I’ve heard that the population in Dubai in 1975 was around 180 000 people. Today it surpasses 1.4 million and has been in the news with great stories of construction booms. I had to see for myself. February 2009, my travel partner Paul and I book our flights to Dubai, check in to our Golden Tulip hotel and head to the roof top pool terrace to plan our attractions. Our first stop was the Emirates Mall and if that is any indication of what the rest of Dubai would look like, we’re in for a treat. Not one speck of dust on the granite floors of the mall, absolutely no fingerprints on the high granite columns and a sense of tranquil and safety all around us. As if that’s not enough, we stumble on the world’s third largest indoor ski facility in the actual mall. Are they exaggerating? We don’t purchase any ski lift pass, but our curiosity forces us to enter the facility and touch the snow.
It was an adjustment in seeing all the women covered and we were told to halt any flirtatious remarks towards any females. The mall had a grocery store and seeing our room had efficiencies, we stocked up for the 3 days we’d be in Dubai. Heading out, we’ve experienced our very first sandstorm. Wind was gusting which forced sand pellets all over and covering our face didn’t seem to prevent us getting hit. It wasn’t that bad, the winds died down and we continued our mission.
Grass in any desert climate is very rare and is actually considered luxury should any resident have it. Also, the cost of watering and keeping it green is very expensive. Well, in Dubai, if it is luxurious, they will make sure to have it and seeing patches in certain areas truly accents the scenery.
We take the Tour of Dubai with their hop on/hop off bus which takes us along side the Persian Gulf. Our first site would be the Emirate Towers which then brings into focus the tallest structure in the world at 830 meters. The Burj Khalifa. We can see the true construction marvel of all the buildings. Heading south-west along the Gulf we come across the tallest hotel in the world in which Tiger Woods was paid 1 million dollars to hit golf balls from the helipad. The Burj Al Arab. We tried to get in the premisses thinking the lobby was opened to the public, however we were told we can only visit it if we’d book a tea time which was ridiculously priced. We just admired the hotel from the exterior.
We head down the Jumeriah Beach Park and the Jumeriah Palm to visit the Atlantis Dubai Hotel. All three are gorgeous and one stops and wonder on how much money does a city have to build their own islands. Jumeriah Palm is basically a Palm print of residential homes, offices and hotels constructed on man-made peninsulas. Totally breathtaking. We wander the Atlantis grounds, which that in itself is totally luxurious, and see across the Persian Gulf the country of Iran.
We end our tour with the Dubai museum, Mercato Mall, and ultimately the Dubai Creek. For only a few cents, we were able to take a water taxi across the body of water to see the other side, the side that wasn’t affluent and where loitering was permitted. Walking around the creek market area, we suddenly hear the mosques fill up and the loud speakers on several erected poles, start the “call to prayer”. Hearing it in movies was one thing, hearing it live and seeing how the public reacts to it was very interesting. It actually did have a hypnotic effect.
Several days prior to leaving for Dubai, I had broken my wedding ring playing hockey. As it turned out, I was able to find a nice one at a reasonable price in Dubai which is a great memory of my visit to the United Arab Emirates.