Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dubai in the Daylight

May 8th Dubai

No apparent jet lag but slept reasonably well. Pleasantly surprised to find that washcloths are not a standard feature in hotel rooms. Who wants one anyway? I mean duh, you got soap doncha? So, we make do and move on.

Got to the 9:00 am muster with only a minimum of confusion and did our timesheets. First things first you know. Then we got lucky and we ran into Ashraf who works for or owns the Afridi tours. Ashraf offered to take 5 of us around to the various Dubai sights for $20.00 each. The price went up by $5.00 a person at the end of the tour but it was well worth it. I doubt that I will ever do this again and quite frankly, not sure that I would want to at the expense of some other adventures.

First of all, I am definitely a stranger in a strange land. This is a very westernized third world country. Many of the traditional Arabic ways still exist with men and women in the traditional garb and the separation of the sexes. Much of the work is done with manual labor and in the more modest areas, the construction techniques are shoddy. We see that even in our hotel. By the same token, when we got to some of the very popular tourist areas, such as the malls and surrounding buildings, the architecture is simply stunning in its artistry. The Dubai Tower may allegedly have some structural deficiencies but it sure is a looker.

So, first stop was the Dubai Museum. It was a great historical and cultural look at the area. Inside was a timeline showing the development of the area over the last 80 years. In the 1930’s this was a small costal village of fishermen and pearl divers. Mot much changed until oil was discovered in the early 1960’s. Then it took off like crazy. I saw on exhibit some of the silver jewelry done by some of the old artisans. Gorgeous stuff and quite frankly, impossible to buy.

Oh by the way, there are mosques of all shapes and sizes all over the place. Some beautiful and ornate with the very traditional flowing Arabic lines and the beautiful blue mosaic tiles and some quite modern. And, they all have a minaret – no matter how large or small and some even have speakers to call the faithful to prayer.

We stopped along Jameria beach and looked at buildings shaped like sails that move in the direction of the sun to keep one section perpetually in the shade. Then we headed for the Emirates Mall where they have an indoor ski slope and snow park. On the way we passed the university area known as Knowledge Park. Several universities are located there including the American University and the College of Dubai. The beaches along the way were beautiful and one large park had a beach that on Sundays is ladies only. Alo passed the palaces of several of the minor princes. The properties were all walled and guarded so we could not see any of the actual houses. But from the looks of the walls and the Army or Police guards, you could tell that these were some serious dudes.

Next stop was Palm Island. This is the man made island that sticks out several miles into the Arabian Sea. At the extreme end is a resort called the Palm. It is an absolutely huge hotel / apartment complex with security, manicured lawns and – of course – palm trees. You can tell that there is a recession down here though because there are huge condo complexes that appear to have high vacancy rates. The leaves of the “palm” form inland canals where the condo dweller have their private boat slips complete with outlets for shore power, water, sewage and likely internet. However, lotta slips. No boats.

Then on to the Emirates Mall which has the ski slope. This is actually the smaller of the two major tourist malls in the area. The ski slopes were good places for women to wear the traditional garb. They probably had a tough time skiing but at least they were warm. The thermometer in the place said it was -4 Degrees C, about 25 Degrees F. Nice and chilly considering it was 93 outside. This mall was huge. It had all of the girls fashion stores that my daughter would know so well and, as an added bonus, it had signs in English and Arabic. I have not seen a Cabelos, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shop or even a WalMart anywhere. So, my fascination was with the size of the store, the diversity of the customers and the BMWs in the parking lot rather than the contents of the stores.

On to the Dubai Tower and the Big Mall, Dubai Mall. This one has a skating rink and an aquarium where you can go scuba diving. It also has more fashion sores.

While this may be a great place to “go shopping” It seems to me like a giant Potomac Mills store. About the same very diverse ethnic mix and higher prices.
Oh by the way, if you want to eat here, well, OK but anywhere you go in Dubai, the food has an interesting local flavor that may surprise the domestic US palate.

So, went back to the Dubai Grand for our muster at 6:00 pm and ate dinner. After that, went to the restroom and found out that a public restroom in Dubai was not a wonderful place to be. Ohh baby! Life of the world traveler. At least some good pics today. Jet Lag finally got to me. Uploading Pics, then Goodnight. More fun to come!

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