(Photo: Dubai from my Arabian Hotel window)
Have you ever found yourself in a strange place or situation with no idea how you got there? I have, many times. When confronted with this scenario, my default "go to" line is, "Hey! This is not where I parked my car!?", and I proceed to find my way back to safety/civilization/hotel/America. Well, this is how I have felt in many situations. Dubai was no exemption.
The first thing I noticed when I got to Dubai was how clean everything is. The city has a very clean feel and there is still much new construction happening. Dubai started as an oil economy early on that caused a 300% influx of foreign workers and brought about large international interest. The impact is still visible today as only 17% of the population is UAE Nationals, 85% is expatriate population. So during my time here I met people from all over the world and from various careers. I had many late night conversations over a pint of Guinness with folks from Bosnia, Macedonia, Ireland, Britain, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Somalia. We all had one thing in common. We were all in search of adventure.
I arrived in Dubai in August and I was well aware that it was the holy month of Ramadan. However, I did not expect it to be the ghost town that it was. Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during daylight hours and it is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility, and submissiveness to God. It taught me that its impossible to get a bite to eat or a beer before 6pm. Micky D's stayed open, but I wasn't THAT hungry. The city was hot and quiet during the day and it was perfect for me because I wanted to see everything I could in the short amount of time I had available. But, I did not expect it to be hellish-ly hot! It was 120 degrees and all I had for clean clothes was a black t-shirt and shorts. So I hired a driver from India who immigrated to Dubai 12 years ago to show me around.
The architecture in Dubai is exquisite. The Burj Khalifa near Jumeriah Beach is currently the tallest structure in the world. (photo in slideshow). The Burj Al Arab or "Tower of the Arabs" is a luxury hotel many of you may be familiar with (the image). The hotel cost $650m to build and mimics the shape of a sailboat. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world with a price tag starting at $1,000 and going up to $28,000 per night. It boasts 2 restaurants with panoramic elevators and simulated submarine like voyages and seawater aquariums.
All the expensive sights to be seen were in a particular area and I spent ample time there. However, I found "Old Dubai" be be much more interesting. I explored old prisons, picked up authentic handmade artwork, roamed the cobblestone streets, attempted to infiltrate a mosque, and took loads of pictures. My driver was very patient with me considering I made him stop every time I wanted to snap away. I had him drop me at my hotel around dark so I could get cleaned up and head out. I didn't stay out late because I had to catch a flight the next day back to the states.
Synopsis: Check out the pics of "Old" and "New" Dubai and the unique beauty of both. The religion, food, architecture, and people make this a unique and interesting place. I was quite impressed. However, when I can't get a meal during the day I am not a happy camper. Dubai is not where I parked my car.
Check out the photo slide show of Dubai on my facebook page.