Firstly, sorry there are still no pictures; tomorrow night, I promise.
You've been to Fabulous Las Vegas, right? There's nothing quite like driving through the desert and suddenly coming upon towering buildings, palm trees, and sweeping lights from every angle.
Nothing like it.
Except Dubai; or so I thought.
At first, Dubai is a towering oasis, both physically and culturally. It's a bit of a break from some of the more orthodox places in the region, and it is a welcome source in a sea of sand and...well it's right on the sea, too. Just like Vegas (except for the water sea part).
But, that's really where the comparison ends.
Click through for the rest of the story...
Firstly, Dubai is immense. I shot a panorama of a part of the skyline the other day and it took, like, eight frames, and there was still more to go! Where Vegas is walkable, Dubai has a metro for good reason. Plus, it seems that the Emirati have more in common with Texans than casino owners: everything is the world's biggest.
Biggest shopping mall, biggest indoor ski hill, biggest man mares island, worlds only seven star hotel, and, of course, the world's tallest building. Right up there with "world's biggest state not purchased from Russia" if you ask me. This tower, for instance is absolutely visible from everywhere in the city, and it rises like a finger from the desert dunes on a clear day.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Well, there's nothing going on in Dubai that you wouldn't write to your grandma about. It's pretty great that way. The most provocative image I saw in Dubai was the American Eagle Outfitters ad on the building across from my hotel. I've only been to Vegas once, but I couldn't even look at the sidewalk without being targeted for...things that should stay in Vegas. There're no casinos, as far as I could tell, and I'm not even sure that you could place bets at the horse track--they just really like well bred horses. I'm told that these things can be found if one looks, but in Vegas one doesn't have to search.
What can also be found is food from every region of the world. Nonetheless, the Lebanese fare remains my fav. I tried a new thing called vine leaves. It's great leaves wrapped around rice with spices and marinade. Very rich, very tasty.
So, it makes a truly family friendly place to visit. And I met many families who work in the nearby countries as expatriates doing just that for the Christmas holidays.
I met lots of people while I was in Dubai. However, only two of them are from Dubai. Everyone else is from everywhere else, but especially India, Pakistan, and Philippines. See, there's lot of work to be done in Dubai at lots of levels, and not a lot of people to do it. The strange thing, though, is the huge disparity between classes. Migrant laborers may make a couple of hundred dollars a month, whereas the middle-class are probably making several thousand each month and up! My middle class american income is piddling compared to theirs.
Really eye opening, this traveling thing.
Finally, the only thing I have to find fault with Dubai in general is that it's so far away! We're talking twenty hours or so each way from SLC, and that's just airtime, not to mention getting to the airport through snowy passes each way (oh, and you should definitely go in the winter when it's only 80 or 90 degrees) and layovers in airports and Italians complaining about crying babies. No sense traveling around the world; I think if you need a desert fix, there's always Phoenix...or Elko.
Pictures to come.
Disclaimer: when I say Las Vegas, of course I mean the strip. I've visited some very nice neighborhoods in Las Vegas. Heck, some of my best friends are Vegans.