Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
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Trip End May 15, 2011


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Where I stayed
Tahitian Princess

Flag of United Arab Emirates  , Dubayy,
Sunday, April 5, 2009



Late last night the Tahitian Princess sailed thru the
Straits of Hormuz and into the Persian (or Arabian Gulf). If you are an Arab
then it is the Arabian Gulf. Others called it the Persian Gulf. We steered to
port and headed for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Although the city of Dubai has
been in existence for over 150 years, it was not until after 1971 when the Emirates
band together as the United Arab Emirates that Dubai has flourished. With oil
money to fill its coffers, the UAE in general and Dubai in specific has had
money to do many large and expensive projects. The UAE knows that the oil
reserves it owns are quickly running out and they will need to move beyond oil
revenues to fuel their economy. They have decided to transform the country from
an oil producing country to a country that earns it revenue by tourism and
trading. They are on a dedicated and frantic mission to transform the country
within a few short years. This transformation started about 5 years ago and is
occurring at a maddening pace. The country has a large amount of foreign
workers who can live and work in Dubai, but not become a citizen of the UAE or
share in its prosperity. There are large numbers of men from the Indian
subcontinent that live and work in Dubai for meager wages under poor living
conditions. These male labors are not allowed to bring their families into the
Federation of UAE. This along with a strict code of dress and relationships
that is one of the most liberal in the Middle East, makes Dubai an anomaly in
the Middle East.

From the moment that we awoke and looked out into the port of Dubai, we could
see the most common and definitive symbol of the city; the heavy construction
crane. There are more heavy construction cranes in Dubai than in any other city
in the world. The entire city appears to be under construction. Everywhere we
looked there was a new building project under way.

The entire Federation of the United Arab Emirates is desert and was originally
populated mostly with Bedouins, a nomadic tribal race of desert dwellers. 

The three days before our visit there was heavy rain in Dubai. But the White
Lady's Luck continued to hold. We walked out on deck to a bright sunny day that
was warm but not hot and the humidity that was so heavy in India was gone. To
describe the weather would be to say it was near perfect. We arrived in Dubai
just between the cold and hot weather periods to enjoy this wonderful weather. 

We had been informed of a dress code for Dubai. To conform to the code we wore
long pants and golf shirts so that we would be casual but acceptable in any
environment that we might venture during the day. Our clothing ensured that
Harriet's shoulders were covered and both of us had our knees covered. We also
refrained from any public display of affection for the day. I also wore my hat
for sun protection. We arose early so by the 7:00AM docking we had already
dressed and had breakfasted. We were ready to disembark and go thru emigration.
This proved to be an easy emigration as we just picked up a generic landing
card as we checked off the ship. So we quickly disembarked the ship and entered
a large tent that was serving as a ship terminal until the new one could be
built. Inside we picked up a map and met with five other couples that we would
be touring with for most of the day. We had decided not to take the Hop on Hop
off bus and rather go as a small group with two taxi vans. One of the couples
had arranged for the taxis at $50 a couple which was less than the $55 a person
required on the Hop on Hop off Bus. We felt confident in his negotiations as
the British Gentleman was a previous owner of an accounting firm before he
retired and he had traveled in Dubai before this trip.  The taxis would
take us to a set of prearranged stops and then wait for us. The entire tour
would take about 4 hours and we would then be dropped off at a shopping area
for the duration of the afternoon. 

