January 05, 2007
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If there is one word to describe my experience in Dubai thus far unfathomable would be it. Since Rachel & Soogie got here we have been non-stop on-the-go and experiencing things we could never have imagined. Essentially, Rachel’s dad has a business partner in Dubai, Mohammad, who has been taking care of our travels here. Her dad also came in the night that we got here so between the two they have arranged for us to experience every ounce of Dubai and the Middle East. I’ll try to explain though I’m sure my words won’t be able to do this segment of my trip justice…..
Rachel & Soogs get in and we have Mohammad’s driver, Ali, come get us at 4:30p.m. to take us around the city. He takes us everywhere on the new side of town. We go to Jumeriah to see the only 7 star hotel in the world, he somehow gets us past every gate guard to see other hotels, buildings, the HUGe houses in the area, etc. This is completely Vegas on steroids. The properties are unbelievable. THERE IS CONSTRUCTION EVERYWHERE! Dubai is only 40 years old, and the newer part has all gone up in the last 10 years. We heard that 15% of the world’s cranes are currently in Dubai. It feels like they’re building LA in a decade or two, seriously. We take pictures along the Gulf, see the Mall of Emirates, etc. Mohammad picks us up at 8:30 to take us to dinner at Teatro – a nice chic restaurant hear our hotel that serves unbelievable food.
Yesterday, Ali picked us up to take us to the Mall of the Emirates…. he takes us on a few hours of detours first. We go to Deria, which is old Dubai, see the Gold Market, the fish market and really see all the different cultures and people throughout the Middle East. Ali is hilarious. We then end up on this River / Canal (no idea what it’s called) and get out. We end-up on a water taxi to tour Dubai. I can’t even explain how modern, chic and unbelievably beautiful Dubai really is. We see the Sheik’s sisters house (oh, before this Ali has taken us past compound after compound that the Sheik owns – they’re all HUGE), golf courses, beautiful hotels, parks, etc. It’s like a very new version of Orlando or Miami… gorgeous. After the water taxi tour we continue on our way to the Mall of the Emirates but of course Ali takes us past another hour or so worth of places – the Sheik’s residence, his workplace, where pirates used to hide, the bank that holds all the rich Emirates money, we drive up the Emirates towers drive and end up going into the second Emirates tower where it looks like every wealthy Arabic (and we can now tell where everyone is from by what their garb is) from Saudi Arabia to Iran is doing business. We go past the world’s largest horse track and then through the Camel races. We finally make it to the Mall of the Emirates which is HUGE. There’s an indoor ski mountain inside this mall – it’s the world’s largest mall. We spend time shopping and end-up only with one purchase – from the grocery store inside the mall – for cough drops, water and razors! This is a small miracle since Rach & Soog especially love to shop (good thing there’s still no room in our bags).
The best part of the entire trip so far, however, was dinner. We all went to a Lebanese Restaurant for dinner reservations at 10:30… we seriously ate until 2:00 in the morning and didn’t leave until 3:30a.m.! My body has no concept of time these days since there is no schedule for eating, sleeping, etc. There was hoards and hoards of food at this restaurant. At about midnight there was an arabic singer, around 1ish the Belly Dancer started. She was AMAZING. I can’t even explain. The entire room was completely alive with everyone cheering and dancing around – drinking some licorice concoction and smoking Sheish (what American’s call hookah – a very weak tobacco that’s flavored with anything from Strawberry to Cappucino). It seriously felt like we were at a wedding reception. Around this time Mohammad told us that the tables around us he could tell were Iraqi because of their accents…. based on what’s in the American media, etc. you would never have guessed that these very wealthy / chic individuals were who we’re at war against. It’s all sooooo surreal. It was even more unreal when 30 minutes later the last singer started and we were all together on the dance floor dancing arabian-style (which believe me, we had some dificulties with but was so much fun). Unbelivable. Unreal. I wish I wouldn’t have had my camcorder stolen but I was able to take a few movie clips on my camera. I think i’m still in awe of the whole experience.
But, our trip in Dubai isn’t over partaking in a dinner ceremony and making it back here later this evening. I can’t believe everything we have experienced. I feel incredibly lucky and completely thankful for this trip…. we would never have been able to experience everything we have if it hadn’t been for all the help we’ve gotten!!!!
Hope all is well back home!