01.06.2006 46 °C
If I thought I knew what Hot was from Thailand I had no idea what the true definition of the word is till I came here to the Arabian Desert in the beginning of summer. Its only 41 degrees C (105 F) right now, but yesterday it was 46C (114 F) while I was walking around and touring the city, and that’s too damn hot. The locals here have told me that this is nothing and that July and August are when it really gets hot and I will be in Qatar from the 21st to the 24th of July, can’t wait for that!
I also have finally caught my first cold of the trip plus contracted a poison-ivy like rash on my foot, so yesterday I spent the day in a daze from the benadryl for my foot, sinutab for the cold and the oppressive heat. Wandering around the bazaars and alley ways of old town Dubai in a decongestant fog and surrounded by women in full head dress and men in the white Arabian robes was quite a surreal experience.
So what is Dubai like you might ask? Well for one it is very expensive compared to SE Asia, and like three cities all in one. The most interesting is the old restored historic neighborhoods which are the stereotypical Arabian markets full of spices, fish, fruits and nuts, then of course the Gold Souk which is like Jewelers Row in Philadelphia multiplied by a million.
The second city is a fairly typical modern city with commercial districts, many high rise buildings built in the 70's bland style and squares and city parks. Then there is the new and (mostly under construction) futuristic Dubai which is being fueled by the unlimited wealth of the Royal family.
The most impressive of these projects that are complete include the massive twin towers of the World Trade center, much more modern looking than the towers were in NY and the worlds tallest and only 6 star hotel the Burj- al- Arab which is built in the shape of a sail and where you have to pay $20 just to walk in the lobby, which was out of my budget. Then there is the Mall of the Emirates which is the largest mall in the world (of course) and includes an indoor SKI RESORT! Yes, I saw it with my own eyes, in the middle of the friggin desert here you can go skiing on a few small hills inside a mall on real snow; it boggles the mind.
Even more mind boggling are the about 20 massive construction projects all in the works simultaneously. They include the Burj Dubai (soon to be the worlds tallest building by some 500 feet) and not one, but three man made island archipelagos in the shape of palm trees which are being built solely for luxury home and resort development. There is also an archipelago being constructed as a map of the world also for the same purpose 4Km off the coast. Then there is the underwater hotel and the "Dubai Marina" complex which includes 40 high rises along the beach all being built at once and a massive marina complex being created that will be bigger than the downtown of the old dubai. This is just a tiny fraction of the projects going on right now, it is like nothing this world has ever seen, and in the words of the tourist brochure, "It is amazing to see what unlimited money and imagination combined can create"
The excesses of the wealthy in the US pale in comparison to what is going on here, it is truly amazing.