Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dubai -The City of the Future

Like the movie "Sex and the City Part II", we had a great experience in Dubai to tell you:

I am reminded of a project I had to do in social studies class in 7th grade where we were asked to design our own city. In my head, what I wanted to do, looked cool, but it did not look good on the one dimensional piece of white poster board I put it on. But if I could design my own city now, Dubai might just be the perfect model for a city. Between the desert and the Arabian Sea it is the best of both worlds at least in the winter, when we visited.

I can see why they call it the city of the future with malls that have ice-skating rinks and skiing in addition to the many shops, restaurant and Souks. While Dubai is very modern in this way by having the tallest building in the world and the most expensive hotel in the world, Dubai has also kept its quaint charm from the past with its fashion Souk and Spice Souk.

Below is the Gold Souk, which is a more modern shopping area (probably for security reasons) close to the Spice Souk. The picture on the left is the largest Gold bracelet in the world. It is difficult to see clearly due to the reflection through the glass. Picture on the right is another store at the Gold Souk. Everyone wants gold in Dubai!

This city has something to offer for everyone. It is romantic, sexy with a touch of conservativeness, and safe. A good example to illustrate what I am talking about here are the flight attendants when flying on Emirates Airlines.

What Arabs are famous for, their beautiful magic carpets!

Uday, my husband, agreed to do a stop over in Dubai before going to India where he is from but he wasn’t excited about it since he likes more adventurous outdoorsy stuff and feels that this city will not be much different from India. Well he was both right and wrong. Dubai is like India in the way that it is filled with mainly Indian and Pakistani people and mainly India and American food.

This city also has a few Philippino and Arabs but it is difficult to find the Arabs throughout most of the city unless one is in the Mall of Dubai.

This city was different than India in so many other ways as it is so clean, organized and less populated.

Beautiful skyscrapers that shoot into the sky and high end fashion such as Gucci, Channel, Versace, and Louis Vuitton, to name a few.

What is even more surprising to Uday was how fun the Arabian night safari was. I typically have very high expectations and the dessert safari met my expectation and exceeded them at times. How it works is a driver picks us up in a small SUV with others and takes us to the desert. He lets some air out of the tires and before we know it we are “Off roading in the sand”, they call it a “Dune buggy”. This is the adventurous part that Uday was not expecting to be so cool.

Eventually we land at a “desert village” like area, where we can have a complimentary camel ride, sand board down a sand dune, have henna, and dress like the Arabs. We also have a buffet dinner with Arab food and watch some ethnic dance and belly dancing. We were with a great group of people who were both fun and interesting. We sat with them at dinner and hung out with them at the village and in the Dune Buggy.

We had fun enjoying the beautiful sunset in the desert!

The weather was at perfect temperature and it was a star studded night. It was so romantic and sexy. The belly dancer did a great job with flirting with the audience and teasing especially with her knife dance. At the end of the night I could faintly hear this village playing the Enigma C.D.

The driver took us in the Dune buggy out of the desert for a little more adventure at night and then we were brought to our hotels to finish off our romantic evening.

We stayed at a place called “The Orient Guest House”, and it was in a historical section of the city and it was a more authentic looking Arabian place both on the inside and the outside and it came with complimentary breakfast. On the weekend it was buffet and during the week day the cook would make our breakfast to order and would also serve the breakfast. He was both a great cook and waiter and we gave him a compliment in the guest book and a nice tip.

The front desk staff named Jerome, was also very nice and pleasant to talk with. If one is looking for a more down to earth and authentic experience in Dubai I highly recommend this hotel (in the winter as it might not be cool enough in the summer). If one wants a more modern luxurious place to stay and one can afford to do so then I recommend the most expensive hotel in the world called Burj Al Arab.

We only saw it from the outside but it might be fabulous to stay there right on the beach. The person who designed this hotel made it look like a large sail boat and it has a lot of amenities.

There are two big malls in Dubai. At the Mall of the Emirates they actually have an indoor skiing and snow tubing place. It makes hanging out at the mall have a whole new meaning. It also might make for an expensive trip to the mall yet reasonably priced for skiing.

But nothing is more impressive than the Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping mall in the world. It offers four huge floors of shopping, extra area for a Gold Souk, at least two food courts and several restaurants including Americanized ones such as Rain Forest CafĂ© and Uno’s Pizza. It also offers an Aquarium Tunnel that can be seen inside and outside of the tunnel, water zoo, movie theater, ice-skating ring, and high end fashion galore. Make sure to bring cash because most of the food courts do not take credit cards.

Not only is this mall impressive on the inside with it’s many waterfalls and what was mentioned above, but it is also impressive on the outside located next to the Tallest building in the world called Burj Khalifa.

My favorite part of this mall and perhaps favorite part after the desert safari was the fountain show that mall puts on at night every half an hour. We watch an American song (Whitney Houston’s, “I Will Always Love You”), an India song and Arabic song. The fountains are choreographed so perfectly to the music as are the lights. The lights are not only on the water fountains but the palm trees and the tallest building in the world, it makes one emotional. The Whitney Houston song to the fountains brought tears to my eyes (and Uday's), the India song seemed like a happy song that brought even larger fountains and the Arabic song not only had the fountains going to the music and lights but also added fire and evoked passion. It is a must for everyone who visits Dubai to see this fountain show and do the dessert safari.

I was sad to leave this place but satisfied that we got to see most of the best what Dubai has to offer. Next visit, I would like to venture outside of Dubai to Abu Dhabhi and other nature places and tours about an hour away from Dubai to see the mountains, lakes, and snorkeling trips. As I looked back on my experience in Dubai, I couldn't help but wonder, if the King of Dubai was as proud of his city as I would be if I were in his shoes?

Now to think that next, I will soon be in India, where Uday grew up in Secunderabad, where it is dirty and over crowded, especially coming from Dubai will take some adjustment. I mentally prepare for the pollution, dust, and people pushing me as I will arrive there from a three or four hour flight.

Click on the picture below to see more of our experience in Dubai:

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