The city of Dubai is everything they say it is, there are no exaggerations. If they tell you that the chandeliers in the Emirates Airport sprays vanilla fragrance as you walk in, just believe it, because trust me, with those Arab guys, anything is possible. Dubai is so beautiful I actually consider it very fake. The grass is too green to be true, the streets are too clean, the waters are too calm, the entire city is like a well photo shopped magazine spread. And oh, the smell of shisha mixed with the smell of exotic perfumes. It hits you, straight from the airport. I don’t know any other group of people who wear that much perfume. It’s perhaps where the Northern guys of Nigeria got their cue from. The average citizen of UAE wears at least 6 different perfumes. You can literally smell them 200 metres away. Some are actually so choking you wonder how the wearer is coping. But these are the little things that make it what it is. The ladies of the Emirates are a sight to behold. Forget it. I don’t know if this is as a result of make up, because they wear a lot of it, I mean a whole lot of it. Even in all of their jalamia and hijab glory, they are stunning. But beneath all of that is flawless skin and Louis Vuitton.
The Arabs know how to put up a show. They know this, and they take every opportunity to brag about it.” World’s tallest building, World’s largest dancing fountain, world’s biggest mall, world’s largest man made aquarium, world’s biggest water park“. There is a long list of world records to their name, and they go all out to make it work. If they have to import a beach from Seychelles, just to be able to say world’s biggest man made beach, they’ll do it. The water, fire and light show is one of the best shows to look forward too. Well at least I found it pretty fascinating. Its a daily show, and thousands attend all the time, twice in the afternoon and twice in the evening. Set on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa lake, the fountain shoots 22,000 gallons of water as high as 500 feet, thats like a 50 storey building believe me. You can see the beam of light on the fountain from like 20 miles away and from space you can see it too, as it is the brightest spot in the middle east. The water dances to rhythms in Swahili, Arabic, Italian and so on, and the fire, I have no idea how that even works. At the end of the show, all the flags of all nationalities are projected, and I was not surprised to hear a big shout when the Nigerian flag came up.
The New Year countdown is another amazing show if you are there for the holiday. Its quite similar to the countdown you find in major cities around the world, but then again, the tallest city in the world is a major land mark for the fireworks. Excess is what Dubai does, but they do it pretty well. New year 2014, they beat world record, stealing the title from Kuwait by the first minute, with 500,000 fireworks set in 400 locations, going on for 6 minutes.
I didn’t do a lot my first time in Dubai, I just soaked in the modern architecture, and the fakeness of the place. Sight seeing, shopping, road trip to Abu Dhabi and more shopping, (Yes someone is rolling their eyes) :p didn’t even try the food. In another post, maybe I’ll talk about the fun stuff I did the second time. For some weird reason Arabs believe they are very fly, perhaps they are. In half a minute, 20 white or sometimes red Porsche cars would pass by you, and the remaining ones would be a Lexus taxi or a bad ass SUV. Think Mercerdes Benz G Class. Those guys don’t play. Under the hijab is Louis Vuitton and Prada and Jimmy Choo, in one outing. It is a largely muslim community, so the week ends on Thursday and begins on Sunday. And despite its hedonistic reputation, they never joke with Prayer time. Lunch time too. Once it’s time for prayers, thats the end. No bargaining, no begging, no quick shopping, BUSINESS IS CLOSED. You hear prayer calls five times a day, in schools, in the market, in clubs and in the mall, and people literally stop to go say their prayers.
The best time to go to Dubai is from October to March or early April. If you go after that, say June, July believe me you will roast, even if you are an African. People faint on the streets because of dehydration. The heat is craaaazyy such that bus stops are air conditioned for those times. Emirates and Qatar Airlines are your easiest bet to get to Dubai, Ethiopian Airways as well, but be prepared for the very long trip. Etihad, the National carrier takes you to Abu Dhabi, the capital. The metro is your easiest form of movement within the Dubai city, but I am generally bad with geography and map reading so I get lost at train entries and exits a lot, taxis are easier if you are like me. Always have your hand sanitiser, you do not want to imagine the number of germs in a train. ewwww. If like me you don’t like the smell of tobacco or Shisha, you may not enjoy night life, infact you may not enjoy day life too. The smell is everywhere, you end up getting used to it though. Hold handkerchiefs, use a nose and mouth mask, use your palm to cover your nose, whatever works for you.
Now except you want to splurge, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy clothes in the Emirates or Dubai mall. If at all, stick with the regulars, H&M, Next, Zara etc, The moment you start crossing your boundary and strolling into Prada and Louis Vuitton stores, you are on your own. You will only come out with a pretty scarf or a leather belt, and your wallet will be empty. There are places outside town to buy things cheaper if you want. The metro doesn’t get there unfortunately, no time for that long trip please.
Food in the mall is cheap, you have options as many as are from A to Z.
You are likely to come across at least 5 Nigerians during your stay in Dubai, depending on how long you are staying. Don’t worry, you don’t even have to look out for them, they will find you and speak pidgin or straight up Yoruba to you. They will even tell you to ‘drop something for the boys‘
The Burj Khalifa is almost two empire state buildings tall.
The number of visitors to the Dubai mall alone in 2011 (over 54million), was more than the number of annual tourists to NewYork or even Las Vegas
Half of the people living in Dubai are Indians or of Indian descent. Only 17% of the population is composed of Emiratis. The rest are immigrants and tourists from the rest of the world.
There is no standard street address system in Dubai, but there is a space to draw a map or leave instructions such as this: “I live on the street near the airport road, but before the roundabout, go past the mosque and make a U-turn. It’s the second house on the left.” YOU NEED GPS, You need to know landmarks; hospitals, mosques, supermarkets and so on.
The Dubai over ground metro system was built in less than two years.