|Big bold Burj|
Breaking the journey from Australia back to blighty at the Emirates airline hub in Dubai is a good way of making you feel you’re not really going home yet.
After almost going bust a few years ago Dubai has pulled itself up by its Shopping Malls and is back in the tourist game once more.It did need to have its debts underwritten to the tune of 10 billion dollars by the UAE president, Khalifa Bin Zayed though. There would have been no use asking the Co op bank for instance. Vey much worth a look if you are passing through ( a lot of passing through goes on at the amazingly busy Dubai airport, a hub to everywhere) is the tallest building in the world which opened here in 2010. It was to be called the Burj Dubai but was hastily renamed the Burj Khalifa after Dubai borrowed the equivalent of the world’s biggest cup of sugar from its oil rich next door neighbour.
It is an impressive feat in anyone’s book to have built this is only six years. Newcastle City Council have taken longer than that to fix the pot holes in the road outside my house. In Dubai – what the Sheik says – goes, no arguments, no interminable elections no democratic dithering. Dubai is all about excess and confidence. It doesn’t have any oil now so tourism and its international reputation are paramount. As well as the rather spectacular Burj Kalifa (which incidentally features in the new Tom Cruise Mission Impossible film to excellent effect) Dubai has pulled off another two ‘biggest in the worlds’ in the last few years. The Dubai fountains – designed by the team responsible for the Bellagio Fountains in Vegas – are the largest most spectacular musical fountains on the planet. They are lit by 6.600 lights and are 275m long. They are indeed quite breathtaking.
A menu of musical programmes is on offer which are all controlled by computers, and perform for about 10 minutes every half an hour or so into the inky Arabic night. The thud of the great jets shooting up at each crescendo is heart stopping.
The next must see attraction is the Dubai Mall, again the biggest in the world they say. It is very up scale and has lots and lots of very lovely shops, plus the impressive addition of a giant shark tunnel featuring some sharp toothed residents actually inside the Mall itself.
|Spice spice baby…|
Having pointed out the spectacular, I still think the things I liked best about Dubai were not these man made feats of ambitious arrogance but the remaining bits of the original small Arabic settlement on the Dubai creek that was. You can still cross the river on a water taxi for the princely sum of one Dirham (about 10p) and mooch around the old spice market or the gold souks which are full of gold obviously, but also some cracking diamonds and gemstones at very reasonable prices. I did buy an astonishing Tanzanite and Diamond ring there which I shall treasure and could not possibly have found in our lacklustre jewellers at home.
The Burj Khalifa proudly boasts:“I am the heart of city and its people, the marker that defines Emaar’s ambition and Dubai’s shining dream’ Well that grand statement may be true and advanced as the country seems to be in many ways, Dubai still has its women walking around covered in black table cloths (sorry Hijabs) even though apparently they are all wearing stuff from Top Shop underneath. A contradiction of Western consumerism and Middle Eastern tradition it is a city to marvel at if not one to steal your heart.