Dubai - An Expat Wonderland
I went to visit my sister in Dubai while she was working out there. There is an interesting array of activities and a lot of establishments aimed at entertaining the large expat community that is out there. This leads to a rather unique experience where Middle East meets West and the huge glistening contemporary buildings stand conspicuously in the dusty barren desert. I suppose it's like the Las Vegas of the Middle East!
So the contrasting backdrop and surroundings and the vast expat community enables you to first go to the markets via an old-fashioned boat and then go clubbing in a massive nightclub later! The heat is bearable as it is a dry heat but apparently steering wheels in vehicles can burn your hands so it is important to check if it has been parked outside for a long time - yikes!
You've probably heard of the famous sail-shaped 7 star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, which sits on its own man-made island and can only be reached by a bridge - well I didn't go there :) I would have liked to but it costs $150 just to take a look inside, and I thought that any place that only costs $150 to look inside the lobby is just not upmarket enough for me hehe :)
I did visit the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, however, for a day at the beach and it was very pleasant indeed. I did enjoy just floating in the warm billowing sea and sitting relaxing on the beach in 39 degrees centigrade of a blistering Dubai afternoon. This hotel is shaped like a wave, and the creativity of these creations is simply amazing and breath-taking.
If you want to experience both new and old in a desert backdrop, there is a dune bashing package, which involves travelling in a 4 x 4 over the peaks and troughs of the Arabian desert sand dunes, followed by sand boarding and then dinner in a tent. When I tried the sand boarding they gave me a bigger board to sit on which was a relief. I wasn't the only one using the bigger one to sit and slide on the dunes so it wasn't too embarrassing. It was way cool. Whilst eating dinner, the food is coupled with the vastness of the desert and this puts a lot of things into perspective and reminds you of the importance of humility.
Other activities include beach tennis, yacht cruises that include an on-board barbeque, mountain safaris, a visit to the Dubai aquarium, a seaplane tour, and mall visits for those who enjoy browsing the country's shops. A lot of activities are aimed at wealthy individuals, but I suppose that is to be expected from a country that has 7 star hotels! :) Even though I'm not a millionaire (yet! :) I did enjoy my time in Dubai and actually found all the paradoxes really very intriguing. Maybe once I make my millions :) I will return and actually visit the Burj Al Arab and not only just to look around! :)