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Des’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 05 Sep 2006

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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This is how the name should be spelt. Everything is done in the name of conspicuous consumption. After all, you gotta look good in the desert – right?
How does one describe Dubai – take one man made paradise, put it in a sand pit, then place in a very hot oven. From time to time, open the door and blow contents all over the place with a fan.
For instance - after a cloudless day, I was driving in a taxi looking at the famous hotel (Burj Al Arab) only to be suddenly faced with a sandstorm which reduced visibility to 50 yards. Covers the Rollers as well as the Toyotas with white powder. The heat must be unbearable in summer (50 C plus 90% apparently) although I was there during 38 C + 50%.
Another way to describe it is Bizarro world for those of us who remember Superman comics before he got involved with girls (yuk!). ladies (well you gotta assume they are ladies underneath) in burkas with eye glasses perched over the top, talking on a mobile phone which is outside the burka of course. She kept saying “speak up, your voice is muffled”. One time I saw a lady eating a Baskin Robbins ice cream by holding the face flap up a little so she could hold the cone near her mouth and not get ice cream on the flap.
Bizzaro because only 20% of the population is Arabic – the rest are Pakis, Indians, Caucasian expats – doing all the work for the aborigines who are relatively wealthy. One night at an Italian restaurant, the Philipino waiters sang operatic Italian songs to the diners while at the American sports bar, the Kashmiri waiters told Nepalese jokes.
Ultra Modern buildings face to face with wooden dhows and Pakistani labourers lugging bales of cloth, tyres, electrical appliances in boxes. It is an architects dream – they must have been given a blank sheet and told to be imaginative (a blank cheque as well). But there is just this one strip of tall buildings and on either side is low rise mud huts and sand…sand….sand.
Seeing as how they and fuel are both cheap, there are so many cars but only two or three roads so jams are legendary e.g. 3 hours to go 13km !
I liken it to Hell – it’s as hot as Dubai but you wouldn’t want to go there; and everyone is from somewhere else. Boom boom.