We boarded the taxis and headed out along the beach to see the sights of Dubai.
The first impression of Dubai is that everywhere you go there is new
construction project furiously being built. You can feel the strict timeframe
that the city is on to become a tourist attraction for the world. I say world
because that is what they are planning on becoming. Every project is designed
to be bigger and better than the previous one: the tallest building, the
largest amusement park, the largest indoor skiing facility, and etc. The
mountains that were once looming over the horizon to the east of the city are
now mostly gone as the rock has been brought into Dubai and deposited just off
the shore line to form large man-made islands such as Palm Islands and The
Universe. As we drove down the beach area to the Burj al Arab Hotel on the
beach between The Universe and Palm Islands; we saw construction of many
hotels, stores, mosques and other supporting structures. The road was wide, new
and smooth. The Burj al Arab Hotel is a large hotel that was built in the shape
of a gigantic sail on the beaches of Dubai. But the design revealed a feature
that was not intended to be in the design. Much like the potato that resembles
a face, the view of the hotel from the sea reveals what could be considered a
Cross. Before this was recognized the hotel's image was placed on the UAE
currency. So now countries like Saudi Arabia will not accept UAE currency.
Arabs will not stay in the hotel. It is too big and beautiful to destroy so it
is a hotel for non-Arabs. This is one of the dichotomies of Dubai. It is trying
to be an ultra-modern cosmopolitan center but is being restricted by many old
and deeply held beliefs from the past. Its fašade is a modern 21st Century city
but underling the fašade is century's old beliefs and traditions that cannot be
swept away in a few short decades of modernization. 

As only guest may enter the grounds of the Burl al Arab Hotel we stopped at the
Jemeirah Beach Hotel for some beach shots of the Burj al Arab Hotel. Although
not famous as its neighbor the Jemeirah was a beautiful hotel with equally
beautiful grounds. We stopped and got our beach photos of the hotel built like
a sail. But we had more to see so we headed off to our next stop on this
Arabian Adventure.

Our next stop was out on the Palm Islands at the Atlantis Hotel. This hotel is
located at the far point of the man-made island that is shaped like a palm
tree. We drove out thru the construction and the tunnels to the farthest point
on the island away from shore. It was the fantastic Atlantis Hotel. This bright
pink hotel is enormous in size. At the very center of the hotel is a large, no
extremely large aquarium that is about fifty feet in diameter and two stories
high. Inside of the aquarium is a replicated scene of a sunken Atlantis with
fish of many varies and sizes. As one would expect from an aquarium this large
there would be large fish populating the tank. The effect was that of a diver
looking around at the real sunken Atlantis. Also in the hotel was an outside
pool where one could swim with dolphins. Large eating areas and fashion
boutiques also filled the downstairs hall. And from the rooms above were
beautiful views of either the Persian Gulf or the Palm Island and Dubai. But as
our cab driver informed us, this was not an inexpensive place. Most things in
Dubai are not price conscience. The developers of Dubai are building a
playground for the extremely wealthy. 

Everywhere we drove in Dubai, one building was always in view. It is the Burj
Tower. It will official open 09/09/09 and then will be the tallest building in
the world with 220 stories. As it, like most of Dubai, is still in the
construction phase, we were not able to go into the building and instead
stopped a block away and took pictures of this ultra-tall skyscraper that will
be one of the icons that define Dubia. This was a quick stop as it was a
photographic opportunity only. We were quickly back into taxis and headed for
our next destination; the Mall of the Emirates. What makes this mall special
outside of it enormous size is the fact that it has the largest indoor ski
resort in the world. Yes, here in the middle of the Arabian Desert is a ski
resort with people downhill skiing, riding toboggans, and enjoying other winter
rides in a -4 degree environment where it actually snows. Hundreds of stores
complete the mall so that its shoppers do not need to go anywhere else to shop.
People were dressed in various manners from women in Bourikas and men in white
flowing robes to men and women in slacks like you would see in any western
store. But there were no shorts or shirts that exposed the shoulders. 

