This week my husband and I started a two-week trip to South India with a two-day stopover in Dubai. The purpose of the trip is to sample the food from various regions in India to get ideas for my next cookbook. In my upcoming blog posts I will let you know where we are, what we are seeing, who we are meeting, and, of course, what we are eating.
Since we flew Emirates Airlines our first stop was Dubai where their hub is located. I was wowed with the glittery, shiny look of all of the very tall buildings. My first thought was this had to be an architect’s paradise. Everything was so new and clean that I felt I had entered an alternative universe.
Most of the people I met in our hotel, restaurants or stores were expats from around the world. Many of them spoke Malayalam (the language of Kerala) but all (except one who I will discuss in a future post) spoke beautiful English. Everyone was as friendly and helpful as they could be.
To optimize our short time here, we purchased 48-hour tickets on the Hop On & Hop Off Double Decker Bus Tour. This was a convenient way to see the important sites without wearing out my feet. We saw all of the ‘must see’ sights including the Burj Khalifa (formerly the tallest building in the world that looks like a skinny, silver version of the Sears tower) and the dramatic water fountain display that shoots water hundreds of feet into the air, the Burj Al Arab (an extremely expensive hotel but a really beautiful building that looks like a sail), the Palm Jumeirah which is a man-made island formed in the shape of a palm tree which is home to the Atlantis on the Palm Hotel and hundreds of shiny skyscrapers.
We also saw historical sights like Jumeirah Mosque (the largest in Dubai) and the Grand Mosque. I was impressed with the restored Al Fahidi Fort (built in 1799), which is now home to the Dubai Museum with a very engaging exhibit dedicated to the cultural history of the people of Dubai.
We had to spend some time shopping in the various souks, or markets. Starting with the new one, Souq Madinat Jumeriah, we saw many antiques and clothes for sale. Later we visited the gold souk which contains shop after shop of jewelry stores filled with 22 carat gold jewelry. I found a few necklaces for sale that might be considered to be overly extravagant even by Texas standards. We spent quite a bit of time in the spice souk checking out the various shops and their merchandise. I took a lot of photos of some of the unique items including dried lemons, saffron flowers, local coffee and many new spices.
Since the weather was perfect, sunny and not too hot or humid, we walked along the Dubai Creek and took a cruise in a traditional Arabic Dhow for a relaxing perspective of the city. We saw small Abras which are small water taxis that are the fastest and easiest way to cross the water.
One thing I noticed about Dubai – it is the shopping capital of the world. The tour bus stopped at each one! The malls are new and crowded with people from all over the world. In addition to upscale, designer stores that Americans recognize, these malls include elegant restaurants, theaters, even an aquarium with a huge central tank, indoor waterpark and a huge indoor ski slope. When I think about it, everything needs to be inside due to the extreme heat of the desert most of the year. While we were in Dubai, their annual shopping festival was in progress. People flew in just to take advantage of the huge sales and participate in the lavish raffles and promotions. This is definitely something that I will have to checkout on my next trip.
I have to conclude that I was quite impressed with Dubai. It is a very welcoming place where I would love to spend more time. In my next posts I will share our activities on our first night and reviews of the restaurants we visited in Dubai.
Next stop, sand, dinner and a camel?
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