Sunday, April 20, 2008


Stu, Josh, Kaden, and I went to Dubai this weekend. (Finally, right? Lol) The drive there was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was boring as all Hell. Those who have had the opportunity to drive through Nevada know what I am talking about. It was just sand. And then more sand. Followed by sand.

But Dubai is pretty cool. It is a lot like Abu Dhabi, but much cleaner. It felt more like a “real” city. Meaning it felt familiar, American, in a sense. Abu Dhabi is a great city, but it is very second world still. The UAE is a developing nation and Abu Dhabi feels right at home there. Dubai is much more modern. It had the same designer boutiques Abu Dhabi has. Which, coming from Idaho, is still pretty exciting every time I walk into a Mall and pass a Gucci, Armani, and Coach to get to Starbucks.

It’s more visually friendly there as well. They have done an impeccable job making sure the beautification is well beyond adequate. The streets are almost all lined with very green grass and flowers or trees. The streets are kept swept, and the architecture is even more stunning than we are used to in Abu Dhabi (which says a lot, actually).

I can never avoid an adventure on my trips out of the apartment and this trip was not to let me down. We stopped at a rest stop between Abu Dhabi and Dubai because I had to use the bathroom REALLY bad. We go into what in the States would be the COOLEST rest stop EVER, but seems pretty normal here. It was like a mini shopping mall. It had a food court with Popeye’s, Burger King, etc. and a place to buy trinkets or clothing…. And it had bathrooms. Sort of. I found the “ladies toilet” after an exhaustive search and finally looking BEHIND the door the Arab man kept motioning toward that said “Employees Only”. I go in and here, all of the stalls have full-length, latching doors. They must think we are truly barbaric if they visit the US. Anyway, but to my dismay, behind these beautiful, private doors, is but a hole in the floor. A very clean, porcelain hole, but a hole nonetheless. I pray that this particular stall is just a hole and start looking in all the others hoping in vain for a hole that has a toilet situated above it. None such luck. So I start working out the physics in my head about how in the world I am going to squat over this thing and not pee on my shoes, or worse my PANTS, and then I realize not only is there merely a hole, but there is no toilet paper. Sighhhhhh…

I have been warned of the certain places here that don’t supply toilet paper, (all toilets are equipped with a spray nozzle that looks like the one on our typical kitchen sinks back home… yeah, that just “sprits” away and call it good) but I have had the good fortune of avoiding such places in favor of the more “touristy” places (malls, etc.) that supply paper. Since we are 75 kilometers from Dubai I know my options are to just “go” here, sans toilet paper, or to see my pants in the car. I decide on the latter.

Just kidding. But I went the whole rest of the day grossed out that I had to “rough it” even more so than camping (I at least bring toilet paper!). Aside from that slightly mortifying experience, the day was pretty cool. I absolutely loved the mall we went to, it was shaped like a Pyramid and had all the Egyptian themes you would expect. Very intricate. And then in the bottom was an absolutely gorgeous souk. We ended up buying three paintings there and the guy gave me a jewelry box for free. I had mentioned how a lot of the things in there reminded me of a jewelry box my Dad brought home for me when he was in the Middle East ten years ago. He said a lot of Syrian crafts have the jewels inlaid in the wood, and use this dark, beautiful wood. I have no idea what kind it is, but it stands out as unique. And familiar in this case.

These are the paintings we bought.

We decided to eat dinner at this little Italian restaurant at the Jumierah Hotel. It is neat because it too has a little souk set up within it, and you can see the Burj Al Arab Hotel. It is a staple of Dubai and has been acknowledged as the “best hotel in the world” by Institutional Investor Magazine and World Travel Awards 2007. It is designed to look like a billowing sail and is 321 meters tall. When you book a room there you get a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and a butler. Needless to say, it is ungodly expensive, but very pretty! As I was writing this I got interested in what a stay there would be and I checked the rates. To stay in the very cheapest room, at a discounted off-season rate, is nearly 7,000 Dirham per night (about $2,000 American)!

Anyway, that was basically our first trip to Dubai. We took lots of pictures so enjoy them!

This is what it looks like the whole way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai...

Stu was pretty excited to see this! :)

Hard Rock Cafe!

This is the Burj Dubai (in the middle, through the haze). It is currently under construction and as of yesterday, April 19th 2008, (the day we were there!) it became the tallest free standing man-made structure in the world, as well as the tallest building in the world! The final projected height is being kept secret, but it also holds the record of being the building with the most floors (currently 164, and counting). Previously the Sears Tower held this record. It also set the record of vertical concrete pumping on any building at 1,483 feet surpassing Taipei 101.

A typical street sign, with both English and Arabic.

Dubai has a Subway!

A tunnel.

The waterfall in front of the Hyatt.

This is outside of the Pyramid Mall I was talking about.

Pretty cool, huh?

Inside the mall: one of the many designer stores we don't see a lot of in small-town America. This is Versace.

Again, in American malls, there is not this much detail!

The ceiling

That little "nook" is a huge store inside with secret passageways and very over-priced-but-cool items that feel sort of "Edgar Allen Poe".

This is the souk under the mall. Gorgeous or what?

Look at the detail in the railing. I must have taken literally forever to carve this much wood!

Josh and Stuart. Look at the doors and the hanging lights. It was so pretty.

Jesus!!! In Arabia!!! Will never see this again. Also in this souk I found the first cross necklace (crucifix) that I have seen in this country.

The outside of a window to a shop.

A door to a shop.

Burj Al Arab

I like this one. We are standing on the beach with the Burj in the background.

Hello Gulf!

A pretty Mosque.

I just really liked this picture. City in the background.

We drove out onto the trunk of the Jumierah Palm and these are some of the condos that are there. Everything is extremely expensive there.

This was as we were leaving dinner. You can see the resturants along the water.

Men and their Italian sports cars, eh? Stu is with a Ferrari. A common sight here. And Porches are a dime a dozen here. (or they SEEM to be as many as are here)

The hotel where we had dinner. You can see a man to the right standing in a boat. They take you on a cruise or to your room if you are staying there. Very intimate and romantic.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, I have to come to the middle east now. I have to see this stuff 1st hand cuz honestly, my life is not complete until that time........ :-) love you guys!