FEB, 2013

What a city! The weather is great, the city is a new born, clean, glossy baby catering for the next generations of sun craving, shopping queens or wealthy expats looking for a summer house in the sun. Dubai has everything to suit just about every pocket. Real estate, fast cars, yachts, you name it the Emirates have it in excess. For budget touries like myself there are also more than enough possibilities to enjoy your stay here on the Arabian Gulf.

It has been a couple of weeks now since returning from the United Arab Emirates, time enough to process some imagery and reflect upon an amazing fun packed week. Many of my friends & colleagues were surprised to hear that I as a nature loving landscape photographer was flying off to warmer climates in winter in search of a hyper modern city. A town with state of the art architecture, artificial islands & the worlds biggest shopping paradise. I too was wondering if I had done the right thing but as I landed in Dubai’s international airport at midnight I was pretty sure that this was going to be one hell of a week.

A Hotel with a view. I wonder how long before the next one obscures it.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

As I emerged from the main flight terminal after a 45 minute wait to get through customs & immigration it was way past 01:00 am and as the sliding doors slid open I stepped out into a very warm, very busy taxi & pick up area. There were literally hundreds of people with name shields waiting behind barriers to pick up passengers, it was almost like being at a cattle market & I was one of the victims being bid for. It took some time before my transit driver & I made eye contact & the relief was noticeable on both sides. After a friendly shake of hands the man who spoke impeccable English pressed an envelope containing general info for the hotel & sightseeing possibilities in & around Dubai into my hand & showed me to a mini bus with trailer where I was helped by the driver with my luggage. The bus was full & within minutes we were speeding on our way through the city to be dropped off at our hotels. After 20 minutes I started to wonder whether our driver had missed my hotel. I started to realize just how big & spread out Dubai actually is.

“I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours before being woken by the sun peering over the neighbouring house and shining directly into my room.”

The viewing platform of the Burj Khalifa on the 124th floor at 9:00am.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

After approximately 35 minutes we arrived at my base for the next six nights, the Grand Excelsior Hotel just behind the massive shopping arcade, The Mall Of Emirates, best known for it’s indoor ski slope. The reception staff were very polite & my luggage was carried by one of the many porters up to my room on the 7th floor. After tipping the porter I closed my door & marvelled at the size & luxury of my new home from home: I hadn’t had a room like this since staying at the MGM in Las Vegas last year & never thought that after such a short while that I would again have such luck. For a package deal for just over 900€ I was expecting a lot less to be honest.  The first thing I had to do was turn off the air-conditioning as the room was quite cool but it soon warmed up as outside it was still 19°C. I didn’t have much of a view, just a couple of other high rise buildings, apartment blocks & the like. To the right I could make out the skyline of Dubai Marina in the distance, lit up like a Christmas tree. The street below was still a hive of activity although being around two in the morning. I was tired after getting up at 5:00am the day before to catch my flight from Munich to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris waiting 4 hours before flying a further 7 hours on to Dubai. But here I was & so excited that I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours before being woken by the sun peering over the neighbouring house & shining directly into my room. I noticed how orange & blue mixed into a fine haze over the roofs adjacent & jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera & shot my first image out of the window of the still sleepy Marina skyline.

Now I know why they call this DOWNtown Dubai :-). View from the Burj Khalifa.

Photograph by Douglas Stevens Photoviewz

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