Monday, 25 March 2013

Dubai has really grown on me.......

In my time in this region, I have passed through the city of Dubai some 15 times at least, either in transit to somewhere else or for a short break there, so I have had some time to get to know this city which we have all marveled at over the last 10 years….
On my first visit, the newness of the city can be a little off-putting, as we Europeans tend to be very used to preserving our heritage and we are always seeking out, the older, cultural parts of a city, but of course, Dubai is not like that, which is not to say the place does not have heritage or tradition, it’s just that you have to go and look for as its not immediately obvious..
A City that’s rises from the desert, and is spread out for many miles along the Arabian gulf coastline, Dubai is in fact one of seven Emirates that make the UAE which is now in its 41st year as a State here, and came together as a grouping of smaller Kingdoms in this region, encouraged by the British, the seven are (for the quiz buffs) Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain. The best known and largest Emirates are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the other ones are much smaller, Fujairah only 1,700 sq.km.
The scale of development of Dubai and the vision of its Leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum or “Big Mo” as he is known affectionately locally, is very impressive, as the city now stands as a very modern, cosmopolitan city and very forward looking.
Dubai Metro
What strikes me about the city (and UAE generally) is how efficiently and impressively everything works, there are three airport terminals which handles literally millions of passengers a year as Dubai is now a Global air travel hub. On leaving Dubai on Friday evening last, I got from the front door of the Terminal 2, through check-in, passports , security and was at the gate in a little more than 10 mins, granted Terminal 2 is much smaller than the other larger Terminals, this is still impressive.
Taxi’s are clean, drivers uniformed and fares fixed, which is in contract to other cities in the region, where you have to haggle at times and the drivers can sometimes require a good scrub, not to mention, I recently had a spin in a taxi in Riyadh which only had 3rd and 4th gear !!
I also took a ride on the new Metro System in Dubai, which is immaculately clean, the stations are futuristic is design and style and yes , it was on time and excellent value.
View from Burj Khalifa
Dubai of course has the world’s largest Shopping Centre (Dubai Mall), Tallest Building (Burj Khalifa) and even an indoor Ski Slope !
Burj Khalifa is well worth a visit, get a ticket to the viewing platform on top for sunset and watch the dancing fountains below, it’s very impressive. Some photos here from the viewing platform, note, there are a further 70 floors overhead.
Culturally Dubai and the UAE are unique, only approx. 20% of the population are in fact Emirati’s so you have this phenomenon where 80% of the population are ex-pats, which makes for a fascinating  mix of everything in city life. Arabic, Asian, Far Eastern, European, Persian , African and American.
I can’t complete this post without mentioned “The Irish Village”, a really super Bar / Restaurant attached to the Tennis Stadium in Dubai, where I enjoyed a late brunch of rasher, sausages fried egg and opint of Guinness last Thursday morning, it’s a very popular social venue in the city and regularly hosts stars such as Tommy Tiernan & Bob Geldof who played here in the last week, staff are super, food is good, its a nice atmosphere and there are even a few ducks quacking about the place….
Dubai has grown on me over my many visits over the last almost 2 years, and is to be congratulated for being such an impressive place to visit, I look forward to my next visit….

Irish Village