Night drive to Dubai

Trip Start May 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  , Dubai,
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Landed in Abu Dhabi. Out of the 200+ passengers, only 30 or so are at the luggage claim. The others have a connecting flight to Bangkok. They all looked like they were happy tgo go on holliday anyway.
My suitcase arrives, there is a big C on each side drawn in white. This feels like Algeria, it was the same thing every and each time. Heading to the green alley, I got stopped by customs, of course, sir can you please come over here, please open your luggage etc...
The officer was young and very very cautious to search every inch of whatever was in my bag. After 10 minutes he had been through about only a quarter of it, his boss came over, they talked in Arabic, he asked me if I had video CDs, no I did not, ok you can go sir...
There are a lot of things prohibited in the UAE, but the customs were only looking for porn material... what does this tells me? That the rest of prohibited things is not so hard to obtain? Wait and see...
Among all the Indian guys holding a piece of paper, one of them had my name printed on it. Exiting the airport, I first thought well that's not so hot, then the fresh airconditionned air that had stayed in my clothes heated up within seconds, and there it was, factual: at 9pm it was damn hot, and very, very humid. It felt like landing in Port Harcourt, during my Nigerian time. The smell of cigarettes is different in the warm moisture. Even though I quit smoking I could feel, or maybe remember, the smoke thicker, heavier in the lungs. I like that smell. Like any smell that makes you instantly travel to past times.
Walking in the car park, I noted that all vehicles were big and shiny. Then I noted they had all that layer of dust, thin sand that gets everywhere and sticks onto everything. But still, they were shining! Hey, can't destroy prejudices so fast, right? Mind the sand and dust, It had to be shiny, I am in the UAE!
Chatting with my driver about the Emirates, the population, faiths, etc... we were speeding at 160km/h to the north. Soon we exited the city of Abu Dhabi, and we were on a four by four lane highway, fully lit, with some traffic. Sometimes on the side, at about 50m from the higway, there was a restaurant, neon flashing in the middle of nowhere. And everytime, a file of cars, parked on the side of the highway (!!!) the occupants having jumped over the barriers to go for a snack...
As we entered Dubai, the driver slowed down to 140km/h, following the legal speed limit. First thing you notice is that Dubai is full of light and cranes. One building out of two is under construction, and they are no small buildings. We drove past the Burj el Arab, that luxury hotel that rises above the sea, and then the Burj tower, still under construction but already the highest building in the world. By all means, this is known as the city of everything artificial...
I finally got to my hotel, the food was cheaper than I expected, the room had a kitchen, nice... and I had forgotten to bring a swimming suit, so I could not use the rooftop swimming pool.
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