though hundreds of architects were let loose with a brief to design tall and interestingly shaped sky scrapers. The roads were also an engineering marvel, so smooth, clean, well marked, well lit and the vehicles, huge SUVs, fancy sports cars all racing down the well designed roads, these guys drive fast, I kept imaginary breaking!
I was however nursing some disappointment; there were no dukas or food aroma, the streets were not full of people, there were however hairy men and some veiled women. But I sensed a general lack of personality or soul in this city. The place lacked ‘dubainess’, to me it was all tall buildings and roads. Eighty percent of Dubai’s population is made up of immigrants from all over the world who are there mainly to earn a living. I would imagine this cosmopolitan mix would create an interesting feel to the city, but I was mistaken.
Disappointment aside, there’s plenty to do in Dubai only thing that will stop you is time and money. With my limited time and busy schedule I tried to cramp in as many activities as I could, of course I had a list. I was only able to squeeze in visits to the Burj district and Global village.
The Global Village is a must do if in Dubai, it’s a big area where countries across the world have pavilions selling their wares and culinary delicacies. There also an amusement park with all manner of fun games for both kids and adults. A full day is advised if you wish to enjoy the place. Some interesting ‘countries’ I managed to visit include Pakistan with their wide array of leather products and carpets, Egypt with a museum explaining the mummies, queens, pyramids, pharaohs and others, India full of clothing and fabric, Turkey, amazing food and jewellery and of course China full of cheap stuff. Then there’s a big pavilion dedicated to Africa, it however had no demarcation of the different countries thus making Africa look like one big country (and we wonder where such ignorant notions come from!). Global Village is a great place to visit to appreciate what other countries have to offer to the world. There is a food court offering food from various parts of the world, I had a Shish Kebab from Egypt.
The Burj district is overwhelming; this is where the tallest building in the world is housed. Burj Khalifa stands at 828meters and has over 160 floors and has the highest observation deck. Inside there are residences, hotels, offices and other amenities. Right outside are the Dubai Fountains, for this blog, we shall refer to them as a lady. And this lady can dance! The fountains, a combination of water and light are choreographed to move to classical, Arabic and world music. There are daily shows at specified times, but since I was lucky to be there during the Dubai Shopping Festival, there was a special show every evening at 8pm and 10pm. The show was a festival of water, fire, light and sound! Enthralling!!
And finally there is the Dubai Mall with over 1200 retail outlets spread out on four levels. There are major design houses from all over the world selling anything you can imagine. The mall features the Dubai Aquariam, home to over 30,000 aquatic animals; The Souk, designed with Arabic architectural features, intricate designs on the floors and walls and a dome roof that goes on and on. It offers a quiet escape from the buzz in the rest of the mall. Then there is the Ice rink, the Village and many other wonderful features. Word of advice to any visitor, get the brochure as soon as you get in, have a seat and look through to decide which shops you wish to visit it could take you days to get through all the shops! There are also food courts if you get hungry.
If I had more time I would have gone on a bus tour of the city, gone down to the creek, visited the Palm Jumeirah, gone down to Abu Dhabi for Formula one…ahh so much to do so little time!
All said and done, glad I have ticked that one off my bucket list. Let me know what you get up to when you visit.