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Dubai – Mirage in the Desert

Post Date: October 16, 2012 by admin

Dubai – Mirage in the Desert

We glide through the Arrivals hall; its soaring ceiling high above. Pillars and palm trees slip past. The Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer. Immigration formalities are fast, carried out by men in gleaming white ankle length dishdasha, their head cloths held in place by twisted black agal. Our Emirates car awaits and we are transported, as if on a magic carpet, through this city where glitzy shopping malls vie for position with the traditional restored Bastakiya, and dizzying structures pierce the skyline.


Our room at The Park Hyatt hotel is lush, overlooking the creek, where dhows and yachts rub hulls. An egg-shaped bath in the centre of our bathroom beckons. Nothing seems real in this city of extremes – will I wake up to find this has all been a dream, a mirage in the middle of the desert?


A tasty dinner of Shrimp Pad Thai, Beef served from a clay pot, and steamed rice which arrives in a floppy straw basket, is followed by a stroll along the waterfront. The city sparkles on the other side of the creek; a warm breeze washes over us.


The next morning, we gaze at the hotel pool, wishing we had more time here and could spend the day lounging in the shade of palm trees.

The city beckons, and the hotel limousine whisks us to Dubai Mall, a mind-boggling place, with its plethora of high-end stores, ice rink, aquarium, where fish are as exotic as the people strolling past. It is Friday, the holy day in the religious calendar, and Emirati and ex-pats are out in force.
We head toward the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (soon to be out-classed by a building in China). All of the tours to the top are sold-out for today and we curse ourselves for not booking ahead. We are offered immediate access tickets at four times the normal price, but decline, knowing this fascinating city will draw us back again … and again.



Instead, we watch the amusing spectacle of two women buying gold from a ‘Gold to Go’ machine.


Inside the huge Waitrose (a British supermarket chain), we mingle with ex-pats searching for Marmite and other familiar food items. Adorning the archway to the ‘Pork Shop,’ a notice in Arabic and English declares: ‘For non-Muslims’!


In the narrow alleyways in the Bastakiya, in blistering afternoon heat, we are caught in a time-warp; a time before electricity and air-conditioning where traditional courtyard houses were cooled by wind towers.


Reconstructions of early life in the region are depicted in the basement of the museum.


Crossing the creek, our wooden abra weaves between boats loaded to the hilt. Cinnamon … cloves … myriad aromas invade our senses as we stroll through the narrow streets of the Herb and Spice Souk. In the Gold Souk, shop windows glint with gold in every imaginable form. We save our money and head back to the air-conditioned peace of our hotel.


Our stay in Dubai has been all too brief. Reluctant as we are to leave, Africa beckons and we head to the airport for our flight to Dar es Salaam, where our train ‘The Pride of Africa’ awaits.


Our last sight of Dubai from high above is of sand lapping right up to the edge of the city – a magical city indeed.


October 2011.

One response to “Dubai – Mirage in the Desert”

  1. Barb Nahwegahbow says:

    Hi Josie:
    I love your web site. It’s gorgeous! Congratulations on the launch and the best of luck. All of the content looks so interesting and I look forward to reading it all. The photos in your Dubai post are beautiful.

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