Such an unexpected surprise. Dubai. A big shiny toy. It’s like the Emerald City. It’s like the brand new bicycle under the Christmas tree. It’s like Las Vegas times ten – without the alcohol.
Our twenty-two hour layover in Dubai was not enough. As we sit here in Dubai International Airport waiting for our flight to Bangkok we are plotting how we can swing back through this city again. And stay a little longer.
Tomorrow, December 2nd, the United Arab Emirates celebrates it’s 45th birthday. Only 20 years ago Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the UAE, was a very different place. The bright shiny city that rises out of the brown desert barely existed a few decades ago.
Our short visit was made educational and spectacular thanks to our guide Ute Koestle, who we hired to show us around through Tours by Locals https://www.toursbylocals.com/(if you come here, hire this woman!). Ute, a German woman living in Dubai for more than two decades, is proud of her adopted home and a wealth of information. We learned so much from her!
I was expecting to enjoy the old town the most, as is normal for me in most cities, but not here. Instead I found the sparkling city, beautiful skyline, ingenious manmade islands, spectacular architecture and interesting cultural makeup unlike anywhere I have ever been.
Dubai is home to millions of people not from here. Emirati citizens are only a small portion of the population and are provided financial privileges that expats do not receive. A huge variety of world citizens live in Dubai, like our tour guide. She explained the class system to us, from the ruling class and their gorgeous palaces placed through out the city, to the low wage construction workers brought in from India.
Ute also answered our question from where do they get their water and food in this dry barren land (seven de-salination plants turn sea water to drinking water and the majority of food items are imported) to crime and unemployment (there is zero unemployment as Emiratis who want to work are given a job and non-citizens who lose their job are deported and crime is nearly non-existent because the punishment is prison followed by deportation).
We will come back so we can enjoy the beaches, maybe go indoor snow skiing, see the famous fountain show, go to the top of the world’s tallest building (2700 feet), explore the 100’s of shopping malls, take a boat tour on the Persian Gulf, and stay in one of the five-star hotels.
But until that happens, hello and goodbye Dubai. Thanks for opening our eyes.