Dubai or not dubai?

Dubai Travel Blog

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Had I been told that Dubai is a place I would not be able to visit, I probably would not have been too bothered. After all, what can this desert town possible offer? Once a millionaire’s playground, then hit by a double recession amidst fears of a global meltdown, Dubai is a word that has become synonymous with fleeing. Stories about Dubai always seemed to centre around a strict governance that saw foreigners arrested for apparently minor indiscretions. So Dubai is certainly a place to avoid, right? Wrong.

In fact, my idea of Dubai was so warped, that I found myself dumbfounded and flabbergasted and repeatedly so!

Politely welcomed by a red carpet into a 43 degree furnace of South Persian hospitality, we decided on opting for a “Hop on, Hop off” bus around the city centre.
At a population of 1,2 million, Dubai is not a major city compared to what we have been seeing lately. But it is a city adopted on the premise “bigger is better”. And rightly so. 70% of Dubai’s income from oil is funneled back into creating infrastructure, providing healthcare and other aspects of driving the economy. True, Dubai’s policy on foreign labour is not one that leaves unionists sleeping peacefully, but let’s not ruin the atmosphere…

The bus offers two connected routes, a red tour, which is a historical and traditionally centered exploration of the inner and older centre of Dubai and a blue route, which boasts a striking and impressive resume of architectural caveats.

We opted to start the red tour. George Moore once said that “The difficulty in life lies in the choice” and today his words rang true: It was simply impossible to decide what to do, mainly as our time was so limited.
Dubai Creek
Do we explore the Spice Souk, where merchants have been trading for hundreds of years, do we wander around Dubai creek, which represents Dubai’s trading centre, do we take a Dhow (traditional boat) cruise or simply explore the amazing artefacts of the Dubai museum? And if that does not sound like a brochure, then you’ve never read one.

With the above in mind, our options were to either enjoy one aspect or stay on the bus and experience a taste of it all, which we did. After all, I had already decided that this was a place I would like to see again. The red tour eventually joined the blue one and this took us out of the centre of town. We cruised past the Jumeirah Mosque, then it was on to see the world’s only 7 star hotel, the design of which is apparently based on a sailboat.
Sail Boat Hotel


Palm Islands is what will really blow your mind…and your wallet. It is a 5 x 5 km manmade island in the shape of a palm. It is visible from space (not sure why they gave us that bit of information) and welcomes some 20 000 visitors a day. It boasts 30 5 star hotels and even Donald has placed 2 of his “trump cards” in the centre: Stainless steel beasts of exquisite luxury, which built anywhere else would look mind-blowing, but in a world of superlatives even the impressive seems to be inconspicuous.

I wonder what the locals thought of us when trigger happy passengers on the bus aimed their lenses at Ferrari’s and Aston Martins, which aside from our bus seemed to be the only mode of transportation there.
The island is peaked by a resort, Atlantis Hotel, and aquarium with some 50 000 marine life species.
Atlantis Hotel
My friends decided to hop off and I continued on the tour.

The bus passed Ski Dubai, the world’s largest indoor skiing slope. I must admit, I was very tempted to check it out, but again, time was a limiting factor and visiting a ski slope while in Dubai just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Having said that, if I spent anymore time on the open section of the bus, I might have changed my opinion on that.

The tour ended at the Mall of Dubai. So far in this trip, I have made a conscious effort to avoid malls. To me they seem generic and with the advent of modern technology in South Africa such as ships and planes and electricity (not always though), we too are privy to the modern miracle of what is rampant and perverted consumerism. And if I seem opinionated, just ask any man what usually happens when he takes his wife/girlfriend/partner to the mall…he leaves with empty pockets!

So you can imagine my good fortune when I arrived at this particular mall alone.
Swimming mall rats
It is one of the world’s biggest, covering roughly 50 Olympic sized football fields. In the centre of this village was an incredibly large aquarium replete with sharks and even divers. Store size, displays, variability of architecture, music, food courts were simply overwhelming.

I met up with some of the crew of the ship and we took a ride back. In the harbour, Queen Mary 2 is proudly berthed and has been since 2009. She (I cannot say he in this case) has been converted into a casino and hotel and her duties now lie with the Arabian royalty.
Just as we pulled up to our stop, our Indian taxi driver grinned: “Dubai like America, but bigger!”
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Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
Sail Boat Hotel
Sail Boat Hotel
Atlantis Hotel
Atlantis Hotel
Swimming mall rats
Swimming mall rats
City Centre
City Centre
Dubai Museum
Dubai Museum
No donkey...
No donkey...
Dawn Princess
Dawn Princess
Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
My new fishing boat (it folds up)
My new fishing boat (it folds up)
What not to do in Dubai 101
"What not to do in Dubai" 101
Mosque
Mosque
Yellow Racing Car
Yellow Racing Car
Worlds Tallest Building
World's Tallest Building
Dubai at night
Dubai at night
Shopping Mall!
Shopping Mall!
Dubai
photo by: vances