Friday, June 8, 2012


Dubai was a relatively comfortable 85°F (32°C) for most of the day. By afternoon, however, we were all feeling the rising temperatures and humidity. Tucson is very hot in the summer months (May through September) often having over 100 days over 100° (38°) albeit with relatively low humidity. My friends coping with the Tucson heat  right now will appreciate this: in the summer months Dubai reaches 122°F (50°C) but with 80% humidity. I’ll take Tucson’s heat and (lack of) humidity any time!

We were late again into port, only and hour and a half this time. A mere nothing in the world of travel problems, certainly not compared to those of our shipmates who disembarked in Mumbai to travel to the Taj Mahal. They missed their flights and finally arrived in Agra at 10:30p, had dinner and had to be up at 4a for the trip to the Taj. All went well until they arrived at 6a in Dubai airport—where they sat for almost three hours as Princess had forgotten to send busses for them! One passenger apparently was so incensed that he physically threatened the staff, police were called, and the Captain Froude felt compelled to make a ship-wide, you-must-listen-to-this, broadcast to the effect that we passengers were NOT to threaten his staff! He was definitely pissed!

We on Narelle’s tour were blissfully ignorant of this drama unfolding at the airport and at shipside where these poor passengers—up since midnight to catch their 4a (!) flight—were denied boarding until ALL the disembarking passengers had gotten off.

We had a wonderful tour of Dubai with a guide who is South African but has been in Dubai for 16 years. She even brought her 16 year-old daughter Camilla with her so she could better understand her mother’s job. She was offered a hundred camels for her while on tour with us. Our guide had no concept, however, of what a “short walk” was. Poor Narelle, who has mobility issues, gamely walked places that she probably shouldn’t have because the guide said, “Just a few steps!” For example, to get to the Burj Khalifa, the bus had to drop us “just a short walk from the Mall,” which I estimate was about a half mile, mostly in the heat and humidity of the late Dubai afternoon.

We saw the modern: the Jumeira Mosque (Jumeira means “paradise” and lots and lots of places are called the “Jumeira fill-in-the-blank”); the Burj al Arab hotel (the one shaped like a sail in the wind), a hotel so expensive and exclusive that you may not even walk into the hotel unless you have a reservation for something going on in the hotel such as the least expensive option, High Tea at $111 per person; the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world; and of course, the Burj Khalifa , the tallest building in th world. The fairly small area of Dubai that contains all the new and wonderful buildings has only been built up in the past 10 years; that short time ago it was sand.

And we saw the old: the Gold Souk (market) and the Spice Souk. What absolutely marvelous smells surrounded the spice souk! Spices I’ve never heard of or seen as well as the much more familiar, such as cinnamon and saffron.

To get to the gold souk we took a boat, if you can call the dilapidated and barely floating thing we were on a boat, across the Dubai Creek. But our boat was more together than several of the other “boats” we saw. At one point I was sure it was going to tip over as more than half our group stood on one side of the boat—nobody wanted to sidle over to the other side for fear that any movement at all would upset the boat. The short boat ride really reminded me of my days in Bangkok from 45 years ago. People live and work on the river in whatever floats and they use the boats to transport and to survive in any way they can. Trade is the heart of Dubai and it all started with boats such as we rode on, some going to Africa to get goods to trade—which they still do even today in the age of airplanes and railroads and trucks.

Move over, Texas, Dubai is the land of superlatives! They have: the tallest building in the world; the highest toilet (!); the highest restaurant; the fastest elevator; the largest water show (built and designed by the same company that did the Bellagio water show); the largest mall; the longest driverless, completely automated train; the highest temperatures (this may questionable, but I’m pretty sure they have the highest temperatures in any city in the world). They don’t have the most expensive residence in the world, that goes to Mumbai, $1,000,000,000. And I almost forgot: the largest (only?) INDOOR ski area! It has a bunny slope, an intermediate slope, and a black diamond slope! As well as other snowy participatory sports. Unbelievable! They have no water to speak of and are one of the hottest spots in the world and they have an indoor ski area!

Guides the world over love to talk facts about their homeland and ours was no exception: 80% of their water is desalinated or reclaimed from sewage (yuck!) and she did not recommend drinking anything but bottled water. Duh! Couldn’t get a beer in Dubai, either. Their bus stops are air conditioned. There are over 1000 mosques in Dubai. Men and women in mosques are separated and womens’ areas are smaller than the mens’. But only because men must go to the mosque to pray and women don’t. She also made a great point of telling us that muslims are forbidden to commit suicide; it seemed that she had taken upon herself to convince us that “true” muslims would not do all the dastardly things that they do seem to be doing.

An architectually beautiful (if you like modern architecture) city, but not one that I am in any rush to go back to. It does not seem to have a soul, except perhaps in the old part of the city. I think that old part won’t last too long, the Dubai people seem to want new, new, new. If something is approaching 30, it’s time to tear it down and build new.

Written in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Oman at 2:30 local time, June 8, 2012, still with guards posted.
19° 52’ N
58° 03’ E
One of the trading boats (that is barely held together)

A spice market

Close up of some spices

Who polishes all this brass?
A falcon is the national bird of the UAE

Life size diorama of Bedu (not Bedoin)

Our boat across Dubai Creek to old Dubai

Our guide

These were pretty ratty birds

Again, who polishes all this brass?

The indoor ski area

More of the ski area

Our welcome to Dubai

The aquarium (in a mall)
One of the shows (piranha, by the way, taste extremely good!)
The Burj Al Arab from one of the malls

Randy contemplating buying gold from a machine (he didn't)

Burj Al Arab, a 7-star hotel

View from the talles building in the world (Burj Khalifa) of the water show mechanism

Flat Stanley enjoying the view from the Burj Khalifa

Flat Stanlay in front of the Burj Khalifa
More brass to be polished!
The water show at the Dubai Mall
A restaurant at the Dubai Mall, not the couple in the background
Sculptures on a water wall. Remember, this is a DESERT!

Our happy group on the bus

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