Jul 092013

Posted from Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Our holiday finally came up and we arrived in Dubai, our stop over choice on our way to Bali.

The city often associated with luxury, extravaganza, futuristic mega-projects, Las Vegas style cheesiness and often believed to be a city state in its own right, which it is not.

We only had 3 days and were determined to check all of the must-see boxes.

Our day 1 was about Dubai’s origins. This is best seen in the north of Dubai – Deira, Bur Dubai, Dubai Creek and Bastakia Quarter. The Deira offers the raw experience of the famous souks (street markets). We visited the most important ones – Spice, Gold and Perfume souks. This is where one haggles with the merchants and gets constantly harassed to enter someone’s shop and buy stuff. It’s fun though!

Short water taxi ride across the Dubai Creek for 20 pence (GBP) landed us in Bur Dubai, the old Dubai where the Dubai Museum provided a short and clear synopsis of the city’s history. In short, if you were to come here a bit over 100 years ago, you’d find a couple of small villages surrounded by desert – Dubai and Deira. The two were strategically well positioned on a trade route from Iran, but not much else was going on. The trade route did lay down foundations to today’s success, that’s for sure.

The breakthrough came with the discovery of oil in 1960′s (as one would expect). What differentiated the emirate from its neighbours was the ambition to be more than only an oil exporter. Today’s economy profits from tourism and finance as much as it does from oil.

The area of Old Dubai is tiny compared to the New Dubai that we discovered on day 2 & 3. There are nearly 100 sky scrapers painting the city’s skyline. All of them were rapidly raised in the past few years only. We visited the tallest of them all – Burj Khalifa – and took a few shots from the visitor’s observatory on the 125th floor. Dubai mall is the largest mall in the world with its 1200 stores and is to be superseded by yet a larger one that is already being constructed a short ride outside of Dubai with planned 2000 stores. Yes, crazy … We have also visited the artificial Palm island, the Atlantis hotel, seen the 7* Burj al Arab hotel (from outside only!), etc. There is enough crazy stuff to see – indoor ski slope, mega indoor aquarium and ice rink – but not the type of stuff we typically get excited about.

Our favourite moment came with our half day trip to the desert on our Platinum Heritage tour. We learnt about the desert, saw local conservation area, learnt about the falconry, camel racing and ate some typical emirate food.

Overall, we enjoyed our time here. It’s a good stop over destination and for those with kids it can be easily more with the abundance of theme parks and attractions. I’m sure we’ll do another stop over in the future, but then there will be bigger, higher, faster and richer things to see – I’m sure about that ;o))