Travel in Dubai in 2009

The Creek, Dubia

We didn’t initially think of going to Dubai. However, since Emirates Air appear to be one of the better and more affordable airlines for economy class flights, we decided to throw in a three day stop-over in Dubai en route to London. It must be oil money offsetting the price, as the saving was substantial.

Also helping us to make our choice was a chance to spend time with family who live there.

Mosque, Dubai

Our flight didn’t disappoint. Emirates Air on-board entertainment has a selection of nearly everything from current and classic movies to Best-of TV shows past and present. The music selection was massive ranging from country music, the latest chart offerings through to solid rock numbers.

The seating space seems roomier than other airlines, which helps on a long haul flight. Not that Dubai is too far from Cape Town; our flight was 8 and ½ hours. They gave out warm cloths to freshen up before we left and a copy of the menu with 4-course meals. I had the vegan meal and my other half had a low calorie, low cholesterol meal. We also had some lovely French wine with our meal. We didn’t sleep much as the flight wasn’t long enough. I watched Slumdog Millionaire and my other half watched re-runs of Fools and Horses.

Fake ski resort, Dubai

We arrived in Dubai Airport at 05.00 am. We had booked into Ibis Hotel in Deira and we were told a shuttle bus ran from the airport to the hotel. Our bus driver arrived after about ½ hour and took us to the hotel. We were very early but they agreed to check us in at 10.00 am so we had a snack in the reception area while we waited.

We paged through tour brochures and probably picked the same tours as everyone else. They all had variations on the much the same thing. As we made our choice of tours we sat watching people with mounds of bags check into the hotel. It never ceases to amaze us how much luggage people travel with. We always stick to the limit for fear of penalties, yet we saw people staggering under their luggage. How do they get away with it?

Beach, Dubai

Once checked in, we freshened up and had a short sleep. I had been to Dubai before in June and the heat and humidity was particularly uncomfortable. I was pleased that in the last few days of April it was warm but not unbearable. Next, our tour guide for the Dubai City Tour collected us. We soon realised that all tour guides in Dubai are always foreigners.

In fact the only jobs the Emiratees seem to hold are in government, banks or shareholders in business. What was even more surprising is the Emiratees only make up only 20% of the total population of Dubai. The rest are workers and “ex pats”.  Asians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and those regions make up 50% of Dubai’s people and the final 30% of the population are Europeans, Australians, and South Africans etc.

Foreigners come across for work and money opportunities. They pay tax, for water, for education, and the usual things one would expect. Most people working in Dubai earn good money but the cost of living is high. Conversely the Emiratees don’t pay tax and get state grants for just about everything. Truth is they don’t have to work and one can’t help but wonder if any do as they fill the millions of shopping malls all hours of the day and night.

Outside a souk, Dubai

Dubai likes to think of itself as a shopping destination. And if shopping is your thing, you’re in the right place. There are many shopping malls with the same shops. The usual big names like Gap, H&M, Next, Benetton and even the South African store Woolworth was there but with signage in Arabic. The high-end shopping malls have designer stores with luxury goods. There is even a shopping mall with a ski resort in the middle. We watched people going up ski lifts in real snow through the glass windows.

All the shopping malls we went to were spotlessly clean and air-conditioned with plenty of coffee shops. The sight of the Emiratee people sipping coffee in their traditional clothing is a common one. The men wear a white dishdasha robe with a checked or white headdress. The woman cover up in a black abaya with a black headdress and sometimes even a black facemask or a burka.

Click here to go to Dubai Part 2.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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