LOVE TO WANDER
With increasingly alarming reports coming in of the scale of damage at home while we have been away, our energy levels for exploring Dubai were flagging a little. We spent our first day here relaxing by the swimming pool and then decided to book a couple of tours so give someone else the challenge of finding our way around here and getting the best of the place.
Dubai is trying very hard to sell itself as a city that delivers both a luxurious experience for tourists and an efficient business hub. The city needs to achieve this so it has something to fall back on when the oil money runs out. Everyone is trying to sell you something - from the marketing hype to the souks. My overall impression is that - though there is a thin veneer of luxury and efficiency - under the surface, it is just one huge, hot sandpit. Its central location in the world makes it a logical business hub, but for tourists, I think there are better places to go. What didn't help sell the luxurious image was that the air quality was particularly poor - full of sand dust. Maybe this was just bad timing for our visit - but it didn't match up to the blue skies and sunshine that the marketing material promises.
On Sunday, we took the Full Day Dubai City Tour with Rayan Tours (www.rayantours.com). The tour covers all the sights on the strip of development that calls itself Dubai: Dubai Museum, Dubai Creek, Gold & Spice Souk, Jumeriah Beach and Mosque, The Palm, The Marina, Burj Khalifa tower (the tallest tower in the world) and the Fountain show.
Today, we took a Desert Safari with Dubai Leisure (www.dubaileisureholidays.com).
The vast majority of the development in new Dubai has taken place in the last ten years or so - before that, this place was just desert., You can see the sandy soil in the flower beds as you walk along the pavements.
Water is more expensive than petrol here.
There is a very effective zero tolerance strategy in operation - this is a very safe place to walk around at any time of the day or night,
There are a couple of things you can't buy here. One is property - you can only lease/rent it out. The other is citizenship - they only grant this to girls marrying a local boy.
80% of the population are ex pats.
The fountain show at Dubai Mall (7.30 pm).
The belly dancer - jiggling to arabic music at the bedouin campsite in the middle of the desert.
Roller coaster ride on the sand dunes (not for the faint hearted). Tim enjoyed it much more than me!