Most have stayed in Dubai, a popular city for various reasons and many would probably like to visit it. This was perhaps my third or fourth visit. the last one was a decade back; on this occasion we imposed ourselves on our very dear relatives and enjoyed their grateful hospitality! They kept us engaged throughout with the sight and sound of Dubai for over a month!
My first impression of Dubai as an artificial island has not changed even after making rounds of the latest that it offers in terms of buildings, theme parks, entertainment avenues, gardens, commercial facilities, and so on. Every bit on the island is a copy or replica of various well known feature on the globe. Is it for the benefit of those tourists who may not get the opportunity to admire the London Eye in London, the Chrysler building in New York, the Taj Mahal in India, the Pyramids in Cairo and so on? Or is it for the benefit of the expatriates coming from various multifarious regions of the world, to make them feel at home? It may satisfy the young and impressionable visitors, however, to me Dubai had nothing new or fascinating to offer.
The vision and the practice of the rulers of this region is really amazing! Is their thinking arising from a complex or is it through bluster and brag and the craving to reach out to achieve far more than others? The tallest building in the world presently is the Burj Khalifa, however a new one is under construction which will be much higher; the Miracle garden is projected as the largest garden found anywhere; a shopping complex is under construction which will occupy the largest area amongst the Malls from all over. Whew, it certainly is amazing!
The Miracle garden was in full bloom and a beautiful pleasant illusion for soothing the eyes. It is really a miracle to grow over hundreds varieties of flowers and shrubs with variety of hedges and trees in the very vast sandy land mass, using recycled wastewater to irrigate them. The choice of flowers in the garden and sculpturing the hedges to create various shapes of birds and animals of various sizes are unique and imaginative. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and the ride on the cart in the garden though it did occur to me that the sheer mass clutter of flowers in the restricted space did deter me to pick and choose the ones that I could sit with for a while and enjoy their beauty and fragrance. I suppose if the garden is spread out more, each variety of flower would beckon you to have a closer look!
The much touted Desert Safari, was a bit of let down, especially for my wife who did not enjoy the bumpy ride in the Land Rover through a few kilometers of not so scary desert. I had earlier experience of long drives in the Jongas in the Thar desert therefore the short journey lasting half an hour or so in the Land Rover was pretty smooth! After the ride our driver took us to one of the 19 camps organised in the desert for the visitors where refreshment, dinner are served and entertainment provided. The refreshments and dinner were fine so was the service, especially in the huts for which the ticket price is a bit higher. If you have watched reality programs on the TV, the display of dancing with lights and fire burning torches by the camp performers is not so great. The artist performing belle dance can not be compared with those you may have seen in private parties or five star hotels, however, the first time watchers will certainly find them entertaining. The Desert Safari, is more of a window to Dubai sandy stretch with some thrill and entertainment thrown in.
I avoid shopping Malls and Dubai has many, which my wife did visit. Not very impressed with the quality and price of the items displayed, she thankfully kept her purse shut We did visit the beaches and the enjoyed the fine breeze along with the antics of the vendor, who has a very delightful and hilarious method of serving the ice cream to his clients.
The Global village does give an insight to the famous buildings and architecture of various nations. It also displays their products and produces which are available at reasonable rates. The Atlantis Jumeirah Beach hotel has a beautiful aquarium. It’s uniqueness lies in the large wall to wall glass fish tanks, with plants, sand and rocks, allowing variety of species of fish of all size and shape to swim and rest.
Across the restaurant near the Burj Khalifa hotel, are the water fountains which jump, swerve and dance to the music, and present a pretty enjoyable sight. The restaurant offers delicious cuisine of various variety; the Lebanese dishes did improve our appetite as we sat down and kept ordering them.
I played golf on the Meydan Golf course, the greens and the fairways are well maintained and from it the view all around is very pleasant. The rates compare with most clubs in USA despite of cheaper labor costs in Dubai.
On leaving Dubai,we thanked our host and the Almighty for a very enjoyable stay. However, I kept questioning myself; does Dubai offer any original space or building for me to visit and remember, can I take with me any original item made in Dubai, did I savour the native gourmet and native drink, did I breath the native air? Regrettably the answer is obvious no, I left bereft of each and every.
Hopefully my next stop, Egypt will have the right answers!