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Dubai- Land of Dates, Dunes & Development
Jun 01, 2008 04:35 PM 9091 Views
(Updated Jun 02, 2008 12:36 PM)


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Dubai has become a " must see" place on the wish list of any self

respecting Indian traveler and well, I am just back from the famed

golden land. The city is a modern day megalopolis but its evident at

first glance that its an Asian urban miracle. There are towering malls

and offices but at the bottom of it all are South Asian laborers

galore freely walking across the city as also huge spaces dug up to

accommodate the metro and the flyover construction.

Dubai is a big construction site these days and the Metro is expected

to roll out by Sep 2009(thats 9/9). Till then there are honking cards

and disgruntled  cab drivers. Taxis are hard to flag down and even then

it may take a long time to reach your destination due to traffic


Besides this, what does Dubai have to offer to an average tourist.

Besides the over hyped Duty Free shopping bonanza taking place every

Jan-Feb what happens here in the remaining 10 months. There are some

places for sure, to visit but sadly my impression was one of limited

choices. Yes there are malls, and then there are malls, and then there

are some more malls. Ranging from an architectural delight like the

Wafi city mall to the ubiquitous  corner malls , this place is crammed

full of them selling all kinds of mind boggling merchandise. NO doubt

for the commercial minded and the richly laden, there is no dearth of

shopping opportunities.

Its a nicely planned city with landscaping along most major roads but in the end Dubai remains a Concrete jungle with just a colection of builidings.

I want to list the places I zeroed in during my stay in Dubai. I would

say 3-4 days here are sufficient to traverse the range of activities

offered. We started with a trip to the largest mall here, The Ibn

Batuta Mall. This one was splendid as the entire humongous mall is

divided and done up in 6 national architectural styles viz: India,

China, Egypt, Andulasia etc. The interiors are worth spending time

gazing at. I visited many malls after that but this one surely made me

return to it again. The shops are a combination. Another notable mall

is the Mall of the Emirates  that impresses due to its size and sheer

luxury. Dont miss the Wafi city mall thats a take off on the Egyptian

pyramids and houses the Jashanmal and Selaam stores.

Dubai gets hordes of tourists especially from the western world who

need their space to practice their adventurous manouvres so there is the

newly opened Ski Dubai that has ski slopes all year round. While its

blistering outside one can ski or just gaze at the icy cool environs of

this great place. To beat the heat there is also the incomparable Water

sports park called Wadi right close to the Al Burj , the famous and

perhaps the only 7 star hotel in the world.he rides are many and

organized well so an entire late afternoon or morning can be spent here

frolicking with the kids. Adults will love it too for the thrilling


The highlight of the trip for me had to be the Desert Safari. Its a

contemporary thing so sadly there were no long camel rides trudging in

the lovely sands. Instead there is a 4X4 land cruiser thats takes you

around on this trip that takes about 5 hours. There are many travel

agencies that book the desert safari with prices ranging from

160-200Dirhams/person  so just go with the one you are comfortable with

since the items in the agenda are identical. The cruiser will pick you

from the hotel(generally, please check with front office) and take you

out of the city for about 40 minutes right in the middle of the desert.

Then they do an interesting thing, deflate the tyres since after this

the ride become one thrill ride with the passengers securely fastened

in the seat belts(each vehicle sits 7 adults) and the skillful driver

gliding the vehicle across high sand dunes. This is called Dune Bashing

and its a combination of peaks and troughs by the vehicle over the

dunes. Its amazingly original and fun. I enjoyed it thoroughly and

would recommend  strongly since this was one item that really made me

feel I am in the sand, in the dunes, in the middle east.

The ride culminates in a Arabian setting camp complete with Barbeque,

unlimited drinks, sheesha(akin to a hookah) and some gorgeous belly


For the history lovers, there is but scanty entertainment, apart from

Jumeirah Mosque and the Dubai Museum housed in the Al Fahidi Fort. Both

are nice but nothing spectacular. The mosque has guided trips on

certain mornings and the details can be checked from the website.

To round off this glamorous city, an interesting sojourn is to the Gold

Souq. There are neatly 150 shops, big and small with a comprehensive

range of gold jewelery ranging from 18-22 carat.  There are Arabian,

Bahraini, Indian and Italian designs and also shops offering peals and

diamonds but I found these shops empty. The daily gold rate is flashed

outside at the gate and the making is at places negotiable but not too

much. I did shop from there since its one thing Dubai is famous for:-)

but otherwise the gold prices compared to India were absolutely the


IN close proximity is the Spice Souq that is a haven for your olfactory

senses. It smells divine and its really fascinating to stroll in the

labyrinthine mazes and look at the spices and the incense and perhaps

pick up an exotic perfume.

Food is no problem at all. THere are swanky restaurants catering to international cuisines, many Indian restaurants(including exclusively vegetarian) and numerous roadside joints ofeering quick coffee & burgers for the people on the go.

Dubai is an interesting mix of east and west. I sighted more westerners

and Indians than the local sheikhs and the city has ample entertainment

for a few days for the family or the lone traveler. Its truly a melting

pot of cultures. Its also a bustling modern commercial capital the the

rapidly expanding skyline and FDIs poring in are testimony to the

growing power of this "Pearl of the Middle East".

P.S. Some pics of this interesting holiday spot can be found in  my album..

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