Where Tradition Meets Modern
If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would fly to Dubai I would have laughed and replied “What the hell would I want in Dubai?” Well, after some research where I could take a short winter break without taking out a second mortgage I decided that I would indeed fly to Dubai for a week. I didn’t regret it, if I regretted anything then it was that I didn’t book for two. This city is well worth taking a closer look at. Built on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The climate in winter is bearable at around 30°C during the day. Summer is a different matter soaring to around 47-48°C in July and August and being extremely humid to make matters even worse.
Although being Islamic Dubai is in comparison to the other Emirates pretty liberal on the surface at least. Alcohol can be consumed in hotel annexes and bars but not in public. Kissing in public is also strictly forbidden and can result in deportation. Photographers too have to be very careful where they direct their lenses as photographing Muslim women is no go as is shooting government buildings, the airport or buildings belonging to the royal family. Otherwise you shouldn’t have any problems at all. I wasn’t forbidden once from taking a picture, on the contrary, many are proud to show off their city.
Arabian culture isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and would like to return maybe in five years time to document the development of this fascinating modern oasis.
Wealth, Liberalism & Human Rights
Ethnically speaking only 15% of Dubai’s population are actually Arab UAE Nationals, the rest being expats that have lived for generations in the country or were born there. Around 85% of these expats are Asian with over 50% originating from India and some 15% from Pakistan. Other religious beliefs are also accepting and Dubai has large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city. Outside the city is a different matter though.
Surprisingly Dubai is not a city built on oil revenue but more significantly through commerce and tourism. In fact only 5% of Dubai’s income comes from the oil business today. The explosive development of the city in the past 20 years has been financed considerably from the Al Maktoum family that rules here as absolute monarchy since 1833. Human rights organisations have heavily criticised the living conditions and mistreatment of many of the 250,000 foreigh workers in the city as inhumane. Indeed, once one ventures into the old city on Dubai creek then you get a different picture to the shiny, sterile, hyper modern metropole.
As a guest though it ‘s a welcome change to experience how Dubai was before the oil boom in the 70’s and indulge in a little of that true Arabian flair be it in the Souks of Deira or observing the Abras (water taxis) that traverse the creek between Deira and Bur Dubai. This part of town is of course less exhilarating as far as the architecture is concerned but has definitely more character in my opinion making the complete experience a perfect balance.
Highlights Of My Trip
Downtown Dubai is considered by many as being the heart of modern Dubai where the Worlds tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa the central point is to be found. Surrounding the Burj is the Dubai fountain where in the evenings accompanied to arabian music the digitally controlled fountains give a spectacular water show with mystical low lying smoke veiling the water surface.
The artificial marina is in the southern part of town and houses around 120,000 people in its numerous high-rise appartment blocks. A good place to go for an evening stroll and admire the many luxury yachts and motorboats moored there. Excellent place to watch the locals having fun, relaxing outside the many restaurants and bars, smoking a shisha, dining or posing on their boats.
No visit to Dubai would be complete without visiting the observation deck of the Burj. I had to go twice as the view is well worth the fee to see at night as well as during the day. From here you get good views of Jumeirah beach with its Burj al Arab hotel, the Palm and World Islands as well as a sighting of the old town Dubai to the north east.
Seaplane City Excursion
- Photographic Interest 100%
- Weather 100%
- Hospitality 80%
- Sightseeing 100%
- Fun Factor 100%
- Repeat Visit 100%
Can't Wait For The Next Trip
Many don’t risk a visit to Scotland due to the prospect of continuous rain and gales and this is understandable if you are looking to get a sun tan but those of you who do take the plunge braving the elements will be rewarded time and time again with some amazing experiences you can be assured of that. Being regarded as a more than average moist region has other benefits, for instance lush green vegetation, forests, waterfalls and when it does decide to rain then there are some very impressive castles, country manors, museums and tea houses to enjoy, not to forget the larger towns.