Dubai, United Arab Emirates
We had just two days to whizz around the huge and shiny city, so we got to it quickly after a lavish buffet Christmas breakfast (albeit with a distinct lack of bacon or pork sausages). We decided to begin our first day in the more traditional and modest area of Dubai Creek, and end in the new (ish) outrageously big Mall of the Emirates. In the Dubai Creek area, we wound our way through the spice market filled with all manner of colourful and fragrant spices and herbs…and lots of things we didn’t recognise. We continued along the shopping streets to the Abra (traditional boat) station for a ride across to the other side of the creek. For just one dirham (38 cents) we got onboard with a bunch of locals and jumped off at the textile market for a quick look around before walking over to the historic neighbourhood of Al Fahidi. From there it was onto the impressive metro system for the long ride over to the Mall of the Emirates. The mall is just enormous and home to every shop you can imagine, as well as a small ski resort, which we had considered hitting up, but our aching legs told us not to—a nap seemed like a better option. We had no idea how sprawling the city is, thinking we could walk to the sights was a rookie mistake!
Next day we took things a little more slowly, it was our 300th and final day of touristing after all. We headed out to see the huge Burj Khalifa—the world’s tallest building at 825m tall and an imposible thing to photograph. We arrived just in time for the slightly underwhelming but still somehow over-the-top fountain show at the Dubai Water Fountain outside the Burj. We then headed inside the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall (of course) for lunch. We metroed back to our hotel with just enough time for a quick swim before we packed our bags, sought out dinner and prepared for our return to Australia.
We found Dubai to be a really interesting place, a real place of contrasts. We were intrigued by some of the more unexpected paradoxes—a man in full traditional clothing sitting at McDonald’s reading the paper and a lady dressed in a niqab with an iPhone and Gucci sunglasses tucked in underneath her veil, for example. It seemed to be the way here, shiny metro stations and huge glittering buildings sat next to dusty simpler neighbourhoods and brash western consumerist outlets played traditional music to signal prayer time and displayed signs asking for conservative modesty. Fascinating!