An interesting feature of the malls and the hotels was that they did not appear
to be crowded; they were in fact rather empty. The streets were loaded with
automobiles and workers, but this did not seem to overflow into the malls and
buildings. This could be due to the fact of the large number of malls and the
large size of the malls

We next headed into heavier traffic as we crossed thru town to the Al Karma
area which is noted for its good bargains in clothing, jewelry, and other
fashions. This would be our last stop on the taxi tour and we would then be
able to disburse to secondary areas that were of interest to each specific
couple. We left the group at this time to do a little shopping but to make our
way to the Dubai Creek Golf Resort, the first site of the Dubai Classic Golf
Tournament. We exchanged some money to UAE Dirhams and headed off to shop our
way to the Golf Resort. We made an interesting discovery. On several of the
sidewalks were vending machines that dispensed water along with other soft
drinks. The water was only 1 dirham or about $0.27 US for a regular size bottle
of drinking water. This was a great deal for an item that was needed in the
desert; water. Even though the temperature was not especially hot, the water
was a welcomed refreshment. But we had a destination in mind and were intent on
going there next for our adventure in Dubai. It was the Dubai Creek Golf Resort
and it was now close to us. We just had to cross the Dubai Creek and go down
the far side a couple of miles. We opted to take a taxi to the Resort. When we
refer to the Dubai Creek, do not imagine a small narrow stream, but remember
that a creek can be of indeterminate size but it is not long enough to be
called a river. So it was with the Dubai Creek which was called a creek because
of it length not its width. 

Like most of the areas of Dubai, the entrance and drive into the Dubai Creek
Golf Resort was impressive. Especially impressive to us as this was the first
golf course we had been on in over three months and this was the course that
hosted the first Dubai Classic.  The Club House was a nice building that
housed a good selection of equipment and clothing. We entered and did some
souvenir shopping. On the far side of the Club House, we walked out to the
putting and chipping greens with a driving range on the side. On the other side
of the driving range was the golf course. It was large and well maintained. The
fairways were green and lush with only a low rough area on the side. There were
sand bunkers and large water hazards that belied the fact that we were standing
in what once was just a desert. The temperature was in the mid 80's and a soft
breeze blew over the course just hard enough to cool but not shorten a high
drive. We walked around and renewed our love of the game of golf. Even though
we were halfway around the world we had a familiar feeling being on the
fairway. The course sits on the edge of the river and is surrounded but not
overcome by a high city skyline. Again although large, the course was not
crowded with golfers. This was a great stop for Harriet and me. Everyone on the
course was exceptionally friendly to us and even called a taxi for us when we
were ready to return to the ship. The taxi was a new Lexus taxi with a very
nice Pakistani driver. He spoke flawless English and provided us a very
enjoyable ride back to the ship.  

Back on ship we had a snack and talked about the city of Dubai. It is a modern
city with no slums or poor inhabitants. Unlike Saudi Arabia which believes that
the oil riches belong to a single family, the UAE believes that the oil riches
belong to the UAE native population. To be a citizen of UAE, you must be born
of a UAE father. There is no naturalization process to become a citizen of the
UAE. The spreading of the wealth means that all of the citizens of the country
are able to enjoy all of the bounties that come from being an oil rich country.

Will Dubai be able to become the Tourist Destination for the wealthy? Only time
will tell, but we can say that Dubai is not immune to the current worldwide
economic downturn. Several large projects like the new airport and a new
gigantic man-made island complex have been put on hold because of the current
state of the world economy. The world is truly tied together economically. 

Dubai is a city that has removed its history and it history will now start from
the present and continue on into the future.

Before we reach our next destination the White Lady must run the early part of
the gauntlet. That is the Gulf of Admen from the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea.
This is an area of increase security as it is an area of high piracy. We will
discuss this area more later on in the blog. But next we will be in Salalah,
Oman in the Gulf of Admen. It is a small port that is infrequently visited by
cruise ships.

*************************************

Where is Harriet? Hunt 

In this hunt Harriet is standing in front of the Burj Towere, soon to be the
tallest building in the world. This may not be as hard a challenge as some pf
the previous hunts, but it does showcase the tallest building in the world.
Don't get distracted. 

Finding Harriet was Chrystal followed by Sharon,
Linda, and Brenda.




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