May 5 to 8 - DUBAI
Dubai is unlike any city I have seen. The United Arab Emirates is a very small country in the gulf region and is reigned over by a Sheik.
Unlike many other countries in this area the UAE has been very focused and very successful in reinvesting their oil money into making Dubai, and the UAE in general, a huge tourist and financial center.
The UAE is becoming the Singapore of the middle east and famous / rich people from all over the world flock over here
Some facts about the UAE
- About 800,000 or so citizen plus 2 million guest workers. Untold numbers of Indians
and other immigrants from the Middle East and Asia have made the UAE their temporary
home to earn extra money. It was my impression that most services were provided
by guest workers while UAE citizen tend to be affluent to very very rich. Untold
hordes of construction workers earning 10 US dollars a day are building new infrastructure,
new islands and new luxury hotels where a room can cost 1000 US dollars per night.
Although this might sound unfair the Indian workers here end up getting paid
a lot more than they would be in their native India.
- There is very little crime and corruption seems to be very low. The government is
stable and does it's utmost to inspire confidence to rich outsiders.
- Undoubtedly the fact that there is no sales tax, no value added tax, no income tax and no capital gain tax makes this a good place to shelter money.
There is an incredible amount of construction going on everywhere, in one district of Dubai I counted over 30 skyscrapers being built at the same time and no expense
is spared to build the best, tallest or fanciest buildings. Huge artificial islands
in the shape of palms, 400 meter long indoor skiing slopes in the middle of the
desert, underwater restaurants, Disneyworld Arabian style etc...
- Most electricity is provided by a single very large natural gas plant whose
excess heat is used to desalinate seawater creating about 80% of the fresh water needed. Should a failure occur a second plant is on constant standby to take over.
There is enough spare electricity to run an alluminum smelter and have all highways
throughout the desert illuminated by streetlights.
- The official language is Arabic but English is widely spoken and all signs have
an Arabic as well as English text.
- The sun is very strong here. Temperatures easily hover around 45 Celsius in May
and even sunscreen is not enough around noon.
This is a beach area of Dubai which was full of Russians. The waters have a lot of Sharks and the beach areas are isolated though nets from the open ocean.
Entrance to the old gold market. Dubai is said to have excellent gold deals, I would not really know.
Lot's of finely worked Arabian gold.
This is a traditional (museum) UAE school room
A boat ride down the Dubai creek. I think that it is called a creek because it is very short, even though it is very wide.
Typical Skyscrapers in the background. The boats in front have a uniquely middle eastern shape and are used to transport goods, fish and more.
SouthPark is alive and well in the UAE.
A former fort protecting Dubai, now a Museum.
A mosque. At regular intervals the call for prayer will be broadcasted from the towers.
Part of the reception Lobby of the Hyatt Hotel. Dubai easily outdoes Las Vegas in Hotelling minus the gambling.
a partial view of new skyscrapers being built, I lost count after 30...
The "metal ramp" is part of the indoor skiing area, the temperature on this day was over 45 Celsius, it must cost a fortune in electricity to keep such a skiing area cool.
You can also see a French Carrefour food superstore which are dominating retail here.
Offroading in the desert dunes with my Syrian friend here.
Yeah, it was that much fun...
The desert has an amazing beauty, especially as the sun slowly sets.
A camel, or technically a dromedary...
I was happy here in the desert...
After sunset we headed to have Arabian coffee and dates in a camp and later a huge BBQ. Camel riding was also an option.
Be careful when those camel kneel down, it's a pretty abrupt...
BBQ Dinner in the desert ...