Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dubai, dawdling about the vertical city

I knew Dubai was a cluster of buildings little matching each other either for style or design, but looking at pictures is nowhere similar to staring at those steely beasts for real. Coming from the elegant Abu Dhabi, along Sheikh Zayed Rd, the impact of so many huge buildings close to each other is one of bewilderment.

My friend compared it to a face that went through too much facial surgery, and I can hardly disagree. It gives the impression of a reckless building rush, but it does have its own charm.

During my quick stroll around Dubai, I got to see the Jumeirah Souk Madinat (souk is the Arabic version of bazaar), a huge classy bazaar in a very Arabian style. The plan is to reproduce an easygoing market atmosphere, but once inside Jumeirah Souk you'll inevitably find yourself dwadling about luxurious shops and costly handmade products.

A walk in Jumeirah bazaar is very pleasant: I admit I have a soft spot for the Arabian style, so being immersed in such atmosphere was a real treat for me.

Within the Jumeirah complex there is also the worldwide famous hotel Burj Al Arab. I had heard plenty about it, seen hundreds of pictures of it, from every angle and lighting, however, as soon as we got closer, it did strike a chord. It sits on a tiny island of Dubai's coast and is built with a lovely taste of simple elegance. Impressive.

After leaving Jumeirah, we headed to the biggest shopping centre in the Middle East: the Dubai Mall. Seven floors of stores, nine floors of car parking, the Mall houses every majour fashion brand in the world and offers entertainment, a wide range of dining places, events and attractions, among which the most targeted is a huge aquarium (and its connected underwater zoo) hosting any kind of fish, with the possibility for divers to dive themselves and feed the fish directly. I admit, I'm not a fan of zoos or aquariums, as I can't bear the sight of animals kept in captivity.

I have only spent one day in Dubai, so I by no means have the knowledge to judge or even write extensively about the city altogether. However, I had the impression that the government, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, acts to meet the population's needs. This may seem obvious, but as used as I am to seeing Italian, and European, leaders approving laws for their sole personal interests and neglecting what the electorate had voted for, the Emirates' way to operate is totally new to me.

Dubai, as a purely financial and commercial capital, has inevitably suffered from the world's recession, from lower housing prices to a higher level of unemployment, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum can say without any doubt that he strongly managed to put his Emirate on the world map.

9 comments:

Travelogged said...

Really enjoyed reading your impressions of the city -- I hope to go there one day!

AngelaCorrias said...

It's a great place, really, when you go to the UAE, make sure you visit Abu Dhabi, it's a great vibrant city!

Thanks for stopping by!

Kim said...

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both startling cities, but I find them soulless - you could pick them up and put them anywhere in the world. I am fascinated by the gulf and their culture (just have to do something about their attitude to women though), but there is so much more if you leave those cities behind (even just going to one of the many oases for a night does the trick). Oman and Yemen are far more representative of traditional arabia.

AngelaCorrias said...

Agree, in this sense, I prefer Abu Dhabi to Dubai, it has kept more of the Arabian style. I couldn't really see Emirati women face a strong discrimination, but I didn't stay for too long and I know only a few couples who live there.

I loved the desert experience, and I very much enjoyed Al Ain, which is on the border with Oman. Unfortunately I haven't had the possibility to go to Oman this time, but I won't miss it on my next trip to the Middle East.

Marco said...

Interesting!
Hope I'll have the chance myself to go and visit middle east countries in the future, to get a better idea of what they are, without the filter of the western media propaganda.
PS: did you manage to go and see the artificial island in Dubai?

AngelaCorrias said...

Hello Marco, thanks for your comment! I haven't been to the artificial island, I've only been twice to Dubai, and the island you mean is the one with all the new villas I think. Some must be still available for rent if you want to spend a nice holiday ;-)

I have only been to the UAE in the Middle East but I can't wait to visit more countries, such as Lebanon and Oman. People are lovely, and the weather too!

johny said...

If you travel to Dubai, then you must visit once a time to Burjuman Centre , It situate near the Trade Center road that localizes to near Al Karama. and Its architecture gives a impression of oomph and further going as a contrast to the otherwise crowded malls

AngelaCorrias said...

Thanks a lot for your suggestions, Johny, I'm not in Dubai right now, but I loved the UAE so I hope I'll be going back soon!

Shawn said...

The emirate of Dubai is viewed by many as being the pearl of the Middle East. A popular tourist destination for holidays or vacations.

Cheap Tickets to Dubai

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