JANUARY 27 – DUBAI
“Pre Oil” Dubai was broiling desert where nomadic pearl divers made a modest living. Modern Dubai is a ginormous phallic symbol that screams “look at me, look at me!”
This is the morning we flew to Dehli, India. But first, we were treated to a panoramic bus tour of this fantastical city of “over-doneness”. Our guide followed the scripted spiel by rote, and repeatedly emphasized the sanctioned accomplishments, hoping for orgasmic “ohs and ahs”. Not so. Eye rolling under hooded lids to escape detection abounded. The guide pointed out every Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls Royce that sped by to make sure we didn’t miss one. This is a city that lives in the moment.
Dubai holds Guinness Book of World Records for…
The most expensive Cocktail in the world. $6,000 USD. You get to keep the glass.
Tallest building (just completed).
The only 7 STAR hotel in the world is here. Really? Who gave them that rating? Not Triple A… they max out at “5”.
Other Interesting facts…
The bus stops are air conditioned. It reaches 130F in the summer, they should be.
There is one female pilot working for Dubai’s airline. That is progress.
42 million palm trees have been planted over the past 10 years.
So who lives here? Dubai is completely multinational. Workers from around the world are there on a “contracted basis” – with banks, real estate, construction, etc… and can be let go at any time (with no obligations) – based on how business is going.
We spent most of our time zipping around in a bus (while not standing still in traffic) – so I did not get a solid impression of “every day life”. The women I did see dressed in both extremes… the all black garb (I described in my Muscat piece) to western dress and short shorts. I saw many “european” looking people, Indians and Asians. Men also dressed in all styles.
There seemed to be a lack of cohesiveness… that’s the best word I can come up with. If we had the chance to explore on foot… I”m sure I would have found pockets of life that followed some type of traditional existence.
The developers of Palm Island bought the Queen Elizabeth 2, decommissioned in 2008 after 40 years of service for $100 Million (nice sale Cunard, and just in the nick of time!). She was supposed to be gutted and turned into a luxury hotel. We docked behind her in Dubai, where she sits… and has sat… completely untouched since being purchased. Her future, now, is uncertain.
There are no taxes on imported goods. None.
We flew coach class to India on Dubai based Emirates Airlines. A 4 course meal was offered on the 3 hour flight along with a choice of 6 free movies and an open bar. On US airlines, you can’t even get a measly coke for free anymore. The shapely flight attendants flashed perfect teeth rimmed by radiant smiles. Their uniforms were modern “Sheik” with new age turbans.
Dubai’s oil fields are expected to run dry in 10 years. What happens then? The city is already in dismal financial shape due to the real estate crisis, and tourists burst into flames between April and November. Half finished sky scrapers pose like emaciated skeletons under the withering sun. Will the city be reclaimed by the desert? Swallowed by shifting sands as the last drop of oil is wrung?
The Burj al-Arab is home to the $6,000 cocktail. It’s on the water (hence the sail shape) – and rooms start at $2,000 a night (2010).