Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snapshots of Dubai

“Dubai was not what I was expecting it to be. Before I went there I had visions of it being a tropical paradise, complete with beaches, sand dunes and glorious sunshine.

The weather lived up to what we were expecting. The days were filled with blue skies and were followed by amazing sunsets. The only real downer was that we visited during Ramadan (the time of fasting for Muslims before the celebrations of Eid), and whilst the hotels were exempt from the rules, we found it very difficult not being able to even sip water in public.

While a lot of the public were very friendly, helpful and pleasant, the patriarchal nature of the place can be slightly unnerving for a Western female visitor at times, and during this religious period some days could prove to be a bit of a struggle for a tourist not au fait with the accepted practices.

Great for a beach holiday, but not necessarily all it could be for a romantic getaway.”

(Bethany Whatley, 24 year-old Financial Advisor. Rayne, England)

“As a destination for a pre-meditated culture shock and a taste of Arabian magic, Dubai perhaps doesn’t live up to places such as Oman, Egypt or Morocco, but it is truly a class apart in its own way.

Dubai is striving to be a world economic power and even more of a tourist hotspot, and development here is at fever pitch, with cranes, skyscrapers and multi-billion dollar hotels at every turn. It is already home to such landmark 6* and 7* hotels as the Burj Al Arab and to some of the world’s finest golf and beach resorts.

Walks through the local souks (bazaar-like markets) can mesmerise visitors, as they stride past exotic scents of halal meat dishes, ground spices and burning incense. Shoppers can be forgiven for looking lustfully at the burgeoning displays of Middle-Eastern gold jewellery and deciding to buy their relatives a full wardrobe of the national dress (dishdasha, agal, gutra and gafia). Haggling is always a good skill to have on a trip here.

With the adventure and photography opportunities presented by beautiful red sand dunes on one side, the allure of clean sand beaches and blue sea on the other and majestic dhows moored in the Creek, Dubai certainly can be a fantastic destination - just remember your sun block and plenty of cash for the inevitable shopping spree!”

(Niven Whatley, 28 year-old Media Sales Executive. London, England)

• “Dubai - multicultural centre in the United Arab Emirates with a warm and friendly atmosphere.

• A place where people from all sorts of backgrounds can interact.

• Relaxed living with a variety of cultural influences

• A place for the future, where massive development can be seen taking place before your very eyes.”

(Colin Whatley, 22 year-old Masters Student. Glasgow, Scotland)

“From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, Dubai offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors.

The emirate embraces a wide variety of scenery in a very small area. In a single day, the tourist can experience everything from rugged mountains and awe-inspiring sand dunes to sandy beaches and lush green parks, from dusty villages to luxurious residential districts and from ancient houses with windtowers to ultra-modern shopping malls.

The emirate is both a dynamic international business centre and a laid-back tourist escape; a city where the sophistication of the 21st century walks hand in hand with the simplicity of a bygone era.

But these contrasts give Dubai its unique flavour and personality; a cosmopolitan society with an international lifestyle, yet with a culture deeply rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia.

Since earliest times, Dubai has been a meeting place, bringing together the Bedouin of the desert interior with the pearl-diver, the merchant of the city with the sea-going fisherman.”

(From the website

“The nightlife here is booming. There are so many clubs to go to, I cannot even mention them all here.

I suggest you get Time Out Magazine when you come and have a look inside it.
In that magazine you can see some of the choices you have here.

Meeting people here is very easy............”

(Comment by contributor, ‘mismanzoor’ lifted from a tourist forum )

“I would really recommend the Bastakiya Walking Tour offered by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding It's a tour of the old windtower houses next to Dubai Creek.

Bastakiya is full of restored original Dubai homes, many now used as cafes and art galleries. It's a very small area, but one of the few truly historic parts of Dubai. Do the walking tour, have a lunch in one of the cafes there (I recommend XVA or Basta Art Cafe - you'll pass both on the tour), then walk around the corner to the Dubai Museum in the afternoon. Afterwards you can walk along the creekside and perhaps take a trip across the creek in an abra (water taxi).

A great day out with real Arabian flavour.”

(Comment by contributor, ‘trailingspouse’ lifted from a tourist forum )

“The normal tourist probably does not venture out into the 'outback of Dubai.'

If you do, I strongly recommend visiting if you are looking into adventure, and if you are looking at glamorous fun I suggest you look at

Visiting areas outside Dubai can also let you see some beautiful sights. If you have kids take them to the Children's Museum. Dubai also has some nice parks for a BBQ and a walk, especially the Creek Park and Zabeel Park.”

(Comment by contributor, ‘dxblime’ lifted from a tourist forum )

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