Dubai – the city of superlatives

For many reasons it took me a lot of time to write a post about Dubai, which I visited over a year ago with my mum and sis, but finally I am finished. I have rewritten this entry many times, as being torn between my own believes and trying to respect other cultures, I could not quite figure out what the shape this post should take. Finally, a couple of days ago I stumbled upon an article about Jodi Magi. She was living in the United Arab Emirates with her husband since 2012, working as a graphic design teacher. After posting a photo on Facebook showing a car (with obscured registration plates) parked across two parking spots for disabled, she encountered a problem with the UAE’s law. Couple of months after posting the photo, following a complaint to the police, the case went to court, Jodi Magi was charged under the UAE’s Cyber Crime law and was found guilty of “writing bad words on social media”. She was issued with a fine of roughly $2,700, but when she went to pay it, authorities detained her and after couple of days of imprisonment and sleeping on a concrete floor she was deported to Australia. In comparison to other ‘incidents’ that occurred in UAE (like Get Raped In Dubai And You’ll Serve 16 Months In Prison) this one is rather minor, but it influenced my choice of style for this entry. So readers heads up! If you are here for reading bad words on social media about the glorious UAE, you won’t find this in my post, unless you read between the lines…

Dubai is the city of superlatives, where everything has to be either the biggest, the most obscene, the most expensive, or the combination of the above, which made it the most ridiculous INCREDIBLE place I have ever visited.

I was staying in the city only for 24 hours, as it was a stopover on my way back to Taiwan, and as I mentioned before my mum and sister were accompanying me.
We got off the plain in the middle of the night. The air was so hot and dry, that for the first minutes breathing seemed as an impossible task. We got to the air conditioned hotel as fast as possible and tried to sleep through what had remained of the night.

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful, sunny weather. The temperature was reaching 38 degrees in shade on the Celsius scale. The air was hazy from the sand and dust (Dubai is placed in the middle of the Arabian Desert after all, which by the way sadly we had no time to visit – apparently it is an absolute must see when you are staying in the region for a bit longer than 24h…). We walked down to the reception hall to get some breakfast. To our surprise we had to fight through couple of layers of blankets and curtains obscuring the entrance in order to get to the dining space. It was the middle of the Ramadan (which falls in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and commemorates the revelation of the Quran; fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam) so eating and drinking from down to dusk was forbidden by law, and if one is caught doing one of the obscenities in public, heavy fines are imposed. Nobody gives a damn what your religion is, you have to comply. UAE claims to respect freedom of religion, but apparently they interpret this ‘freedom’ in their own way. It is estimated that 76% of the Dubai’s population believes in Allah, (which still does not beat Poland with 88% of Christians) so who cares whether the rest (mostly Christians) are forced to starvation for a month each year, right? Well, those numbers do not give the full picture, as UAE is a country with the second highest proportion of migrants (83.8%). But their believes are of course irrelevant. What a great country! Not like Poland, which cannot decide whether it is secular or Catholic, or what, as constitution says both. Here the situation is clear – you come to UAE you better behave like a Muslim! So if you are diabetic or weak-bodied and it happens that you have to drink water on a desert in 50 degrees Celsius heat at any point between sunrise and sunset, you better stay away from the Emirates during the Ramadan!

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It was so hellish hot outside that we spent most of the day in metro, hence the poor quality of the photos.

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The highest tower in the world (at the time) – Burj Khalifa – with  828 metres and 160 stories build of sweat and blood of underpaid South Asian and East Asian workers. But lets not get hooked on minor details, it is breathtaking, that’s what counts! Don’t forget to purchase your ticket to the top of the tower ahead of time, otherwise (especially during the peak of the tourist season) they might be sold out.

Burj Al Arab is “The world’s only 7 star Hotel” and is the fourth tallest hotel in the world (but at the time of its completion in 1999 of course it was the highest). It stands on an artificial island connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to resemble a sail of a ship. It has a heliport near the roof at a height of 210 m on which Roger Federer and Andre Agassi plaid a mach of tennis in 2005…

Starbucks also made it through the desert (although in Dubai it had no chance to kill the local competition, as before 2000 there was only desert), but during Ramadan they don’t sell coffee… Its sole purpose is to tease tourists (and non-Muslim locals). If you are a caffeine addict (like some of the people I have been travelling with 😉 it is like waving a piece of meat in front of a hungry tiger in a cage. The reaction is quite comparable and efforts are equally futile (and scary…).

As you can see from the water colour, although building an artificial island shaped like a palm tree is an excellent tourist-magnet, but it destroys completely the ecosystem. After all, you need to keep your priorities straight, screw all the marine life!

Buildings on the island. Rumour has it that Brad Pit owns one of those.

Atlantis Palm Jumeirah hotel located at the end of the palm island.

Burj Al Arab with its heliport in close-up.

Jumeirah Mosque, where women are forbidden from entering (after all we are utterly unworthy of such honours and would only provoke unholy thoughts among males).

The only remaining old part of Dubai. Before the designers of the city realised that tourists actually like to visit old buildings, most of it was already gone and on the ruins the new buildings were constructed (as when you compare the air images of Dubai from 2000 and now, most of the buildings emerged during the past two decades, before there was mostly desert).

All jokes aside, a boat trip on “Abra” is sincerely recommended. It was the most enjoyable part of the trip. Although being without a male companion and getting a ride might not had been the best idea (this is a cultural remark, not a racist one, as in Arab culture women are still treated like commodities and are often exchanged for camels). All in all, thankfully, we made it safely through the experience and it was really great.

Remaining of an old market place.

“Abra” boats

Food could had been purchased, but not consumed. Another fantastic tourist attraction. Such teasers they are!

A golden outfit that every respectable Arab wife should have.

Gold market (Gold Souk)

The interior of Burj Khalifa with a massive aquarium containing several sharks and other absolutely necessary ingredients.

Yes, why not building and ice ring in the middle of a desert? Global warming my ass!

View from the top of the Burj Khalifa. We booked the tickets only couple of hours in advance so all the daytime tickets were sold out, but the view was breathtaking anyway.

All in all, Dubai is an interesting city to visit for one day, especially during the Ramadan and in the insane heat. That dehydration truly leaves a strong impression. I cannot imagine what could keep me from coming back and repeating the experience!

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4 thoughts on “Dubai – the city of superlatives

    • Yes, my mum was not exactly thrilled either not being able to get a cup of coffee. It is worth checking out! Feels a bit like a trip to a Disneyland 😛

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