For New Years, we decided to visit Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. For me and the kids, this was our first trip to an Arab country. The contrast in demographics from Asia to the Middle East is quite dramatic. One boards a plane surrounded by petite, black-haired, fair-skinned Asians and then emerges amidst tall, dark, bearded Arabs, Indians and Africans.
Dubai is a newly built city with most of its skyscrapers and structures constructed just within the last 10 years.
For this reason, most of the cultural appeal of this place to me wasn’t so much the city, but the people. I’m just not used to seeing men in Arab garb and women in burqas.
An interesting thing that I quickly learned about the culture is that men and women are segregated as much as possible. The last 2 cars of each metro train are for women only.
Initially, I was a little put off by the fact that I was relegated to another car, but then I realized that the women’s cars are much less crowded and, more importantly, less odiferous than the cars where men are permitted. So, I embraced the cultural difference and enjoyed my seat and the fresh-smelling air.
Arabs love the over-the-top and ostentatious; hence Dubai is the home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. It towers at 2,722 feet.
We took a tour of the building and got some pics of the stunning views.
Dubai is also the home of one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab.
No we didn’t stay there. Since the average cost of a room is $2,000 per night, this was as close as we got to the place.
We then toured the Spice and Gold Souqs, a market for spices, gold and other knick-knacks.
To be honest, the souqs to me felt very contrived, a big tourist trap with no real-life relevance. We didn’t see any local people shopping there, just a bunch of tourists like us snapping pictures and buying very little.
We then went outside of the city into the desert…
to ride ATV’s in the thick sand…
and lumber along slowly on the back of a camel.
Webley and I got some henna tattoos.
I’m glad we traveled to Dubai just to see the place, but I don’t feel the need to go back. The buildings are impressive, but after you see a tall, fancy building, you don’t really need to see it again. I was sort of disappointed at the lack of culture of the place. It seemed really artificial to me and intentionally so, almost like going to Disney World. Maybe if we had stayed longer we’d be able to find a more authentic experience, but I also think the culture of a place and its people shouldn’t be made so difficult to uncover.
Speaking of ridiculous and over-the-top, I just had to share this Dog of the Day photo:
Yes, that is a dog in a stroller being pulled by a battery-operated, pink jeep. Webley and I saw this scene as we were strolling on the waterfront in our village. 🙄🤦♀️